Monday, February 7, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, February 7, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The screaming front page headline of the day that the Navy had struck Japan in its home waters was a bit of an overstatement. The target, Kurabu Point on the southernmost tip of Paramushiro Island in the Kuriles, was still 1,280 miles from Tokyo and 800 miles from the American base on Kiska. It had been bombed many times from the air but this was the first bombardment by Navy ships. The ships got away without any damage as the Japanese were caught by surprise. The enemy had covered the beaches with shellfire, apparently under the misapprehension of an ongoing amphibious invasion.

Admiral Chester Nimitz announced that the taking of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands was now virtually complete, with 21 of the 32 islands making up the atoll having been captured, many without a fight. Seabees had already begun construction work on revitalizing the airbase formerly belonging to the enemy at Roi and Namur on the northern tip, as well as the airbase in the southern area of Kwajalein.

In Italy, a German attack on Saturday through the American lines three miles west of the rail hub at Cisterna had gained 500 yards before being pushed back to its original position by the end of Sunday.

Another force of Germans, reinforced by the 715th Infantry Division from Southern France, putting at least four enemy divisions within the beachhead sector, appeared forming north of Aprilia, also called Carroceto, ten miles west of Cisterna, but was repulsed by artillery fire.

House-to-house fighting in Cassino to the southwest continued as American troops of the Fifth Army occupied Mt. Cassino above the already nearly surrounded town.

Hal Boyle relates of "Toothpick-Acres" the bomb-shredded forest area on either side of the Cassilian Way, the valley leading from Cassino north to Rome along Highway 6. The area had been reduced to desolation after repeated bombing from both sides.

Inconsonant with the surroundings was the unscathed refuge on the hillside above Cassino, the 1,200-year old Benedictine Monastery from which Pope Gregory I had gone to Rome.

In Russia, the Third Ukrainian Army under General Rodion Malinovsky was systematically eliminating approximately 75,000 German troops amassed in the Nikopol area, a primary manganese-producing town providing the indispensable element for the German war materiel manufacturers.

A pilot and gunner of a Navy torpedo-plane which crashed Christmas Day off Kavieng, New Ireland, in the Pacific, had been picked up after spending 27 days adrift on a life raft and 14 additional days on a small island.

They did not need hopped-up, popped-up Willi aboard to row for them.

On the editorial page, "Stone Wall" diminishes the potential of the effort by rebelling Democrats, led by Harry Woodring, to block the nomination of FDR for a fourth term and substitute someone else, preferably "a man like Cordell Hull".

But, says the piece, Roosevelt constituted the Democratic Party at this juncture and no other person on the stage, Hull or his younger counterpart, such as Manpower Director Paul McNutt, appeared fit or able to carry the election against the Republicans. Thus, the effort to dump Roosevelt was merely one aiming at shooting themselves in the foot.

"An Encore" finds the return of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to the Italian Campaign to be premonitive of a delaying action to defend Rome for as long as possible to occupy the attention of the Allies and create attrition in their ranks. His talents, said the piece, delay and strategic retreats, might be better suited to the deteriorating Russian front, but his was not to undertake such a large-scale task of rasping Vatutin to pick wick-Nick's successors apart. Rather, he would concentrate on small, strategic hit-and-run operations, as out on Route 66 in Tunisia a year earlier.

"New Station" applauds the efforts of Mayor Baxter to encourage Southern Railroad to erect after the war a new station in Charlotte. The old station had been deprecated before by the column as the first thing rail passengers saw when entering the community, its visage leaving a poor and likely insuperable image of the city.

Indeed, the President, himself, often traveled the route through Charlotte to and from the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia.

Cash had written of the Southern's half and increscent half-life speed, going forward, then backward down the track, short-cutting on occasion with the secant--for Durham sometimes inhales, measure for measure, alas and a-clockety-clack. Thus, it is necessary for a wren in rue.

"The Colleges" applauds Governor Melville Broughton's promotion of a continuance post-war of the three-year college, compressed from the ordinary four-year tenure to accommodate acceleration of men into service after graduation.

While generally finding the notion conducive to efficiency, the editorial expects the society generally to wish to return to normalcy after the war, and such normalcy would inevitably entail the reestablishment of a four-year college course of study.

