Tuesday, May 2, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 2, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the night before, 750 heavy bombers of the RAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force had flown from England against targets in Germany, France, and Belgium. Ten planes were lost.

About 500 American planes, half medium bombers, the others fighters, attacked Pas-de-Calais during the day without loss, while Thunderbolt fighter-bombers and fighters hit railway targets at Busigny, Valenciennes, Blanc-Misseron, Tergnier, and Le Mans in France. Some of the bombers hit targets as well in Western Germany.

In all, about 4,000 sorties were flown from England, while another 1,300 were flown from Italy, the latter by Allied aircraft against targets primarily in Northern Italy. Two planes were lost in the latter operations of the Fifteenth Air Force.

It is noteworthy that now the press was reporting, after passage by censors, that the increased concentration of air strikes, unrelenting for 18 consecutive days, were "pre-invasion". It was, of course, only to state the obvious.

On the Anzio beachhead, German forces made slight gains three miles southwest of Carroceto, while German artillery increased its fire on Cassino, the latter for several weeks in a state of relative lull.

While action was taking place north of Iasi in Rumania and southeast of Stanislawow in Poland, Moscow communiqués again reported no substantial changes all along the Eastern front. Brest-Litovsk, German stronghold held since June 24, 1941, located 115 miles east of Warsaw, was attacked by the Soviet Air Force.

A piece tells of the bravery and tenacity of Pfc. William J. Johnston of Colchester, Conn., who had been left behind by his company, presumably on the Anzio beachhead, though the exact location was not provided. Believing that he was dying from wounds received while machine-gunning Germans through a night, a full day, and then another night, his fellow comrades in arms had reluctantly to abandon him when the increased concentration of enemy fire forced their withdrawal. Private Johnston, not content simply to sit and die, continued to fire alone on enemy positions. During their retreat, the men of his outfit thought he was gone when the sound of his machinegun suddenly stopped.

The Germans had approached his position, thought he was dead, took his shoes.

But, as a scene from a movie, Private Johnston, barefooted, struggled into the vicinity of American lines the next morning and was rescued when spotted by an outpost.

Neither daunted by enemy artillery shells nor, adding to the injury insult, the taking of his shoes, Private Johnston was now recovering in a hospital.

The Chinese and American forces of General Joseph Stilwell in Northern Burma had soundly defeated a force of Japanese numbering 2,000, encountered 65 miles southwest of the town of Mogaung, seeking to eliminate an Allied rail and roadblock interrupting Japanese supply lines. The Allies had killed at least half the Japanese, while casualties in the area remained at a ratio of about 10 to 1 in favor of the Allies.

In India, fighting increased in the area of Palae, 25 miles south of Imphal. Sixty miles north, in and around Kohima, where the enemy had penetrated to the suburbs, there was no significant change in status.

The State Department announced that a compromise agreement with Spain had been made, under which shipments of wolfram, from which came tungsten for the manufacture of steel, would be limited to a relative trickle to Germany, monthly shipments to be reduced to between 20 and 40 tons, about ten percent of its previous allotment. The compromise, not demanding complete cessation of shipments, was reached so as to accommodate Britain which relied on certain trade commodities from Spain. The agreement also provided that Axis agents would be expelled from Spain, Tangier, and Spanish Morocco, and that the German consulate in each of those countries would also be closed. Five of seven interned Italian ships would be released by Spain to the Allies. In return, oil embargoes on Spain by the Allies would be lifted and shipments would resume at pre-embargo levels.

British Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden stated that the shipments of wolfram to Germany would likely be cut off by the Allies in France shortly after the cross-Channel invasion.

Representative Sabath of Illinois, chairman of the House Rules Committee, initially quoted as saying that the resolution passed to have the Committee investigate the Government seizure of the Montgomery Ward plant in Chicago would set a bad precedent, now had changed his mind. He had learned that the War Labor Board had provided a hundred million dollars worth of war contracts to Montgomery Ward. Congressman Sabath wished to know why that was when the contracts should have been awarded to manufacturing firms, not a catalog retailer.

Meanwhile, arguments on each side took place in Federal District Court in Chicago regarding the Government's petition for an injunction to forbid Montgomery Ward management from interfering with the Government seizure of the plant. The judge promised a decision by Monday.

The crisis would pass just before the decision was to be announced, by the fact that the NLRB-supervised union election at the company overwhelmingly voted the CIO union as its representative in collective bargaining, mooting the need for the Government seizure.

Democratic primaries in Florida and Alabama demonstrated continued support for the New Deal and the President as Senator Claude Pepper won his primary fight and Senator Lister Hill of Alabama likewise won his primary. In South Dakota, Republican Senator Chan Gurney was re-nominated, despite being attacked by his opponent as too friendly to the Administration.

In Maryland, however, Senator Millard Tydings won his Democratic primary, despite a long-standing reputation for being at odds with the President, even if recently having denied it.

A photograph appears of Captain John O'Connell, leader of the "Snoop Troops", former I.R.A. member, originally from County Kerry, of late of Georgia, discussed in the prior day's "Reporter's Notebook" column by Daniel De Luce.

