Thursday, March 30, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 30, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Czernowitz, third largest city of pre-war Rumania, seventeen miles north of the 1940 Rumanian border, had been taken by the Red Army. The capture cut the Germans from their supply base in old Poland and severed the forces of the eastern and central Ukraine. (We had thought the town had been taken a week earlier, but we had read into the approach to the outskirts too much.)

The Russian First Ukrainian Army was now thirty miles from the Pass of the Tatars, leading across the Carpathian Mountains into Carpatho-Ukraine, a region once belonging to Czechoslovakia, provided to Hungary by Hitler during the post-Munich period. Now, from which, the Nazis were running as chickens with their heads off.

In Burma, glider-borne air commandos damaged Japanese headquarters at Mohnyin, 80 miles southwest of the enemy base at Myitkyina, on the railroad between Myitkyina and Mandalay.

General Joseph Stilwell's troops meanwhile continued to move southward toward Myitkyina through the Mogaung Valley, setting up a roadblock north of Laban and encircling two makeshift battalions of the Japanese 18th Division.

Fighting was reported to be continuing intensely in the Somra Hills area, northwest of Imphal in Northern India. The Allies had driven the Japanese from high ground along the Tiddim Road to Imphal, one of three means of the enemy approach.

RAF heavy bombers the night before raided Lyon in France, while Mosquitos unloaded bombs over Kiel in Germany.

It was announced that the previous day's target of the American bombers on Germany was, not Berlin as reported by German radio, but Brunswick, carried out under heavy overcast conditions requiring targeting via instruments. The raid knocked out 48 German planes. Nine Allied bombers and nine fighters failed to return from that raid and the separate raid on Pas de Calais.

Little activity was reported either from the Anzio beachhead or the Cassino front in Italy.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson remarked that the Germans had flatly stopped the Allied advance into Cassino. After the carpet bombing of the town March 15, dropping 2,500 tons of bombs on an area of less than a square mile, rains fell causing sluggish movement of troops and prohibiting tanks entering the town, as well as inhibiting movement up the slopes of Monte Cassino. The interruption permitted the Germans to return to the town and re-establish their positions in the southwest corner, in the ruins of the Continental Hotel and Hotel Des Roses, while receiving air cover from the troops holed up in the ruins of the Abbey at the top of Monte Cassino.

The Nazis on the front with the Anzio beachhead were reported to be using wooden bullets, mahoganyesque cores encased in a brass jacket, for the purpose of firing short range at night from behind Allied lines to the Allied rear. As the range was limited to a hundred to two hundred yards, the bullets could not traverse the distance back to the German lines, out of which the German troops routinely sneaked under cover of darkness. Allied command indicated that the Nazis had used these bullets at Salerno during the September operations in that area.

Secretary Stimson further indicated that an additional 4,947 American casualties had been reported for both the Army and Navy during the previous week.

He also stated that, of the 53,000 Army casualties, a little over half, about 27,000, had returned to duty.

John Moroso, III, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, with the Navy in Britain, reports that recently a single Allied landing craft had been sunk in the English Channel by the Nazis. To provide fodder for their propaganda mill, it quickly became a cause celebre, turning suddenly into a major landing force which had been supposedly interdicted.

In London, Commons delivered a vote of confidence to the Churchill Government by a tally of 425 to 23. The Prime Minister had called for the vote because of the previous day's one vote margin of defeat for a Government-sponsored deletion of an amendment to a proposed bill, which would establish equal pay for male and female teachers. It was the fourth time that Commons had been called upon by the Prime Minister to deliver a vote of confidence during his four-year tenure in office. Had the vote gone against the Government, then general elections would have been called.

The sponsor of the provision of the bill regarding equal pay was M.P. Cazalet Keir. The Right Honorable Gentlewoman indicated that, because of the circumstances of the war, she, herself, was voting in favor of deletion of the provision by voting confidence in the Government.

It was still not made clear why Prime Minister Churchill chose to stake his Government on this relatively minor domestic issue, but he did, indicating that division at such a crucial time, even on domestic issues, when the landing on the Continent was nigh, was unacceptable.

