Thursday, April 27, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 27, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the chairman of the board of Montgomery Ward, Sewell Avery, having refused to comply with a government directive to turn over the books of the company and instruct employees to cooperate with the government in seizing the plant, was bodily carried outside, while still sitting in his chair, by two Army soldiers. Attorney General Francis Biddle directed the action and indicated that Mr. Avery would be welcome back when he chose to cooperate with the government seizure.

The seizure took place because of Montgomery Ward's refusal to abide by an order of the War Labor Board and the President to accept a CIO union until such time as it was determined whether it enjoyed majority support among the workers, as it claimed.

The well-known picture of Mr. Avery being carried out of the plant would appear on the front page the next day. This day carried a photograph taken the previous day of Mr. Avery greeting with a handshake the arrival at the plant of Undersecretary of Commerce, Wayne Taylor, serving the Government’s order.

It was notable as the first time anyone had openly defied the Government’s attempt to seize a plant or mine, pursuant to the war powers granted the President by Congress.

The previous night, about 1,000 RAF planes dropped as much as 4,500 tons of bombs on Essen, Schweinfurt, and rail yards at Villaneuve St. Georges, 15 miles southwest of Paris. Twenty-nine bombers were lost. Essen, the steel center of Germany, was reported to have rebuilt its industries extensively since being leveled previously by bombs the prior winter and spring. RAF Mosquitos meanwhile attacked Hamburg with the loss of two planes.

About 1,000 U.S. planes, about half of which were bombers, struck at the Atlantic Wall on the northern coast of France. It was further indicated that the raid the previous day on Brunswick, without loss, had dropped 1,500 tons of bombs.

In Sevastopol in the Crimea, the Red Army was hurling artillery at pointblank range into the German lines and the Russians were said to be in control of every major street of the city, the Germans on their last legs. The Germans still held squares and "dead streets", presumably meaning dead-ends, according to the Soviet Army newspaper Red Star, but the artillery guns were now reaching those positions.

The move appeared to signal a change in strategy from that previously announced, one of siege, to an all-out offensive to eliminate the remaining trapped Germans.

A Rumanian source indicated that the Russians had launched new attacks north of Iasi, but had not been successful in their attempt to widen the Soviet bridgehead on the Lower Dniester River.

After months of steady approach toward Madang, Australian troops had captured the former Japanese stronghold and airfield on Astrolabe Bay on New Guinea.

In the vicinity of Hollandia, in Western Dutch New Guinea, the Allies had captured two of the remaining three airfields, with the largest at Hollandia expected to fall quickly, as a pincer force approached it from two directions. Aitape, 150 miles from Hollandia, was also captured. In four days, the Allies had seized four airfields and three bases from the enemy.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson pointed out that the Hollandia operation had brought Palau within the range of land-based bombers for the first time, representing an advance of 700 miles from the Buna operations of early 1943 on the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea, and an advance of 1,400 miles since the securing of Guadalcanal at the beginning of February, 1943.

Allied reinforcements arrived in Kohima in India, as the Japanese watched from their positions in the surrounding hills. The British fired heavy artillery barrages meanwhile into the enemy strong point at Kohima village, a mile west of the town of Kohima.

In northern Burma, General Joseph Stilwell's Chinese troops, heading down the Mogaung Valley, captured the town of Manpin, ten miles north of Kamaing. The position was connected by good trails to Kamaing, located 24 miles northwest of the rail center at Mogaung.

In Italy, fighting, other than routine patrol activity, was again light, with only two engagements, one near Ortona and the other near Canosa on the Adriatic front, in which two German platoons, after making an offensive move, were thrown back by the Allies.

Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, had determined that, as soon as word came to the Associated Press offices of the D-Day invasion in progress, each town’s church bells would ring forth and its industrial whistles would blow. The purpose was to summon the residents to prayer.

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox was reported ill with “gastro-intestinal upset complicated with dizziness”. The 1936 Republican vice-presidential nominee with Alf Landon would die the following day, April 28.

