Wednesday, April 26, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 26, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Red Army undertook a new large offensive along a line from the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea, concentrating on the lower Dniester River area. German communiqués indicated that the thrust had been pushed back. Few details were provided.

A member of the central committee of the Communist Party produced a written war summary in which he indicated that the prospectus lying ahead for the Red Army was, first, to rid Soviet territory of all remaining vestiges of the Wehrmacht, and, second, in close coordination with the other Allies, to march into Germany and subdue Hitler and the Nazis, as well as cleansing all of his occupied states of Nazi influence.

In the Marshall Islands, Ujelang, one of twelve islands still in Japanese hands, was occupied without significant resistance, providing departure point for planes to Truk, 644 miles to the west, and to Ponape, 264 miles away. It became the 22d island in the Marshalls occupied by the Allies.

An American bombing force of more than a thousand planes struck Brunswick and other targets in western Germany without losing any bombers. Six fighters, however, were lost to enemy ground fire. It was a far cry from the sixty bombers lost in a raid on Brunswick on January 11.

During the previous eleven days of missions, the Allies had lost 373 planes out of 33,000 flown, costing 2,300 airmen, albeit most believed safe as prisoners. During these raids, 700 German fighter planes had been destroyed and over 50,000 tons of bombs dropped.

In Central Burma, Japanese troops were dying in large numbers when trying to confront the roadblocks established by Chindit fighters along the hundred miles of enemy communications lines to northern Burma which the Chindits had managed thus far to control since landing in the area a month earlier.

In India, British forces captured Mapao Hill north of Imphal, inflicting heavy losses.

At Hollandia on Dutch New Guinea, the Dutch and American troops were, against little opposition, closing in on three enemy airdromes, Cyclops, Hollandia, and Sentani. The troops were within three miles of Hollandia field, the largest of the three.

Lt. Ernest Childers, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was to be treated with a lavish reception in his hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Lt. Childers was on leave for three weeks. He had led an eight-man squad against several machinegun nests, one of which he had, alone, eliminated.

The President, through his press secretary, Stephen Early, responded to an article printed in a church magazine, written by 28 clergymen and other writers in protest of the massive bombing campaign in Europe. Said Mr. Early, the President recoiled also at the horror of the bombing but counted it necessary to shorten the war and thereby curtail loss of life on both sides.

Of course, even now, 67 years on, it is sometimes engendering of some degree of empathy for the enemy, reading daily of the incessant, large raids on Germany and France. But always, it must be borne in mind that Germany could, with the stroke of a pen, end the bombing through surrender. Moreover, of course, it was Germany who started the war. And it was Germany who had committed unspeakable atrocities, the degree and monstrousness of which the world was not yet fully aware.

To bomb munitions and aircraft facilities made it less likely that the invasion force soon to hit the beaches of Normandy would be met by a well-equipped army and air force. It made success of the invasion more likely and less costly in the process. Ultimately, therefore, the bombing saved lives, not only of the Allied soldiers, but of those of the Axis, and, most especially, civilians in occupied territories and in Germany.

Thus, while cruel on the surface, there was no other rational choice to make under the circumstances. The bombing campaign kept bullets, food, clothing, and bombs out of the hands of the German soldiers and airmen at the fronts.

The President authorized Secretary of War Henry Stimson to seize the Montgomery Ward plant at Chicago to avert further strike. The order of seizure was then served on the company president, Sewell Avery, who refused to accept it. The Army was authorized to carry out the necessary action to take over the plant.

Mr. Avery would remain glued to his chair.

Daniel De Luce, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, continues to relate of life on the Anzio beachhead. Soldiers who had encountered various conditions on the front could join the Associated Royal and Non-Ancient Protective Order of the Moles or the Seahorse Club or the Eight-Ball Club. The latter was a favorite of the MP's, formerly known as the FBI's, "Fort Benning Idiots".

A private ran around one night in his underwear from one dugout to another. The reason was that a field mouse had run over his face. He couldn't stand field mice.

One lieutenant reported having to share his dugout with a large snake. The snake ducked inside its cubby hole every time the soldier sought to aim his gun at it.

