Monday, April 3, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 3, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Second Ukrainian Army had crossed the Prut River at several points into Rumania, with Iasi, ten miles west of the Prut and 200 miles northeast of Bucharest, as the immediate objective, on the way to the oilfields at Ploesti near the capital. Rumanian communiqués indicated that the Soviet forces had also crossed the Jijia River which runs parallel to the Prut.

Gertsa, on the northern Rumanian border, twenty miles southeast of Czernowitz, had been captured by the First Ukrainian Army and it was believed that patrols of this force had also crossed the Prut at that location.

Other Russian forces of the First Ukrainian Army had moved to within eighteen miles of Odessa on the Black Sea.

In the first Soviet press conference since the days following the 1941 Nazi invasion of Russia, Foreign Commissar Molotov made clear that the Soviet intent in this thrust into Rumania, the first crossing of 1940 international borders by the Russian troops, was not acquisition of territory or change in the Rumanian form of government, but rather solely devoted to elimination of the Nazi threat to its borders. He also promised frequent press conferences henceforth.

American heavy bombers attacked in force on Sunday at Steyr, Austria, destroying 100 enemy planes, the most bagged in any single raid thus far in the war. Thirty-three American bombers were lost in the raid, thought to number in excess of 500 bombers, plus escort fighters.

On this date, American bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy struck at Budapest, the first Western Allied strike on the Hungarian capital. It followed by a week a Soviet strike on the city and appeared to suggest for the first time coordinated Western-Soviet air strikes in the offing on targets accessible from Italy by the Fifteenth Air Force.

British naval planes made several hits at Alten Fjord in Norway on the Tirpitz, the 35,000-ton battleship, the one great capital ship remaining in the German fleet. The battleship had been struck by British midget submarines the previous September. The Tirpitz, however, would nevertheless stay afloat until November, when it was finally sunk by the RAF.

In Italy, Italian troops occupied Mt. Castelnuovo, northeast of Mt. Marrone, captured Saturday. On the Anzio beachhead, several attempted thrusts by the Germans between Carroceto and Cisterna were repulsed. The enemy advances in the vicinity of Carroceto were led by flamethrowers against the left flank of the beachhead defenses.

The Japanese were reported to have cut the roads leading into the British base at Imphal in India, the ultimate objective being Dimapur, 60 miles north, the central supply depot for the forces fighting under General Joseph Stilwell in northern Burma.

Meanwhile, the glider-borne commandos who had landed behind enemy lines below Myitkyina, the Japanese base in northern Burma, had successfully cut off all communications arteries north and south of the town.

From Bougainville it was reported that two strategic hills outside the Empress Augusta Bay beachhead had been captured by the Allies, appearing to cause Japanese withdrawal from the area which had been harassed by the enemy in recent weeks.

On Friday, the Seventh Air Force struck Dublon Island in Truk Atoll for the fourth straight night. Another air group struck Ponape in the Caroline Islands.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, reports from Italy of the activity of the military police in the area, guiding Allied troops limited to nighttime movement as enemy lines were too close for operations during the day. They were the traffic directors who escorted the men through safe areas, away from mine fields and labyrinthine trails leading nowhere.

Mr. Tucker accompanied Major Samuel Lyon, head of the M.P.'s in the area, in a jeep on the night of March 28. They watched as a group of Allied infantrymen, silhouetted in the moonlight, marched across a bridge, headed to the front. Many would not return. It wasn’t hard to discern what was on their minds.

At one point, they stopped before a wide open field. A machinegun began blasting from about 400 yards away. Mr. Tucker became nervous and got out of the jeep to walk around. The soldiers around him, however, did not pay any attention. Major Lyon informed him that there was nothing about which to be perturbed. Two German patrols met out in the field every night and enjoyed raising a racket.

The New York Philharmonic, directed by Artur Rodzinski, gave a performance of the U.S. debut of the Eighth Symphony of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich at Carnegie Hall on Sunday evening. The somber symphony had been written during the previous summer and premiered in Moscow November 4 under the direction of Yevgeny Mravinsky.

And in Kansas City, Claude Watson, Prohibition Party candidate for president, questioned in a public news conference the right of Mrs. Roosevelt to fly in Army transports, allegedly to campaign for her husband, while he had lost his airline reservation because of Army priorities.

Whether Mr. Watson was drinking at the time was not reported.

On the editorial page, "The People" reports that in South Carolina, it had been determined that 57 percent of the gas ration coupons turned in to government offices after use to purchase gasoline were counterfeit. The piece deduces from the statistic a disconnect between the people and the war effort, a feeling that the Eastern states were too heavily curtailed in use of gasoline, so much so that the majority were willing to cheat the regulations by purchasing counterfeit coupons. If the trend was so throughout the United States, as people in South Carolina were contending, then it would bode ill for the time after the war.

