Monday, April 10, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 10, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Germans had evacuated Odessa by sea and that the Red Army had moved in to occupy it after they had surrounded and cut off all possible land routes of escape. The crucial Black Sea port had been occupied by the Nazis for 905 days, or since October 16, 1941, four months after the initial invasion of Russia.

German reports, unconfirmed by Russian sources, indicated that the Red Army was pushing ahead into the Crimea, in an effort to drive the German forces as well from that peninsula.

The Nazis meanwhile appeared to be concerting their forces in Rumania, for a stand at the Galati Gap between the Danube and the Carpathian Mountains, into which the First Ukrainian Army was steadily moving, an effort to reach Bucharest and the Ploesti oilfields, the last crucial means of supply of oil to the Wehrmacht.

With the Nazis now all but finished in Russian territory, Hitler himself had but 385 days before he would take his pistol and end his useless, antipathetic existence.

American bombers, numbering between a thousand and fifteen hundred, struck invasion defense installations in France, at Pas de Calais, Borges, and Orleans, and in Belgium, at Evere, Vilvorde, and Melsbrock. Other American raiders struck on Sunday in East Prussia, Poland, and in northeast Germany.

In the first major RAF raid in a week, bombers had struck in a heavy night raid, also in France, hitting the rail junction at Villeneuve-St. Georges, 12 miles south of Paris, and rail facilities at Lille, the first heavy night raid on the Paris area in two years. RAF Mosquitos attacked Mannheim and other unspecified targets in Germany. On Saturday night, the RAF had struck Brunswick and in the area of Frankfurt, destroying 148 enemy planes.

In Italy, after cessation of major activity for several days, the Germans renewed their artillery bombardment of the Allies holding most of Cassino. New Zealand troops attacked two German strongpoints at Sant' Angelo, inflicting heavy casualties.

The Japanese were reported making an offensive west of the Tiddim-Imphal Road in India, seeking to flank Allied defenses of Imphal from the southwest.

Meanwhile, 60 miles north of Imphal, in Kohima, the enemy had penetrated the right wing defenses of the town, but had been beaten back by the British defenders.

In Algiers, General De Gaulle had issued a decree in which he abolished the position held by General Henri Giraud of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It left General De Gaulle in control of the civilian and military arms of the French Committee of National Liberation. General Giraud was provided a position as inspector general of the armed forces.

But General Giraud had other ideas, refused to resign his post, and also refused that which he termed a purely honorary substitute role, indicating that General De Gaulle's decree violated the ordinances of the Committee and the law of republican France by combining the civilian and military authority.

Such a move, indeed, appeared to usurp power. It is likely this streak of flawed character in De Gaulle which caused FDR to dislike the man and, as a result, refuse to recognize him as the leader of the French.

General De Gaulle asserted, in justification of his decision, that there was no need for a military commander at the present time because there would be no role in the coming invasion of Europe for such a post. General Giraud begged to differ.

But, if there was no need for such a role, there was no harm, indeed, in maintaining it, for the sake of protocol, in ceremony. General Giraud clearly had the better of the argument, regardless of who was better liked.

Secretary of State Hull announced that, to keep election year politics out of the determination of foreign policy, he had asked Senator Tom Connally of Texas to appoint a bipartisan committee of Congress to work in concert with the State Department in formulating post-war foreign policy.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of the jeep drivers at the front in Italy, who regularly carried reporters to and from the action. Many had been in Tunisia, in Sicily, and had had arrived in Salerno with the initial forces, and so had seen most of the fighting at close hand in each of those three theaters of operation.

Private Harold Bennett of Valdosta, Ga., told of having driven correspondents Richard Tregaskis, author of Guadalcanal Diary, Don Whitehead, and Hal Boyle around the fronts in Italy. He said that Mr. Boyle had written a story of his riding a motorcycle up Mt. Vesuvius. That story, explaining how the private had three stars on the motorcycle gun scabbard, nevertheless not fooling any of the M.P.'s into believing him a general, had appeared February 9.

Actor James Stewart, a major in the Eighth Air Force, is pictured being decorated with the Air Medal for his ten bombing missions thus far over Europe.

A 27-year old sergeant in the Army Air Force told a harrowing story of falling 19,000 feet in the severed tail of a Flying Fortress. He could not discuss details or where the incident had occurred. As he was falling, with the tail spinning round and round, he thought that the plane was still intact. He had seen a Flying Fortress go by which was on fire, heading down, causing him to assume that it was another plane with which his had collided. In fact, it was the rest of the fuselage.

