Tuesday, April 18, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 18, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Eighth Air Force had again bombed Berlin in a large raid of a thousand bombers plus a thousand fighter escorts. It was the first American raid on Berlin since March 22. It continued a skein of raids on the German capital which included six in March by the Americans, dropping 6,000 tons of bombs.

Another American raid hit Hollandia on the northern coast of Dutch New Guinea, dropping 200 tons of bombs. Meanwhile, the Japanese appeared to be in the process of abandoning Madang, as Australian troops edged closer to the former Japanese stronghold, having taken Bogadjim to the north five days earlier.

On the Anzio beachhead, the British regained a lost position four miles from the coast. Enemy thrusts four miles north of Cassino at Terelle were repulsed. Some Allied patrols were reported to have made substantial headway in the area west of the Sangro River in the central sector of the Italian front.

In the Crimea, General Andrei Yeremenko's independent maritime army, moving east along the southern coast from captured Kerch, had progressed to within twelve miles of Sevastopol, to within five miles of Balaklava, after surpassing the 2,200-foot mountain known as Baldar Gate. The army was expected soon to link with the Fourth Ukrainian Army which had already entered the city from the north and was engaged in heavy fighting with the German defenders. Thousands of German and Rumanian troops remained in the city despite a major evacuation effort during the previous several days. The attempted Dunkerque-type escape to Rumania had failed.

In India, Allied troops were said to have made headway against the Japanese in the area northeast of Imphal, while an enemy thrust toward the Bishenpur-Silchar railway connecting with the Assam-Bengal railway, supply route to General Joseph Stilwell’s troops in Northern Burma, had been initially thrown back but was now the scene of continued fighting. Heavy engagement with the enemy was also reported in the area northwest of Imphal on the Kohima-Dimapur Road.

The British disclosed deployment of a Royal Navy unit dubbed "human torpedoes". They were men in scuba gear who rode astride torpedoes powered by batteries, once reaching proximity of the chosen target, diving into the water and attaching a time-delayed detonation device to a ship’s hull, then proceeding back to the torpedo and riding it away. The unit had become operational the previous July and August in Sicily. A group of four men of the unit had been decorated for bravery for their having blown up an enemy cruiser at Palermo.

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox indicated at a press conference that the American people could expect that the Kurile Islands, north of the Japanese mainland, would be at some point invaded by the Allies.

Labor Party member Rhys Davies inquired in Commons of the War Minister, Sir James Grigg, whether he was aware that reports had it that the Germans had recognized a short ceasefire on the Garigliano front in Italy for the sake of allowing Allied Easter services to proceed. Minister Grigg indicated he had not, but would look into the matter, albeit with the caveat that there were far more pressing issues requiring his time.

Senator Burton Wheeler, always a well-spring of accurate prophecy, predicted that President Roosevelt’s ailing health since the Tehran Conference in November-December would cause him not to seek a fourth term, and that Governor Dewey would become the next president.

President Dewey, of course, would then be re-elected in 1948 by the Chicago Tribune.

In Monte Carlo, Cecile Chaminade, French composer, primarily known for her songs and piano pieces, passed on at the age of 86.

Wes Gallagher, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes of the "mystery man" at Allied headquarters in England, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, the "Doughboy's General", commander of the American ground forces for the coming invasion of Western Europe.

General Sir Bernard Montgomery, commander of the British ground forces for the invasion, was in the press daily, but General Bradley remained tucked behind the scenes in silence.

General Bradley worked seven days per week, two in the office, five in the field, the reverse of his original schedule. His day lasted from 8:30 to 5:30, but typically continued half the night.

He was temperate, almost never drank liquor, but maintained a steady supply of soft drinks nearby at all times. Regularly, he received letters from his wife and daughter, the highlight of each day.

Either personally or through intermediaries, the general always sought to deliver and explain orders to field commanders.

His shell-rimmed glasses provided him an air of a professional soldier. But the men knew him as one of them, informal, often to be found wandering the field to view the front lines firsthand.

General Bradley had been a classmate of General Eisenhower at West Point. The two Midwesterners bore resemblance to one another in style, save for the fact that General Eisenhower liked to talk, while General Bradley remained, for the most part, a silent listener.

Whether he also carried with him at all times an American Express card was not indicated by Mr. Gallagher.

On the editorial page, "Encore" reports on the refusal of five British journalists any longer to send stories from the front in Burma and India, on the ground that censorship so hampered free conveyance of war news as to make reporting useless.

The piece finds the protest well taken, that the reports from all the fronts were often confused and delayed. Two divergent stories had appeared in recent days on the situation in the vicinity of Imphal in India: one, that Allied pressure to the south of the town had imperiled the Japanese offensive; two, that enemy forces had cut and were now in control of roads from both Imphal and Kohima to the north of Imphal.

