Tuesday, June 13, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, June 13, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that U.S. forces moved four miles closer to Cherbourg, to within ten miles of the port. The Fourth Infantry Division took Montebourg. Perhaps indicative of decreasing Nazi fuel, German reinforcements had arrived in Montebourg from Cherbourg via bicycles.

Another American drive captured Pont L'Abbe, near St. Mere Eglise, while a third drive stretched halfway across the Cherbourg Peninsula, beyond Carentan. Ameican forces also captured Le Ham and Balleroy, the latter on the edge of Cerisy forest, nine miles southwest of Bayeux.

The U.S. Second Division had penetrated 18 miles inland, northeast of St. Lo, the deepest penetration thus far.

The British, in a seven-mile advance, captured Troarn, nine miles east of Caen, while other forces flanked Caen from the west. Tilly-sur-Seulles was reported to have exchanged hands several times amid heavy fighting. Large tank battles continued in this area of the front.

A map shows the fighting arc across Normandy.

It was estimated that 600,000 men were in the battle on both sides at this point, one week after D-Day. Of these, about 15 divisions, comprised of about 250,000 men, were German. Six U.S. divisions had been identified in the fight. Besides the Second and Fourth, the First and 29th Divisions were also deployed.

Unconfirmed reports via the London Evening Standard had it that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had been removed as commander of the Seventh and Fifteenth Mobile Armies, the supposed result of conflict in desired strategy from that favored by the commander of German forces in France, Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt. Rommel favored a strategy of committing large forces immediately to the battle while Von Rundstedt wanted to withhold strength in reserve to face further landings of troops by the Allies.

American bombers out of Italy struck Munich and targets at Innsbruck, Austria.

From five landing strips now in use on the Cherbourg Peninsula, American bombers again attacked German defenses along the front in France. Two more landing strips inland had become available to the Allies.

A thousand RAF bombers flew missions the night before against Germany, striking at transport facilities and synthetic oil manufacturing facilities at Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr Valley. The RAF also struck at railroad targets in France. The missions lost 40 bombers in all, 17 over France.

The previous day's American attacks on German airfields in France had utilized up to 1,400 bombers. More than 7,000 sorties had been flown by the Allies during the previous day.

In the Pacific, the fleet of Admiral Nimitz had struck at the southern Marianas Islands Saturday and, on Sunday, bombed Guam, Rota, Saipan, and Tinian.

In Italy, fighting had bogged down on the Fifth Army front, with some heavy fighting encountered in the Lake Bolsena area, which the Americans had nevertheless overcome, capturing Valentano on the western shore and moving along the eastern side of the lake as well. Northwest of the lake, South African forces encountered heavy German opposition at Bagno Reggio. Americans fighting on the Tyrrhenian coast met a series of dug-in Germans east of Orbetello.

On the Adriatic front, Pescara at long last was taken by the Eighth Army, having been an objective since the early fighting on the front during the fall. The forces had now crossed the Saline River, five miles north of Pescara, and taken Popoli.

Hal Boyle reports of Rangers on the Cherbourg Peninsula finding wooden bullets in captured ammunition dumps. But, they hastened to add, the ammunition being hurled at them by the Nazis were not wooden bullets, rather sounding as manhole covers. They also found it noteworthy that two women snipers had fired at them.

One of the men related that they had been crouched in a ditch when suddenly a group of four Germans stumbled into the ditch with them, startled to find that they were alongside Americans. A sergeant tried to use his machinegun but it jammed. Then, another sergeant further up the hill observed the peril and began firing his .45-caliber pistol, inadvertently striking the helmet of the sergeant positioned in the ditch. It dazed him, but ricocheted away. A third sergeant yelled for him to keep his head down, and then began shooting with his rifle, quickly then dispatching the four Germans who had the misfortune of stumbling on the wrong ditch.

Mr. Boyle also conveys a report by one of the men re an aberrant German medic they had picked up as a prisoner. When the American medics all wound up wounded, the German took over and patched everyone up. All reported that he had done a good job. They were moved to say that he was not as the Germans they had been fighting.

An inside page shows a map of the "Rommel Reception Line", the supposed second line of German defense, a zone located inland between thirty and sixty miles, stretching south from Ghent in Belgium to Rennes, south of Cherbourg. The line had been described by German propaganda gleaned by Pulitzer-prize winning, veteran war correspondent Larry Allen while he had been interned in Germany. He reports that the line was deemed the second Atlantic Wall and the one in which the German High Command had reposited its ultimate faith. The reporter stated that even Goebbels's own newspaper had asserted in the closing weeks before D-Day that the invasion itself could not be stopped. But the second line was a system of underground pillboxes and anti-tank traps which was believed by the Nazis to be impregnable. It did not sound to Mr. Allen as the typical Nazi propaganda.

Even should the line fail, the Nazis still had the reversed Maginot Line and the Siegfried Line beyond it. They had asserted belief before the invasion that if the Allies did not take two major ports, such as Cherbourg and Le Havre, within two weeks of the invasion, then it was doomed to fail. The worst result in that event for the Nazis, they believed, would be a negotiated peace, effectively, as far as they were concerned, a victory.

