Wednesday, April 19, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 19, 1944


Site Ed. Note: Shattering all previous bombing records for both a single raid and for combined raids in 24 hours, the front page reports, the RAF the night before dropped 4,480 tons of bombs on French railroad facilities, including those at Rouen and Tergnier as well others near Paris.

Meanwhile, American bombers hit West German targets during the day, striking aircraft manufacturing facilities in the vicinity of Kassel and Hamm, employing another 2,000 plane contingent, as with that of the previous day which had struck Berlin, including a rayon plant at Wittenberge 75 miles to the northwest, airfields at Luneburg and Perleburg, a Heinkel aircraft components plant at Oranienburg, another aircraft components plant at Rathenow, and dockside warehouses at Cuxhaven on the North Sea at the mouth of the Elbe.

The combined raids brought to 8,500 tons the total bombs delivered to the Reich, dropped from 5,000 planes, during the previous round of the clock.

The American missions lost only five bombers and two fighters, despite excellent weather conditions, indicative of the slight effort by the severely depleted Luftwaffe to counter the raids. Anti-aircraft fire was also sparse. The RAF raids lost fourteen planes.

Four enemy thrusts against one target on the Anzio beachhead in Italy had been repulsed by Allied artillery and infantry patrols.

In London, a search for casualties was taking place amid the ruins of one of the city's largest hospitals, struck directly by a German bomb during a raid between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. The hospital had housed almost 2,000 patients.

Resistance of the Nazis continued in and around Sevastopol as General Andrei Yeremenko's army, having captured Balaklava the day before, as one prong made its way from the southeast and another approached from the south via Yalta to within sight of Sevastopol, ready to join with the Fourth Ukrainian Army already fighting within the last Nazi hold on the Crimea.

The Germans had thrown strong resistance into Stanislawow in the western Ukraine, to try to prevent the advance to Lwow by the First Ukrainian Army.

A map on the inside page shows how a thrust through the plains of Poland, north of the Carpathian Mountains, would provide the easiest and most logical route by which the Russians could enter Germany from the east. The Carpathians afforded a natural barrier for the plains of Hungary, preventing easy admittance through that line of ingress.

Of course, before that offensive could begin, all of the territory to the north and south had to be fully rid of Germans to avoid sending the Red Army into a trap, subject to flanking maneuvers by regrouped German armies.

The Danube, it was reported, had been strewn by the Allies with mines along a 300-mile stretch from Budapest in Hungary to Bucharest in Rumania, interrupting all Axis water traffic on the essential waterway supplying the Reich's operations in Eastern Europe. The mines were dropped by parachute during recent night operations by the Royal Canadian Air Force and the RAF. The RCAF became frustrated with not being able to fire on ships spotted in the river. Eventually, they were so permitted and blew up an oil tanker which completely obstructed the plying of ships.

In the Southwest Pacific, an enemy airdrome on Satawan, 150 miles southeast of Truk, within the Nomoi Atoll, had been destroyed by bombs. No attempt by the Japanese was made to counteract the attack.

Allied tanks had enabled advances on three small Japanese positions northeast of Imphal in India. The Allies had repulsed two Japanese attacks south of Imphal and east of Palei on the night of April 17-18. A major hill, the object of heavy fighting for two days, west of Bishenpur and south of the railway track leading to Silchar, continued to be the object of contest.

In Naples, the Six-Party Coalition, including the most anti-Fascist party, led by Count Sforza, agreed reluctantly to participate in the Badoglio Government as the Marshal formed a new cabinet, inclusive of five of the party coalition representatives. Count Sforza said he had determined to participate to avoid coalescing of rebellion around him; he asserted, however, that he would continue to protest the Fascist-leaning government of Marshal Badoglio.

The Republicans announced that permanent chair of the June 26 nominating convention in Chicago would be House Minority Leader Joe Martin of Massachusetts, while the temporary chairman and keynote speaker would be Governor Earl Warren of California, thought by many to be a likely vice-presidential candidate with Governor Thomas Dewey.

