Tuesday, May 23, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 23, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American infantry of the Fifth Army, under the command of General Mark Clark, had launched a major offensive from the Anzio beachhead toward Cisterna and Littoria, and toward the Alban Hills below Rome, southwest and west of Aprilia. British troops of the Army launched an offensive to the northwest at Moletta Creek. The attack began at 6:30 a.m. after thirty minutes of artillery barrage had preceded it.

The Eighth Army, under the command of General Sir Harold Alexander, meanwhile continued its assault on the Liri Valley while other American troops of the Fifth Army struck mountains guarding the Appian Way along the coast. The British had formed pincers against Pontecorvo, Acquino, and Piedmonte.

Operating from England, fully 3,500 planes dropped 5,000 tons of bombs on Germany and France. The RAF the night before flew 1,800 planes, hitting Dortmund and Brunswick in Germany. The American forces flew 1,700 planes, 750 of which were heavy bombers, against French targets at Chaumont, Avord, Orleans-Briey, Bourges, Etampes-Mondesire near Paris, Caen, and Chateaudun. Other unidentified targets were also struck in Germany.

Both raids together carried fully 15,000 fliers. The British lost 35 planes and the Americans lost a single bomber and three fighters.

The Chinese forces fighting west of the Salween River in Yunnan Province in China had destroyed the Japanese garrison at Chefang and thus cut the Burma Road at a point 28 miles from the Burmese frontier, isolating Japanese troops at other points along the road, receiving their supplies from Mandalay to the south.

The Chinese troops were now within 100 miles of General Stilwell's forces at Myitkyina. Operations in the latter area were now hampered by the first rains of the monsoon season. Hand-to-hand combat within the town still persisted between the battling forces, but no major change was reported from the previous day.

General MacArthur's headquarters reported that the airfield on Wakde Island, 110 miles northeast of Hollandia off New Guinea, had become operational within 48 hours of the landing, and now afforded an additional airstrip from which planes could attack the southern Philippines, 1,100 miles away, as well as permitting other raids to the west in the East Indies.

In Britain, tension was said to be palpable in anticipation of the invasion, as train schedules were suddenly curtailed, many travelers left stranded.

The report the previous Friday to Commons by Sir Anthony Eden of the 47 RAF prisoners of war out of Stalag Luft III who had been shot while allegedly attempting to escape, "The Great Escape", had angered Britons and retrenched their bitterness toward the Nazis.

Hal Boyle informs likewise from London of the tension which was sensed in the streets, the usual affability of the British, according to troops who had been there for some time, having become strained, though not wholly absent to first-time visitors. Yet, the tension and brusqueness was not so great, he declared, as in America. He also contrasted the incessant loquacity of Americans regarding the upcoming invasion with that of Brits who never discussed invasion, though it was obvious that it was constantly on their minds. They tended to concentrate their animosities toward Germany on Hitler, personally, and lay the fault for their many inconveniences at his doorstep.

One of the worst gripes came from the need to continue blackouts after nearly five years of having endured them. Yet, the blackouts were not so strictly maintained as earlier in the war. Walking down a street at night, one viewed slivers of light here and there. The wardens of late only enforced the most egregious violations resultant of not having the beaver boards properly secured.

A strike of 12,000 war workers at the Chrysler plant in Detroit had been cancelled by the UAW. The strike had taken place in defiance of an order of the War Labor Board, triggering the potentiality of WLB referring the matter to the President for decision on takeover of the company by the Government. The prospect, no doubt, after the Montgomery Ward matter of late April, weighed heavily in the decision of UAW to call off the strike.

A jury in Pittsburgh acquitted Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation of the charge of falsifying the records of tests of steel, allegedly resulting in faulty Liberty ships which had literally split in half, according to the reports of March, 1943 in the wake of the indictment.

And, in New York, the Fulton Street Fish Market reported that a freak fish, a five-pound shad, half male, half female, had been caught in the Connecticut River. The American Museum of Natural History said that they would preserve the unusual, hermaphrodited fish.

We suggest a Native American name: Hanging Shadow.

On the editorial page, "A Start" finds the Senate liaison committee to the State Department providing its assent to a coalition of the Big Four nations after the war, albeit with an escape clause attached that any of the nations could withdraw at any time from the agreement for mutual pow-wow. While this clause presented some doubt as to the efficacy ultimately of such a coalition thus held together by baling wire, it was one with which isolationists would likely be willing to wet their feet for its lack of permanency, and thus at least presented a point of departure for establishing the new partnership in the post-war world.

"Long Peace" reads Dorothy Thompson's editorial of the day and notes as well-taken her point that the Versailles Treaty after World War I did not fail because it was too hard or too soft, but rather because its terms were never enforced.

No one in the Government was advocating extermination of large numbers of Germans--Samuel Grafton had more than once suggested that about 100,000 of the top Nazi leaders ought be shot without trial--but how to effectively handle the peace otherwise was subject to great debate. H. G. Wells had cautioned that even Hitler should be spared the hangman’s rope for the fact that he could become a martyr and, even in death, thus provide renascence to a dangerous underground Nazi movement.

The piece finds this notion too gentle for its absence of any deterrent effect on future dictators.