The Soviet Government newspaper Izvestia printed a front page editorial indicating that the Soviet exchange of envoys with the Italian Government of Pietro Badoglio did not indicate full-scale diplomatic recognition of the Government. It further expressed irritation at the suggestion by the American and British press that the Soviet had provided support to undemocratic elements in Italy.

The trial in Los Angeles of Charlie Chaplin on Mann Act violations by transporting 23-year old Joan Berry across state lines, allegedly for the purpose of illicit sexual relations, neared its end, with the defense presenting alibi evidence indicating that Mr. Chaplin was elsewhere than with Ms. Berry on one of the dates on which she had alleged physical intimacy with the actor.

A map of the Russian offensive drive appears on the inside page.

A story on the page tells of the critical manpower problem now extant in Germany, so bad that 9 to 12-year old girls were being actively recruited for work in factories, where, supposedly, according to a story in the Hamburg newspaper, they sang joyfully while they worked.

--Death to the Fuehrer, the Fuehrer is dead. We hope he scalds in hot water in his bed, we hope they will boil his body and his head. Hi-ho-the merrio, the Fuehrer is dead, the Fuehrer dead, yes he is, yes he is. We are joyful that the Fuehrer is dead.

Also reported are the summations in the sensational murder trial of Wayne Lonergan in New York City for the strangulation of his estranged wife in late October. The prosecutor asked for a conviction of first degree murder, which would automatically invoke the death penalty unless the jury recommended mercy. The prosecution theory was that Mr. Lonergan was distressed by his wealthy wife having cut him off of his allowance and was after her estate.

The defense, in a fiery attack on prosecution tactics, declared that the District Attorney, two assistant district attorneys, and the Police Chief all should be committed to prison after the trial for falsifying evidence in the case. He contended that the confession of his client was coerced and should be discounted for the fact that Mr. Lonergan was drunk at the time and kept drunk by his interrogators. The confession, he added, was further coerced by an unkept promise to maintain as secret evidence of homosexual relations by Mr. Lonergan.

He argued further that the prosecution had not shown beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of his client and had not discounted the possibility that the murder was committed by either a burglar or by Mrs. Lonerganís escort, an interior decorator, to a series of nightclub outings on the evening before her body was discovered the following morning.

And in protest of a sentence to fifteen days hard labor of a Miami bus driver on a charge of assaulting a taxi driver, bus drivers in Miami walked off the job for two hours the previous night. They had gone back to work when the defendant had been released at midnight upon the setting and posting of an appellate bond, pending the outcome of his appeal.

Whether Joe Buck thus for a time had difficulty getting around town after his arrival from NYC, less his friend Rico, was not told. Perhaps, he could catch a taxi ride with a little known driver named Ralph Cramden--who, they said, at one time, was plotting in stealth to assassinate President Roosevelt, before, that is, he first became a legendary local hero by wiping out a young prostitute's nest of pimps with his handgun.

It was ascertained, incidentally, after the fact, by the coroner--who later moved to L.A. and was involved in the autopsy of the water commissisoner there in a controversial case wherein, allegedly, his wife, the former Bonnie Barrow, had engaged someone to murder her husband for the money, until her father intervened to protect her from the clutches of the overzealous local D.A., (the actual guilty party, who only wanted to have an affair with Bonnie), by paying off a kid on the streets of Tampico, Mexico, the child using the money to purchase a lottery ticket from an American named Rick, down on his luck also, both the child and Rick then using the proceeds of the winnings to go on an expedition for gold with a friend of Marilyn Monroe, a parrot on his shoulder--that Rico's slide in life had begun in Santa Barbara after his wedding to a young woman from L.A., the perfect picture of connubial bliss, until, that is, two months into the marriage, it became painfully obvious that Rico's chosen could not keep things together, having joined a gang of outlaws and fled to Bolivia with them, where, her new boyfriend having been killed along with his friend, Butch, she met up with another outlaw who went by the name "General Lee", whereupon they moved to the state of Nebraska and went on a murder spree, until the former Mrs. Rico Ricardo finally went crazy and chopped up everyone at the local high school prom, after having enrolled under an alias, though she was by then pushing 30, then, being first committed for six months to an asylum in upstate New York, having had her influential father successfully intervene to obtain both lenience and an annulment of the marriage to Rico, who, by then, had become a controversial "entertainter", (a neologism, thought to be coined from a typographical error during a strike of the editors in sympathy with the Typographical Union employees, walked off the job for better wages), in the Adirondacks, married the doctor, a former hockey player during his stint at Harvard, whom she had left behind in the first place waiting at the altar in Santa Barbara while she had her fling with Rico, and was now living in a pleasant walk-up next to Central Park expecting a baby, her father, originally from North Carolina, an attendee at Pulpit Hill in fact, having by that time moved his whole family to Martha's Vineyard to get away from the riff-raff of Southern California, there being elected mayor of a little village which was lucky enough to acquire as its police chief a former New York City police officer named Brody, who had been engaged previously in police work with Buck Barrow, while doing advertising work on the side for a soft drink, singing and writing original songs with a country and western band in Greenwich Village, Buck having changed his name by then, after a short stint as coach of a skiing team whose members included Butch's friend before they formed the gang which led to the downfall of Rico's ex, though the true father of Joe Buck, explaining probably quite a lot of Joe's problem.

