Thursday, May 25, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 25, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the forces of the Fifth Army on the Anzio beachhead clapped hands at 7:31 a.m. with those of the forces above Terracina in the Pontine Marshes to form a united front, as the Jerries below Anzio beat a hasty retreat, lest they become entrapped in the marshes. Three men on patrols, near Borga Grappa, five miles east of the old beachhead, Captain Ben Souza of Honolulu and Lieutenant Francis X. Buckley of Philadelphia, along with Private Lupe Sabala of Salinas, California, were the first to make contact from each of two forces. A reconnaissance squadron then met up with a group of American engineers and British armored car scouts, followed at 10:15 a.m. by General Mark Clark who greeted the assembled men at a bridge, marking the moment as particularly fateful.

Allied fighter planes found two columns of German vehicles proceeding north bumper to bumper in the area of Artena, near Valmontone, and left a hundred of their number in flames. Reinforcements of the German lines were said to be pouring in from Northern Italy, fulfilling an objective of the Allied operation to draw troops away from France and limit thereby the ability to defend against the coming D-Day invasion. Fully 10,000 German troops had been captured by the Allies during the fourteen-day operation, begun May 11, which had advanced 60 miles thus far beyond Cassino and the breaking of the Gustav Line.

More than 6,000 Allied planes struck at 21 rail centers and 15 airfields spread across France, Belgium, Italy, and in the area of Berlin, dropping 8,000 tons of bombs, half of which fell against the West Wall in Belgium and Northern France, the latter dropped by a thousand of the American heavy bombers. Berlin and Aachen were hit by 500 RAF bombers the night before. The Americans had encountered few fighters but, in addition to usual flak from ground fire, had received rocket fire from the northern coastal areas of France, knocking out several heavy bombers, though the precise number was not related.

Heavy bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force struck Toulon on the southern coast of France and Lyon on the Rhone River.

The Chinese moving westward from the Salween River in Yunnan Province in China had occupied a mountain village northeast of Tengchung following their surrounding and wiping out a thousand Japanese troops.

In Honnan Province in southeastern China, the fighting for Loyang, surrounded by Japanese insurgents, had intensified; the Chinese disputed a report of Japanese claims that they had taken the key location linking central and northern China.

At Myitkyina in Northern Burma, street-by-street fighting continued, with the forces under General Joseph Stilwell making slow but steady progress to drive the Japanese completely from the town. Other Allied forces advanced five miles along the Mogaung River, moving toward the town of Mogaung, the other primary base of the Japanese in north Burma.

On Dutch New Guinea, General MacArthur's forces of the Sixth Army moved west toward two Japanese airfields on Maffin Bay, 120 miles northwest of Hollandia.

American patrols advancing from Aitape toward Wewak on northeastern New Guinea became separated from their main lines for a short time but were able to reform their outpost 25 miles southeast of Aitape following a fierce confrontation with the enemy.

At Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville, 820 Japanese bodies had been discovered during the previous few days, the apparent victims of malnourishment. Reports of similar discoveries of emaciated enemy corpses came from the jungles surrounding the Hollandia front.

In London, Ernest Hemingway suffered a head injury in an automobile accident, but after minor surgery, was reported on the mend.

Hal Boyle reports from London of a blonde, thirtyish, shapely woman named, for the sake of the piece, "Jean". Jean was popular with the G.I.'s and received a large number of phone calls from them.

Yet, their interest was not in seeing Jean's blonde tresses and shapely figure; rather it was to obtain liquor. Jean did a land office business in liquor. She sold her liquor at $12 per bottle, whereas it could be had in stores for $5 per bottle, the problem, however, being that it could not be had in stores for want of supply. The G.I.'s had to go to Jean to obtain their liquor.

After the deal was consummated on the phone, the G.I. would pop by her flat and pick up the liquor. Appeared Jean on the street dressed in black, "definitely Savoyish and Park Lane…quite gay", the result of her obtaining $7 profit per bottle of liquor, cash only, no credit allowed.

A bottle at a wine shop would take six months on a waiting list to acquire, the price of drinks in pubs going for a price higher than the $12 per bottle Jean charged for her elixirs of liqueur.

Beers and ales were easier to come by than liquor, about a quarter for a small bottle, but tasted as rainwater mixed with sugar or quinine, depending upon preference for mild or bitter. And so emasculate the concoction that the G.I.'s contended it required a sledge accompaniment to obtain any bang.

The British blamed the American soldiers for the existence of the black market as they were the primary customers nurturing it.

Mr. Boyle does not tell of any similar concoction in England to that which he encountered in Italy in December, causing him to jump up and click his heels and shout bah-bah, the goat's milk, vodka, and vermouth mixture.

Anyway, it is said that Jean changed her name to Marilyn, moved to Hollywood, dropped the British accent, and the rest, as they say...

On the editorial page, "The Myth" discusses the rallying cry of Thomas Dewey's supporters, that only Governor Dewey could extricate New York from the mire of debt into which Governor Roosevelt had plunged it during his single term in 1929-33, citing the fact that FDR left the state with a 100-million dollar debt and Dewey had managed to pile up a 140-million dollar surplus.

