Wednesday, February 9, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 9, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that that American troops had penetrated to within 75 yards of the Benedictine Monastery at the summit of Mt. Cassino, having occupied one-fourth of the town. The previous dayís report had indicated a third of the town in Allied hands while that of the day before had stated it as fully half.

Fighting continued along confused lines in the Anzio-Nettuno sector, with the heaviest fighting yet since the landing January 22 having occurred Monday night. Gains and losses were about even between the sides.

At a strategic crossroads, Femina Morte, Americans occupied houses on one side of the road while Germans occupied those on the other.

On Kwajalein, all Japanese resistance was reported to have ceased, as American forces moved on other undisclosed islands within the Marshalls.

American bombers again hit targets in Northern France during the day as RAF bombers struck Western Germany and France the previous night, including the Rhone Aircraft Engine Factory at Limoges.

With an early spring, the earliest in generations, offering its first buds, the Red Army, after taking Nikopol, was reported to be closing in on the Black Sea port of Kherson and Nikolaev, as well as surrounding the heavily fortified iron center at Krivoi Rog. The Nazis had lost fully 15,000 men at Nikopol. There was no sign of retreat from Krivoi Rog, despite the fact that only one avenue of escape remained, to the west toward Dolonivka.

The ten Nazi divisions entrapped near Cherkasy were said to be losing all hope of rescue, as the landing fields by which rescue and supply had been effected had fallen into Russian hands.

Nazi prisoners in their winter coats were said to appear absurd as sweat poured from them while they marched into captivity.

The carrier U.S.S. Ranger was reported by the Navy to have sunk 40,000 tons of German shipping in Norwegian waters in October, despite having been reported by the Reich as sunk six months earlier, Hitler having even decorated the U-boat crew to whom the sinking was attributed.

OWI reported that thus far in the war U.S. troops had suffered 159,478 casualties, of whom 34,179 had been killed, 51,292 wounded, 34,746 missing, and 30,261 taken prisoner. Of the prisoners, 1,936 had died in captivity, most in Japanese camps. Of the total, 112,030 of the casualties were from the Army.

From Pittston, Pa., came the sad story of a two-year old girl suddenly disappearing into the ground beneath a sidewalk which collapsed beneath her into an anthracite coal mine. Rotten timbers supporting the mine had given way below the ground. The little girl's aunt had just given her a tangerine when she suddenly fell backward into the opening in the sidewalk. The tangerine fell from her hand and rolled along the walk. The town was built over coal deposits and numerous collapses had occurred in recent years, destroying houses and buildings.

An Army private, bored after two weeks of shooting at Germans holed up in Cassino, had taken to playing solitaire, he told Hal Boyle. It built character. Others played rummy, or, after payday, poker.

Another soldier responsible for driving supplies through the area of heavy enemy artillery shelling along Highway 6, said that he had become so inured to the shellfire that he had learned some of the shells had "stop" written on them, others, "go like hell". He was obedient to their commands.

It is, we note, remindful, on another level, of going through this old newsprint and determining what and how much to say about each day's pieces.

A private, who sported three stars on the gun scabbard of his motorcycle, told of riding it up Mt. Vesuvius. No one thought him a general as generals did not ride motorcycles.

Based on a previous report of recent days from Mr. Clapper, we assume it was an Indian, though it might have been a Norton.

On the editorial page, "Spectator" worries that the United States had, unique among the Allies, not yet put forth a stake in the post-war world. Russia had urged resolution of the Polish border question and that of the Baltic States in its favor. Lord Halifax had recently spoken in Canada for the retention and strengthening of the British Empire in the post-war world. But, still, the United States was content to play its cards close to its chest.

The piece concludes, however, that perhaps it was not so much an indicator of procrastination or indecision, but rather only of biding time in the realization that the United States would be the greatest economic and political power to come out of the war and that it would thus be best to allow the other Allies to stake their ground independently, especially as long as they were content to remain within their own present geographical spheres.

"Lay Critics" finds misplaced the criticism by London newspapers of the slow progress on the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead and the failure, as the London press saw it, to take advantage of the apparent surprise of the Nazis at the original landings. The editorial begs to differ, finding the comparison to the Russian campaign ill-fitted, given the differences in geography of the two settings, the vast scope of the Russian front versus the narrow confines on the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead.