Buck, incidentally, had, before joining the NYC P.D., where he exposed all of their corruption until he, himself, started robbing banks and jewelry stores with a friend while on parole for other crimes committed in the line of duty, been a police chief in a little town in Mississippi, that after having, for awhile, lived in the French Quarter in New Orleans, before becoming a pool player in New York which led to the job as a police officer, when the champion pool player he challenged took pity on his poor playing, losing everything he had in the challenge, and suggested that he see the desk sergeant down the street at the local precinct there in Queens, beside the bakery which specialized in little gingerbread bears, the crumbs of which were delivered to a young pigeon raiser by means of the bakery owner's new Buick Roadmaster, which later, in 1977, broke down, and was replaced by a Volkswagen of the same color, which the owner, for unknown reasons, thought was a 1963 Falcon Futura, first registered in Burlingame, California.

Joe eventually went to Vietnam and there became a song writer, after a stint as a radio announcer, popular with the troops, while performing on the side in the Saigon Shakespeare Society, devoted to original quarto renditions of the plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

During one performance, he had what doctors at the Army hospital, to which he was committed for three weeks suffering from nervous exhaustion, subsequently termed "flashback", germinating from when he met up with the taxi driver who had carried him around Miami, and who only uttered one sentence to him as he came up after the play and shook his hand, "One shot, is it the Safeway out when there's no law, Draw-master Mustardseed?" at which point Joe took spontaneously to playing cards with only a deck comprised of Queens of Hearts, and has refused all company since, communicating only in what he calls "smile talk" with strangers in the night, appearing suddenly, wearing boots, complaining, while pulling at the string in their leg, that they need a dime from the Coke machine to make a phone call to stop a revolution, then turning to find the friend who accompanied them to the booth gone, gone, gone with the wind in a Model T flying across the moon with the chimney sweeps, out the window with Juicy Fruit in his food, insisting the while that he had to get to the barber back in Mississippi and catch the next installment of "People's Court", all arranged to occur in concert by Professor Higgins, director at the zoo before the giraffe died, its carcass being carried out to sea on a barge, which wrecked with a motor torpedo boat returning from a secret mission up river, passing a blue canoe in which was paddling someone wearing a coonskin cap and offering up eleven dollar bills to the fishes on the Hudson with curly tails, before all were rescued by an ironsided Higgins boat coming down river with a load of stuffed ravens for props to be used in a play to be presented in Washington at the end of the Civil War.

But, then Buck heard about Joe's success and became jealous as he had always thought of doing the same thing, sat himself down and wrote a play about his own life, A Midsummer Nightmare Gone Awry in the Rain, which then had a successful run on Broadway and won several Tony Awards for Buck.

Joe heard about it and is now engaged in litigation over copyright infringement, based on theft of intellectual property yet not committed to writing but stuck in his head, and, further, alleging slander for loosely basing the play on Joe's life.

Neither yet knows that they are father and son. They will discover it in El Secundo Acto when it becomes clear that each has as his favorite expression, "I hope you don't mind, I like them served with their heads on."

The next act is performed in pantomime on a tennis court in the middle of downtown London, necessitating transport of the audience via the Concorde during intermission.

