Monday, April 17, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 17, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Sevastopol, last German stronghold in the Crimea, appeared on the verge of collapse, with Russian troops of the Fourth Ukrainian Army entering the suburbs while artillery and air fire destroyed German defenses and attempts to escape the onslaught via the Black Sea. The force moving from the east had taken Yalta along the Russian “Riviera”, and was sweeping onward to within 30 miles of Sevastopol.

Several Nazi generals had deserted their troops and flown out of the sector, suffering from what they described as "Crimean sickness".

The Second Ukrainian Army continued to make headway, undertaking a new drive across the southern Dniester River, in the area of Tiraspol, outflanking the rail junctions at Tighina and Chisinau in Bessarabia, aimed apparently at collapsing the Chisinau-Iasi defense line guarding the Galati Gap of the Carpathian Mountains in southern Rumania.

Since March 4, fully 450,000 German troops had been killed or captured on the various Russian fronts.

For the first time in the war, American bombers attacked Belgrade in Yugoslavia, and also hit Sofia in Bulgaria and Budapest in Hungary.

On Sunday, American forces had struck two Rumanian targets, at Brasov, fifty miles north of the oilfields at Ploesti, and Turnu-Severin. The attack on Brasov brought American bombers to within a hundred miles of the Russian troops in Rumania, the closest bombing strike yet to the advancing Russian forces.

Two crews consisting of ten American fliers were reported safe in Sweden after having been forced to land in Denmark the previous Tuesday, inside German-held territory. A fishing boat had picked them up and transported them to neutral Sweden.

The large drain of late on Luftwaffe air strength was said to be reflected in fewer fighters being sent forth to ward off American bomber attacks. Typically, 600 fighters had been encountered on earlier raids, whereas in recent weeks, American bombers had met no more than 330 fighters coming off the ground.

American troops had successfully attacked on Saturday morning a small German contingent in the northwestern Anzio beachhead in Italy, eliminating two German observation posts. Other activity, on the Cassino front and around Orsogna on the Adriatic front, involved typical patrol activity and artillery exchange.

In India, British troops had regained important Japanese positions to the north and to the northeast of Imphal. Meanwhile, confusing reports issued regarding activity in Northern Burma behind enemy lines by the Chindit fighters, the British and Indian troops formerly under the command of the recently killed Major General Orde Wingate, the "Lawrence of Arabia" of World War II. These fighters had entered enemy territory via gliders several weeks earlier.

Some 2,000 American veterans of World War I who had married French women and remained in France after the war, were reported to have been interned by the Germans in anticipation of the Allied landing in France.

To suggest that the heavy tornadoes across the country from Iowa to North Carolina this past Saturday in 2011 are not unique by any means to this time of year, heavy tornadoes had hit northeastern Georgia and western South Carolina in 1944 at around midnight Sunday, killing 38 persons and injuring 300 more. One hundred and forty-seven homes were destroyed and 103 more damaged. The piece reports that the tornado struck Gainesville, Georgia, which in 1936 had been hit by a tornado killing 183 persons...

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of encountering Lieutenant Howard Johnson of Freehold, N.J., a member of the bomb disposal company on the Italian front in the Anzio sector. Mr. Tucker had a British hand grenade, acquired as a souvenir, which had its fuse removed but was still full of TNT. He took it in to have Lieutenant Johnson empty the explosive powder.

As the lieutenant unscrewed a cap and let the cornmeal-like powder sift from the pinecone-shaped grenade, Mr. Tucker noticed that his right hand was bandaged. After shaking it a bit, the lieutenant suddenly put down the grenade, began working his injured fingers. Mr. Tucker became sympathetic and asked to help. He thought that the hand had probably been injured while disarming ordnance.

"Did a time fuse go off or something?"

"No, not a time fuse. Just horseplay. I caught a football on the tip of my finger and it's been sore as a boil ever since."

Well, we know de feeling der, lieutenant. We caught one o' dose der footballs wid our fingers ourselves a couple o' times, broke de t'umb once and de little finger de udder time. Life in de combat is hard. You know what we're sayin'?

On the editorial page, "Hospital" advocates location in Charlotte rather than in Chapel Hill a proposed addition to the University of North Carolina Medical School and a 400-bed hospital to go with it. The proximity of Chapel Hill to Duke Hospital in Durham, suggests the piece, made the location on the university campus superfluous, whereas Charlotte and North Carolina generally, west of Winston-Salem, lacked both a medical school and modern hospital facility.

