Thursday, June 15, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 15, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the first major mission of the new B-29 Superfortress, bombing Japan. The plane had flown a test mission on June 5. No details of the mission were yet available, except that the flight had originated from the China-Burma theater and was flown by the 20th Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force, under the immediate direction of General Hap Arnold, chief of the Army Air Forces.

The attack, consisting of 75 B-29's, had been launched from Chengdu in China and had struck Yawata in Japan, with a loss of two of the bombers, both to accidents, none to enemy fire. The primary target was the Imperial Iron and Steel Works. It was the first bombing of Japan since the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942.

General Arnold hailed the new aircraft as enabling substantially longer range missions, that more would follow. Henceforth, he indicated, the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator would be considered medium-range bombers and the former medium-range bombers, the B-25 and B-26, would now be used as short-range bombers, even though the distances they actually traveled would not be altered.

The B-29 cruised at a speed of 220 mph, flew at an altitude of 33,600 feet, and had a range of 5,600 miles. The B-17, by comparison, dwarfed in size by the B-29, flew at 182 mph, at an altitude of 35,600 feet, and had a range of 2,000 miles. The B-24 flew at 215 mph, at an altitude of 28,000 feet, and had a range of 3,700 miles. Moreover, the difference in payload capability was dramatic: the B-29 could carry more than 45,000 pounds, while both the B-17 and B-24 could carry only between 18,000 and 29,000 pounds.

There also appeared on the page a story, originating from Tokyo, that American land forces had invaded the Marianas Islands of Saipan and Tinian, stories having already appeared of the Navy carrier-based operation on those islands and on Rota and Guam during the period Saturday through Monday. In actuality, Saipan had been invaded by American forces on June 15, but the landing on Tinian would not occur until July 24, fifteen days after the final capture of Saipan. The beginning of this campaign was timed to coincide with the first announced bombing by the B-29 of Japan.

Once bases were established on Tinian and Saipan, Tinian would serve as the forward base for B-29 attacks against the Japanese mainland, 1,500 miles away, including, most notably, the base from which the Superfortress missions would depart to deliver the world's first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Saipan would serve as a base for attacks on the Philippines.

On Normandy, an American surge into the Cherbourg Peninsula had brought the spearhead of the attack to within six miles of the last communications link between Cherbourg and the rest of France. The Americans made further gains west of Carentan, along a nine-mile front to the Les Sablons-Baupte area, and, according to Berlin radio, had reached Pretot, less than six miles from La Haye Du Puits. Fighting was also heavy in the area of Pont L'Abbe, four miles north of Pretot. The American forces had also fought back into Montebourg where street fighting was reported to be taking place. A map on the page shows the area of the fighting.

The British, in addition to giving up Troarn, as indicated the day before, had also been forced to withdraw from Villers-Bocage, but still held Caumont to the southwest of Caen. The fighting before Villers-Bocage was the fiercest on the front, as the British held the high ground.

Allied pilots reported more movement in the German lines than at any time since D-Day, indicative of their haste to bring to the front supplies and reinforcements.

Another large raid of Flying Fortresses and Liberators, numbering between a thousand and two thousand planes, struck targets in France, at Nantes, La Poisonniere, Angouleme, Beauvais, La Frilliere, and Bordeaux. The mission ventured 300 miles south of the battle front, at Bordeaux, the furthest from the front of any mission over France since D-Day. Other American bombers flew missions in support of the front, striking at Villers-Bocage and St. Lo.

The RAF had dropped 2,800 tons of bombs on Le Havre, the key harbor on the eastern side of the front, representing the RAF's heaviest daylight strike of the war and one flown at unusually high altitude for the British fliers.

On the Karelian Isthmus of Finland, the Russians were reported to be within 25 miles of Viipuri. Indicative of heavy fighting, the Soviets reported having killed 3,000 soldiers of Finland in a period of just three days.

President Roosevelt indicated Administration support for an international organization comprised of all "peace-loving nations", governed by a central council comprised of the Big Four nations and "a suitable number" of other nations elected annually by the members. He also indicated favor for the creation of an international court.

Governor Thomas Dewey, still not yet an officially declared candidate for the presidency, nevertheless was reported to have made a Pullman coach reservation to Chicago for the latter part of the month, in readiness for a quick trip to accept the nomination of the Republican Party.

He was heard to say, "Save a piece for me...of the wedding cake."

On the editorial page, "Hard Going" counsels caution at placing any great confidence in reports of Nazi weaknesses along the invasion front. The Germans were forced to withhold troops in case of further invasion to the north around Calais or in Southern France. Thus, they had not yet consolidated their forces for a counter-attack, which could come at any time.

Nor should reports that Rommel had been removed from command by Field Marshal Von Rundstedt because of disagreement on strategy, provide any comfort for future operations. Likewise, the speculation as to the whereabouts of the 500 German planes reported to be in France, provided little fruitful analysis. They were being held back in reserve and might any day begin more active air resistance than had been observed thus far.

While reports out of Spain that the Nazis could knock the Allies from the beachhead at will were fanciful, the early successes should not be taken as signal of an easy road ahead to Paris and beyond. It would inevitably be fraught with great difficulty and sacrifice.