The Allied command, itself, appeared divided, with General Stilwell having argued with Lord Louis Mountbatten that, unless the Allied troops at Imphal and Kohima began taking the offensive against the Japanese steadily encroaching on these vital bases for defending the supply links to General Stilwell's troops in Northern Burma, the battle would be lost.

The editorial strongly advocates a better flow of accurate information, lest, much as the case at Singapore in early 1942 for the British, the failure and undue optimism resulting from inaccuracy cause defeat.

"The Balkans" assesses the likelihood that Rumania and Czechoslovakia could long hold against the onslaught brought now by the Russians from the north, combined with the guerilla struggles from within, being fueled by delivery of arms across the Czech border from the Russians, combined with the new aid added by the Fifteenth Air Force, bombing repeatedly Bucharest and the Ploesti oilfields in Rumania, as well as hitting the areas of Budapest, Sofia, and in Yugoslavia.

Expectations were running high that the Balkans would soon collapse as dominoes. The government-in-exile of Edvard Benes, pre-war head of the Czech government, had already begun making preparations for return to Prague.

The piece sees this Balkan offensive by the Russians and the Eighth Air Force now in light of the larger offensive, providing a combined thrust in the Balkans, long thought the Achilles Heel of the Reich's defenses, with that of the incipient invasion of the Western Continent.

And so it was shaping up to be.

"Peace Trick" comments on the attempt by Congressman Sol Bloom to re-label treaties as merely "agreements" and transfer thereby power to affirm or disaffirm them to the majority of both houses of Congress, in lieu of reliance on the constitutional requirement that treaties be passed by two-thirds of the Senate.

The piece questions the constitutional validity of enabling this change in process via the simple expedient of a new label. It further wonders at the wisdom of it, asking whether it would not become more difficult to achieve consensus in both houses than two-thirds majority will in the Senate.

The move had its genesis in the fear that the Senate would repeat the mistakes in the wake of World War II that it did after World War I, then not approving membership in the League of Nations.

But, all in all, the editorial thinks the proposed solution to be more complex of implementation than the problem it sought to address.

"High Taxes" finds the recommendation by Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio for continuation of high taxes to pay for the war to be a simple recognition of reality embracing sound fiscal policy, regardless of political consequences for the advocacy. The public's ear was in need of bending from communication of this truth by the presidential candidates.

Senator Taft had softened the blow somewhat by favoring lower corporate taxes so as not to stultify incentive to produce and to risk capital in the process.

By and large, says the piece, the candidates thus far had sugar-coated or bypassed the issue entirely.

The editorial concludes that, to balance the budget, to pay for the war, to pay for what needed to be even expanded services to the people after the war, there would be the inexorable requirement for maintenance indefinitely of high taxes.

Drew Pearson comments on the acronym offered by Selective Service Director General Lewis B. Hershey to the House Military Affairs Committee in closed session, in reference to those men classified 4-F in the draft and who had refused jobs in essential war industries. They were, said General Hershey, MUGS, "Men Unfit for General Service". He recommended that the MUGS be drafted and placed in camps, in special work details.

Congressman Paul Kilday of Texas advocated giving MUGS a special uniform which they had to wear, marking them as slackers before every mother whose son was fighting on the fronts. He also favored tougher, more open statements by the War Department anent casualties and the hard fight yet lying ahead to win the war.

Whether his initial proposition combined with that of General Hershey meant that MUGS would sometimes become also Heavy Overtime Toilers such that a subset would be dubbed MUGSHOT, had not yet been ascertained at time of the report.

Mr. Pearson next turns to what suggests itself as a tempest in a teapot: a reference in a letter by one Lieutenant Ambs to his commanding Colonel that he was pleased with his new assignment in Arizona for the fact that it was the first time he had been placed at the head of a unit in which there were no Jews. Congressman Marcantonio of New York had obtained the letter somehow and sought inquiry by the War Department re anti-Semitism in the Army. The War Department responded with more concern as to how the Congressman had obtained the letter than with its substance. Eventually, Secretary of War Stimson determined that there was no ground for action, that the lieutenant had no animus against Jews in general, and that, in any event, his statement was made unofficially and thus without endorsement by the War Department.

Finally, Mr. Pearson reports of Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi having addressed the Legislature of that State with some white supremacist statements, notably, that if the District of Columbia were given voting rights, the "alleys would outvote the avenues", the implication being that black votes would outnumber white votes. In consequence, there was a hue and cry to have Senator Bilbo's fellow Senators remove him from the District of Columbia Committee in the Senate. A meeting was being scheduled for the purpose. Senator Bilbo complained that he was not invited, contending discrimination.

Mr. Pearson finds the claim quite ironic given that the hallmark of Senator Bilbo's entire career, one rife from beginning to end with notorious race-baiting, had been discrimination.

Samuel Grafton addresses the campaign of Col. Bertie McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, to provide renascence to isolationism, first by his anti-Willkie movement in advance of the Wisconsin primary, successfully driving Mr. Willkie in its wake from the race by his poor fourth-place finish, without a single delegate to his credit.

