Tuesday, March 28, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 28, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Nikolaev at the mouth of the Bug River had been captured by units of the Third Ukrainian Army.

Other Red Army troops had, according to Berlin radio, stormed the town of Iasi, headquarters of Nazi Marshal Von Mannstein's retreating army, ten miles west of the Prut River, indicative of the first crossing of the river into old Rumania.

In Italy, artillery exchanges in the southwest corner of Cassino continued, with the Allies still trying to root out the stubborn Nazi occupation of the Hotels Des Roses and Continental. An attempt by the Germans to attack on the road from Terelle, four miles northwest of Cassino, was stopped.

Three attempts of platoon strength by the Germans to hit the left side of the Anzio beachhead were repulsed. Meanwhile, six patrol clashes between Carroceto and Cisterna were also reported.

In a relatively large German raid on England and South Wales, several German planes had bombed targets, primarily at Bristol, but including other places in southern, western, and southeastern England. Several casualties and extensive property damage were reported.

Perhaps symbolic of the lack of success, however, of the raid was the fact that out of the eleven planes shot down by British coastal defenses, two Luftwaffe fliers, who had parachuted from their shot down plane in southwest England, walked into a nearby police station and surrendered themselves.

Between 250 and 500 U.S. heavy bombers attacked in Northern France, at Chartres, Reims, Dijon, and Chateaudun, while 750 to a thousand bombers attacked freight yards at Tours, destroying in the process 38 Nazi planes. Chartres was hit for the second day in a row. It was believed that some of the airbases struck provided the source of the German raid on England.

John C. Garand, inventor of the M-1 rifle, standard issue to the Army from 1936 through 1957, and Dr. Albert Taylor, inventor of radar, were both provided medals of merit by the President, presented by Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

William Worden, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes from a base in the Marshall Islands of the seeming pointless acts of "bravery" which amounted to gross waste of life in self-sacrifice of the Japanese soldiers fighting in the Gilberts and Marshalls. Routinely, the soldiers, when surrounded by Americans, would suddenly pop their heads out of foxholes, rarely taking any Allied soldier with them, but being riddled by bullets, with no hope of accomplishing anything save death. The officers behaved even more brazenly, either falling on hand grenades ritualistically, or charging in a fatal headlong last burst of glory to their deaths.

Even those accustomed to the habits of the Japanese soldier had found the new routine puzzling. The Americans had concluded that it germinated from the need of the Japanese soldier to prove himself brave, a consistent theme advocating such sacrifice being observed to proliferate in enemy propaganda. To this end, the Japanese had formed an academy of Hokkaido to teach methods of efficient suicide, taking as many of the enemy as possible with them, all the while brainwashed to believe that death for the Emperor meant a sure berth on the train ride to Nirvana.

That these soldiers were greeted at the pearly gates by Auld Hornie, no doubt, carrying a fiery ball and chain, came as a bit of a shock.

The American soldier was taught to be smart, informs Mr. Worden, but never exhorted to be brave. The Japanese soldier, he asserts, was not so sure of his bravery.

"So, he goes into battle hopped up with saki and filled to the short haircut with homeland exhortations to be a hero. Sometimes, according to his lights, he is--he swings his silly sword, he yells his self-reassuring battle-cry, 'Banzai' (the only battle cries you ever hear American soldiers yelling are unprintable lovelies), and now and then he blows himself up messily."

How far American soldiers have progressed since World War II, as we read of the sorry sight in Afghanistan reported this week in Rolling Stone of the murder squads who plotted during the last year deliberately to kill innocent Afghan civilians, including teenagers and elderly persons merely minding their own business, summoned to be killed, trusting of the American soldiers, and then summarily executed, photographed, with smiling faces of the soldiers standing by, and a gun or grenade placed next to the victims' bodies to try to make the scene appear as an enemy attack. At least some of the soldiers have been caught, tried, and convicted.

It does not require a swastika and goosestep to become a Nazi. If you have a tendency to call the police at the drop of a hat; if you have a tendency to want to report your neighbor for something, anything, you are the moral equivalent of a Nazi. Check yourself.

In San Francisco, 22 people died in a fire at the New Amsterdam Hotel, south of Market Street on Fourth, currently the site of the Moscone Center Complex, site of the 1984 Democratic Convention nominating former Vice-President Walter Mondale and Representative Geraldine Ferraro.

We were walking along there at the time one late evening and saw a limousine escorted by a phalanx of police vehicles pass our position. We could not, however, discern who it was for the darkened windows.

The fire had been started by arson, the sixth such arson of the night. Eleven hotel fires in Oakland had been reported, apparently set by the same person, the previous Saturday night.

San Francisco had also been the site of the 1964 Republican Convention, at the Cow Palace.

In 1976, we saw Wings perform there.

Once, circa 1983, we heard of a case in which an individual was arrested for battery upon a law enforcement officer. The alleged offender had, in Golden Gate Park, punched right in the jaw a police horse while an officer was affixed to the horse's saddle set astride the horse.

In New York City, firemen began using for the first time Army walkie-talkies to communicate with another.

No, not from the Deep South back woods, but from urban Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard Yard, came the intriguing story of an eighteen-year old bride who summoned the father of her sixteen-year old husband into court on a claim that he had falsely imprisoned his son just as they returned from their honeymoon in New York, and had held him from connubial bliss, presumably also contending alienation of affections, during the month thus far since their troubled, locked-off marriage.