"Evil Omen" finds the recent debate in the Senate regarding the peace and prevention of war in the future to have boded ill for the country for its cheap partisan overtones. Senator Carl Hatch, New Mexico Democrat, engaged in a colloquy with Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, a Republican, regarding the dedication of the President to world peace. Senator Bridges had inquired whether the President was prepared to resign to preserve the peace and Senator Hatch had responded that he was, but that the Democrats would not allow it. When asked why, he responded that it was to avoid repetition of the fiasco following World War I when President Wilson's policies for the post-war peace were rejected by the Senate as soon as Warren Harding became President in 1921, namely nixing of the membership of the United States in the League of Nations, immediately dooming it to an irrelevancy.

At that juncture in the exchange, Michiganís Arthur Vandenberg stepped into the fray and stated that he would not allow the inference to be maintained that Republicans were any less dedicated than Democrats to preservation of the peace.

The editorial finds the exchange to be harbinger of bad tidings for the future world.

"The Lid" faults House Republicans for supporting a bill to destroy the effectiveness of the Office of Price Administration by dissolving the special courts set up to hear violations of price controls and preventing the courts from revoking licenses of proprietors found in violation. The bill, having passed the House, now was headed for the Senate, and, even though eventually, if it passed the other body, would be vetoed, promised from House Republicans a policy of economic chaos into the future.

"Kibitzer" considers it of little import that General De Gaulle had lodged a protest of Allied policy in addressing the French citizenry via radio, or that he had refused to allow participation in the invasion by hundreds of French officers to act as liaisons with the French people. The real issue at present was the fighting front and it was likely few would support De Gaulle in this display of churlish discontent, stemming from the failure of the United States to recognize the Committee of National Liberation. All attention needed to be on the battle in Normandy, it opines, not political matters which would be resolved in time.

Dorothy Thompson discusses a report of a correspondent in London for the New York Herald-Tribune, that General De Gaulle had been forbidden by the Allied High Command from visiting France. Regardless of the accuracy of the report, it was plain that the Allies did not like General De Gaulle. The French would be left to ask why that was so, especially in light of widespread reports of Resistance activity in Southern France and from Metz to Avignon in the north.

The French were apt to conclude from this policy of chilly exclusion of their preferred leader that the U.S. and Great Britain wanted to keep France from having a major role at the peace table, desired major concessions from France which would be more easily obtained without a stubbornly protective leader such as De Gaulle in power, and that De Gaulle's preference for a semi-socialist state was repugnant to the desires of the Western Allies.

Ms. Thompson warns of an undesirable result in France should these sentiments become deeply embedded in the beliefs of the French people.

Samuel Grafton likewise examines the cold shoulder by the Administration to De Gaulle and finds the weight of world opinion, the press in England, the major press in the United States, leaders friendly to the Allies, such as the exiled Edvard Benes of Czechoslovakia, Count Sforza in Italy, and Foreign Commissar Molotov in Russia, all in favor of De Gaulle. The U.S. seemed hesitant because of fear of endorsing a particular government for France and thus giving the liberation a political taint. Yet, it had done so in Algeria, in Italy, installing leaders, Admiral Darlan and Pietro Badoglio, who had little support among the people. Only in France, with an available anti-Fascist leader popular with the French, did the U.S. balk out of political concerns. Only in the case of De Gaulle did the United States insist on virtual unanimity of approval among the people he was to represent.

Associated Press war correspondent Edward Kennedy writes a piece in which he reports that the recently installed Bonomi Government in Italy had been greeted by some Italians with great insecurity and distrust, that when the Allies eventually left the country after the war, the government would quickly devolve to Communism. One business man told Mr. Kennedy that he favored the idea of the Allies remaining for five years after the war to insure the country's political stability as it rebuilt.

Drew Pearson tells of the apparent lack of awareness by Army Intelligence, G-2, of the timing of D-Day, as the section had chosen June 6 as the day on which they moved their offices into the Pentagon. The result was that no one could reach Army Intelligence for the fact that their phones were disconnected, that on the very day when they were most sought for information.

It appeared on D-Day that G-2 meant Gone for Gon, or, in code, Gon Foregone. But maintain the lid on that. That way, the plumbers won't understand the problem.

He next turns to the recognition that FDR had been so insistent concerning withdrawal of all enemy agents from Eire because of the fact that most of the troops in training in England had been on the west and southwest coasts, closest to Eire. The ships taking them across the Channel therefore had to pass by the coast of Eire through the Irish Sea to reach the French coast at Cherbourg, for several months known by the Allied command structure to be the destination.

Mr. Pearson speculates that the invasion probably came as no great surprise to the enemy because of the fact of the preliminary announcement on June 3 through the slip of the wrist of the errant teletype operator experimenting with the machine in England, and because of the fact that the originally planned date, June 5, was postponed a day because of bad weather.

He then presents his "Capital Chaff", including the item that Governor Dewey had hit upon a new campaign theme, that the election was for the President and not the Vice-President, based on the common assumption that, if elected for a fourth term, FDR would resign after the war and turn over the reigns of power to his second.

Finally, Mr. Pearson reports of the pressure placed on members of the House Naval Affairs Committee by dentists, seeking a bill to place the dental profession on equal footing with the medical profession in the Navy. Before the bill, Navy captains who were dentists had to take orders from doctors who might be lieutenants. Part of the pressure came from the personal dentists of the individual members of the Committee who were said to fear some sort of uprising which might precipitate such cris de coeur as "Drill, baby, drill", until there was no more.

A news piece on the page reports that a Senate committee chaired by Senator Maloney of Connecticut had reacted positively to the news that the Administration was willing to put on hold plans for the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, the 1,200 mile proposed oil line from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, to be built with American money. The committee was provided assurance by the Administration that it would not proceed with a contract without first giving the committee at least thirty days notice of that intent.

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