Saturday, June 10, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, June 10, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report that American troops moved north toward Cherbourg, to within 15 miles of the port city, while another prong went south toward Carentan, wherein heavy fighting was reported to be taking place. The fighting was confined to infantry in this area as the topography was not suited to tank battles. Germans were withdrawing from the Cherbourg area to a position south of Montebourg to shorten their supply lines.

Other American troops seized Isigny, location of the floodgates from which the Germans had flooded the region, in some areas to seven feet in depth, creating problems for the advancing Americans. The floodwaters had the greatest impact on Carentan but also affected St. Mere Eglise and the area northeast of Caen. After seizing Isigny, the troops drove east toward Carentan, effecting a pincers movement on the town. Other troops also seized Travieres, nine miles west of Bayeux.

Four divisions of Germans were engaging the British and Canadian troops around Caen. Nazi-held Caen itself was ablaze from Allied artillery fire and bombs.

Bad weather continued to plague operations.

General Sir Bernard Montgomery had, like General Bradley, established his forward headquarters in France. He sent a special note to the Fiftieth Northumbrian Division which had landed at Gold Beach on D-Day and which had fought under his command in North Africa and Sicily. The note congratulated them for "a first class fighting performance in the face of very adverse sea conditions and stout enemy opposition."

Total German prisoners captured since D-Day now exceeded 5,000, 3,000 of whom had been captured by American forces.

An American battalion of paratroops told of capturing 800 German parachutists and shooting down several hundred more as the Germans landed right over their position. The German prisoners stated that they had fought at Cassino. The Americans themselves had suffered high casualties during their landing. One sergeant said that when they jumped from the plane, which had just been hit by flak, he felt like he was walking on flak as he stepped into space. When they landed, they attacked their objective in the flooded areas and then proceeded with the rounding up prisoners.

German broadcasts claimed that the Germans had captured 1,500 Allied prisoners.

Up to 500 American bombers struck German targets in France, rail facilities and air fields, as well as troop and motorized columns, some bombs being dropped as close as a mile to the Allied battle lines. RAF raids the night before on similar facilities broke a 15-hour lull in bombing activity resulting from bad weather.

For the first time since 1940, Allied bombers were operating from within France, those of the Ninth Air Force, from an airfield seized on the Cherbourg Peninsula.

American bombers originating from Italy attacked a refinery at Ploesti in Rumania, the only refinery there still producing oil. A hundred Messerschmitts gave chase after the bombs were dropped and several were shot down. Three previous strikes at the refinery's facilities had failed to destroy it. Production of Ploesti oil was, nevertheless, estimated to have been cut by 90% by the elimination of the other major refineries.

Don Whitehead of the Associated Press reports of widespread German sniping from trees, hedgerows, farmhouses, and other buildings, aiming at Allied rearguard forces. Hedgerows substituted for fences around fields and served as ideal cover for sniper activity. Typically, the sniper would let pass large contingents of troops and wait for men walking in pairs or alone. Rarely did the sniper get away. Their favorite trees were green oak, beech, and elm.

General De Gaulle expressed irritation at General Eisenhower for addressing the French on D-Day, appearing to suggest a military takeover of the French by the Allies.

French guerilla forces were reported active in the area north and south of Lyon and south of Vichy. Tri-color flags of the Republic were flying in many areas just a few miles below Vichy, with the areas administered by the underground in some towns indistinguishable from those administered still by Vichy.

Another group from the underground had surrounded Grenoble in the south and held it in a state of siege.

First Lieutenant Robert R. Stubbs of Charlotte related his experience of landing in a glider on Normandy on D-Day, passing at 600 feet over the Cherbourg Peninsula amid a hail of machinegun bullets and 88-mm. fire. After landing and making his way to the rendezvous, the next morning he found French children playing hopscotch among dead German soldiers.

In Italy, Allied Headquarters stated that the Germans faced disaster as their 14th Army fled north willy-nilly. The Fifth Army, moving at a rate of 15 miles per day since the fall of Rome on Monday, captured Tuscania, 13 miles northeast of captured Tarquinia.

On the east side of the Tiber River, the German 10th Army was able to proceed in retreat in more orderly manner because of the presence of mines and mountainous terrain. Yet, they now lacked the support of the 14th Army to protect them. The British Eighth Army, slowed by the mines and terrain, pursued, capturing Moricone, eleven miles north of Tivoli, and Arsoli, nine miles northwest of Subiaco.