Her young husband, alleged the slightly older bride, had been padlocked in a room at the parents' home in nearby Somerville, Mass. The judge had to decline action on the petition of the bride for the fact that the groom's father had filed a petition for annulment of the marriage on the ground of his son being under the age of majority and not first obtaining his parents' consent as required by law. The court thus considered the bride's petition moot in the meantime, that she would have opportunity to be heard at time of trial of the annulment.

Little Alex has done it now. He will be grounded for certain behind that locked door for years hence. He could not be with his betrothed for yet two whole cycles around the sun, an eternity, surely by which time his chosen would be old and decrepit at twenty.

On the editorial page, "Sales Tax" discusses the position of gubernatorial candidate Dr. Ralph McDonald to abolish the sales tax, in favor of other methods of raising revenue. But to do so, as Chapel Hill Weekly editor Louis Graves had pointed out in an editorial, would turn a 40 million dollar budget surplus into a 90 million dollar budget deficit. And, with increased spending slated for education, to do so would be dangerous. Alternative sources of revenue would not make up the shortfall.

"O'Daniel" finds Senator "Pass the Biscuits Pappy" of Texas to be out on a limb and sawing off his own political future admirably, and with no objections from The News, by advocating a housecleaning in Washington. He plumped for men of character interested in clean government, men free from the political spoils system, with which the Senator charged Roosevelt with being irretrievably entwined. The piece asks rhetorically where that left Senator O'Daniel and his hillbilly band.

Yes, that's right, given the beginning of the Cambridge story, quoting Shakespeare, it is only fitting and proper to paraphrase this editorial's questions: O Brother, O'Daniel, where art thou? And wherefore not avaunt thee?

"Blarney" gives the name to that put forth by Representative O’Brien of New York in his three-day late St. Patrick's Day speech on the floor of the House. He praised Ireland for its fighting spirit of the past, brought into the current war. He barely mentioned the neutrality of Eire and the recent flak it had received for its refusal to sever relations with Japan and Germany and expel the diplomats of those countries to end the opportunity for spying on American troops being trained in Ulster.

Blarney, says the editorial, would not work this time to color green the wayward Eire.

"Rise, Rebels!" announces the creation of the Southern Democratic Party in South Carolina, set to oppose FDR and the New Deal in the general election. Anyone, it proclaimed, would be acceptable except FDR.

The only thing missing to this forerunner of Strom Thurmond's 1948 Dixiecrats was the name of the leader who the new party intended to nominate. It would not be Mr. Thurmond. He was a Lt. Colonel in the Army and would serve in the summer as a paratrooper landing behind the lines on Normandy.

Whoever it was, fizzled. Fully 88% of South Carolinians would vote for Roosevelt in November, 4.5% for Dewey, and the remaining number supporting "others".

Marquis Childs, still in Wisconsin following the Willkie campaign for the Republican nomination for the presidency, reports of the virtually hopeless chances of Mr. Willkie to obtain a majority of the delegates in the April 4 primary, a crucial test of popular support if he was going to have any hope of capturing the nomination. Had it not been for the fact that Governor Thomas Dewey had formally withdrawn from the race and asked his committed slate of delegates to withdraw, he would have won in a landslide. As it was, the support for Willkie was weak and foundering.

The general attitude among Republicans in Wisconsin was to get out of the war. Mr. Willkie wanted to increase the American commitment, while warning that such an attitude as displayed in Wisconsin would lose the general election in November for the Republican candidate.

Samuel Grafton once again addresses the issue of "unconditional surrender" of Germany and suggests that it be amended to apply with force to the Nazi Party and the Nazi leaders responsible for war crimes, but that the German people otherwise be exempted from its application and permitted to conduct themselves democratically, while under surveillance to insure that no Fascist activities had their rebirth.

Dorothy Thompson discusses the vagueness of the seventeen points put forth by Secretary of State Hull as the summation of America's foreign policy, finds them wanting of substance, insufficient to guide the country in the post-war peace ahead. Vague words would not be enough, she asserts, given the lessons learned from the aftermath of World War I.

It would take a cohesive commitment worldwide to an international organization, one committed to peace and enforcement of the peace, having sufficient arms available to overcome the potential for any belligerent action undertaken by any country not willing to join such an organization.

Of course, the advent of nuclear weaponry sixteen months hence would change the entire world picture and present the ultimate policeman to the world, the threat of complete annihilation in one final battle.

Her plaintive words in conclusion explain the growing trend of fret among the people regarding the war and its losses, America's involvement now having lasted longer than any war since the Civil War, than any war ever fought off American soil. America at the time was not the happy-go-lucky, united land which is often depicted in the movies. If not protesting in the streets, many American citizens possessed a growing impatience with the war.

As evidence of the ennui and apathy which had set in among the people, Drew Pearson devotes his entire column to the issue before the Senate Military Affairs Committee of waste and inefficiency in government war factories. The bulk of the testimony bore witness to wide-scale idleness by upwards of two-thirds or more of the workers on any given shift in factories where government contracts paid the bills.

The foremen and managers did not care as long as the government paid the bills. A government employee testified that, on his observations of the Brooklyn plant of Bethlehem Steel, two-thirds of the workers could be dismissed and efficiency would increase. He reported of sixteen men taking seven hours, of which 45 minutes were utilized in work, to load 180 pieces of lumber onto a ship, the other six hours and fifteen minutes having been spent chatting in the mess hall over coffee and waiting for the spirit to move them to accomplish their only task assigned for the shift.

Such was emblematic of that which was transpiring across the country, at least according to the array of witnesses testifying before the Senate committee.

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