For the peace to last through generations, there had to be strict enough measures imposed on the Germans to prevent their further making of war.

"Round Two" discusses the takeover by the Government of the Hummer Manufacturing Co., a subsidiary of Montgomery Ward, which manufactured airplane parts and other items under war contracts. Gone was the argument of Sewell Avery, president and chairman of Montgomery Ward, that there was no war-essential industry involved in the seizure, as with his Chicago plant in late April.

The underlying issue was the same, that he had defied the War Labor Board's order to recognize a union, this one an AFL affiliate, specifically because the union contract had in it a clause providing for maintenance of membership, once an employee joined the union, for the duration of the contract, a war measure to keep union membership stable.

The editorial awaits Mr. Avery's next move in light of the seizure.

"Rebirth" discusses the Communist Political Association, the replacement for the American Communist Party, dead for a year since the abolition of the Comintern by the Soviet Union and a concomitant shift in policy toward nationalism. The new CPA, informs the piece, had amalgamated the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, and Marxian and socialist principles of labor organization.

Just how this new harmony on an old song would play out in practical terms remained to be seen, but the editorial cautions that the American public, given its past detestation of anything smacking of Communism in the United States, would not be welcoming of that which likely would be perceived as merely the same old stalking horse, merely one of a different color and size.

Samuel Grafton examines the divide in the Republican Party between the Eastern liberal wing and the Midwestern isolationist-conservative wing, most representative of which was Col. Robert McCormick's Chicago Tribune. The liberal New York Herald Tribune had determined Governor Dewey to be legitimately an internationalist and worthy of the endorsement of Wendell Willkie.

Mr. McCormick, on the other hand, eschewed Mr. Willkie's endorsement as the plague, thought it would undermine the appeal to Midwesterners of Governor Dewey, given the rejection of Mr. Willkie in Wisconsin and three other states during the short primary season, prompting his quick exit from the race.

Mr. Grafton puzzles over this dichotomy, finds it difficult to sort out as to how Governor Dewey could be appealing to both the Herald Tribune and the Chicago Tribune, especially to the latter, if, as the Herald Tribune indicated, Mr. Willkie’s foreign policy was essentially the same as that of Governor Dewey.

He finally opts for the notion that the mutual acceptance was the result of the strategic ploys of Governor Dewey to win different segments of the country. But whether he could win the endorsement of Mr. Willkie, and thus help to acquire the substantial support among liberal Republicans and independents across the country which Mr. Willkie had attracted, remained to be seen. How could Mr. Willkie climb on the same bandwagon with Col. McCormick when their favored foreign policies were antithetical and mutually exclusive to one another?

Marquis Childs studies the primary outcome in Alaska, a one-party Democratic territory. Alaskans had voted as their single territorial delegate to Congress a pro-New Deal candidate from among three vying for the position. One of the primary issues was the subject of statehood. The winner, Edward Bartlett, was strongly in favor of it, while his opponents, consistent with the large fishing and gold mining industries, opposed it for its concomitantly bringing higher taxes. The liberal, pro-New Deal Governor had supported Mr. Bartlett, causing criticism of him by the other candidates as an FDR man. His win therefore was another bellwether suggesting that the President enjoyed widespread support geographically.

As indicated in the editorial column, Dorothy Thompson writes of the varying views on post-war treatment of Germany, whether to construct a soft peace or hard peace. The Council for Democratic Germany differed from Rex Stout's Society for the Prevention of World War III, the latter favoring a punitive peace in which all Germans would be regarded as incorrigible and thus made colonial subjects to the major powers.

Ms. Thompson suggests that the problem of Versailles was not that it was a too soft or too hard peace but that it was not enforced. She advocates utilizing Germans who could be trusted to establish a new government, one consonant with democratic principles. For, without participation of Germans in governing Germany, there would quickly arise underground revolts of the type which had arisen in Poland and Yugoslavia against the Nazi occupations of those countries.

Drew Pearson discusses first the disproportionate awarding of air medals in the war as between the Army, which had received over 100,000 such medals, and the Navy, which had only been awarded 700. The Navy's size was one-fifth that of the Army, but even adjusted for that discrepancy, the ratio remained a mere 3.5 to 100.

Considerable bitterness had resulted among Navy fliers and, especially in the Pacific, it became manifest whenever the two came face to face, often leading to brawls.

Even an Army dog, Chips, had received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart for his heroic ground actions in Sicily, attacking a German pillbox and causing the surrender of its Nazi occupants. These awards had made unbearable to Navy men their own paucity of similar medals.

Navy fliers who had bombed enemy positions on Guadalcanal for four months in 1942 received no award; Army infantry who fought for one week received a Legion of Merit award.

The morale problems resulting for Navy fliers had reached such a degree that, in one instance, it had been reported from the Southwest Pacific that a Navy contingent observed an engagement between Army aircraft and Japanese planes in the offing, but chose to fly away rather than help and, in consequence, see their Army counterparts get all the glory while they received pats on the head and perhaps an extra dog biscuit.

The Reverend Herbert Spaugh relates of advice imparted by H.E.C. Bryant anent the salutary benefits of having a hobby. We agree, but would skip some of Mr. Bryant's somewhat antiquated homilies, at least those reported five years earlier.

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