On the Adriatic front, the Eighth Army moved as much as five miles in pursuit of the fleeing Germans, taking the towns of Orsogna, Guardiagrele, razed by the Germans, Miglionico, and Filetto, while crossing the River Foro.

A German broadcast, which had earlier announced a new Soviet offensive in the area of Iasi in Rumania, retracted the statement, indicating that fighting in that area had diminished. Meanwhile, northwest of Tarnopol in old Poland, a Nazi tank attack was repulsed.

A Finnish communique announced that a full-scale offensive had been launched by the Russians against the Karelian Isthmus, north of Leningrad.

Office of Price Administration Director Chester Bowles announced the implementation of price ceilings on used cars produced between 1937 and 1942, to go into effect July 1. Cars made prior to 1937 could not be sold for more than the 1937 prices for comparable makes. Indicating that some used cars were selling for two or three times their price before the war for comparable makes and models, Mr. Bowles deemed the price controls necessary to head off similar gouging in other areas of the economy.

Prices varied based on whether the car would be sold "as is" or under warranty. An example of a ceiling price was $900 for a 1942 Ford V-8 Deluxe Fordor, sold east of the Mississippi, not under warranty. For one under warranty, the price was $1,238.

--Yessir, she ain't been driven none since the war started. Less than 500 miles on the odometer. No gas, no rubber, ye know. Look at that shape. You won't find 'em like 'at after the war. This here radio announced Pearl Harbor. Collector's item. Why, just last week, I sold one just like 'er for $2,500 to a banker, that's a fact. Now, look-a-here, just between you and me, this whole gov'ment stuff, ye know, with the regelasins and all, I'll give you a special deal at $1,050 with three brand new tars I saved just for ye for the last two-a-half years in the back. That's less 'an what you'd pay out in California. That's right. Full tank a gas with 'er, too. Heck, I'll even throw ye in a radio antenna from one of them other jewels on the lot. Drive 'er home tonight and be the envy o' yer church in the mornin', yessir.

On the editorial page, "A Creed" discusses the meeting between General Mark Clark and Pope Pius XII in Rome on Wednesday, that the two had not met as strangers but came away with mutual understanding. The Pope had stated shortly after the ten-minute meeting that the war was a means to write the peace, one which would be lasting and receive the approval of all "well-meaning peoples".

The editorial suggests that the Pope's wisdom should be carried by all fighting men into the battles ahead.

"Refugees" reports of a bloc of Congressmen having introduced a bill jointly to institute the so-called Grafton Plan for providing free ports in the United States for the receipt of refugees for the duration of the war without their having to meet immigration quotas. Proposed by Samuel Grafton, the plan would save the lives of thousands of otherwise stranded refugees inside occupied countries.

The editorial applauds the effort and hopes that it would not be too late.

"Good-Timers" first applauds the action of Congress in being willing to raise the national debt ceiling from 210 billion dollars to 260 billion to finance the war, but then, by equal and opposite reaction, snarls at its adding a rider to the bill to reduce cabaret taxes by 10 percent. It posits that the brave men dying in Italy, the Pacific, and in France, would most certainly approve the need for ailing nightclub owners to have their taxes cut.

"Ö[W]hen the pie was opened, strange birds began to sing."

"A Victory" welcomes the apparent new day in Italy politically, as Pietro Badoglio, having been instructed by newly enthroned King Umberto to form a cabinet, had been unable to do so, and so the mantle of leadership had been passed to Ivanoe Bonomi, a longstanding anti-Fascist. If the trend lasted, says the piece, then it spoke well for the future of all Europe.

The editorial by Henry Luce in the June 19 issue of Life referenced above, however, while agreeing that Ivanoe Bonomi had never taken part in Mussolini's Fascism, described him as a monarchist, loyal to the House of Savoy, and that Umberto might prove worse than his father in terms of insuring any form of democracy to Italians.

"Margarine" favors a bill, sponsored by Senator Cotton Ed Smith of South Carolina, to remove discriminatory taxes and labeling from margarine. Margarine had a substantial tariff of ten cents per pound, making it cost prohibitive to poorer consumers who needed it the most as an alternative to butter, more expensive to produce and thus costing more, at least before imposition of the discriminatory margarine tax.

Too, margarine was required to be labeled "oleomargarine" to distinguish its vegetable oil origins. It cost more when colored and so came usually uncolored with separate food coloring on the side for the consumer to add, making it even less savory to purchase.