The sergeant was sure that he was about to die, remained conscious the entire long trip down, said a prayer, was surprised to find that he had survived when the tail section landed in a tree, providing cushion and saving his life.

Rather than flying by the seat of his pants, the sergeant had flown by the tail of his plane. In any event, his prayer appeared to have been answered.

On the editorial page, "The Silence" finds that the Republicans who had supported Wendell Willkie in his quest for the party's presidential nomination might now decide to bolt the Republican Party and support Roosevelt, with nothing offered them by Thomas Dewey to which they might palatably attach their taste buds. And that was so, regardless of how Mr. Willkie, himself, would distribute his political weight. It likely would be especially true with the great numbers of independents who had attached themselves to Mr. Willkie as an acceptable alternative to the New Deal, a promised recast of the New Deal with less bureaucratic tangles.

Mr. Willkie, says the piece, had tried to steer the Republicans to the middle, but they had insisted on continuing their passage to the right, to their own inevitable likely defeat in November.

And so, of course, it would be.

"Free Press?" questions the recent rumors from Moscow that strict control by the government of the Russian press was loosening, to provide some measure of freedom to editors and writers. The piece, however, cites examples occurring during the previous year involving numerous international faux pas by the Russian press: among them the criticism of Pope Pius as being not enough pro-Allied, serving instead the Nazis; the report that the British were seeking a separate peace with the Germans; and the flak hurled at Wendell Willkie for his supposed anti-Soviet remarks, actually remarks aimed at members of his own Republican Party. These were not the statements of a free press, suggests the piece.

It thus concludes that the optimism on the cause was undue, and that, as long as Stalin was Premier, there would be no freedom of the press in the Soviet Union.

The editorial, of course, was entirely correct in its assessment.

"U.S. Rubber" provides hearty approbation to the company which had established a war plant in Charlotte for the production of ammunition. The plant was thriving and had just received the "E" award from the government for “Efficiency” in operation. The piece expresses the hope that the plant would continue to be an adjunct to the community after the war.

"New Theory" comments on the view enunciated by Dr. Ralph McDonald, candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor against Gregg Cherry, that, contrary to reports of voter apathy in North Carolina with respect to state politics, he had found in his travels great "silent" concern about local issues, underneath the sweltering veneer of primary stress anent the war. He thus predicted a relatively high turnout at the polls, as many as 450,000.

The piece expresses hope that he would be correct in his prognostic.

While apparently Dr. McDonald was expressing an opinion about the primary vote--in North Carolina in those times, the Democratic primary being effectively the general election for state offices, so from the end of Reconstruction in 1876 until the 1972 election--the general election in November in the presidential race would see 790,000 North Carolinians, out of a population of 3.5 million, casting their ballots, 527,000 for FDR, 263,000 for Dewey, a 33% margin of victory for the President. The total vote was 32,000 less than in 1940, would be about the same as in 1948 when President Truman ran against Governor Dewey, would rise precipitously to 1.2 million in the Eisenhower vs. Stevenson race of 1952.

Mr. Cherry would defeat Dr. McDonald in the primary.

Samuel Grafton examines the Republican primary vote in Wisconsin, where, ostensibly, given Wendell Willkie's fourth place finish, internationalism, the hallmark of his campaign, took a drubbing. Looking further at the results, however, adding in the votes of former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen, who, while favoring an internationalist policy, finished tied with General MacArthur for second place in delegates, Mr. Grafton determines that the concept actually accumulated nearly as many votes as those cast for Governor Dewey, winner of the primary.

But, opines Mr. Grafton, the reason that internationalism did not handily triumph as it should have, was that a poor case had been made for it by Mr. Willkie. He had campaigned on the ideal of a central international council in whose decisions all nations would have an equal say, a completely unworkable solution in the world of practical international politics. Russia was not going to permit such a council to determine its post-war borders. And the United States needed to make as many friends as possible for the sake of preserving the peace after the war for the long term.

Thus, Mr. Grafton plumps for a better, more realistic version of internationalism to be rolled out for the people to see and judge so that an intelligent decision might be made for the future.