Of course, instead, Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio would occupy the second spot on the ticket, while Governor Warren, who had insisted in 1944 that he was not a candidate for national office, would wait four years to be nominated along with Governor Dewey.

Daniel De Luce, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, reports of life aboard an LCI, "Landing Craft, Infantry", off Anzio on April 12. The "little ladies of the sea", this one dubbed "Elsie", were tough little warriors, he reports. Seasickness was common among the crews of the boats with which, in consequence of their flat-bottomed hulls, storms played havoc. Mr. De Luce managed to retain his food by maintaining a reclined position through the voyage to Anzio, a regular run to supply the troops.

The crew of the craft, including the commanding officers, had been landlubbers a year earlier. The two Machinist Mates who tended the eight diesel engines were from Los Angeles, had been racing hot-rod Fords until they entered the Navy.

They had been involved in the mass landings of men and supplies at Sicily in July, at Salerno in September, and at Anzio on January 22. But the first night at sea on the Atlantic, heading out of Newark, had been the toughest. The convoy of six LCI's had been tossed by a storm and separated. The crew of Elsie had become so sick that they wanted to die. They crawled along the deck, holding their faces in their helmets. Yet, through it all, Elsie stayed afloat, indicating that "[S]he's tough but plenty honest," reported the Ex-O., Lt. (j.g.) Lowell Johnson.

And, the photograph on the page shows the cute little anti-Semitic missy, Lois de Lafayette Washburn, neither tough nor honest, on trial in Washington with 30 others for sedition, providing her Nazi salute, somehow thinking that suggested freedom of speech. Among her co-defendants were Georg Sylvester Viereck, William Dudley Pelley, formerly of the Silver Shirts of Asheville, George Deatherage, Lizzy Dilling, Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, head of the German-American Bund, and the Reverend Gerald Winrod, alias Gerald Winrod Smith, of Kansas.

Miss de Lafayette Washburn, in 1945, would join the employ of Senator Robert Rice Reynolds as a secretary after he would found the American Nationalist Party upon leaving office in January.

Miss de Lafayette Washburn had, in 1937, published a work titled Syllabic Writing: The Syllables, Segments, and Phrases of the Entire English Language, a book on shorthand dictation, no doubt one which had, within its segments, plentiful Nazi phrases and syllables and other dangling particles with which she had struggled mightily hard to understand and, out of the beneficent goodness of her heart and soul, sought to impart the meditative result to her readers that they might likewise be enlightened by the shine of the moon which she reflected from her eyes.

Unfortunately, the Federal judge in the case suffered a heart attack and died in November, causing a mistrial to be declared. The case was not re-prosecuted. The nutsies went free.

On the editorial page, "A Tax Cut" comments on a reduction in county taxes for the successive year being the result of budget surpluses generated by deliberate over-estimates of needed spending and underestimates of both revenue to be derived from property taxes and also the amount to be collected.

"Christians?" points out that two prominent churchmen, one an evangelist visiting the Charlotte First Baptist Church, and the other a prominent Presbyterian minister, had each contended that the nation lagged behind in its Christianity. The evangelist cited Josef Stalin as the party professing America's lack of Christianity for the fact of its 75 million persons out of 135 million total population not belonging to any Christian church. The Presbyterian had contended that China, out of whose 450 million people, the piece points out, only four million were Catholic and fewer than 700,000 Protestant, that is slightly more than 1% Christian, was nevertheless the most Christian nation in the world.

The editorial politely suggests that the two ministers were blowing smoke, with doubtful contentions and even more doubtful comparators. The idea that 56 million Americans belonged to a church was sufficient proof, hypocritical for the tendency toward materialism or not, of at least nominal affiliation with Christianity.

Of course, the piece does not seek beyond church membership to discern whether that attribute necessarily manifested adherence to Christian principle. Many a solemn church-goer on Sunday has been drunk and unseemly on Saturday night, and, conversely, many not attending church will be the first to lend a hand in true Samaritan fashion when the going gets tough for a complete stranger. So it was for us, stuck in the sand last August at the Outer Banks…

We venture, in other words, that church membership, while having something to do with adherence to Christian principle, is by no means the only measure of religiosity or, in particular, Christianity, and by no means determines assurance of it. There is, after all, no test performed by churches typically to determine adherence of its members to Christian principles prior to admittance. Nor, of course, would such a test, itself, be true to Christian principles. So, determining such a thing on a mass basis is, as a practical matter, nigh on impossible.

