Tuesday, March 14, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 14, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that every ship available in Rumania’s Black Sea ports were being rushed by the Germans to Odessa in the western Ukraine, in preparation for a massive Dunkerque-type evacuation of the remaining German troops now pushed toward Odessa.

This news came on the heels of the announcement that Kherson had fallen to General Rodion Malinovsky's Third Ukrainian Army, 90 miles east of Odessa, after 75,000 Nazis had been killed within the previous ten days of battle in the area of the lower Dneiper. Forces of the Red Army were within 45 miles of the Dniester River, bordering Rumania. Fierce combat persisted in Tarnopol, last inland bastion protecting the rear of the retreating Nazis, as the battle went into its sixth day.

A large RAF raid the night before struck LeMans in France.

Muddy terrain continued to prevent extensive ground operations in Italy. It was believed that it would take another ten days before the ground would become sufficiently hard again to receive the blood of men dying for it.

Limited patrol activity and minor clashes had occurred in the areas of Littoria and Cisterna in the Anzio beachhead area, and near Minturno and Cassino to the west. A clash with Indian troops of the Eighth Army had also occurred on the Adriatic front, where fighting had been only sporadic since Christmas with the departure of General Sir Bernard Montgomery for England to lead the British ground forces in the coming invasion of the Continent, now less than ninety days away.

Between five hundred and a thousand Japanese soldiers were reported dead after a suicide lunge against the barbed wire perimeter of the American lines at Empress Augusta Bay, northeast of Cape Torokina. The attacks had been initiated March 8 and were quickly repulsed. The trapped Japanese on Bougainville, without means of supply, were said to be forming anew for yet another such assault. Their artillery fire had damaged Piva airstrip, quickly repaired by the Sea Bees.

To complement the pincer movement of the American and Chinese troops in the Hukawng Valley offensive in Northern Burma, British troops were reported to have crossed the Chindwin River, forging it in several places north of Tamanthi, 100 miles west of the Irrawaddy Valley, where the Americans and Chinese under the command of General Joseph Stilwell pressed their offensive against trapped Japanese forces. The campaign was believed to be about to oust Japanese opposition from northern Burma, enabling the re-opening of a part of the Burma Road to supply China by land.

Chinese forces were in contact with the enemy fourteen miles southeast of Taro on the main trail to Taru Mountain. In the area of the British Fort Hertz, southeast of Sumprabum, a road block had been effected by the Chinese to cut off enemy penetration north with casualties among the Japanese having been inflicted.

The Soviet Government gave official diplomatic recognition to the Badoglio Government in Italy and to King Vittorio Emanuele, while refraining from lending approbation to the Government. Observers believed the move would strengthen the hold of Badoglio and the King.

Prime Minister Churchill informed Commons that the British and the United States intended to blockade Eire and isolate it from Ulster to arrest further encroachment across the border by Axis spies seeking information on American soldiers stationed in Ulster.

Eire's objection, in addition to resisting the temptation of Luftwaffe bombing in retaliation for any acquiescence to the request of the U. S. and Britain that Japanese and German diplomatic relations be severed, was based on the 1922 partition of Ireland to which Southern Ireland had always objected, believing Ireland should be one sovereign state, free and independent of Great Britain. To recognize the demand to sever diplomatic relations with the Axis was seen as recognition likewise of the partition.

A States' Rights version of the soldier ballot bill, having been approved by the reconciliation conference of the House and Senate, passed the Senate. It provided for a limited Federal ballot to be available with each state’s permission, while form of the ballot and eligibility of absentee voters would be determined separately by each state. The House was also expected quickly to affirm the measure.

Black men were quite good enough to die alongside white men in battle abroad, but, in parts of the South, were not deemed to be worthy of enjoying the franchise granted them by the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, a document of dubious and suspect application in these royal fiefdoms. And, of course, many Republicans did not wish the ballot measure to allow soldiers generally to vote, for fear that they would mark their boxes uniformly beside the name of their current Commander-in-Chief.

It was much the same sort of paternalistic thinking which led to cancellation of the elections in Vietnam in 1956 for fear that the Vietnamese would elect Ho Chi Minh as their president, thus continuing the geopolitical division of Vietnam, that which led to civil war in which, ultimately, Americans became involved as military advisers from 1958 forward, finally boiling over into active American military involvement beginning in early 1965, after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of the previous August.

In Boston, a bank teller was caught having embezzled $18,000 from his employer, albeit returned after he had bet the proceeds successfully on several horse races, including placing $17,000 on Count Fleet to win the 1943 Kentucky Derby, and $4,000 on Whirlaway, of Calumet Farm, to win a race in New Orleans in winter, 1942. He was discovered when another teller came up $10,000 short in cash. The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Federal Court to two months in jail.

He was, of course, fortunate to have won and not to wind up, perhaps, instead, as the suicide which inspired Albert Pinkham Ryder to paint "The Racetrack (Death on a Pale Horse)", as it appears at the bottom of this note. In that case, a waiter bet his entire savings on a race taking place in New York in 1888, and lost. He went home and took his own life with a pistol.

One man steals, bets, and wins, draws 60 days. Another bets his own money, loses, takes his own life. It is hard to reconcile the two cases by way of finding a cohesive and consistent ethereal plan or lesson to be derived from them.

The Midwest and West were now going to be cut, as of April 1, in ordinary gas rationing from three gallons to two gallons per week. The East was already under this limitation.

John A. Moroso, III, again writing in the "Reporter's Notebook" column from onboard a cruiser in the Atlantic, tells of the perils of manual navigation by night around the darkened walkways onboard the vessel, fraught with many a hazard, including bumping one's head.