George Tucker, writing in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, tells of a sergeant, Richard Tucker of Richmond, Va., a sniper on the Italian front. He informed Mr. Tucker of an incident in which he and his observer, along with two other snipers and their observers, had been covering an American patrol from a hill while the patrol was searching a house. One of the patrol members carried a grenade, the pin of which he had pulled, while continuing to hold the clip tight. At that point, Germans inside the house opened fire, hitting the soldier several times, killing him instantly.

Sgt. Tucker and the other two snipers started pouring fire into the house until two Germans ran out, managing to escape the sniper fire.

The patrol then closed in on the house, while the three snipers joined them. As Sgt. Tucker picked up his dead comrade, the grenade he had been clutching fell from his limp hand, making a deadly pop sound, indicating that it was armed with four seconds remaining until it would explode. Sgt. Tucker, with a half dozen men in proximity of the lethal explosive, hit the dirt and yelled "grenade!" No one was injured.

Mr. Tucker indicates that Sgt. Tucker's quick thinking had saved the lives of the half dozen men plus his own.

On the editorial page, "Dixie's Ills" comments on an editorial in the liberal New York Post, treating with considerable deference the South's problems. It began by suggesting that it would be easy to regard the South as Neanderthalic rednecks in light of the region's general response to the recent Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944), which we referenced in the note associated with April 21, the decision granting African-Americans the right to vote in state primaries, (also referenced this date by Marquis Childs).

But then, the piece had gone on to wax sympathetic to the South, that it had its liberal, self-examining, self-critical element, that there existed many wise voices emanating from within the South, listing a handful, including Jonathan Daniels, Virginius Dabney, Frank Porter Graham, Herbert Agar, and Ralph McGill.

It then concludes that the South, with its economic problems since the Civil War, its lack of industrial growth compared to the North, its being essentially a vassal to Northern prosperity, providing raw materials for more profitable Northern industry, similar to Britain's relationship with India, should be provided a helping hand rather than a kick in the ribs.

"One Service" agrees with War Department officials of the Army who had testified before Congress advocating the combining of the military services, both Army and Navy, after the war under one department. The Navy had been historically resistant to any such move, but the combined efforts of naval, air, and infantry operations in the war had demonstrated that to coordinate tactics, it behooved the branches to be under one central command in the Government.

Thus would come after the war, to subsume under its civilian command both the War Department and Navy Department, the Department of Defense--which we read today, by coincidence, in the New York Times, is about to get a new Secretary in 2011, as Robert Gates steps down and Leon Panetta moves from being Director of the C.I.A. to Defense Secretary.

"Champion" remarks with tongue in cheek on the most recent trouble into which General Patton had managed to step after arriving in England. Now, in delivering a speech to some British citizens, he had declared that Britain and the United States were destined to rule the world.

Then quickly came an addendum which stated that he meant to include Russia; then, as quickly on its heels, another adding China.

The piece suggests that soon would come France, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, urged General Patton either to include in his speeches all of the United Nations, submit them first to a censor for correction, or come home.

It is possible that on this occasion Willie had distracted the General before the speech.

In any event, as portrayed in the film, it went something like this:

My dear ladies. Until today, my only experience at welcoming has been to welcome Germans and Italians to the infernal regions. At this I have been quite successful since the troops, which I have had the honor to command, have, to date, killed or captured some 100,000 of our enemies. I feel that such clubs as these are of very real value because I believe with Mr. Bernard Shaw that the British and the Americans are two peoples separated by a common language. Since it is the destiny of the British and Americans to rule the world, the better we know each other, the better we will do it. I think that a club like this is an ideal place for promoting mutual understanding. Because as soon as our soldiers meet and get to know the English ladies and write home and tell our women just how lovely you truly are, then the sooner the American ladies will get jealous and force this war to a quick termination. And then I'll get the chance to go to the Pacific and kill Japanese.

Drew Pearson discusses increasing tensions within the War Labor Board, brought on by changes in personnel, such that the industrial side was now considerably at odds with the public-labor members of the Board. The matter had come to a head regarding the "maintenance of membership" clauses of union contracts which provided that when workers joined a union, they had to continue as members through the duration of the union contract with the employer. They were not compelled to join in the first instance, and were provided two weeks grace period after joining, within which they could resign.

