Saturday, April 29, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 29, 1944


Site Ed. Note: That which appeared to be the largest American raid yet of the war took place against Berlin, reports the front page, when a force of about a thousand heavy bombers, accompanied by an equal number of fighters, struck the capital with a bomb load of up to 2,500 tons. Some of the crewmen reported encountering 150 to 300 Luftwaffe fighters on their way to the target, meeting the heaviest flak from the ground yet of the war when they reached Berlin.

Other bomber squadrons meanwhile had attacked on Friday targets in Northern France, flying 2,800 sorties during the day.

In addition, the Fifteenth Air Force, with between 250 and 500 bombers, struck from Italy against German ships and U-boats in the French port of Toulon.

All of the raids lost but four bombers and three fighters.

The RAF flew a small precision raid on Kjeller, near Oslo, Norway, hitting an aircraft repair facility.

In India, the Allies continued successfully their assault on Japanese positions west of Kohima and in the vicinity of Imphal.

In Burma, General Joseph Stilwell's Chinese troops continued their drive toward Kamaing, approaching to within eight to ten miles north of the strategic railroad junction, leading to the key Japanese base at Myitkyina.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, from his headquarters on Ceylon, informed reporters that the job of constructing the Ledo Road, to connect India through northern Burma to China, effectively restoring the northern part of the Burma Road, was progressing on schedule despite the attempts of the Japanese to halt it with the fighting in the area of Imphal and in central and northern Burma.

In Russia, Moscow reported that a German counteroffensive, southeast of Stanislawow had been broken, but otherwise that there was no change in status on the Eastern front.

Navy commander-in-chief, Admiral Ernest King, provided a eulogy for the Navy Secretary, very simply stating, "Well done, Frank Knox. We dedicate ourselves, one and all, to what would surely have been his last order--carry on."

Attorneys for Montgomery Ward stipulated with the Government that an NLRB supervised union election could be held to determine proper representation or that the NLRB could, without an election, certify that the CIO was the properly chosen representative of the majority of workers. After the stipulation, the Government ordered the platoon of about 35 soldiers who had seized the plant in Chicago on Wednesday to withdraw, as there was no longer any reason for their presence. The company, however, for the nonce, was still being operated by the Federal Government, presumably until the NLRB made its decision whether to hold an election, and, if so, as it would be, determine the results.

Flood waters of the mighty Mississippi had breached a levee and engulfed 55 miles of track in the Missouri Pacific Railway freight yard at Dupo, Illinois, near St. Louis on the other side of the river. Five levees south of Chester, Illinois, ready to break, forced the evacuation of several families in the area. Flooding of the Missouri River threatened to place under water the northern half of St. Charles County, Missouri, as the two roiling rivers sought their natural confluence.

Sid Feder, writing in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, having also contributed on April 11, tells of Sgt. Bill Estoff, Naples circulation man for the Army newspaper, Stars & Stripes. Sgt. Estoff had a reputation.

On one occasion, he had obtained three autographed copies of a book of cartoons from Stars & Stripes cartoonist Bill Mauldin, autographed by the author, with dedications each to "Ike", "Omar", and "Mark", who Mr. Mauldin believed were buddies of Sgt. Estoff in the States. A few days later, letters of appreciation came to Mr. Mauldin from Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Clark.

Sgt. Estoff did not speak much Italian and so, when greeting Neapolitans, he would simply say, "Hy, baby," to which the response had become typical, "Hay-ee, bay-bee," as if a fraternal password.

Too bad it still is not basketball season. Anyway…next year.

He always got the paper out, including editions received from other fronts. The only problem came occasionally when the power would go out from the effects of the bombs and artillery shells during the press run, causing the paper sometimes to arrive a day late.

We empathize, Sgt. Estoff. We have bombs and artillery shells hurled in our general direction at times, too, causing the News to come out a day late, or even, sometimes, a little longer.

And, be sure to change all of the history books of the last 67 years. Berlin dispatches, as received in London and as reported in Helsinki's newspaper, Sanomat, averred that the Allied invasion of Western Europe had been underway for a full week.

D-Day was actually, therefore, without question, April 22, 1944.

The report was premised on captured Allied fliers who indicated they regarded themselves as part of the invasion force.

A Swedish Army strategist, as reported in Stockholm's Tidnieugen, estimated that the Allied invasion forces numbered 200 divisions, facing 40 German divisions.

Berlin indicated that a huge armada had formed on the south and southeast coast of England and assured Germans that 200,000 mines in the Bay of Biscay, plus a system of impenetrable human and tank traps along the coast of France, lay between them and the Allied terrorists.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, as rumored likely to become the case for many months since he had been withdrawn from the Italian front, was placed in command of Hitler's West Wall, relieving General Karl von Runstedt.

From Generalissimo Francisco Franco, came a more definitive indication of when the invasion would begin: precisely at 4:41 a.m. on Saturday, April 29. But, if that did not transpire, he added, then it would be at 4:39 a.m. on Sunday, April 30, Walpurgis Night.