Col. McCormick had also successfully managed in Illinois to gain the re-nomination of isolationist Congressman Stephen Day. The Illinois primary itself had provided no choice of presidential candidates; only General MacArthur's name having appeared on the ballot, alongside a few relatively unknown candidates.

While a vote for Thomas Dewey in Wisconsin could be descried as something other than a vote for isolationism, the distinction could not be made with respect to the vote for General MacArthur.

Thus was being engineered an effort, not only to return to isolationism via the Republican candidate for president, but, in the process, alienating millions of independents who favored internationalism and the essentials of the New Deal, reorganized with fewer bureaucratic entanglements.

To begin thus, by alienating the very political forces necessary for election, was, concludes Mr. Grafton, a curious way in which to run a presidential campaign designed for success in November.

Dorothy Thompson expresses shock at the revelation of the "mutinous letter" from General MacArthur in response to the letters from Congressman A. L.
Miller of Nebraska, desirous of the general’s assent to having his name placed by the Republicans in nomination for the presidency.

General MacArthur had expressly or tacitly agreed with Congressman Miller's assertion that the President had established a "monarchy", that the New Deal was strangling democracy, and that General MacArthur should give up his command in the Southwest Pacific, come home to enable from the top the revolution which the Congressman perceived to be sweeping the country, to rid it of the bureaucratic monster established during the New Deal.

For this role, Congressman Miller had advised General MacArthur that he should assume the mantle only of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, while taking his political advice from the most able voices on Capitol Hill. To diminish fear in the public of a military dictatorship, the general, further advised the Congressman, would assure the people that he would accept the presidency only for one term. The Congressman had also advised General MacArthur of his fear that his letter might become censored in transit.

All of it, including the latter concern, sounded to Ms. Thompson as an unconstitutional plot against the duly constituted form of government, wresting the constitutionally mandated political power from the Executive and ceding it improperly to Congress, while using the role of Commander-in-Chief, in combination with the war powers provided the Executive by Congress, to force an end, by essentially a military dictatorship, to bureaucracy in the Executive Branch of government.

Ms. Thompson concludes, expressly understating the matter, that the exchange of letters was "very irregular".

Marquis Childs again examines President Roosevelt at this juncture of his presidency, speculating on whether he might, as the Republican Convention would be proceeding in Chicago in late June, take a trip to England to visit with General Eisenhower, perhaps just as the invasion of the Continent was transpiring. Such a prospect provided the President with the trump card to remind the American people of his indispensable nature in time of war, and thereby also withdraw the spotlight from the Republicans to himself.

Mr. Childs remarks on the President's changes in work habits, based in large part on his recent illness after the November-December trip to Tehran. Rather than working five nights per week on matters of state, he now only devoted one night to domestic issues. He napped everyday after lunch for a half hour (perhaps having culled the habit from General Marshall). Appointments in recent months had been severely curtailed.

The President's primary stress now lay in foreign affairs, leaving largely to others decisions on domestic issues, already delegated to competent hands.

Each morning, he first visited his map room, of which he was proud, touted it as a superior map room, with its highly secreted manifestations of Allied plans plotted therein, to that of Prime Minister Churchill.

Well, we like it, too. So, each morning over your coffee as you peruse The News, should you need direction and proper alignment within the spatial plane of the world when confronted by the challenge afforded by some of the orthographically uncustomary names, difficult of both pronunciation and location within your mental cartography, always be sure, via the simple expedient of allowing roam over the button at the top of each page herein, to visit the Allied Map Room, which we open for you, notwithstanding its top secret contents, provided you limit yourself to eyes only.

If, however, your education is vastly superior to that of the fourth grade, when geography is typically initially taught, then, perhaps, you can omit visual examination of the maps and observe instead from within the picture frame formed inside your mind. That, of course, is the better way, the faster way, but not always the way free from incertitude and the consequent proof that one is not a fool in so relying exclusively upon that way's road signs to direct discursive illumination of that which might otherwise be passed as pinpoints forming a pattern too arcane for less than extraordinary abstraction, delineation, and resultant factual presentation with the authority of assurance in exactitude.

A news piece on the page discloses from Buenos Aires further details for the reason Argentina suddenly, on January 26, at long last, broke diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan. Having at the time asserted the cause as discovery of spy activities compromising Argentina's sovereignty, and announced the arrest of Axis spies, the report now indicated that the method by which information was passed to Japan via the Japanese network, said to be headed by Shoso Murai, civil attache to the Japanese Embassy, was by reference to certain letters contained in novels and other books--the so-called "hidden word" code in use by the Japanese at least since the time of Pearl Harbor, as with "that southern matter--that south, SOUTH--southward matter...", the reference in that case being coated in chrome.

Incidentally, we have discovered a broken bridge underlying "something else" within the note associated with April 30, 1940; 'tis now here.

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