The Soviet offensive in Finland was reported in another piece to be progressing along the Karelian Isthmus, with two towns, Raivoli and Kivennapa, having been captured. The Russians expressed confidence that Finland could be knocked out of the war within a month, eliminating a threat to Russiaís northern flank as it advanced into the Baltic States and Poland. Finland would also afford Russia air and sea access to the Baltic States.

A short piece tells of the Russians greeting with approval and happiness the fact that Prime Minister Churchill had visited the invasion forces in Normandy on Monday.

A man was arraigned in Greensboro on a charge of aggravated assault after he had forced his young second cousin to chew on a piece of dead cat flesh from the cat which the boy had supposedly drowned. His avuncular cousin was imposing punishment for the untoward act against the cat.

What's all the fuss? What's wrong with a little bit of tasty cat every now and then? Put it on the spit, spread a little barbecue sauce on, adjust your stoker, add a little seasoning, pluck out all the fur, hmmmm, good.

Orlie would only need roast up a little for the judge and the jury and that would be his defense, quickly to be exonerated of any criminal intent in the act. Just a little beef jerky to correct his young second cousinís wayward path.

And to think that they took both the little boy and his younger brother away from their mother just because of a little thing like that.

Now, if it had been dogÖ

And, be sure to take advantage of the Hovis Pre-meditation Plan, that is should you be planning a homicide in the near future. But donít forget to insure that there is first in the Hovis contract a Sanity Clause, as well as an Escape Clause. Execution of the contract must be performed with extreme care and deliberation, reading carefully the while all of the fine print.

On the editorial page, "States' Rights" remarks on the debate held during the weekend between Governor John Bricker of Ohio and Governor Melville Broughton of North Carolina, the former running for the presidency on the Republican side and the latter informally running for the vice-presidency on the Democratic side.

Governor Broughton had notably challenged Governor Bricker on the notion that Washington had usurped traditional functions of the states and that those functions needed to be returned, stating that it was instead the traditional weakness and ineptitude of state governments which had caused the centralization of power in Washington for the provision of services to the people.

The piece praises Governor Broughton's stand and suggests it as a more reasonable line of argument for the statesí rightists to adopt, that is to make state government more responsive to the people and more efficient in order to re-acquire powers taken up by Washington.

And, of course, if the philosophy of states' rights had not been inextricably bound up with notions of royal fiefdoms, feudalism akin to fascism, especially in the South, rather than efficient delivery of government services to the people who paid the bureaucrats and elected representatives to perform them, there would never have been such a tension in the first place, a tension present since the Founding.

Unfortunately, all too often, state and local governments take their cues from the loudest and the richest of their constituents and wholly ignore, or, at best, only pay lip service to the notion of public service, the rubric which ought instruct and illuminate exclusively all of their official actions everyday. Which is why we must look to Washington for protection from despotic, even fascist, state and local regimes, as they often represent havens for little men and women with power complexes, who know about as much of democracy and government and the Constitution as would fit on the head of the pin which is their head.

"The Dream", ironically titled, recounts a statement by the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, J. E. McDonald, exhorting Democrats and Republicans to come together in a united effort to defeat the New Deal in the South and elect a ticket comprised of Governor Bricker and Senator Harry Flood Byrd, in one order or the other. His message assumed that the South would vote as a solid bloc and hand that ticket 120 electoral votes, not enough to be elected, but enough to throw the election into the House, where it was planned by Representative John Rankin of Mississippi, as explained the previous week by Drew Pearson, that the House would elect Senator Byrd President. The group of rebels were as much distrustful of Thomas Dewey as being inimical to states' rights as they were of President Roosevelt.

The piece finds their dream of Southern unity to be starkly without foundation.

"More Bonds" relates of increased purchases of war bonds since D-Day and the like trend in substantially lower rates of redemption of previously purchased bonds. As the Fifth War Loan Drive began, the piece predicts that the 16 billion-dollar goal would be met quickly as the country thought now only of the brave men fighting and dying in Normandy, not their personal pocketbooks.

Then grandma and grandpa there could lean back with satisfaction of having done their part for the boys abroad, and open themselves a couple of cans of Schlitz.

"An Encore" begins with the words of Federal Judge John J. Parker, once nominated to the Supreme Court by Herbert Hoover, condemning the forces of nationalism as archaic and dangerous in the world ahead, which had to foster international cooperation to preserve the peace for the long term.

It then turns to criticism of the latest antics of retiring Senator Robert Rice Reynolds who was busy fostering a nationalist movement out of the old America First party of 1939 to 1941. Wowed by some 25,000 letters he had received from isolationists wanting to stimulate such a nationalist movement to preserve the country from being, as they saw it, sold down the river into internationalism, losing sovereign independence in the process, he was busy organizing the movement in all 48 states.

The piece concludes that Bob had not changed his stripes and was as dangerous as any politician ever on the national political stage, with his simultaneous hatred of both Britain and Russia driving his passions toward nationalism, the new term for isolationism.