Presumably, since that would not occur either, it would be moved up to 4:37 a.m. on Monday, May 1, at least until such time as the prediction proved true, making the Generalissimo a Cassandra in the camp of Hitler.

Indeed, he would so prove, at least for events taking place precisely one year after that Sunday, April 30, 1944.

Also, be sure to note, at the same time and in the same vein of assured accuracy, that President Obama was not born in the United States, indeed, on our information, received from similar sources, we are sad to report, was not at all of woman born.

But that is highly confidential. Eyes only. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Oh, look, Scarlett, we just caught a glimpse of Russia from our window, across the Bering Strait. How beautiful Mother Russia still is these days.

On the editorial page, "Allegiance" examines the firm stand in the Senate campaign of Congressman Cameron Morrison in backing President Roosevelt for a fourth term, indicative, says the piece, of the voters’ mood tapped by this veteran politician, former Governor and Senator, as he had traveled the state.

It was likely, continues the piece, that his opponent, former Governor Clyde R. Hoey, would likewise endorse the President, bringing the final choice in the Democratic primary down to a matter of personalities.

Regardless, it was clear that FDR would handily carry the state in November and that North Carolinians would not allow petty grievances over such issues as states' rights interfere with sound preferences in the fall.

And, so it would be.

"Defiance" favors the President's stand on the Montgomery Ward seizure, that once a company or a union was allowed to defy the War Labor Board, then the dam would burst and would infect all of Labor and management.

The issue, says the piece, was, in the words of Dr. Frank Graham, a member of the War Labor Board, that Ward sought to fight a rearguard action against the maintenance of union membership clauses of union contracts, requiring that once a worker joined a union, he had to remain for the duration of the contract. This closed shop notion was one brought on by the war and would last only for its duration.

Ward, as Attorney General Francis Biddle had stated, was engaged in the manufacture of some airplane parts and also a major distributor of farm equipment, thus, even though not directly engaged in war industry contracts with the Government, nevertheless provided essential equipment for the war.

The Government was simply seeking to keep the dike from breaking in labor-management relations and thus was well justified in the maneuver. Both sides of the issue needed to compromise to effect the interests of the country. The piece concludes that if the people were aware of the facts, they would support the President.

"Frank Knox" eulogizes the passing of the Secretary of the Navy, praising him as a man who rose above party politics, often incurring the wrath of his fellow Republicans for not abiding the party line, to direct the building of the Navy into the most efficient sea-going fighting force the world had ever known. Under his watch, the Navy had won battle after battle, and had forced the enemy back upon itself in the South Pacific since the turning point in the war in May-June, 1942, with the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. For the meeting of that stiff and stern challenge, says the piece, Mr. Knox had become a true casualty of the war and would thus be remembered well by history.

The sudden death of Secretary Knox, of course, would be greatly overshadowed by the sudden death of President Roosevelt less than a year afterward, and so the Navy Secretary, for all his achievements in time of war, would perhaps not obtain the laurel in history which the editorial bequeathed him in death.

"D-Bell" urges all churches of Charlotte to follow the lead of the First Presbyterian Church, which had announced that it would open its doors and ring its bells when the news came of the D-Day invasion. The editorial urges prayer in awaiting this fateful moment when the sacrifice of men would suddenly accelerate, to bring about final conclusion of the war in Europe.

A couple of days earlier, a piece had appeared on the front page indicating that in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, churches had announced an intention likewise to ring their bells as soon as word reached the Associated Press office that the invasion had begun.

Drew Pearson devotes his entire column to the attempt by West Virginia Senator Harley Kilgore of the Senate Military Affairs Committee and the Truman Committee to draw the attention of Secretary of War Stimson to the problem of equipping troop transport planes with self-sealing fuel tanks to attenuate the prospect of the type of disaster which befell the 44 transport planes carrying over 800 men in two separate incidents, July 11 and July 14, 1943, over Gela and Catania in Sicily. He also recommended heavy armor be installed around the pilot’s seat.

Senator Kilgore recognized that there were drawbacks cited for these improvements to safety, that they added weight to the plane, thereby reducing its range and maneuverability, and that often transports flew so low that, when shot down, the soldiers aboard had little opportunity to bail out anyway.

Eventually, after nine months had passed since the dual tragedies in Sicily, there still had been no firm commitment by the Army air force to the improvements. A start had been made when General Hap Arnold ordered the tanks to be retrofitted to the transport planes. But then General Barney Giles, General Arnold’s chief of staff, wrote to General Carl Spaatz, commander of the Eighth Air Force in England, that he thought the tanks would curtail the range of the planes and that there were inadequate facilities in England to install them. General Spaatz agreed and the tanks were tanked, despite the recommendation of the board which had investigated the incidents in Sicily that they be installed.

Nevertheless, many officers of the carrier command favored the improvements and thought the loss of range de minimis, also insisting that there existed plentiful facilities in England which could retrofit the tanks. The commanders also complained that the generals of the Air Force thought primarily in terms of safety for fighter pilots and considered transport planes to be conveyances for infantry, the concern of the Army command structure rather than that of the Air Force.