It might have added that Russia's great success was preceded by enormous failure and the need for moving its entire industrial base to the east of Moscow during the first six months after the invasion. Only beginning in November, 1942, seventeen months after the invasion, did the Russians start to make substantial gains which were not followed soon in the spring, as in 1942, by substantial losses.

The piece reposits full confidence in the military commanders of the operation at Anzio-Nettuno and, while expecting heavy casualties, believed that victory would eventually come.

"A Confusion" warrants that Japan appeared now in the throes of mixed emotions regarding the successes on Kwajalein in the Marshalls and the quick Navy raid without damage at Paramushiro in the Kuriles, 1,280 miles from Tokyo.

Whereas before these successes were announced, Japanese Admiral Soso had stated that American advance was acceptable as it permitted the Japanese to strike and envelop the Allied forces all at once, now Tokyo radio was issuing direct warnings to the people that Japanís situation in the war had become grave. The latter bespoke a sudden change of attitude, a need finally to inform the Japanese people of the dilemma they faced as the Allies moved, quickly and without interference, yet two steps closer, from north and southeast, to Japanese home waters.

"A Plea" gives high praise to President Roosevelt for his address before the Federal Council of Churches of Christ, in which he placed on the plane of Christianity the concept of equality of all persons throughout the world and within the country. He had criticized those Americans who had failed in living up to this concept, believed that they should be held in contempt.

Samuel Grafton again addresses the Soviet decision to grant limited autonomy to its sixteen constituent republics, finding it to be, not a move to grab sixteen votes at the peace table, but rather to achieve economic orthodoxy from the many, in the stead of economic heterodoxy which had weakened the one. With each republic able to make its own foreign policy, it would have its own ambassador to each country, thus providing replication and the appearance of greater political strength for the Soviet system than that inherent in only one large country.

Drew Pearson first discusses a dinner held by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox for four of the five Senators who had toured the Pacific during the summer and returned with criticism for the Navy. Senator Richard Russell of Georgia was not present, but the other four, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts, Senator Jim Mead of New York, Senator Owen Brewster of Maine, and Senator Happy Chandler of Kentucky, were. Despite the attempt by the Secretary to heal rifts with the Navy, Senator Chandler, especially, still was unhappy with the way things were going in the Pacific.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the death of Raymond Clapper, remarking that he had flown with Mr. Clapper on his April, 1941 trip to Mexico. Mr. Clapper had suffered terribly from airsickness and thus Mr. Pearson assumes that he must have suffered greatly during his many air travels abroad, prior to his death February 2 in a mid-air collision between the bomber in which he was riding and another American bomber.

Mr. Pearson also relates of a conversation between longtime Democratic Congressman Adolph Sabath of Illinois, who at age 78 and with 38 years in the House, had contemplated openly to the President his intent not to run for re-election. The President urged him to do so, that there was much work left to be done. Mr. Sabath then said that he felt likewise about the President and his seeking another term, that the peace had to be won after the war. The President ultimately did not argue the point.

Raymond Clapper reports from Guadalcanal, in the sixth of his eight posthumously published pieces since his death a week earlier. He describes the incessant rain, not missing a day since Christmas, being most characteristic of the island, now quiet since the six-month fight for it ended the previous early February. It was primarily now a supply depot. But still, as men who had borne the frontlines the longest were rotated into the zone every 18 months, the island was no paradise. Besides the rain, there were plentiful mosquitoes carrying malaria, a problem abated with an anti-malarial program in place. The large number of airfields told the story that Guadalcanal had once been a central locale of war activity.

Among the things most immediately striking upon approach from the air were, as on Munda, the cemeteries full of white crosses.

The rain fell as a mist, remindful of that in Northern California or that presented in the 1922 play, also made into a film, based on Somerset Maugham's story, Rain.

All of which is to show, once again, that the world is, not quite as spake Zarathustra, but rather somewhat oval. He who thinks otherwise is a Nazi, one who has watched far, far too much tv, for example among the many media extant, and ingested it without criticism, as if it were more than, for the most part, a cruel joke on the ingester without art.

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