And then, in El Cuarto Acto, also staged in London, Joe and Buck realize, by looking into the mirror, that they are in fact the same person, changed only by the make-up.

The final line in the play, stated as an aside by the deus ex machina, delivered from a booming bass voice from somewhere up in the rafters, is, "Really. Are they?"

The audience is then left in a stateless predicament, their passports having been confiscated by Caesar, and forced to find their way back home on their own.

The play had been hailed by all the critics as exemplary of a new form of theater art, dubbed, colloquially, "All their needs met, reverting to survivalism to have something to do", a professor at Columbia shortening that down to "anomically induced dissociative existential angst", a manifestation of which was the new fad, to prove one's mettle and utter worthlessness as a human being when posed starkly in simplicity, possessed only of a rifle, a blanket, some ammunition, a pouch, and an umbrella, against the indomitable forces of Nature: climbing Mount Everest in the dark while otherwise naked--we mean, really naked.

On the editorial page, "Palestine" finds unconvincing a British white paper which had determined the current week as a deadline for Jewish immigration to Palestine. The paper had asserted the reason to be military necessity, but had not disclosed the precise nature of it. The President had changed his view from supporting an open door policy indefinitely for Palestine to agreeing with the Army that the British rationale was sound and should be followed.

The editorial, however, finds itself in agreement with Senator Johnson of Colorado when he said that the British were siding with the Nazis in cutting off Jewish immigration to Palestine, permitting to continue unabated Hitler's purge of all Jews in Europe without affording any further means for the trickle of Jewish emigrants from Germany to be given haven elsewhere.

"An Omen?" finds the election of the Democrat Mr. Stigler to the Congress in the special election in Oklahoma to be a significant bellwether for November. The President had sent in his heavy guns, primarily Senator Barkley, to campaign for Mr. Stigler. The Democrat had, moreover, faced opposition from within the Democratic Party in the form of Senator Pappy O'Daniel of Texas, who had campaigned in Oklahoma for the Republican on the necessity to end the dynasty of FDR and the New Deal. Thus, the election did in fact, as the Democrats proclaimed, appear to forecast great support in the land for the President and his policies, despite the fact that only three of the eleven such special Congressional elections during the previous four years had gone to Democrats.

Whether Pappy, incidentally, brought with him his new band, the Flour Children, which had scored a big underground hit with a new song, passed by word of mouth, titled "Deck o' Jokers 51", written by SSgt. Joe Buck, teaming in its originally sung version with another new underground sensation, Lady Diva Go-Go, off the wall from the newest album by the biggest pop group of the day, the Alias Four, also banned by Caesar in Birming-ham for their statement that they had become bigger than Caesar, to which controversy subliminal allusion had been made in the lyrics of the song on the flipside of "Deck o' Jokers", "Ticket to Myster E. Gone Down the Tracks", the Children's record having been banned from the jukes also as Caesar had intervened on the basis that none of the "Goat Flours", affectionately so dubbed by their too hip fans, were union musicians and could not therefore play on the radio or have their music played on the jukes without first paying their radiator dues, which they refused to do for the fact of Caesar having done what he did, running them all insane, to the end of Caesar becoming their god, was not indicated.

"The Charge" examines dismissively the contention by the leader of the North Carolina Young Republicans that teachers throughout the state were being coerced into providing political support for Democrats, that they stood in fear of Raleigh and Shelby, the home of Clyde Hoey and former Governor O. Max Gardner. The piece treats the charge as no more than campaign rhetoric without any evidentiary basis. If the leader of the Young Republicans could provide evidence of the charge, concludes the editorial, then he should.

"Great Issues" determines the attack of Congressman Claire Hoffman of Michigan on Walter Winchell for his supposed slanders of Congress to be unduly distracting in time of war. The solution offered by Mr. Hoffman to resolve the problem was to have the Congress advise Navy officers, of which Mr. Winchell was one as a lieutenant commander, to refrain from making any comments regarding Congress, a ban already being in effect on political comment by Army officers.

It was a pretty pass, offers the piece, to which the country had come when, in a war to preserve democracy and its chief incident, freedom of speech, the Congress was moving to limit freedom of speech among its military officers, one of whom happened to be the major radio commentator of the day.