Marquis Childs writes, not the political obituary for Wendell Willkie, but exalts him for exiting the campaign with stature and maintaining his ideals, a rarity in political life. Mr. Willkie had confided to Mr. Childs aboard the Twentieth Century Limited three weeks earlier that he really did not need politics, was happy in his law practice. Mr. Childs believed him then, and still believed him.

He asserts that Mr. Willkie's candor would be missed, speculates that he would not, as the Chicago Tribune had predicted, join the Roosevelt camp, but would either reluctantly support Thomas Dewey or suggest the formation of a third party for a future election to replace the hollow values of the two traditional parties.

Mr. Willkie, of course, would die in late October.

Drew Pearson comments on the lack of civilian support for the Allies in Italy, given the continued Allied toleration of the Badoglio Government and King Vittorio Emanuelle. At the time of the Salerno landings in September, and the subsequent fight for Naples, the Neopolitan youth were crossing the lines every night to obtain ammunition and hand grenades from the Allied soldiers to use in sabotage of the Nazis. No longer were such scenes occurring.

In addition to the Badoglio problem, the Allied Military Government had thus far badly bungled the distribution of food to the civilian population of Italy, resulting in widespread hunger and consequent diminished enthusiasm for the Allies, who initially were greeted as conquering heroes.

He next looks briefly at testimony provided by the State Department's expert on Near East oil to a committee of the Senate headed by Senator Francis Maloney of Connecticut. Col. John Leval testified that, with the proposal for a 1,200 mile U.S.-built pipeline to stretch from Saudi Arabia to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, the Soviets were also going to become interested in Middle Eastern oil. He told of the oil-rich Tigris and Euphrates Valleys in Iraq, possessing untapped resources of 50 billion barrels.

When he added that it had been the locale of the Garden of Eden, Senator Owen Brewster of Maine rejoindered that what he meant was that it had been the Garden of Petroleum Eden. Immediately substituted Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, "No, the Garden of Anthony Eden," referring to the fact of Iraq having been a British protectorate before the war.

Mr. Pearson informs that former New York Governor Herbert Lehman, now head of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, had disappeared for three weeks after not showing up as scheduled in the Balkans for a conference. The reason had been concealed by the British Embassy for the sake of decorum. Governor Lehman had fallen down the steps of the British Embassy and broken his kneecap during a reception provided him by the British.

Says Mr. Pearson, Governor Lehman was abstemious and thus there was no clear reason for the tender concern for his feelings.

Of course, if his being abstemious extended to traits exhibited characteristically by any one of the three monkeys, it would have proved problematic to the international community dependent on his plans for distribution of plenty abroad to replace the cornucopia of wartime abstinence.

Thus, the British likely had the right idea. It is too bad that President Ford did not have equally discreet observers as his rearguard, to sweep the deck clean of all of the ice on which he regularly found himself.

Finally, Mr. Pearson reports of the Rock Island Line becoming the first railroad to look into use of radio communications by which brakemen might communicate with the front of the train. Microwaves were to be used to avoid the crowded bandwidth of ordinary radio waves. Radar was also being contemplated as a means to avoid future accidents.

Mr. Pearson does not say it this time, albeit having raised the topic January 27 directly, but the Rennert, N.C., collision of the Tamiami Streamliners in mid-December had provoked this long overdue innovation, replacing the lantern signals in use by trainmen up to this time. The disastrous collision at Rennert of the northbound with the derailed southbound train was the direct result of the front of the southbound not realizing that three cars at the rear of the train had derailed and sprawled over the northbound tracks running immediately parallel to the southbound tracks. That the engineer and trainmen at the front of the train did not know of this issue had caused them to be slow in taking precautions to alert the approaching northbound train until it was too late to stop it, despite adequate time to do so. The trainmen at the front of the southbound had believed that the train had stopped only because of the uncoupling of cars to the immediate rear of the engine, the entire train appearing still on the rails based on the nighttime view from that point. The trainmen at the rear, having signaled by lantern, believed the front of the train to be aware of the extensive derailment.

Object lesson: It is important to know what your tail end is doing at all times, especially when the train stops, even if you have to communicate with it via microwaves. Lanterns are inadequate for the purpose, especially on long trains.

Many people we encounter seem unable to understand this basic lesson of human life, that which most of us learn early in our childhood. In consequence, they have collisions, sometimes with disastrous results to others, between the front and rear of their own trains.

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