Sid Feder, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes of the vigilance maintained by the MP's of Italian civilians wearing clothing made of G.I. materials. A blonde, wearing khakis and gloves of leather upholstery off a jeep, had been arrested for her dalliance with the black market.

Tents and blankets often served the Italians as trench coats, were the most popular of pilfered items. But leather seats of jeeps and half tracks were not far behind.

If left untended during the night, it was more common than not for such a vehicle by morning to have seats consisting of but springs.

This black market differed from the one the previous year in North Africa, where the native population preferred to snatch G.I. mattress covers for the making of robes.

The saving grace was the stamp "U.S." on all the property, making it difficult to conceal the origin of the materials.

And, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, Robert Rice Reynolds, stated that every consideration would be given to General Patton when it came time to determine whether he should be promoted from his permanent rank as colonel to major general, his brevit rank being lieutenant general. The Senator added, however, that General Patton should not go around saying who should rule the world, referring to the general's faux pas when speaking recently before the United Kingdom Service Club in London, saying that the British and Americans were destined to rule the world after the war.

Senator Reynolds did not state, as most did when referencing the incident, which countries he thought might have been omitted from the so destined by General Patton. But, in all likelihood, given the Senator's past history, he would have been quite satisfied had the general stated that the Germans and Americans were preordained to rule the world.

On the editorial page, "Recruits" gives praise to the approach taken by Atlanta's Methodist Bishop, Arthur Moore, advocating a strong post-war international peace organization, and that the country move away from its tendency toward rank materialism, one of the primary contributing factors, as the Bishop saw it, to the war, likely, if continued, to spawn another.

The piece contrasts the view with the Peace Now advocates, a position taken by a group of New York clergymen during the previous several weeks, criticizing as immoral the continued bombing by the Allies of Germany and the occupied territories.

"World's Man" comments on Thomas Dewey's advocacy for participation by the United States in a post-war international organization, albeit one led by the U.S. and Great Britain, and also inclusive of China and Russia. This view presented a logical progression from th Governor's speeches of the previous summer, and a decisive departure from isolationist ideals, likely leaving the Old Guard Republicans feeling without a rack any longer on which to hang their hats.

Regardless, the progressive stand on foreign policy, not yet as strong or progressive toward internationalism as was that of Wendell Willkie, but nevertheless palatable to rational thinking in the post-war world, had won him many new supporters.

"Big Trifle" finds trivial the basis for the dispute at Montgomery Ward and proceeds to set forth the history of the matter. The same issue is covered this date by Dorothy Thompson and so we summarize below essentially the same facts set forth in this piece. The only difference is that Ms. Thompson asserts the Ward case to be the 17th exercise of government seizure authority since June 9, 1941, ten of which had been the result of labor defiance of orders issued by the Government and seven by management. The editorial asserts that it was the 16th such exercise of authority.

Samuel Grafton examines the Sunday-only version of internationalism, the type practiced by Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio, soon to become the Republican vice-presidential candidate with Governor Dewey of New York. Governor Bricker preached amity with Britain after the war, but also made demands that America, in exchange for Lend-Lease, be provided permanent possession of bases in the Atlantic on islands of Great Britain, despite the U.S. already having 99-year leases to these bases. Mr. Grafton finds duality in this form of internationalism; it would be more consistent simply to say that America could not trust Britain to be faithful to the 99-year leases and so must have permanent possession of the island bases.

Marquis Childs reports of the speech to the publishers’ dinner by their featured guest, Thomas Dewey. He was received warmly and handled himself well. His style, however, remained that of an actor with a carefully prepared script rather than a naturally charming individual. The latter laurel was bestowed instead on Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also a featured speaker at the dinner.

The warm welcome to both young Republicans was no surprise. Mr. Childs informs that 90% of the newspapers had opposed FDR's re-election in 1940, that it would likely be a higher percentage of opposition in 1944.

He remarks that, if it sounded as a traveling road show, it was only because that was the way of modern politics, far more show than substance.

He also states parenthetically that the G.O.P. would have served themselves better had they selected Clare Boothe Luce as the keynote speaker, rather than Governor Earl Warren of California. The criterion on which he bases this assessment was simply that Ms. Luce was prettier than Governor Warren.

In any event, we have to wonder at the vast discrepancy, assuming the accuracy of the statement by Mr. Childs that 90% of the newspapers had registered their disapproval of a third term for FDR, between that statistic and the victory by fully ten percentage points over Wendell Willkie in the prior election. One cannot imagine a similar scenario occurring today or for the entire age since the arrival, circa 1950, of television in nearly every home of the country. It appears, with not so much saturation of the public mind by the popular media of the day, limited as it was to print and radio commentary, that the collective mind was freer to make its own choices without having to check itself repeatedly in the mirror to insure that it was not being sold a load of goods along with all the other advertised products in the medium of choice.