The piece corrects the misapprehension of the facts by asserting that, in fact, it was Governor Herbert Lehman, serving during the decade between Roosevelt and Dewey, who had eliminated the deficit and rung up a 40-million dollar surplus, effectively 70 million by the time Governor Dewey began operating on it in April, 1943. Plus, Governor Dewey had moved back the start of the fiscal year from July 1 to April 1, such that 1944's accretion to the surplus could be factored to the calculus.

While not diminishing the accomplishments of Governor Dewey in sound fiscal management of the state, the editorial points out that the Dewey Administration had significantly benefited from both the policies of the predecessor and from the large profits of big business in war time, resulting in an expanded tax base in New York, as elsewhere across the nation.

Thus, the truth being promoted was far from the accurate credit properly to be accorded merely the Dewey Administration.

It might have also pointed out that, as with the prevailing winds impacting any state budget, especially to be gauged by the fiscal health of the larger states, the national economic crisis, beginning with the October, 1929 Crash, had pervaded FDR's term as Governor, causing the stress at the state level to be on government spending to alleviate the worst effects of the Depression, offsetting the absence of help from Washington, which then worked to benefit under FDR's presidency Governor Lehman in New York, for the shift from reliance on state aid to Federal aid, the shift from followship, the medicine ball routine, under Hoover, to leadership, swimming for survival, under Roosevelt.

"Brushoff" wonders at Prime Minister Churchill's kindly remarks to Commons, as reported the day before, anent the Falangists in Spain led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco, that Spain's treatment of its own citizens remained, in plain, its business, and that the critics of Franco were unduly harsh.

The editorial finds the expressed gentility to be reminiscent of that of the successive predecessor Governments of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain during the Spanish Civil War, taking the lead in remaining aloof from the conflict in which both Germany and Italy had participated with arms, aircraft, and men. During that war, from 1936 to 1939, the ominous events preceding the invasion of Poland took place. With full appreciation of that history in the store of Prime Minister Churchill, it was mystifying to The News why such an ordinarily astute leader would make such an ostensibly naïve statement.

The reason, it would appear, was simple politics, to pat on the back Sr. Franco for his willingness to break diplomatic and military ties with Germany and cease 90% of the wolfram trade, in exchange for resumption of trade with the Allies in oil. Likely, too, it was psychological ploy with respect to Turkey, as well to Finland and the Balkans, to make them jealous of tender remarks to such a notorious Fascist as Franco in the hope that they would board the Allied train, beginning to depart the station: give praise to the devil for a good deed and make the not-so-devilish others fall in line.

As Churchill had stated at the time of the invasion of Russia by the Nazis, he wished Josef Stalin well, for if Hitler invaded Hell, he would have a good word to put in for the Devil.

Better to do that than have Spain continue to supply Hitler with a vital component for steel production and potentially to afford a staging area for the Luftwaffe to make flanking attacks on the coming invasion forces.

"Subterfuge" finds the sedition trial in Washington of the 30 defendants to be remarkable thus far only as a circus. The most recent escapade reported had been the charge of a defense counsel that the American Government was in the hands of Communists, the chief exponents being Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Sidney Hillman of the CIO, and British liberal, Harold Laski, that the charges had been brought at the behest of "so-called professional Jews" and by President Roosevelt, desiring to cover up the crimes of the Government. He also proclaimed that Stalin held sway over Roosevelt and Churchill and only needed to give the command to turn America, lock, stock, and barrel, to Communism.

The piece provides a sentiment at the end that it would like therefore to see some of the defense attorneys included in the indictment for sedition.

That latter notion, while meant as exasperated hyperbole, would have of course done violence to the system of jurisprudence in the country. Defense attorneys must have latitude to present their case, in an attempt to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors in criminal trials. The trial judge appeared to have permitted more than usual free reign to counsel in an effort, no doubt, to show the country the bizarre notions held by the idiots they represented, that they were at base Nazi sympathizers.

The charges were dropped after the war ended when the trial concluded in a mistrial after the death of the judge in November. But, the trial had served likely its purpose.

Unfortunately, these lunatics continued after the war in their efforts, got some degree of traction, became the John Birch Society, and, by the 1960's, had become more than a bad joke on the American landscape, rather a dangerous bunch of idiots.

They still exist.

You will find many of them in the Tea Party and at Sarah Palin rallies, that is when they are not at home swirling themselves into fits of pique over the latest revelations contained in tabloid news. At least, she serves to round them up into one place.

"Cleared" remarks on the verdict of acquittal of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation for allegedly falsifying records of tests of steel, leading allegedly to failures of war components, especially ships. The Truman Committee, chaired by Senator Harry Truman, within two months to be made fatefully the vice-presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket with FDR, had, in March, 1943, determined that the corporation had falsified the documents, leading to the indictments.

