Friday, May 5, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, May 5, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a House Naval Affairs Committee report disclosed that, of a 65 million-dollar appropriation for new research into Navy ordnance, fifteen million was being devoted to development of a new rocket-gun. A Navy Department official confirmed that the Navy was now using such a rocket-powered weapon, as Rear Admiral Joseph Hussey, chief of the Naval Bureau of Ordnance had recently indicated without elaboration at a press conference.

Brigadier General Henry Savler, head of Army Ordnance, stated in Stars and Stripes that the forces which would soon be landing in France would be better or at least equally well-equipped, compared to their German hosts, with rifles, side arms, artillery, ammunition, tanks, and vehicles.

Another American raid hit the coast of Northern France, this one numbering fewer than 200 bombers, striking at the Reich’s defenses for the 21st consecutive day. No bombers were lost. Another large contingent of American bombers was observed heading from England over the Continent during the afternoon, but no details were provided of that mission.

The RAF bombed Budapest the night before and RAF Mosquitos struck undisclosed targets in Western Germany.

A determined American bombardier had been wounded during a bombing mission over the coast of Northern France when a piece of flak pierced the nose of Flying Fortress "Messy Bessie" and severed his jugular vein. Undaunted, he held his profusely bleeding wound while continuing to drop the bombs over the target. Ready to faint, he was then assisted by Lt. Davis Schoss of Houston, who held the vein during the return flight to England. The imperturbable bombardier, whose name was not released, was recovering satisfactorily in the hospital.

Allied forces now occupying Hollandia in Western Dutch New Guinea were said to be on the alert after reports had reached them that the Japanese were preparing a large aerial counter-offensive from their base at Geelvink Bay, 200 miles away, in an effort to protect the Philippines from bombing by the Americans, now within range of Mindanao.

The commander of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Meneichi Koga, who had replaced Admiral Yamamoto when he had been killed in April, 1943, was also reported to have been killed in similar manner, in an airplane crash while reviewing combat operations in the Pacific. He was succeeded by Admiral Soemu Toyoda.

Mel Most, an Associated Press reporter recently released from internment in occupied France and Germany, indicated, as continued on an inside page, that the vaunted Festung Europa, the praises of which were regularly sung to the Germans by Herr Doktor Goebbels's propaganda machine, was little more than a hoax. He had seen it with his own eyes when taken to a hotel in Biarritz in Southern France while being repatriated. Told by the Nazi guards not to look out the windows of the hotel, he nevertheless managed a peek, discovering no significant defensive preparations along the beaches.

In other areas through which the train to freedom passed, he saw much the same story, with only barbed wire and blockhouses forming the Atlantic Wall.

In Germany, the previous year, he had seen the once indomitable Siegfried Line grown over with grass, the barbed wire torn down in certain areas, stripped of gun emplacements.

Fortress Europe was now no fortress at all, the Wehrmach being prepared instead to rely principally on its mobile striking force to defend the Fatherland.

Sid Feder, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, wrote from Anzio that the chief concern of the fighting men these days was when the invasion would begin in France. Some were laying bets.

He remarks generally on certain aspects of life at the front, including the observation that there were no longer any windows to be seen intact anywhere around the beachhead.

The wildly running farm animals reminded him of the song from "Oklahoma!", only the surrey would instead likely be a tank.

Baseball wasn't popular, as it would give away to enemy spotters positions of the troops. The favorite pastime was horseshoe pitching.

A resolution, calling for investigation by the House Rules Committee into the Government seizure of Montgomery Ward, had overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 300 to 60.

A bus on the Tamiami Trail, 25 miles west of Miami, had, after colliding with a truck, careened into a canal, killing a fisherman in its path along the banks and injuring, along with the bus driver, three of the 28 passengers aboard.

Whether Joe and Rico were along for the ride was not told.

On the editorial page, "High Purpose" wonders with incredulity at the statement of Dr. Ralph McDonald, running for the Democratic nomination for governor, wherein he contended that he should be nominated because it was in the tradition of North Carolina politics so to reward a loser in a prior close race, Dr. McDonald having lost to Clyde Hoey of Shelby in the 1936 primary challenge. In earlier races, Locke Craig and Cameron Morrison had been nominated by the Democrats after losing close previous gubernatorial races.

Parenthetically, we note that former Lt.-Governor Richard Fountain had not been so honored, despite a close loss in the 1932 primary to eventual Governor John Ehringhaus--not mentioned in the editorial, but we thought we would research all of the South Campus dormitories and so came by that factum for you.

The piece finds this bit of campaign rhetoric by Dr. McDonald to take the cake. The present for past loss, regardless of the currently proposed program or ways and means to effect proposed fiscal increases to afford improved state services and education, as favored by Dr. McDonald, as he also advocated reduction of taxes, should be to give him the Governor's Mansion.

Instead of a building bearing his name, he only received honorable mention by way of a hamburger stand over next to Granville Towers.

"The Commies" sets forth a colloquy from a City Council meeting in New York in which the two Communist Party members, proposing a soldier vote bill, after which a Democrat insisted it be read to insure that it contained no Communist theory, had taken umbrage at the assumption that they might be engaging in some form of political chicanery, asked the Democrat whether he was a Rankin or New Deal party member, to which he refused answer for its being "too embarrassing".

Remarks the piece in conclusion, in reference to Premier Stalin's dissolution a year earlier of the Comintern, "It wouldn't be like this if Uncle Joe were still working this territory."

In a different context, the statement would come to have ironically predictive and entirely sinister connotations, six years hence.

