Tuesday, February 8, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 8, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at 3:30 p.m., two Luftwaffe planes had swept the Anzio beachhead and bombed an Army evacuation hospital, killing 27, including two nurses and four doctors, while wounding either 65 or 43, the piece varying the count, including among them twelve more nurses, three of whom were injured gravely.

The planes were part of a larger contingent attacking the beachhead area to try to soften the American and British lines for approaching German infantry divisions. Most of the Focke-Wulf squadrons were broken up by Allied fighters and anti-aircraft fire before reaching their objectives, nineteen planes of which having been shot down.

In all Italian operations of the day, 24 German planes and two gliders were knocked out, against a loss of five Allied planes.

Fighting continued in and around Cassino, with the Nazis reported to be holding still two-thirds of the town, contradicting one report of the previous day which had stated the position as half in German hands and half in Allied hands.

London newspapers began to criticize the failure initially to have pressed forward the fight on the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead beyond the restrained advances to Cisterna and Littoria, seizing the initiative before the Nazis were able to reinforce their lines. Both The Daily Herald and The Times of London compared the tepid movement unfavorably to the boldness demonstrated consistently by the Red Army on the Russian front.

Of course, the Red Army in its relentless drives, for fifteen months unabated, had also sacrificed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Russian lives in the process. Thus, there was something to be said for a more cautious form of advance by the British and Americans of the Fifth Army. General Clark was not General Patton and General Patton was neither Generals Vatutin, Bagramian, nor Konev. The latter three were fierce fighting generals, General Vatutin about to lose his life in battle; but they also made no hesitancy of throwing men headlong to their deaths to rid their country of the Nazi invader. It was of course a different incentive for the British and American troops fighting to liberate Italy from the oppressor.

But beyond mere caution, military observers had noted that the problems in severing the Appian Way and pushing on to the Casilini Way were primarily two-fold: that the provision of supplies to the beachhead by barge and landing boat simply took ample time to accomplish with sufficient quantity to garrison for long forward positions in such an immediate offensive drive; and, the supply of gasoline in drums had to be stored in sufficient volume on the beaches to enable tanks to operate far inland, and behind which trucks had to be delivered to follow the tanks with the drums of gasoline packed on board. There had simply not yet been enough time, in the seventeen days since the landings, to accomplish these laborious tasks of quartermastering in coordination to push the now zig-zagging lines forward in a thrust.

By contrast to Russia, the Fifth Army necessarily was working in a narrow peninsula and not, as were the Russians, on broad steppes and open land, more easily affording rapid movement of supplies to the front.

Admiral Chester Nimitz announced that 8,122 Japanese had been killed thus far in the Marshalls operation, against a loss of 286 men and 1,148 wounded. An inordinately large number of Japanese had also been captured, 264. The great disparity in losses was attributed to the largest concerted air and sea bombing effort in history launched as prelude to the invasion. So devastating had it been to the Japanese fortifications that by the time the Marines landed at Roi and Namur in the north and the Army at the airbase in the south of Kwajalein, little enemy resistance remained, as most of the Japanese defenders were turned to rotting corpses, churned with the bombed-out earth, amid twisted steel ruins--ruins of structures originally built from steel manufactured primarily from American scrap iron.

Also in the Pacific, two American submarines were listed as lost and probably sunk, the Cisco, a relatively new submarine carrying 65 men, and the S-44, an older boat carrying a complement of 45. The two brought the total American submarine losses in the war to nineteen. The Navy's force of submarines had thus far been responsible for sinking 572 Japanese vessels.

American bombers struck again at Frankfurt while combined American and RAF squadrons hit targets in Northern France. The night before, RAF Mosquitos struck unspecified targets in Western Germany.

In Russia, the Red Army took Nikopol, key manganese center for the German war industry. Some 1,600 German troops had been killed in the capture of the town. The return of Nikopol to the Russian camp meant that all of the area east of the Dneiper River, save for one small strip above Gomel, had been cleared of the Wehrmacht.

With Russian air attacks having proceeded over the weekend against Helsinki, the State Department, addressing Finland for the first time in awhile, underscored its previous ultimatum to get out of the war or be punished along with Germany at its conclusion.

The Federal ballot bill for soldiers was tacked onto the States' Rights bill delivered out of the House, in a major victory for the President's proposal to have uniform voting among the soldiers for Federal offices. The stage was now set for House and Senate confreres to iron out a compromise between the two measures, the House version sending the matter back to the individual states to determine how to administer the absentee ballots.

Hal Boyle, after describing in great detail the new winter coats being worn by the soldiers on the Cassino front in Italy, explains that the artillery continually pounded the German positions all through the night and past dawn each day.

He goes on further to provide description of camp life at the front, not nearly so inhospitable, he found, as it had been in Tunisia a year earlier, but, nevertheless, still no picnic. The worst part was awaking in a tent at dawn to find one's whiskers frozen, the only remedy being to pour cold water over the whistling bristle.

On the editorial page, "Uninhibited" finds the Russian foreign policy regarding the Polish question to be predictive of how Russia would behave after the war. It had made no hesitancy in setting forth its position candidly, that it wanted a buffer territory and intended to have it, bypassing if necessary the London Polish government-in-exile, and ignoring any attempt at mediation by the Americans and British. The piece concludes therefore that the post-war aim of the Soviet Union would be toward establishing national security.