One thing is clear, however: the Founders did not found the nation as a "Christian nation", lest there would be a state religion in lieu of separation of church and state expressed in the Establishment Clause--the latter read out of the Constitution by many who simply fail to read the First Amendment, or, if they read it at all, skim to try in vain to find the word "separation", just as they skim their Bibles, failing to appreciate the substance offered by the words when read in junction with one another as complete thoughts, formed by sentences and paragraphs, then whole chapters and books and, ultimately, the entirety of the Book, not simply syllabicated here and there to try thus to achieve some intuitive meaning, convenient to the purpose of the syllabicator and adorer of the particle, based on the sounds uttered, O-me-ga, as advocated by Miss de Lafayette Washburn and her ilk, nigh on kin to dogs seeking to learn commands from their master, Der Fuehrer.

--Here, Blondi. Fetch, fetch, girl.

"75% Pure" comments on the 25% rate of counterfeit gas rationing coupons being turned in by service stations in Mecklenburg County, compared to the state level of only 10%, as recently reported. The rate of dishonesty each month drained over a million gallons of gas from the pumps illegally, gas which should have gone to the war fronts. The piece concludes moralistically that these gas thieves, cheating rationing regulations set by the Office of Price Administration, were contributing to the enemy in time of war. The service stations involved in the counterfeiting ring, it further hopes, would be closed.

"Tyrant" takes to task Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York for his insistence that Major League baseball fans attend the games without criticism, exhibit the best sportsmanlike manner, giving all the players thereby a lift in spirit, regardless of whether they were Yankees, Giants, or Dodgers.

Concludes the piece, hogwash: "When the traditional American scheme of sportsmanship demands it, the Bronx cheer will ring as loudly as ever. And here’s one for you."

Incidentally, the inside page reported that Clare Boothe Luce, wife of Henry R. Luce, had been considered for the position of keynote speaker at the Republican convention, before the nod went to Governor Warren.

So, we say, in true sportsmanlike fashion, here's one for you, too, Mrs. H. R. Luce.

Samuel Grafton reports that Elmer Davis, head of the Office of War Information, was again enduring flak from isolationists, this time contending that he was too lavish in his spending for propaganda, requesting a 59 million dollar budget, 16 million less than the advertising budget of CBS.

The previous summer, howls had been raised regarding OWI's broadcast in August, by Mr. Grafton, that King Vittorio Emanuelle was a "moronic little king" and that Pietro Badoglio was a "Fascist", uttered at the time they had come to power in the wake of the fall of Mussolini. OWI, says Mr. Grafton, then had been associated by its enemies in Congress with Communism, contending that the Communists viewed the Italian Government likewise, never minding that Communists were at opposite poles from the opinions thusly expressed by OWI.

Now, he was a profligate spender. It was not surprising, concludes the columnist, if Mr. Davis could not figure out who he was.

Drew Pearson reports that there was a second friendly fire incident in Sicily, three days after the disaster at Gela, in which 23 paratroop transport planes carrying 410 men were shot down by friendly fire, in confusion resulting from an armada of attacking German planes flying overhead at a time just before the American transport planes arrived.

The second incident, supposedly occurring three days later at Catania, also alleged to have resulted in the loss of 400 men, in 21 transport planes, was denied by the Navy, as reported in a news piece on the page. Moreover, that piece corrects Mr. Pearson's column as to the date of the Gela incident, July 11 rather than August 11, 1943. The invasion of Sicily had occurred the night of July 9-10, not August 9-10, as Mr. Pearson states.

He reports that an investigation in Algiers was immediately undertaken of the Gela incident, but that the results had been maintained in secrecy.