"Thinkers" tells of the establishment of the Charlotte Council of International Relations, headed by Federal Judge John J. Parker. The council advocated the creation of an international body after the war to insure obedience to international law and reason, a void across the globe prior to the war. The group favored maintaining the Army and Navy after the war to aid enforcement by such an organization.

The piece found it an optimistic start in the right direction which it hoped would spread across the country.

"Wingate" laments the death of British General Charles Wingate, assigned to the war in Burma under the command of General Joseph Stilwell. He had been killed on a routine flight March 24.

The death of the 41-year old general who had earned the moniker "Lawrence of Arabia" for his efforts in the war, had been reported on Saturday’s front page.

In charge of the glider-borne commando units which landed behind enemy lines in Burma, he had gone to inspect operations, departing Imphal, when the plane carrying him crashed in a jungle-covered mountainous area of the Manipur state in India.

Aside from his prowess in the Burmese theater, he was known for championing Zionist rights and the establishment of a separate Jewish state in Palestine. To that end, while assigned to Palestine between 1936 and 1939, he trained the Haganah paramilitary organization which formed the core of the Israeli Army upon the establishment of Israel in 1948.

General Joseph Lentaigne was his replacement.

"In Escrow" remarks on $15,000 set aside by the City Council to hire an assistant to the judge of the Juvenile Court but which had not yet been spent since the first of the year and was not going to be spent until the State Legislature would act to separate out the Domestic Relations Court from the Juvenile Court, something which would not take place for a year.

Samuel Grafton discusses the dent in the myth of air power as the means to victory in the war, put in its side by the failed air bombardment of Cassino on March 15, the most concentrated bombing in history, dropping 2,500 tons on an area less than a square mile. Yet, the Germans, aided by rain in the aftermath, were able to reoccupy ruins in the southwest corner of the town and, aided by continued pounding from atop Mt. Cassino, where German troops, still holed up in the ruins of the Abbey bombed in February, were still battling the Allies for control of the strategic town blocking the way to Via Cassilina, the road to Rome.

The belief that Cassino was leveled was not well founded. A reporter for the New York Herald Tribune had reported that he could see many buildings still standing after the bombing.

Regardless of the reasons for the failure, the effort had not been successful, save for a few hours, in driving the Germans from the town.

After two years nurturing the belief that air power was the clean way to win the war, the American Government and the press now had to disabuse the people of that notion. Already there were reminders being made in the press that the Germans had not brought London to its knees with continual raids between September, 1940 and May, 1941 during the Blitz. At Medjez-El-Bab in Tunisia the previous year, the Allies had undertaken a heavy bombing raid, apparently leveling the town, only upon entry to find it full of enemy snipers and artillery.

Marquis Childs writes from Little Rock, Arkansas, following the presidential campaign of John W. Bricker, Governor of Ohio, ultimately to become the vice-presidential candidate with Thomas Dewey. He finds Governor Bricker assailing the New Deal at every stop, recommending dismantling of much of the government bureaucracy which he charged the program had built up unnecessarily, as well as balancing the budget and allowing free enterprise to work for the American people.

On foreign relations, he favored internationalism without surrendering the sovereignty of individual nations. A Republican administration would have to continue to prosecute the war, he informed his audiences.

Ironically, on the domestic issues, it would take a former Governor of Arkansas elected to the presidency in 1992 to begin actually to accomplish the goals set forth in the campaign rhetoric of Governor Bricker, echoed by most Republican candidates through 1988, with little or no results toward the ends promised, indeed, only expanding the government deficit and debt, primarily through large incremental increases in defense spending over the course of four decades.

In fairness, President Clinton, of course, had no longer the Soviet threat and the Cold War with which to deal militarily. But then, for three years of his term, neither did President Bush after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November, 1989.

And, today, the Republican House, in an effort to slash the budget, is doing exactly what it did with ill effect during 1995, threatening to shut down the government if it does not get its way. That may sound good to the Stars in Bars, but it is terrible in fact for the country, as the slashing under the Republicans always occurs only to government services for the people while the rich pals of the GOP, on government welfare in the form of military contracts, become ever wealthier. It sounds as a broken record.

While millions of Americans are losing their homes to greedy lenders, who, when challenged, adopt with impunity tactics resembling those of Joe McCarthy, the Republican solution is to close the government.

We suggest, in 2012, foreclosure on the Republican House, already evidencing its resumption of old outrages against the American people, now led by the Kuku's of the Tea Party movement.

Ah, well… What did we expect from a bunch of thieves whose pockets are greased by big business, allowed the more by the Republican majority of the Supreme Court in striking down as unconstitutional last year the campaign finance legislation, known as McCain-Feingold?

Drew Pearson addresses Congressional loafing, a timely topic.

While, he informs, most members of Congress worked diligently, some few dallied. Yet, the whole body turned in a sorry performance on both the tax bill and the soldier ballot bill.