Until a dispute had arisen with Humble Oil Co., the industrial members of the Board had voted with the labor members for support of this clause. Now, there were signs of division.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the subject of the dousing provided by Navy ships to Army privies in a certain nameless narrow strait in the South Pacific, the name of which had been maintained as confidential, no doubt, so that the enemy would not become privy to the privy problem.

The condition had become so onerous to the Army each time they got a dousing in the wake of ships cruising through the strait, that an order finally was issued by the Navy that ships could not exceed 25 knots through the narrow slip and should desist in the practice they had been theretofore following of painting privies on the side of the ship indicating proudly each privy they had managed to leave awash with a "flush", to quote the order, in their wake.

One of the signers of the order was a Commander Outerbridge. It is not indicated whether he was the same Lieutenant William Outerbridge, commander of the U.S.S. Ward on December 7, 1941 at the entrance to Pearl Harbor, who communicated to headquarters that, after spotting an enemy submarine near the mouth of the Harbor at 3:50 a.m., had regained visual sight of the sub and sunk it with depth charges at 6:40, as reported by Lieutenant Outerbridge at 6:53, exactly one hour before the Japanese air attack began.

Samuel Grafton writes cynically of the situation in Greece among three vying underground guerilla groups, suggesting the situation as being reminiscent of what had occurred with Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia, or with the French and Italian situations. One of the three Greek groups, dubbing itself Eam, had seized one of King George's ships as mutineers, finally subdued by the King's ships while British ships looked on in support. Eam, indicates Mr. Grafton, had been identified with Communism. But it had gained the support of Ekka, another of the guerilla groups, against the third, Edes.

Mr. Grafton predicts that the matter would follow a course similar to that of Tito, that Prime Minister Churchill would side with the King, until at last it would become obvious that the Allied interests lay with the organized guerillas in fighting the occupying Nazis in Greece, just as had been the case with the initially vilified Partisans in Yugoslavia. For the previous year, the Partisans had become friends of the Allies and received their active support, in land, sea, and air actions. Mr. Grafton believes that the same scenario would likely transpire in Greece.

Marquis Childs reports on the campaigns for Senate re-election of Lister Hill in Alabama and Claude Pepper in Florida, both being attacked as ardent New Dealers. Senator Hill's opponent, James Simpson, openly campaigned on a platform of states' rights and white supremacy. Senator Hill was advocating preservation of the independence of TVA. The Supreme Court decision out of Texas had been used by the opposition to try to frighten voters into believing Senator Hill was helping to foster such New Deal efforts to integrate society. The white supremacy movement in the South, reports Mr. Childs, was as strong as it had been at any time since the Civil War.

Senator Pepper, the subject of the previous day's column by Drew Pearson, was facing an even harsher challenge in that there were five candidates ganging up against him. He had charged that isolationists and "Republicrats", that is reactionary Democrats aligned with Republicans, were trying to defeat him to get at President Roosevelt.

Both Senators would be re-elected. Senator Hill, Democratic Majority Whip, would remain in the Senate until his retirement in 1969.

Dorothy Thompson comments on Secretary of War Stimson's plea to the home front that all disunity cease as the Allied invasion of Western Europe neared. His primary plea was directed to what he termed the disunity between civilians and soldiers.

Ms. Thompson chose to characterize the division, rather than "disunity", as "transubstantiation…of values", meaning that different experiences of the civilian and soldier had led to different levels of appreciation of the war. The soldier saw the war as a reality. The civilian saw it more as an abstraction. The soldier viewed the death of his friends and fellow soldiers personally; the civilian viewed these deaths as part of the statistical abstract of the war.

She relates poignantly of a lavish party, populated primarily by wealthy guests from various walks of life, which she had recently attended. After several of the guests had provided brief talks on various topics related to the particular fields of their expertise, a soldier stood up, who obviously had been seriously injured in combat, and began to speak of his war experience, stating, prefatory to his remarks, that he did not understand anything uttered by the speakers preceding him.

The war was real to him. He had lost his buddy, a tail gunner, killed by the same German fire on their plane which nearly cost him his life. After he finished speaking, the guests sat in stunned silence.

The little vignette, she offers, was representative of the problem of which she wrote, that the civilian population did not sufficiently use its imagination to project more closely the actual experience of the soldier, thereby to glean an appreciation of what was taking place on the various fronts.

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