Wednesday, June 7, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 7, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report further of the invasion of France. The beaches at Normandy along a 50-mile front had largely been cleared of enemy fire, though some Allied positions remained under attack. Some of the forces had consolidated their beachheads. Midday brought considerable improvement in conditions along the coast for the Allies. Allied Headquarters reported only "satisfactory progress" without providing details of the fighting.

Inland nine miles, in the area of the Cherbourg Peninsula, heavy engagement with the enemy was taking place around Caen, a rail and road hub for all of Normandy, with a Nazi counter-blow having been repulsed.

A 50-mile long skytrain from England to the coast was carrying, round the clock, supplies and reinforcements into the Cherbourg Peninsula.

Between dawn of June 6 and dawn of June 7, 13,000 sorties had been flown over the area from Cherbourg to Le Havre, protecting the landing and advance of Allied troops. The American Ninth Air Force flew 4,800 of the sorties while the Eighth Air Force flew 4,300. A thousand RAF planes bombed German reinforcement columns during the night.

Twelve C-47 transport planes and 12 gliders were reported missing from the missions flown the previous night and during the morning. In all, 70 aircraft were lost during the invasion, including, in addition to the transports and gliders, 17 Allied fighters, 13 British heavy bombers, one British fighter, one American heavy bomber, two American medium bombers, and twelve American fighters.

Returning crew members described the Cherbourg Peninsula as a mass of white and colored parachutes left from the airborne troop landings the night before.

German broadcasts contended that more Allied landings had occurred along the Northern Coast of France, at Pas-de-Calais, but these reports were subsequently clarified to have been only engagements with Allied Naval craft off the coast.

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay described the landings as completely successful, that losses had been measurably below the ten percent expected, the result of lack of German mines as anticipated in the waters of the Bay of Seine. Airborne operations had gone according to plan with troops seizing key bridges and railroad facilities.

A London report from a correspondent on the scene indicated that some contingents of Allied troops had penetrated inland as far as twelve miles.

Berlin radio clarified that initial reports of landings off Le Havre were incorrect, that the confusion resulted from dummy paratroops. The Germans also contended that they were confused by booby-trapped bales of straw dropped to simulate paratroops.

General Omar Bradley, leading the American ground forces, described the average German soldier as "cunning and ruthless--somebody to be exterminated."

John A. Moroso, III, accompanying the invasion forces, reports firsthand of the landings. The ship on which he sailed arrived off the Normandy Coast at 3:23 a.m., after convoy confusion had delayed his group of transports by an hour. The 39 LCVP's, the landing craft, were deployed from the ship in complete darkness, began departing, taking an hour and six minutes to complete the loading and departure of all invasion forces aboard.

In the meantime, he relates, Allied bombers were dropping flares and bombs along the beaches. At 5:04, enemy antiaircraft fire took out two Allied planes within sight of the ship. He never observed a single Luftwaffe plane. A low visibility ceiling had forced the American fighters and bombers closer to the ground than under usual flight plans and thus more susceptible to antiaircraft fire.

A few minutes after 5:30, the Naval bombardment started.

On an inside page, Corporal Johnny La Cognata of Brooklyn told Howard Whitman of the New York Daily News his account of the landings, being among the engineers who were assigned the task of blowing up tank obstructions on Cherbourg. His group blew the concrete impediment successfully, allowing the tanks behind them to proceed. But no sooner than accomplished, an artillery shell from a German gun emplacement struck nearby and injured Corporal La Cognata's hand, forcing his return to England where he imparted his story to Mr. Whitman at 6:00 a.m. The transport on which he returned carried evacuees from a destroyer sunk by the Germans.

The Corporal described his initial fear as the Higgins boat which had brought him to the beaches approached on its ten-mile run, a fear which quickly dissipated into action when the boats reached sight of shore. Everything was timed perfectly, the landing craft hitting the beach just a minute after the last artillery shell from the ships. Some of the Higgins boats struck shallow mines and were capsized but nevertheless few men were lost; they simply waded ashore.

The engineers quickly found the anti-tank wall and began their demolition operation.

A map on the page also shows the approaches to Berlin now available to the Allies, from Western France, Southern France and Italy, and Poland.

In Italy, where the capture of Rome on Sunday had been quickly knocked from the pages by news of D-Day, the Fifth Army was moving toward Civitavecchia, the closest significant Tyrrhenian port to Rome, 40 miles to the northwest of the Eternal City. Advances north and west of Rome had already reached ten miles in extent. A column moved to within five miles of Lake Bracchiano. The Fifth Army was encountering only sporadic German resistance.

The Eighth Army, however, moving east from Rome, was meeting strong delaying action. New Zealand troops had captured Balsorano, six miles north of Sora, in their move north on Highway 32 toward Avezzano, to the east of Rome.

And, in Winston-Salem, a postman discovered a cat, oblivious to or perhaps fearful of the monumental events taking place 3,000 miles away, tucked inside a mailbox. The postman let the cat out of the mailbox before depositing the mail from his bag into the mailbox. It was just another ordinary day on his mail route, as doughboys, no doubt, stopped somewhere along their initial inroads to France to grab a few puffs from a Camel manufactured in the Twin City.

On the editorial page, "A Dignity" comments on the sense of humility, unity, and dignity which had pervaded the country, even stretching into the halls of Congress, in the wake of the news of D-Day. Never before, not even after Pearl Harbor, says the piece, had there been such an outpouring of unified support for the country. For in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the canard had surfaced among some strident voices that it was all a Roosevelt trick to lead the country into war. No such talk could transpire with even any slight credulity now.