Of course, no one yet, outside his bailiwick in Wisconsin where he had been a judge before entering military service, had ever heard of Joseph McCarthy.

Dorothy Thompson comments on the demotion and transport home of former Major General Henry Miller, reduced to his permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel for his having tipped the time parameter of D-Day, expressing at a cocktail party in April that he was certain it would be prior to June 15. Ms. Thompson states that, while she was not defending Colonel Miller's actions, it was entirely possible that this tip, had it become known to the enemy, would have been interpreted as deliberate deception and ignored. Ten thousand persons knew of the invasion beforehand and yet it still caught the Germans by surprise, and despite numerous predictions in the press that it would occur before mid-June. The war of nerves and misdirection was sufficient to have covered any leaks.

She relates that information had been passed to her by a German in the spring of 1940, indicating that the attack on France would come through Belgium and Holland and take place before May 15. She believed the information, passed it to Allied Headquarters upon returning from the unidentified neutral country where the courier imparted the information, but was politely thanked with a smile without a whit of concern that the information possibly could be accurate.

Similarly, a German professor, part of the German Propaganda Ministry, had tipped that the invasion of Russia would come in June, 1941, but the Russians were skeptical of him being a plant and chose not to believe him. The professor was first imprisoned for the leak, then sent to the Russian front where he died.

Finally, she speculates as to whether it was truly an accident that the young teletypist in England, experimenting with the machine, had sent out to Associated Press newspapers the news of D-Day on Saturday, June 3. Was it not deception? She speculates that the men must have been aboard the ships by the time the news reached the A.P. offices. They were not, until Monday night. But, had the weather been cooperative, they would have gone out Sunday night.

She instructs that, in any event, cocktail party hearsay was not the way generally anyone would obtain reliable information.

Marquis Childs praises General Marshall and General Eisenhower for their work in coordinating the invasion of France and keeping to a minimum any dissension between the Allied forces. General Marshall had extended that effort successfully to the other theaters as well, even if the Burma-India theater had encountered considerable differences as to strategy, with General Stilwell shortly to resign his command. Nevertheless, the enormous effort necessary in such far-flung theaters, dependent on coordination of the forces of the four primary powers, had been accomplished by General Marshall with extraordinary aplomb.

Likewise, General Eisenhower had kept any hint of resentment of the British concerning higher paid American soldiers, who spent freely and noisily in the towns of England, from doing any significant harm to esprit de corps. Everyone in England gave praise to the General whom they now called "Ike".

Samuel Grafton writes with disdain of the Texas plan afoot to nominate an independent slate of electors who would vote as they wished, regardless of the popular vote, should the Democratic Party not accede to the wishes of Texans regarding civil rights and states rights, opposing the former, upholding the latter. South Carolina had also made the same pledge. Mr. Grafton does not say so, but Mississippi Democrats had been reported to have determined likewise, and Georgia also was considering such a move.

He believes that the movement would get nowhere, finds it emblematic of such minds that they had to resort to tampering with quaint and anachronistic Constitutional formalities to try to achieve their anachronistic goals of thwarting progress. "If states' rights don't get you, the Electoral College must!"

Drew Pearson also looks at the Texas revolt, ferreting out its sources. As he had previously indicated in his column, it led back to Jesse Jones, Secretary of Commerce, and Will Clayton, the Administration's post-war liquidation manager, as well as to the big oil companies, including Sun Oil, Humble Oil, a part of Standard of New Jersey, and Sinclair.

The nephew of Jesse Jones had been instrumental in starting the movement, and this nephew, who managed Mr. Jones's business assets in Texas as his attorney, was said to do nothing without his uncle's complete accord. Likewise, the proxies for Will Clayton in fomenting the revolt were his attorney and the chairman of the large cotton exchange of which Mr. Clayton was a partner.

Thus far, it was reported that the President was too busy with the D-Day invasion to confront Mr. Jones and Mr. Clayton regarding the potential cleavage in the Party.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the regular Monday night meeting had with the President by several Democratic and Republican Congressmen as it occurred June 5. The President gave no hint that the D-Day invasion was nigh but Congressmen present wondered as to why the President's hand was shaking when he lit his cigarette. "Assistant President" James Byrnes explained to them that he had a lot on his mind.

In a grim bit of macabre theater, perhaps grotesque in hindsight, Congressman Francis Walter of Pennsylvania presented the President with a letter opener made from the forearm of a dead Japanese soldier from the Pacific. As the Congressman apologized for not being able to provide more of the skeleton, the President accepted the gift in high spirits and indicated his certainty that there would be more such gifts in the future. "This is the kind of gift I like," wryly spoke the President.

Nevertheless, he would not touch it, turning the artifact over with his own metal letter opener and summoning James Byrnes and White House Assistant Jim Barnes to take a look at it.

Whether it was formed from the ulna or radius was not imparted.

Next, no doubt, someone would think to provide him a German's humerus fashioned into a billy-club.

We ask again: what so bad in Greensboro was it about the man having his second cousin chew on a little bit of cat flesh as punishment for having drowned the cat?

Alas, poor Yorick...

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew and dog will have his day.

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