As Mr. Pearson had been under considerable attack by everyone from the President to numerous members of Congress for alleged inaccuracies since the previous summer, beginning with the White House challenge to his contention that Cordell Hull was anti-Soviet, it is entirely conceivable that he was deliberately set up to fall on his own sword via transmission of this bogus account.

He next turns to confusion surrounding the planned announcement by the President of a forthcoming trip to China by Vice-President Wallace. The President's announcement was to be a sign of political support for his beleaguered Vice-President, disfavored among members of the Democratic Party hierarchy, desirous of a change to a less liberal vice-presidential nominee at the convention in the summer. News of the prospective trip had been picked up by the London Daily Mail but blocked by censorship. It then leaked to Canadian newspapers and ultimately, through the State Department, to American reporters who began inquiring of the Vice-President's office as to the truth of the planned trip. At that time, the Vice-President had to issue the statement himself, spoiling the planned implied endorsement by the President.

Marquis Childs reports on the intention of the President not to run an active campaign in 1944 save for eight weeks, radio only, not leaving Washington. He would likely follow the same course as he had in the three previous campaigns, never mentioning his opponent by name, merely, as he had put it in 1940, "striking a chord" and then striking it again. He complained then that Wendell Willkie had gone about talking too much.

Of course, earlier, when asked of his opinion of Thomas Dewey, the President had dismissed him with a wave of the hand, as a lightweight.

Mr. Childs indicates that voter apathy this time was high, that as few as 37 million people were predicted to be ready to exercise their franchise in the fall, and, if the number were so low, FDR did not stand a chance. Thus, the real work would be done at the grassroots by professional campaign workers and surrogates, seeking to register war workers in their new districts, a job already being undertaken by the CIO, as well as insuring that those groups most likely to vote Democratic would get to the polls. Still, with the ranks depleted of young people in military service, and the older persons left behind tending to be more likely Republican, there were questions as to whether the President could be re-elected.

A letter to the editor from Charlotte resident Lewis Ayer Smith, who had written to the column before, ably takes to task the Nazi propaganda message printed April 12 from a letter writer. Mr. Smith offers a thoughtful message which conveys with it part of the paradox which beset the Allies after the war and which, at least in part, gave rise to the mutual distrust which led to the Cold War, that of the friendly ex-Nazi wishing simultaneous vengeance against Russia, Britain, and the U.S., and thus befriending one against the others for the sake of dividing and seeking once again thereby to conquer within the tangled web so woven.

And, according to a news piece on the page, Mrs. Ida B. Wise Smith, head of the WCTU, praised General MacArthur for refusing to allow Major Richard I. Bong to accept a case of Scotch whisky from Captain Eddie Rickenbacker as a reward for having become the first ace in history to bag 27 enemy planes, breaking Captain Rickenbacker's World War I record, already tied by two other aces, Joe Foss and Gregory Boyington.

Major Bong, a teetotaler, had nevertheless accepted the gift on behalf of his drinking comrades, as well as an offer of soda pop from General Hap Arnold.

General MacArthur, however, stated that he did not consider "liquor or other spirituous wines as appropriate recognition for Bong's deeds."

Said Mrs. Ida B. Wise Smith, "This is one of the few times when a military leader has become a moral leader." She also praised Major Bong for his abstinence when she learned that he was a teetotaler.

We offer no further comment, save to say that the young lad, whose case in 2007 wound up haplessly in the United States Supreme Court before his suspension from a Juneau, Alaska public school was upheld, 6 to 3, as constitutionally not impinging freedom of speech, having been based on his having hoisted his hand-painted sign, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus", supposedly advocating drug use, alongside the 2002 Olympic torch parade, while he stood off school grounds across the street on a day when school was out, may have simply been, in the end, celebrating the record established in 1944 by Major Bong.

If so, Mr. Galaxy, would he still have merited suspension?

In any event, temperance movements often start there, wind up here.

Candidly, our high comes in just cogitating on the folly of it all.

Sometimes, as with the gentleman reported on the front page who destroyed his red coupons, those for obtaining his family's meat, along with the blue ones, no longer needed, it is simply a matter of color blindness.

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