But, it laments, the collegial atmosphere thus prevailing for the present would likely dissipate in time, as such petty grievances as labor strife and states' rights would once again inexorably raise up their heads to spite the sense of momentary coalition. It was, the editorial concludes, the unfortunate way of mankind to be incessantly self-interested and consequently divisive.

"Last Plea" points out the thorough repudiation by the Italians, evident at the liberation of Rome, of Mussolini's call to resist the Allied invaders. Demonstrating that his power had atrophied to the point of non-existence, the Italians instead greeted the invading Allied armies with shouts of joy, blown kisses, and thrown roses. The despot, they recalled from twenty years of being enslaved to his will, was too close in memory to be other than reviled.

"Insight" discusses South Carolina Governor Olin Johnston's determination to support an FDR fourth term, counter to the weight of opinion being exerted through the South Carolina State Democratic convention, opposing the fourth term and threatening revolt from the party by shifting the state's electoral votes to another candidate in November, regardless of outcome of the popular vote.

Governor Johnston was preparing to run against Senator Cotton Ed Smith for the Senate seat and had adopted a progressive stance, against the states' rights adherents and the undertow being exerted in parts of the South, disgruntled over the New Deal's friendly relations toward racial integration and other aspects of perceived interference from Washington with Southern traditions, maintained since Adam, as the Bible itself gave them proof.

Drew Pearson tells again of the tug of war among Republicans for the endorsement of Wendell Willkie, some urging that he commit forthwith to the apparent nominee-designate, Thomas Dewey, others, in the camp of Herbert Hoover, counseling that the party nominee avoid the Willkie endorsement as signaling to voters views simpatico with those of FDR.

He next turns to his "Capital Chaff", which included the information that South Carolina black delegates, who had held a separate convention the previous month in the wake of the move to disfranchise them following the Allwright Supreme Court decision requiring that state-sponsored primaries be open to all citizens, would not be seated with the South Carolina delegation at the Democratic Convention in July, for the reason that they had not held county conventions. He points out that the convention was hastily arranged by one individual.

A radio station dubbed DEBUNK, he notes also, broadcasting Nazi propaganda to the Midwest, had been discovered to originate on native soil rather than from Germany. It bragged of having received plaudits from the FCC.

Probably, if in fact so, for the fact of not using any four-letter words, besides, that is, "Nazi".

Marquis Childs, writing before D-Day, examines strike activity in labor, finds it miniscule in numbers, accounting for only .08 percent lost man-days of work during April, .06 percent in March, .15 percent for 1943, the bulk of which the previous year being from the coal strike. But the overall impact on morale was nevertheless adverse for the 99.92 percent of workers who stayed on the job earnestly and were diligently supporting the war effort, suffering, in some cases, higher rates of casualties than the men on the fighting fronts.

Strikers should therefore bear in mind, he counsels, that they were, for meager gains, dragging down the whole labor movement, making it so associated in the public mind with oppositive feelings that after the war its antics could prove destructive of the gains made from the goodwill generated by the vast supermajority of workers. In that event, the alternative choices might become Fascist control of labor or a return to violent conflict.

Samuel Grafton, likewise still writing before D-Day, examines the recent rhetoric of the isolationists, or "nationalists" as they now preferred, taking the line of Churchill in support of Franco in Spain. He puzzles at the alliance, that they should be supportive of a British policy when, typically, their views were antagonistic to Britain, finds the simple answer to be that the British policy in this instance, being reactionary, dovetailed with the ordinary trend of opinion adopted by the nationalists.

A perennial letter writer expresses his dismay of Churchill having gone from being "Captain Churchill" to "Tory-Captain Churchill" by his seeming change in policy to support Franco for the latter's acquiescence to the request of the Allies to cease shipments of tungsten, at least to the extent of 90% of them, expel all Axis agents, and call home troops from the Eastern front, in exchange for resumption of Allied trade in oil. Mr. Churchill, says the writer, was against pirates, but only so long as they were continually unfriendly pirates. He wishes that Tory-Captain would return to being simply Captain Churchill.

DeWitt MacKenzie writes that caution was the watchword for the landings on Normandy, that while initial success was being reported, the Nazis would ordinarily await deployment of troops in full strength until it was certain that the main thrust of the invasion would be at a given geographical point. Another Allied strike could come, either to the north or in Southern France through the Rhone Valley. Hitler reportedly had 750,000 troops in France, but he would not wish to risk concentrating them yet in any one direction, thus potentially leaving an Achilles heel elsewhere.

Cherbourg, he points out, was an ideal locus for landing for its topography lending easy movement of men and supplies, its being a railhead leading directly on a line to Paris, and having a substantial port in the bargain.

One additional reason, we threap, incidentally, for the large toll of life on Omaha Beach, was the absence of isinglass, that is to say mica, a crucial component of radio equipment, including walkie-talkies and portable handie-talkies. There was a signal lack of radio communication at Omaha Beach, thus disabling intercommunication between the units, better to adjust and re-coordinate objectives to fit met exigencies upon landing. Most of the available equipment had been lost during the landings. Why?

So, though several other contributory factors for the death toll exist, a plausible empirical argument might be made rubefaciently that many a brave G.I. lay dead in the sand on Omaha Beach so that some fatcat sitting in a leather chair in London or New York, the same ilk as comprised the Cliveden Set, could make a bundle of dough off the restrictions imposed on trade in mica, limiting it to the supposed quintessential species found in India.

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