"Privileged" takes from a statement by Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle, that the United States, for its ideal geographical location, should not condescend to other nations of less like fortuity, in arranging post-war security.

The editorial agrees, finding it unlikely that a peace could be secured for very long in a traditionally nervous world should the United States take as a model for perceived security its own insular shores and seek to foist such a view on others not so positioned. To assure a prolonged peace among the nations, always including malcontents, there would ultimately be required a sound enforcement mechanism.

Of course, neither Mr. Berle nor the piece could foresee that which was the most secret weapon of all being developed in the vast redundant stretches of the New Mexico desert, in the vicinity of Los Alamos, to change life thereafter, once unveiled to the world in early August, 1945.

By that junction of time, with the Big Birds, capable of transoceanic migration within minutes, soon to follow, no longer could anyone assume insularity even from the relative comfort afforded by thousands of miles of intervening ocean patrolled from island airbases equipped with significantly improved radar devices vis à vis the primitive instruments of late 1941. A new age would not long await in the future to unravel every assumption of security held in the past, even those relatively recent revisions premised on modernization ensuing the attack on Hawaii.

"Our Rights" laments the obvious diminution to the rights of man to be gleaned from three vignettes drawing the column's attention: a man in Raleigh had been fined a dollar plus costs for refusing to pay a breakfast bill when his ham and eggs came without catsup; a Los Angeles judge had awarded over $8,000 in damages to a distressed jitterbuggee, jitterbugged into injurious condition by her Marine companion, "jive-maddened"; and, editorial cartoonist David Low in London had been renounced in Commons by an M.P. for his traitorous May 2 Evening Standard cartoon, supportive of enemy propaganda, presenting, contended the Right Honourable Gentleman, in roles allusive to gangsters, King Peter of Yugoslavia and King George of Greece, peering about a corner with popguns at the ready, as King Victor Emmanuel of Italy stood beside them with his suitcase packed.

All of these incursions on the inherent freedom of mankind led to the inescapable conclusion that freedom was no longer to be had in the world, that the day of the rugged individualist had died.

The not quite serious piece doesn't say it, but surely it was as certainly the case as had been the death of Leslie Howard, in a plane shot down the previous June 2 by the Luftwaffe, thinking it bore Prime Minister Churchill.

Samuel Grafton again looks at the pro forma approach being taken by Republican candidates for the presidency to the concept of internationalism. Governor Dewey recited the right words, but appeared passionless in his delivery of them. Likewise did Governor Bricker. By contrast, when the listener had heard Wendell Willkie, declares Mr. Grafton, there was no doubt that he believed wholeheartedly in that which he was espousing. No one else in the Republican race appeared to feel the love they professed for the peace and brotherhood of nations.

Marquis Childs comments on the virtual lock now of Thomas Dewey on the Republican nomination. It was a good thing, he remarks, that General MacArthur had exited the race, that his candidacy would not have served well the democratic process and, in any event, people would have been naturally suspicious of a soldier in time of war in the position of Commander-in-Chief.

Governor Dewey was taking a moderate tack in his campaign thus far, appearing to side basically with Administration foreign policy. It had won him the nod for the nomination, and, suggests Mr. Childs, perhaps could win him the White House in the fall.

Drew Pearson reports on the trend to try to draw from the best Naval Reserve officers men who could lead the new ships of the Fleet to be in operation within the next year, posts normally reserved for graduates of the Naval Academy. Annapolis graduates stuck together as a fraternity and Frank Knox, before his death, had been attempting to loosen this grip of about 10% of the Navy's officers, pushing the idea for a special year-long training program for Reserve officers to become commanders of large ships in exchange for continuing in the Navy after the war. The admirals, however, jealously protective of the tradition of reserving these posts for Annapolis graduates only, had refused to go along.

Mr. Pearson next tells of Secretary Knox's talk not long before his death with his friend, Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, telling him that few knew in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor how weakened the Fleet had been, that, in contrast, it was now the strongest in the world and would soon encircle the Japanese in their home islands, starving the remaining enemy soldiers in the various island outposts.

Finally, the column informs that the permanent promotions being considered by the Senate Military Affairs Committee for General Brehon Somervell and General Patton, both colonels by permanent rank, would succeed only as to General Somervell, who would be promoted permanently to major general. General Patton, lieutenant general by brevit rank, however, had shot himself in the foot with his recent remark in Britain anent the British and Americans having the destiny to rule the world after the war.

Mr. Pearson then drops a note at the end of the column whispering in an aside that the Committee had more trouble with the General's remark that the war could be won more quickly, allowing him to begin dispatching Japanese in the Pacific, were it to become known to the wives and girlfriends of American soldiers how pretty were the English lasses.

Which, we assume, was why, for the nonce, the General had been placed in charge of FUSAG in England, as a decoy to the Nazis, causing them to believe that he would lead the cross-Channel invasion at a point opposite Dover on Pas-de-Calais, an inference consistent with much of the bombing activity concentrated in that region, the so-called rocket-gun coast, since the beginning of the year.

In any event, Senator Reynolds, once, in 1915, posing as a military man in full regalia astride his black charger in Asheville, being then Captain Bob of the National Guard, now chair of the Committee and the subcommittee appointed to make final recommendation on the promotions, having already uttered publicly his reservations on General Patton for this last straw, was, himself, so notorious for having once kissed Jean Harlow in public, and having married his fifth bride, Evalyn McLean, the youthful putative heir to the Hope Diamond, that, ostensibly, he was not invested with sufficient sanctimony to be heard, possessed of gravitas, to criticize another for statements implying potential infidelity of the fighting men.

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