"Perdition" comments again on Postmaster General Frank Walker's decision to ban from the mails at regular magazine rates Esquire for its supposedly obscene content. A Catholic priest, Father Cartwright, appearing as a witness before the Post Office board, had labeled the publication of the details of the Erroll Flynn double statutory rape trial in Los Angeles the previous year to be degrading of public morals, that the modern bathing suit was indecent.

While the matter was currently in limbo until April pending a ruling in the courts, the decision was one which endangered freedom of the press.

Incidentally, whoever the measled-faced, little drunken hit-and-run lout was at Sony who removed that which was underlying our penultimate reference to Esquire on January 13, we would wish to introduce you to your master. No, not Mao. Instead, His Master's Voice. We like to call it The Screwtape Letters. Dig It, Little Measle-Faced Mao-boy. We think that we recall them calling It the "Campus Screwsade for Monte Cristo".

While about it, we have discovered another missing bone, this one from the note attached to January 3. That beneath "luck" is now here, even if with different pictures attached by someone unknown and probably not there. It becomes awfully tiring giving chase to hasty puddings. If you are going to the internet something post, after cutting and pasting and drawing little pictures within the lines of the coloring book ghosts, try hard to leave it alone (and don't change the links, either, institutional websites o' stone, by the semesters seeking to reinvent the wheel, to everyone's ultimate disadvantage, no new deal, bored with yourselves and thus in need of giving students something to do to keep otherwise nefarious hands busy--such as Wake Forest-on-Reynolda several times has done, as if running from its past it tried hard to use for its own ends misplaced, you Limping Deacon), and let others enjoy your production, for what it's worth, as long as the internet may travel and run; not play games, post it, take it down, re-arrange, repost, hide, slide, glide, and hi-de-ho-mo whipsy doodle-dee-dee-do-dee, because you think it belongs to you, you o' fame. Once out there, it belongs to the ages. And, in the case at bench, it wasn't yours to begin with, nor ours. It belonged, in that particular, in those back pages, to Mr. Dylan. But if we cannot hear it, then what good is it? We own it on record, more than once over. We paid our dues to the record company, and long ago, in 1966. Get over it. It does not belong to you. Let it be, once done and in place. If Sony threatens you, sue them, hire a good lawyer and sue them for an injunction and attorney fees re violation of your rights over fair use. They have no rights, none. They already sold their rights to you. There's but to do or die, not to reason why. Which is why they will die. We are their threat and that is no lie. Want a make a bet, Sony guy? "Pat" by any other name.

Existential questions of the day: Was John Sparkman Jerry Falwell, or did Jerry become John? What goes on there within the rotary of Falmouth?

"Bold Blows" hails the quick taking of Kwajalein after unprecedented naval and air bombardment to usher in a new phase of the war for the Allies, one with which Japan was obviously not equipped to deal. For not one enemy plane or enemy ship had attempted to fend off the invading Marines and Army infantry. The Japanese obviously no longer could afford the rate of attrition experienced in earlier campaigns at Guadalcanal, on New Georgia, on New Guinea, on New Britain, and ongoing on Bougainville.

The piece also finds remarkable the hit-and-run naval operation on Paramushiro in the Kurile Islands, 1,280 miles from Tokyo. The ease with which the ships were able to bombard the coast and then retreat without loss again underscored the weakness now of the Japanese to defend even their home islands.

Drew Pearson examines waste of manpower in the military, causing question of the need to draft fathers. He cites as example the Lakehurst, N.J., blimp base and offers several samples of men matched to jobs in greater numbers than necessary for accomplishment and sitting around waiting for calls to active duty with little opportunity to do anything of consequence in the meantime.

Samuel Grafton examines the purpose behind the move by the Soviets to provide semi-autonomy to the 16 republics comprising the Union. He asserts that it could not logically be the case, as some had proposed, that the motivation for the change was somehow to nudge and irritate the Western Allies. The fact that no specific, expressed demand lay in back of the change belied any purpose toward such end; to fit the prior pattern of Soviet statements, such as the demand for a second front and the demand to make permanent the 1939 Polish border, the move would not be cloaked in implied rather than expressed demands.

He concludes, therefore, that the reason for the position was straightforward, that the Russians wanted to grant autonomy to the Russian states so that the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as old Poland, would be provided Russia by the Western Allies sans the fear that they would be gobbled up and not be allowed any self-governance. Mr. Grafton, however, cautions that such autonomy was only in form, not substance, as ultimately the Soviet leadership in Moscow would handpick who they wanted in positions of power within each of the republics.

Dorothy Thompson also looks at the policy in the Soviet Union and finds it much as did Mr. Grafton in its motivational complex, not for the purpose of trying to expand its influence through sixteen distinct entities, but rather to establish a Soviet Commonwealth along the lines of a British Commonwealth, to extend to member republics the right of self-determination economically and politically, while retaining the strong common bond necessary for national defense. In that way, the Soviets could attract to the commonwealth geographically proximal nations, such as Finland, Yugoslavia, Iran, Iraq, and Germany, even China.

Raymond Clapper, in his fifth of eight posthumously published pieces, another out of sequence, describes the jungle he found on Munda in the Solomons, reputed to be the toughest terrain on which Americans had ever fought to that point. Three days after the landing the previous August, the Seabees had moved in to clear the cocoanut trees which had camouflaged the Japanese airbase, beginning construction of a useable airstrip from the cleared ground.

The American troops had suffered fully 25% casualties in taking Munda, so fierce the defenders that it took a month to advance a mere seven miles. The Japanese had holed up in sniper nests and in tunnels hand-dug from the coral; the jungle encountered was so thick that no shafts of sunlight penetrated through the canopy of fronds down to the darkly ground below.

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