Today, one must turn it off some of the time to make that reflection. You may watch it in limited daily doses and think thereby that you are not brainwashed as a result; think again. Perform an experiment: turn off your tv for a full, whole week, then two weeks, three... Don't watch it at all for a month. Obtain your news solely from newspapers or online media. You will immediately feel better, and you will begin to realize the control that box has over your mood and perception of the world, dour and suspicious as it probably is for the regular viewer, calculated to be so, to keep you wedded to those sales pitches interspersing the infotainment, when you watch it redundantly.

Consider, too, that which others abroad perceive, as they have for at least three decades now, by watching, via satellite, American television, that which is presented to them daily, pressed on them, as fairly representative of American life in the raw--usually, whether dramatized or by way of news, about as close to being fairly representative of the life of the average American as it is to say that all or most Muslims, for instance, are terrorists. Have you ever had your school shot up, been fired upon in any situation with a gun? Some few have; most in America, fortunately, have never been even close to such an episode. The perceptions thus created by popular media just aren't so or even close to being so, stressing the aberrant, not the usual day in the life, not so unlike the usual days of the rest of the world, save, perhaps, compared to some depressed parts, the relative abundance of at least basic material comforts in the United States. But for the gain of every material comfort, we must also realize that there is to be some sacrifice, to a degree, of spiritual comfort.

Usama bin Laden, for instance, a devotee apparently of American television--as was Saddam Hussein--for the last forty-four years of his life, was worth at least 300 million dollars, gained through his inheritance. Neither the 300 million nor the viewing of television led him obviously to a spiritual, peaceful life, or death.

Drew Pearson addresses the dissension between William Green, head of the American Federation of Labor, and the AFL membership in many districts, regarding Mr. Green's politicking on behalf of certain candidates for Congress rejected by the unions. Among them were reactionary Red-baiter, Representative Martin Dies of Texas, arch-isolationist Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, and Congressmen Fred Busbey and Stephen Day, darlings of the isolationist Chicago Tribune. In each case, the rank-and-file of the AFL unions supported the opponent and strongly rejected these diehards glued to the past, continued to do so despite Mr. Green's endorsements.

He next informs of Col. Robert Cutler who would sit right down and write himself a letter, for the fact of his dual roles in government, as both executive officer of the War Ballot Commission, located in the Munitions Building, and as the Secretary of War's coordinator for soldier balloting, located in the Pentagon. He would receive and answer his own mail back and forth from each location.

Whether he wrote kisses on the bottom was not told.

Lastly, Mr. Pearson tells of the problems associated with 4-F'er's obtaining work in war plants, the object of scrutiny and calls by the War and Navy Departments for drafting of labor. Many men classified 4-F not only were deemed physically unfit for the service but also for war industry jobs, often having more stringent physical requirements than the military. Moreover, if a man quit a war-essential industry, he could not take a job in another war-essential industry without waiting for 60 days.

Dorothy Thompson, as mentioned, examines the Montgomery Ward case, finds it puzzling as to why there was so much dispute, concludes that it likely resulted from the facts of it being a campaign year and that the case emanated from the city hosting both parties' conventions.

She stresses that the President only acted according to the provisions of the Smith-Connally Act, once the case had been referred to him by the War Labor Board, after Sewell Avery, chairman at Montgomery Ward, had defied the WLB order to accept recognition of the CIO union as representative of the majority of employees, as certified by the NLRB.

She finds specious the claim that Ward was not involved in war-essential industry. A subsidiary of Ward, Hummer Manufacturing Co., was producing airplane parts under government contract. Moreover, Ward had sought from the War Production Board 36,000 preferential priorities on materials, contending that its products were essential war goods.

Thus, the action was not one of a "New Dealer", as Mr. Avery had contemptuously uttered of and to Attorney General Biddle when he arrived at the plant to effect the seizure. It was simply the President carrying out the will of the Congress for the sake of effective prosecution of the war.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh provides a letter from a Navy surgeon to his sister describing the encounter of three floating dead bodies of American soldiers, one headless, while on patrol on a destroyer in the Pacific, three days after the main battle in the area had included. The men were buried at sea, and the surgeon's thoughts were inspired by the witness.

He said the men found it singularly uninspiring, were embittered, that people at home wrestled over strikes, that politicians wrangled over issues of race, the right to vote, and other matters of petty statecraft, all while men abroad, black and white, were giving up their lives daily to fight for freedom, many of them winding up lost of hope.

The main objectives were to win the war and then rehabilitate, not only the Allied countries, but Germany and Japan as well. Yet, he sighed, it appeared that the United States might not be up to the challenge, scarcely able as it was to manage its own affairs by fair and democratic methods. It was necessary to admit finally that the country was not truly a democracy, while searching for ways and means to become truer to its ideals.

The letter had appeared in the April 24 issue of Time. Quoting a poem by A. E. Housman, the surgeon offers up words he thinks might be uttered by the three dead soldiers:

Here dead we lie because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young

In conclusion, the surgeon stated that, despite being disabused of notions of idealism with respect to their country, the men still believed personally in the principles for which they had come to fight. They could not let themselves down by renouncing them.

Although 67 years old, it is probably a particularly timely letter to read in full, understanding the while that it is written by a true patriot ready to give his life in fact for his country, not a two-faced, flag-waving fool only cheering on others to do so.

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