Nevertheless, the hospital and addition would go to Chapel Hill.

"The Meeting" remarks on the conference just concluded the previous week in Tokyo between the Axis representatives, including General Tojo. The scant reports had made it sound as a pep rally, drawing encouragement from the fact that the Balkans had not retreated from the Axis cause, that Germany had resumed "large-scale" attacks on England, and that Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific had only made headway into the periphery of Japan’s defenses. The Germans, the conference had concluded, were ready for the coming invasion from the gathered Allied forces in England.

Pervading this air of optimism, concludes the piece, had to be the realization that the end was not far away for the Axis.

"Honesty Up" reports that the Carolinas had increased their honesty rating on gas rationing, based on the percentage of counterfeit coupons provided the government by service stations. The previous high in South Carolina of 57% counterfeits had now fallen in both North Carolina and South Carolina to 10%. A large part of the drop, says the piece, however, was not the result of increased honesty, but rather because of increased enforcement by the Office of Price Administration.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh returns to the page after being away for ten days, urging honesty and cautioning that major dishonesty usually begins with petty theft, stealing stamps from the office and the like.

So, watch those counterfeit gas rationing coupons and be sure you are not one of those who provides them. For the inevitable next step is to steal your baby's milk money. From there, it is but a hop, skip, and jump to major bank robberies.

Remember, the life you save could be your own. Drive carefully. 10-4.

Wait, 10-2.

No, 10-1.

"Swap of Kings" finds no cause for great celebration in the announcement by King Vittorio Emanuelle of Italy that, when Rome would be occupied by the Allies, he would abdicate his throne in favor of his son, Prince Umberto. While some of the Six-Party Coalition representatives had greeted the news with favor, the Activist Party, led by Count Sforza, the leading anti-Fascist, had expressed doubt that it would cooperate with a royal government headed by Prince Umberto.

Indeed, it appeared that the father, formerly sympathetic to the Fascists, was merely set to be replaced by a younger version of himself. The piece expresses grave doubt therefore of any reason to greet this news as significant assurance of a democratic future for Italy, notwithstanding the Allied Military Government having found the announcement to suggest an easier task ahead for its provisional administration.

Drew Pearson updates his March 8 report on the problems inherent in the triple-release parachute, that responsible for the drowning deaths of eight Army airmen in training at Camp Mackall, North Carolina--as he further addressed on March 16, and as the editorial column questioned March 18.

The single-release version had been developed in the United States and was used by both the British and Germans. Despite calls the previous June from Army officials for its uniform adoption, still no substantial order had been placed until after Mr. Pearson's editorial column broached the issue in March. Shortly afterward, he informs, the Army placed an order for 100,000 of the single-release units.

The Army had also put into development a breathing apparatus to allow parachutists five minutes of time upon landing in water. Such a landing was especially perilous because of the fact that the plunge to the depths after a long descent, equivalent to a jump from an 18-story building, that is 1,800 feet, made it likely that the long trailing parachute lines would become entangled and hold down the soldier. The single-release unit required only a turn of a box positioned on the soldier's chest and the lines were released.

Samuel Grafton reiterates his plea, as he had posited April 6, for a free port for refugees of the war, similar to the free port utilized for goods in transit to allow insulation from tariff charges while awaiting shipment in interim ports. The concept would work to enable refugees thus to enjoy free interim status in a secured area, awaiting the end of the war or approval for regular admission to the country under currently established immigration quotas, while secure from harm by the war.

Mr. Grafton points out that the United States currently housed 130,000 Nazi prisoners of war. He poignantly questions whether the friends of the country should not be entitled therefore to the same hospitality as its enemies.

Marquis Childs seeks to read the tea leaves surrounding the question still up in the air as to whether the President would be drafted for a fourth term. He ventures that, despite Jim Farley contending that FDR would not be so nominated, world events would press the issue and cause him to acquiesce to the needs of history.

Nevertheless, the President discussed on occasion with visitors desires to go fishing, to return to Hyde Park, perhaps travel, stating wistfully that there were many places in the world he had yet to see, such as the Southwest Pacific. Writing would play a major role in his time after leaving office. One national magazine had offered him $75,000 per year for one article per week. After some negotiation, he had agreed to a semi-weekly offering for the same salary.

Of course, the prediction offered by Mr. Childs would prove itself within a few months, and, with it, the President's opportunity to go fishing, to have time to travel and write, would never come to be, disappearing in the evanescences with the wisp, with the ephemera of the mystery.

...Like an olde mobile.

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