It would, of course, be so, and it was the right thing to do. To go through college in three years is to miss part of the point of going to college. It is not merely to study academic courses but to learn to integrate into society with persons of different background from oneself, even if, generally in most college settings, mentally being on a comparable level. In many respects, indeed, that is the principal enduring effect of a college degree, even if the learning component also is irreplaceable. A good college curriculum will not teach you so much about how to earn a living as to refine your ability to think through problems in a logical and analytical manner to reach, if not a solution, at least a better understanding of the problem.

That is why one cannot write a history of the United States, even one as short as 1,100 pages, with an eighth-grade education and expect it to make any sense. Nor should one be on the radio daily instructing people how to think and how to vote and how to behave in society generally, with no more than a high school diploma, even the quality of that being dubious. In either case, such things as believing that Nelson Washington was the first President can occur and with alarming frequency.

Of course, having said that, sometimes, even having a law school education will lead some, nevertheless, to believe and assert thereon that Alexander Hamilton was once President. That of course being before he shot Abraham Lincoln down by the Yalu River in 1877, near Machu Picchu, north of Katmandu, in a duel over a girlfriend who was blonde and believed that Alexander Hamilton was President.

Drew Pearson discusses the State Department's decision at long last to cut off Franco's Spain from further gas and oil exports, following discovery of Franco supplying crucial war materiel to Hitler.

The action had been long overdue, given the pro-Nazi track record of Generalissimo Franco.

He next examines the two sides of the argument for and against raising milk prices. OPA chief Chester Bowles wanted instead to provide a subsidy to counteract the sudden rise the previous summer in feed prices, while Food Administrator Marvin Jones favored raising the milk prices. But raising milk prices meant inflation, and Fred Vinson, Director of Economic Stabilization, was on the side of Mr. Bowles.

Mr. Pearson next recounts a feud between Eddie Rickenbacker and Captain William Cherry, pilot of the plane in which Captain Rickenbacker had flown as a civilian observer for the State Department when the plane went down in the Pacific in October, 1942. Sounding a bit as "Lifeboat", Captain Cherry behaved sensibly throughout the mission, directing that the two lifeboats follow a separate course to provide a larger field from which to derive potential rescue, retrieving oranges from the plane which he had belly-landed so well that it had not sunk immediately as was the norm, providing thereby the only nourishment for the men on the rafts, and directing that his men collect raindrops at the first rainfall while the men on the other raft with Captain Rickenbacker sought first to quench their thirst directly from the rain, then to share in the gathered rainwater of the others.

As a result of Captain Cherry's rational actions, Captain Rickenbacker held him in some degree of contempt.

As a result, President Roosevelt had not invited Eddie Rickenbacker to the White House since the rescue.

"In order to survive, one must have a plan."

Mr. Pearson relates also of a man in Oklahoma who had lost both of his legs in naval combat against the Nazis, but had not received his veterans' disability payments. His Congressman, Jed Johnson, heard about the story, got busy, got the payments to him next day. When the Congressman asked if he could do anything more for the man, the sailor responded that he would like to be a Navy radio operator to get "those Nazi so-and-so's".

Samuel Grafton begins his piece by eulogizing Raymond Clapper, then labels it a bad week all around as Mr. Clapper's death was accompanied by that of William Allen White and by the news that the Soviet was contemplating providing semi-autonomy to its sixteen republics.

The reaction, he asserts, to the latter prospect had been immature in the United States, premised as it was on fear that the Russians were attempting by it to muscle their way into the post-war United Nations council with inordinate representation. Meanwhile, Britain had reacted with recognition of the probability that such a move might prove a welcome decentralization of power within the Soviet Union. The United States, concludes Mr. Grafton, needed to grow up in terms of foreign relations and foreign policy considerations.

Raymond Clapper, in the fourth of his posthumously printed editorials, this one received within hours of his death on February 2, reports of his time aboard the aircraft carrier transporting him to the Marshalls along with 3,000 men set to provide the necessary advance bombing for the landing forces of the armada, a trip from which Mr. Clapper would not return on this side of the river.

He writes of the nearly imperceptible but palpable tension aboard ship, the closer came the approach of D-Day, as the day of inception of the battle was called, the day after being D-Day plus one.

Men talked little of home, carried dim red flashlights by night, kept their leather gloves close for sliding down ropes, maintained a knife in its scabbard for cutting of rope, slicing open ration cans, and fending off sharks.

The classroom briefings were matter-of-fact affairs for the most part with little or no exuberance shown, mainly sitting around looking bored, even though their lives depended on the ensuing few days.

Everything felt to be in a world apart, he said, "as if drifting down a river, toward the day of battle."

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