Marquis Childs looks from the perspective of Illinois at the prospect for General MacArthur becoming the Republican nominee for president. He reports that Robert E. Wood, the national sponsor of America First had visited General MacArthur recently in the Southwest Pacific, following which no word from the General had issued distancing himself from the isolationist, anti-British, pro-Nazi views which had come to characterize America First. Mr. Childs advises that General MacArthur should state his opinion on the organization, and if Army rules dictated his silence, then they should be changed.

Drew Pearson discusses a meeting between three freshman Congressmen and Secretary of State Hull. The three, Clare Boothe Luce of Connecticut, Dr. Walter Judd of Minnesota, and Frank Barrett of Wyoming, all sounded out Mr. Hull on why he insisted on so much secrecy and silence as to foreign policy, maintaining matters closer to the vest than either Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden in Great Britain or Foreign Minister Molotov in Russia. Mr. Hull had responded that he agreed that it would be desirable to convey information more openly, but to do so could compromise military operations to the benefit of the enemy.

The Congressmen found Mr. Hull to appear not in prime health, taciturn and having difficulty at times speaking. Ms. Luce left the meeting declaring that there was still emanating from the State Department only silence.

She did not articulate, "No plan, no plan, no plan," as she would of the Truman Administration in the fall of 1952 with regard to Korea. But the substance of her remarks were likewise.

Mr. Pearson also comments on the liberal Republican revolt against an uncommitted reactionary slate of delegates elected in caucus to go to the Republican convention in Chicago. The status of the slate, at the urging of Herbert Hoover, was so to enable bargaining at the convention, speculation being that a commitment to appointment of a Supreme Court justice from the West could be garnered from the ultimate party nominee by use of withholding support until a candidate agreed to terms. The liberal Republicans branded this method as hucksterism.

Mr. Pearson recalls the 1916 election in which California's liberal Republicans split from the party, refusing to support resigned Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the Republicans' nominee, and consequently delivered the election to Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic incumbent.

Dorothy Thompson reviews a speech from Algiers delivered March 18 by General De Gaulle. In it, she says, he spoke as a Frenchman committed to the future of a liberated France, as a European committed to a free Europe, and as a loyal Ally. He was not in favor of dismemberment of Germany but rather a Germany purged of Nazis, then reintegrated into Europe. Speaking for the French National Committee of Liberation, he insisted that France would govern itself, even provisionally, after liberation, moving ultimately toward the establishment of a popularly determined Fourth Republic.

Given the recent statement by Secretary Hull that General Eisenhower would be left to determine in his discretion with whom he would deal as a provisional governing body of France, excluding Vichy, Ms. Thompson concludes that since the only pro-Allied organized authority was the Committee headed by De Gaulle, and since the U.S. was reluctant to commit to it, a power vacuum stood dangerously in the offing once liberation would be effected.

The situation in Italy should have taught the lesson against such a status, just as the situation in the aftermath of the liberation from Vichy of Algeria in November, 1942 and the problematic short interim leadership of Admiral Darlan before his assassination Christmas Eve, 1942, followed by the only slightly less problematic administration by General Henri Giraud, should have counseled against selecting an unpopular leader of the French.

Samuel Grafton indicates that HUAC chairman Martin Dies of Texas should not, in fairness, be permitted to investigate statements made by Walter Winchell during his regular radio broadcast after having engaged Mr. Winchell in an on-air debate. It was tantamount to being a boxer and judge of the boxing match. Mr. Dies, says Mr. Grafton, had responded to Mr. Winchell as a sort of Guy Fawkes character attacking the body of the legislative branch with a dynamite charge.

Aside from that, he examines the substance of the contention that Mr. Winchell had impugned the integrity of Congress as a body. Mr. Grafton was glad that Congress had suddenly adopted a sense of itself and insisted on its dignity. Perhaps, he suggests, it would extend to rebukes of such members as Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi and his use on the floor of the House of the word "kike" to refer to Jews.

It appeared to Mr. Grafton that, given the imbroglio between the President and Senate Majority Leader Barkley in February, as well as the recent vote in the Senate to eviscerate the independence of TVA, the insistence on Congressional dignity and assertion of its independence as a branch of government had become a basso continuo theme.

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