The dairy industry had been responsible for the restrictions and the cotton industry, which supplied 13 percent of its cottonseed oil to make margarine, was the primary industry seeking removal of the restrictions.

Drew Pearson tells the story behind the planning for D-Day, much of which he had related in earlier columns. General Marshall had put forward a plan for the invasion of France in fall, 1942, premised on the fact that the Nazis had committed their best troops to Russia, leaving France vulnerable. But Churchill had rejected the plan, favoring the North Africa campaign, beginning in November, 1942 with Operation Torch.

Then, after the successful conclusion of the Tunisian campaign in May, 1943, Churchill wanted to invade the Balkans and Marshall wanted to invade France. A compromise was reached for the invasions of Sicily and then Italy, an invasion plan, save for Sicily and Southern Italy to clear the Mediterranean, which no one really favored.

The plans for invasion of France were consistently complicated by Churchillís insistence, put forward first at Casablanca in January, 1943, that the Americans bear the brunt of the invasion, on a 70 to 30 ratio of troops, on the premise that a generation of Britons had been lost to World War I and that sufficient numbers were needed in the homeland to guard Britain against retaliatory attack, as well to provide reinforcements. And insufficient numbers of Americans had arrived in England to make up such a substantial part of an invasion force.

So, despite consistent complaint from the Russians, desirous of a second front to remove the pressure from the Eastern front, the invasion of Western France was necessarily delayed.

These conditions persisted through the Quebec Conference between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in late August. Finally, the plans for invasion were laid at the Tehran Conference in late November, early December, with Premier Stalin present.

Dorothy Thompson for the first time addresses the subject of D-Day, counsels prayer, not for conquest or triumph, but rather for justice and peace.

Likewise, Marquis Childs addresses the subject for the first time, from the perspective of Congress having set aside partisanship for the day. But, he quickly adds, such would be short-lived as politics would again assume center stage in a few weeks. In juxtaposition to the news of invasion, the partisan bickering of late seemed especially small. The bill introduced by Representative Howard Smith of Virginia, for instance, aimed at emasculating the Office of Price Administration, appeared especially dangerous, potentially setting off a spiral of inflation which could cripple the war effort.

Also seeming incongruous to the gravity of D-Day was the appearance of Sewell Avery before the House, reading, palsied, from a paper prepared twenty years earlier indicating how the American Revolution had in its spirit opposition to the closed union shop.

The Republicans were considering postponing the start of their convention, set to begin June 25. For they could not make speeches about OPA and other such burning issues with most of America tuned to their radio sets to hear more invasion news.

Samuel Grafton also registers his initial impressions of D-Day, in his case spent in Richmond, waiting for the elevator at the John Marshall Hotel and sitting down to a very ordinary breakfast. Everyone seemed to expect some bolt of lightning from the sky to signal the day as special, but, instead, it passed as any other day.

Upon reflection, however, he decides that such was appropriate, that the soldier fighting in France was the ordinary person placed in extraordinary circumstances, binding together with other ordinary people to defeat Fascism.

It had been Fascism which had trumpeted itself with major celebrations and shrill talk on special days.

"But it is the humdrum and the usual which is beating them, the overfat and the undersized, the readers of the comic books and the writers of learned papers."

A letter writer, quoting a letter from a friend regarding what Captain A, and Admirals B, C, and D said to either Congress or FDR about lack of preparation at Pearl Harbor or failure to fortify Guam, and how, following which, they were demoted or passed over for promotion as a result, expresses approbation for the editorial in support of Admiral Kimmel's desire to have his court martial proceed to trial, to air out the true story.

But, candidly, trying to follow her script, as to who said what to whom and when, is a bit difficult, especially since it originates from third-party hearsay.

And, upon finishing the note, we were reminded of a song we had not heard in awhile, from 1971, listened to it, went to sleep for half an hour, had a dream about some friend perched above us washing windows on the outside of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco as we sat in some office below. We have never been inside the Transamerica Pyramid and don't know any window washers. Anyway, upon waking up and thinking about it a minute, the music for the note suddenly came to us. Stranger things have happened, but we thought we would relate it anyway.

Calico drum,
The Grasshoppers come,
The Buttefly, Beetle, and Bee,
Over the ground,
Around and around,
With a hop and a bound;
But they never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back to me.

--from "Calico Pie" by Edward Lear

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