On the editorial page, "No Encore" reports of a talk given in Charlotte by University of North Carolina president Frank Porter Graham, who had also served on the War Labor Board and the Defense Mediation Board. His subject was the threatened resurrection of two major issues concerning Labor, issues which had lain largely dormant for two to three years. The closed union shop had been determined three years earlier; the Little Steel Formula, governing the rise in wages based on cost of living increases, had been in place for two years, albeit considerably challenged during the previous year by the coal strike, at one point the formula being called obsolete.

He warned of the re-opening of these issues, that to do so could compromise the war effort severely at a critical stage and lead to rampant inflation.

The piece echoes the caveat, considers it of paramount interest of the country to heed.

"Air Brief" gives praise to a report prepared by the Charlotte Planning Committee laying out the case for expanded commercial air traffic service out of Charlotte, to be presented to the Civil Aeronautics Board. Based on business statistics, the plan laid forth needs of the community for more than the current service provided by a single airline, both for intrastate and interstate traffic.

"Few Votes" indicates that gubernatorial candidate Gregg Cherry had asserted his belief, supported by most observers, that the prospective turnout of voters for the primary would be light. His opponent, Dr. Ralph McDonald, by contrast, was solo voce in his expression that a substantial turnout was likely from what he perceived as a high level of interest in the election.

But the facts appeared to support the former conclusion, that the primary focus was on the war, that state politics thus ran far behind in importance in the average voter's mind.

"Retirement" concerns itself with Charlotte's proposed retirement program for city workers.

The piece completed a rare column since the start of the war not addressing a single issue directly concerning it, indeed being largely contented with parochial matters.

Drew Pearson discusses the importance of the upcoming Florida primary to the fate of Senator Claude Pepper, foremost interventionist in the Congress, favoring aid to the Allies even before France fell in spring, 1940, making repeated speeches for it at the time without any support from the White House.

Should he lose, it would thus send a stronger signal than did the fourth place finish in Wisconsin by Wendell Willkie that the country was turning away from interventionism, back to isolationism.

Senator Pepper would, however, go on to win his election for another term, but would be defeated in 1950. He would, however, return as a Congressman from Florida in 1963 and would serve until his death in 1989.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the subject of air conditioning in the Capitol. The War Production Board had freed enough freon-12, scarce for its need by the military for the purpose of killing mosquitoes as a deterrent to malaria, to enable the Capitol to have its cool comfort during the coming summer months. For awhile it appeared it might suffer the indignity of having to return to electric fans.

The White House, reports Mr. Pearson to the last detail, utilized as its refrigerant carrene, not on the WPB endangered list.

Samuel Grafton continues with his analysis of the new Republican nationalism. It was sui generis in form as nationalist movements go, in that it disfavored strong central government. It was also possessed of regional prejudices, at least the Chicago brand of it, distrustful of the East, the South, and California. It also hated New York, was suspicious of the motion picture industry.

Wars, according to the new nationalism, were inevitable on the international level, with the exception of the present one, invented by FDR; it also believed that strife was inevitable domestically. It championed strong central government for common defense, but believed it ought be weak domestically.

The most prevalent voices in the movement were divisive, contrasting with the isolationists of the past who had been somewhat unifying.

It selected favorites among foreign nations, contrary to isolationism.

In short, the new nationalism was a movement which Senators Borah, Wheeler, and Norris, chief isolationists of fifteen years earlier, would not recognize, indeed would find abhorrent.

Marquis Childs addresses the great divide between the military and civilians. One manifestation had surfaced in the rejection by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as by both CIO and AFL, of the proposed labor draft bill, favored by both Secretary of War Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. The reason for the proposal was the contention that, with the increased draft, by summer and fall, production would drop commensurate with the drain from skilled labor. The civilian representatives flatly rejected the premise.

Another manifestation was the bitterness felt by soldiers returning from abroad to a prosperous America, seemingly oblivious to the rude conditions experienced by the soldier. Soldiers on the front thirsted for news from home, often settled for year-old newspapers and magazines.

The way to bridge this increasing divide, suggests Mr. Childs, was for the military to provide more open and prompt reports from the fronts, so as to educate better the civilian populace to the realities of the war, and for the domestic press to provide the soldiers the whole picture of the home front, informing of the fact that the high rate of production brought on by the war had resulted not only in an abundance of supplies and weapons for the military, but also goods for domestic consumption.

And, somewhere between the piece by the Reverend Herbert Spaugh, the Dorman Smith, and the other two cartoons on the page, there comes to mind this.

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