But no proof had ever been proffered that the falsified documents related to steel components presented to the military under war contracts. The piece praises therefore the system of jurisprudence for having brought to light the facts and exonerated properly the steel company.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the interview by Joseph Morton of the Associated Press with Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia. She comments that the most disturbing revelation it contained concerned the sufferings of the people of Yugoslavia, the contention by Marshal Tito that fully 8.5 percent of the Slav population had been killed, their villages routed, plundered, and destroyed by the Nazis and Chetnik forces. Of 250,000 Partisan troops, 110,000 had been killed, said Tito. Those had withstood and liberated 130,000 kilometers of territory containing five million people, against 14 German divisions, plus four Bulgarian, about eight Croat, and over three divisions worth of other troops, all tolled about 400,000 of the enemy in uniform.

Despite this unparalleled record of military achievement in the war considering the odds, they fought without sufficient support of the Western Allies, and without the treasury which belonged to the government-in-exile of King Peter, along with the Yugoslav Navy ships seized from Italy. Civilians suffered from famine; surgery in the field was performed with butcher knives without anesthetic. To begin to remedy these exiguities, it would be necessary to obtain aid either from King Peter's government treasury or from Yugoslavs in other Allied countries.

The Partisans, Tito was quick to remind, had no representative within the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Administration, and that organization's charter called for relief of nations upon liberation. But Tito questioned whether his countrymen fighting for their freedom against the Nazi oppressor would receive their share of this relief.

Samuel Grafton contrasts the Russian influence in Yugoslavia by virtue of its wholehearted endorsement of the Partisan movement of Tito to the half-hearted gestures of the Western Allies, not only in Yugoslavia, but primarily with respect to the French National Liberation Committee of General De Gaulle and the continued Italian political situation. Russia, he insists, did not obtain influence in the Balkans generally by adopting 19th century standards, endorsing monarchies which had supported fascism and feudalism. If America wanted similar influence, it must get aboard the modern diesel locomotive and abandon the steam engine.

Marquis Childs discusses the morale of the Germans in light of the tremendous bombardment of the previous nine months, especially heavy since February. Despite having been hit by four times the weight of bombs delivered against England during the Blitz of 1940-41, there was, according to reports from inside Germany, no serious weakening yet of morale. It was hard to discern whether behind this mask lay a crumbling interior of doubt.

Air strength had been maintained on reserve by hiding a substantial portion of the Luftwaffe fighter planes in East Germany.

Frustrating to General Hap Arnold was that the Germans could not be broken despite the combined Allied air forces having destroyed a fourth of their primary cities, interrupted manufacturing and supply lines, and rendered perhaps ten million Germans homeless. The capacity of the German for rebuilding had proved remarkable and necessitated the hitting of targets on multiple occasions.

Drew Pearson discusses the consultation between Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, and Archbishop Spellman of New York re the production of "The Passion Play" as a movie, set by Mr. Mayer to be the highest budgeted picture of all time. The Archbishop had agreed to allow one of the young priests to be cast in the role of Jesus, with the proviso that he would not subsequently enter on a career in moompicters.

The film appears never to have been produced. Other subsequent productions have tackled the subject, such as this one by Italian director Pier Paulo Pasolini, and the version of 2004, directed by Mel Gibson.

Mr. Pearson next discusses the overtures being made on behalf of former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen to Govern Thomas Dewey to the effect that Governor Stassen would throw his support to Governor Dewey if he could be vice-presidential candidate on the ticket. Governor Dewey had first sought Governor Stassen's withdrawal from the presidential race and only then would give consideration to placing him on the ticket. He had indicated his preference, however, for Governor Earl Warren of California.

Finally, he reports that one Stanley Arnold of Cleveland had figured out that every significant event in the war from Pearl Harbor on December 7 to the inception of the latest offensive drive in Italy, on May 11 at 11 p.m., had occurred on the 7th or 11th of the month. Mr. Arnold thus wondered whether the D-Day invasion might occur on the 7th or 11th.

An editor's note appended to the end of the column remarks that Wake Island actually had fallen on December 24, 1941, not as ascribed, on December 11, and that Corregidor had fallen to the Japanese on May 6, 1942 at 11 p.m., not on May 7, as stated.

Of course, shooting a hole through this theory would be subsequent events, D-Day on June 6, liberation of Paris, August 25, landing at Leyte in the Philippines, October 20, beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, December 16, entry to Manila, February 3, 1945, invasion of Iwo Jima by the Allies, February 19, landing on Okinawa, April 1, Russians entering Berlin April 20, death of Hitler and Goebbels, April 30, German surrender, May 8, atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9, Japanese surrender August 15 and formal surrender September 2.

Indeed, off hand, we can think of no single significant event which occurred for the duration of the war on either the 7th or the 11th. No doubt, the focus, insofar as the 11th was concerned, came from the fact that the Armistice ending World War I was deliberately signed at Compiegne near Paris at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918--11-11-11.

Seven rhymes with eleven, all the children go to Heaven…

Anyway, MGM did produce this passionate movie.

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