Samuel Grafton discusses the long travail of the country in search of a war aim. No one still quite understood what it was, other than to win. He suggests that there was no easy resolution to it, that war aims had to be found by a long tedious process, but that the Tehran Conference in November-December had at least made a start in explaining what unity of nations would mean after the war.

In the meantime, the Army was hamstrung by a timid Congress in what it was allowed to relate to the soldiers who did the fighting. The Army, for instance, could not tell the average soldier that Franco was a Fascist and that he should be ridiculed, therefore, by all who prized freedom. So, how were they to communicate war aims?

Marquis Childs examines the same subject tackled whimsically the day before by Mr. Grafton, that of the Committee in the House chaired by Howard W. Smith of Virginia and its economic wish list, focusing on their desires to alleviate price controls prior to the end of the war. Representative Smith, a States’ Rightist, was opposed to any form of bureaucracy, wanted to allow those objecting to price regulations to contest the matter in Federal District Court, a much more time-consuming process for the Government to address than afforded by the special emergency courts set up to hear such cases.

Mr. Childs remarks that in Britain, an actor had been found guilty of violating gas rationing by driving his car from his home to the theater and was not only fined but sentenced to jail for eight weeks.

War, he reminds, is not constitutional and does stand on the finer points of law and liberty. It was necessary in time of war to endure sacrifice and forgo many luxuries. Price controls maintained the country from perilous inflation in time of war and thus worked a necessity, however onerous the burden to business.

He concludes that the Smith Committee's proposals would not only imperil the war effort but would actually increase the Federal bureaucracy.

Dorothy Thompson writes of John Grierson, head of the National Film Board of Canada and renowned documentarian, who had spoken before the International Labor Office in Philadelphia, encouraging education of the average person at the grassroots regarding the world to come. If it was desirable that recognition and embrace of internationalism should be hallmark of the future world, then the way to obtain it was not through long-winded speeches with platitudes and high-sounding ideals, but rather to relate the matter to the everyday lives of average citizens, that which internationalism would accomplish for them on their doorsteps.

He told of having made, when confronted with the task of promoting the Coronation in England, a documentary about the Royal Stamp Collection. The philatelic chord thus struck touched and united far more people around the world than description of any number of other facets of royal life to which the average person could not relate.

He practiced what he preached. Ms. Thompson remarks of having seen his exceptionally well done documentary a decade earlier on the British Post Office system, titled "Night Mail" and, more recently, his "World in Action" series, including a film on the world's youth, "Battle Is Their Birthright", another anent propaganda, "The Battle for Men's Minds", a third, regarding Labor, "Labor Front", and a fourth, on the future, "Tomorrow's World".

Not only, reports Ms. Thompson, did he make films, but also gave talks throughout Canada, itinerant to the smallest villages and hamlets, seeking to inform of the state of the world in terms grounded to everyday reality.

In any event, we can report that the John Foster Dulles form of internationalism, as transpiring through most of the decade of the 1950's, still rings in our ears, in the form of a Saturday noon air raid siren which used to pound weekly our pitiful tympanum and anvil nearly half in two before it would finally come generously to rest, sometimes in the middle of the night, when it would improvidently short circuit and scare everyone into watching the night skies for the fully anticipated approach of the ICBM's.

The first time we ever heard it, on an August Saturday in 1958, which we still vividly recall, we thought we were for sure about to be annihilated from some place far away. We thus take that to be the way in which the Eisenhower Administration chose to educate the average citizen of the dangers of the Cold War, if not the military-industrial complex abounding around us at the time, indeed, having been much closer a few days earlier, when we were suddenly uprooted as if by a whirlwind and tossed from our place of abode not too far from Fort Bragg, blown thence thither and yon to this proximity of an air raid siren a block away, not something we ever had experienced just thirty miles from Fort Bragg, seemingly a quiet, tranquil place most of the time, from our vantage point.

A news piece reports that Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky assured his fellow Kentuckians in New York that all irksome restrictions on liberty imposed by the war would be lifted after its end. The idea that Congress would never be able to regain the powers ceded to the Executive Branch, he opined, was not the case.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh soberly reminds readers of the episode reported the previous week regarding Captain Richard I. Bong being forced by General MacArthur to reject the offered gift of a case of Scotch from Captain Eddie Rickenbacker for having broken the record of 26 combat kills held by the captain from World War I. The Reverend added parenthetically that Major Bong, whose photograph appears with his plane on the front page this date, was not a drinking man, himself.

The Reverend also reminds that General Washington had successfully crossed the Delaware into Trenton on Christmas night amid the revels of the Hessian mercenary troops and taken them by surprise.

He suggests that only the sober nation would win the war.

Well, possibly.

But Hitler did not drink, and, it is said that Prime Minister Churchill enjoyed more than just a fine cigar of an evening, his toddy being a regular part of his regimen of tonic from the war.

So, Reverend, while a good thought, we are not so sure it actually obtains in reality always. Not that we advocate the strong drink. We don't. We find ourselves in the same camp as Major Bong and Reverend Spaugh on this issue, and even, to a point, as long as it is not quite such a premise upon which there is so much oppressive insistence, Mrs. Ida B. Wise.

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