Clare Hoffman of Michigan and John Rankin of Mississippi were among the best kibitzers in the Congress, usually found on any given day taking up an hour of floor time with tangential and picayune matters.

On March 27, for example, recounts Mr. Pearson, half the four hour and 22 minute afternoon session had been comprised of rambling diatribes by Representative Hoffman against Walter Winchell for his supposed assaults on the dignity of Congress, and by Representative Ralph Church of Illinois against the Democratic machine of Mayor Kelly of Chicago, contending that it was stealing pennies from widows.

Mr. Pearson next reports that in the recent special House election in Oklahoma, both candidates, the losing Republican E. O. Clark and the winning Democrat W. G. Stigler, were Choctaw Indians.

Finally, he tells of a fatal boxing match at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station on Saturday morning, March 4. A boxer was enlisted into the ring without prior instruction and wound up killed. Henceforth, the Navy would require prior instruction for all boxers.

A piece by Louis Graves, from the Chapel Hill Weekly, recounts the many and varied visitors who had come through Chapel Hill in recent years, from the President, who was present all of two hours for his December, 1938 speech at Woollen Gymnasium, to Vice-President Wallace, who arrived early enough for his evening speech to take in an afternoon of tennis, presumably on the still extant courts next to the lower quad.

Newspapermen, such as the recently deceased William Allen White, sports stars, such as Ted Williams, poet Carl Sandburg, opera star Helen Jepson, had all visited the campus, some, such as historian Charles Beard, electing to stay awhile, in that case three months, others, such as Mr. White and his wife, leaving immediately after their lectures or performances.

William Faulkner had visited the village quietly, without fanfare, just to write, stayed a few weeks and left before anyone, besides Intimate Bookshop operator Milton Abernethy (a bookshop later owned by Wallace Kuralt, brother of Charles) and playwright Paul Green, much noted his presence.

And we have to note that last night, for the first time, we watched "The Naked City", the 1948 movie on which the television series, debuting a decade later and lasting five years, was based. We have to confess that our long ago memories of the television series, which we used to enjoy on Saturday evenings, were abused by this mediocre film which could have been improved had it been directed by someone other than a rank amateur, as becomes painfully obvious in the initial scenes.

Jules Dassin, the director, however, went on to direct such interesting films as "Never on Sunday", in 1960, "Phaedra", in 1962, and, "Topkapi", in 1964, and so, with time, improved considerably his craft, and perhaps his budget. Everyone has to start somewhere. But what many people might attribute to poor acting in "The Naked City" was the plain fault of the director and the editor.

In any event, especially given his direction also of "Phaedra", we find the movie quite striking for its theme, the murder of a 26-year old clothes model, blonde, found naked in her bathtub, having been done in by two thugs, as we are allowed to see, obviously sans the nudity, in the opening scenes. Her body was discovered by her housekeeper the next morning.

It was thought at first that she died by accident or suicide, drowning in the bathtub or an overdose from a bottle of sleeping pills found under her bed. But Lieutenant Muldoon, the quintessential Irish detective, quickly slays both theories with his omnisciently keen eye for detail, always, nevertheless, rumpled and self-effacing, ingratiating to the audience.

There is no Gunther Toody, but there is brief comic relief afforded by a female character, originally from Mississippi, who wanders into the station to provide some hints to the murder, much in the same vein as Officer Toody. If you do not remember him for being too young, his favorite expression was, "Ooo, ooo…"

Nor is there a character who bobs to the surface inquiring of the direction for the White Cliffs of Dover, but one does go into the drink early in the movie.

Well, we recommend it, just for general interest, given the later series and the death of Marilyn Monroe in August, 1962 under not dissimilar circumstances. Ms. Monroe was not literally involved in a jewelry heist ring as was the deceased in the film, but, perhaps, figuratively, given the many wandering eyes drawn her way from ogling men, which she amply encouraged, she at least appeared to many as a diamond thief of sorts, those being a girl's best friend. And so…

You can take it from there, including the rubies and Indian sapphire ring. We don't want to spoil for you the ubiquitous question posed in this genre: who done it? We have already revealed a little of the denouement, though it should not take too much from your enjoyment of the film, aside from its manifold technical flaws.

But the question arises from it in our mind whether someone, because of the popularity of the tv series in 1962, determined that it would be advantageous to murder Ms. Monroe in like fashion, stage her death as a suicide, and then try to raise questions with respect to some vaguely attributed complicity on the part of John and Robert Kennedy, at least in the underground sewer in which those who might have plotted such a thing lived, namely organized crime.

Or, was it, in truth, Muldoon who did it, hiding conveniently behind the shield of the badge? That is as to the death of Miss Dexter, not Miss Monroe, of course. Mr. Hoover liked her too much.

Or was it simply as it appeared on the surface, an overdose of self-administered barbiturates?

Anyway, there it is, "The Naked City", one of its eight million stories.

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