The piece reminds of one of the last pieces written by Raymond Clapper, published posthumously on February 7, describing life aboard the carrier taking him to the Marshalls where on February 2 he met his death.

On the editorial page, "Clapper" tells of the establishment of an annual journalistic award in the name of Mr. Clapper, to be presented for demonstrated honesty, integrity, and courage in reporting, pertinacity in the search for truth and facts, and objectivity in the interpretation of them, the ability to marshal evidence as a fortress between civilization and the jungles of oblivion.

"Schooling" finds New York pastor, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, counseling a more realistic approach to education than the naïve American method of merely appropriating money and hoping for the best. He reminded that Germany was the best educated nation on earth and yet the results had been the fomenting of vicious military aggression and war. A systemic re-examination of the method by which students were educated was considered necessary to overcome blatant deficiencies.

"The Price" remarks that Eric Johnston, president of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, a liberal with respect to labor relative to men traditionally in such positions, had issued the caveat to Labor that it was, since 1942, doing precisely that which the captains of industry had done during the period 1922 to 1933, causing the Depression, taking advantage of favorable conditions to the point of exploitation for self-interest, ignoring the while the broader impact on society, unfavorable to everyone, management and labor alike.

He accused Labor of taking the great advantages provided it during the New Deal, from 1933 to 1942, and running those new perquisites into the ground, such that all the gains were now threatened by such over-reaching.

"Two Plans" contrasts the approaches of North Carolina's two gubernatorial candidates for the Democratic nomination, Gregg Cherry, the eventual winner, and Dr. Ralph McDonald, with regard to the 70 million-dollar budget surplus on hand. Dr. McDonald favored spending it on building of new infrastructure and raising of teacher salaries, while reducing taxes. Mr. Cherry favored placing the fund in trust for the period of the post-war when it would be needed for demobilization and reconversion of industry to peacetime.

Drew Pearson reports on the resurrection of the same problem dogging the Coolidge and Hoover administrations, the Government operation of nitrate plants to produce alternatively fertilizer for farm use or explosives for the war effort.

After the war, there would be the need to reduce production of nitrates for military use. And the fertilizer companies, together with the private power companies, were in favor of reversion to private ownership. The farm lobby, however, had yet to enter the picture. The farmers wanted more fertilizer to grow more crops after the war than was now available to them. Thus, the two sides were heating up for a confrontation.

The appointment of Will Clayton, cotton king and former Liberty Leaguer, to be the chief demobilizer after the war suggested that likely those in favor of privatization of the industry would win the argument.

Mr. Pearson next informs of the unusually informal method of Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes in hiring a successor to his previous assistant George Briggs, fired and indicted for his involvement in forging the supposed letter from Harry Hopkins to the president of SMU seeking his candidacy against Tom Connally of Texas in the 1944 Senate race and implying that he would be as comfortable with a Dewey administration as an FDR fourth term, a letter sought initially to be exploited by the opposition to the Administration.

The new assistant, Dr. Wesley C. Clark, a statistician of Syracuse University, and employed with the War Shipping Administration, merely responded informally to Secretary Ickes's indication reported in the newspaper that he was looking for a new person to fill the slot. Dr. Clark was called upon to meet with the Secretary and promptly provided the job.

Samuel Grafton attacks the tendency of the State Department to be either silent, as in the case of support for General Charles De Gaulle and the Polish border issue vis à vis Russia, or negative in its relations to the world, everything from stopping immigration of Jews to Palestine to preventing a diplomatic break with Generalissimo Francisco Franco. But it had difficulty in affirmation. Mr. Grafton suggests it was time to become affirmative: "yes we can" rather than "just say no".

Marquis Childs begins a multi-part examination of the oil industry and the 440,000 square-mile oil reserve of the United States in Saudi Arabia, dominated by two companies, Standard Oil of California and Texaco. The reason for the reserve, larger than California and Texas combined, was to provide a distant spot for obtaining oil to supply the Navy so that there would no future problem as that which had led to the disaster of unpreparedness preceding and following Pearl Harbor.

The Saudi Arabian leader, Ibn Saud, wanted U.S. Government assistance in building infrastructure for the oil rich country. And so the Army-Navy Petroleum Board got together with the two major companies to plan for the construction of a 1,250-mile pipeline stretching form the oil reserve to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. But no sooner than the plans were drawn, the cry of "Imperialism" was heard from some quarters and opposition mounted, primarily from two competing American oil companies, Standard of New Jersey and Socony Vacuum, both of which had the oil concessions in neighboring Iraq.

Dorothy Thompson examines the role of pacifists in the war, finds them every bit as culpable for the war, maybe more so, as the enemies of democracy. For the pacifists, she finds, had not fought back even in Germany when their ranks were being arrested and killed for their pacifism in the early days after Hitler came to power. They did not exhibit the courage of their convictions for the most part, even if certain exceptional groups, such as those who volunteered in Britain during the Blitz to disarm time bombs, comprised the exception to prove the rule. Instead, they stood blithely by, she contends, insisting on their place in heaven while men sacrificed life and limb, consciously entering hell in Italy, in the Pacific, dodging flak over Berlin, to insure their right to continue to be pacifists. She opines that these fighting men would sooner get to heaven in fact than the pacifist.

Those who were voicing opposition to the bombing of Germany, such as Vera Brittain, writing recently in that vain with the endorsement of 78 persons, mostly clergymen, failed to take moral responsibility for the war, rather remained aloof from it as if ensconced in a separate state of being apart from the rest of the world forced to deal with the reality brought about in part by their insouciance.

See February 18 and November 2, 1943

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