Thursday, June 8, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 8, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report of the continuing advance of the Allied Expeditionary Force, the British having the day before at noon captured Bayeux, northwest of Caen on the map, cutting the railway between Paris and Cherbourg, and moving from that point southwest toward the Vire River, in the direction of Saint Lo, and southeast toward Caen, in the vicinity of which British airborne forces had already struck during the first day of the invasion. Infantry rode bicycles and tanks to speed the advance, as several French towns were reported taken by British and Canadian troops. The object was to link the beachhead forces with the inland airborne forces, a process which was proceeding successfully.

The citizens of Bayeaux greeted the troops with open arms, throwing roses and carnations. They stated that the Germans had evacuated at 7:00 a.m., having blown the bridge on the main road to Saint Lo, indicating that they were not intending to make a counter-thrust.

Hal Boyle reported that Allied landings on the coast, aided by clearing weather, continued to bring more troops and supplies as British 6th Airborne troops held back Nazi counter-blows and linked with the ground forces. German pressure, however, steadily mounted.

Likewise, it was reported that American Airborne troops on Cherbourg had linked with ground forces.

Leonard Mosley, British correspondent, subsequently to author several biographies, including Dulles, as we have before made mention, landed with the initial wave of airborne troops, presumably of the British 6th Division, though he remains mum on that point. He tells of the tense moments leading to the jump, the jump itself into an orchard of trees, followed by a harrowing two hours in the dark trying first to link up with other paratroops and then as a group to rendezvous with the other airborne troops, all while narrowly escaping machinegun fire hurled at them from out of the night. At 3:00 a.m., they finally reached the rendezvous and were gladdened a short time later to see the bombers and supply planes arriving, providing the means to ward off the German tanks, expected soon.

Richard McMillan reported having accompanied advancing troops against little Nazi resistance except at Caen and Bayeux, that the French spoke of the declining will of the Nazi soldiers to fight, that they were aware of the defeats in Italy and on the Russian front. He described the vaunted West Wall as essentially non-existent.

The exhortations of Field Marshal Karl Von Rundstedt to hold the West Wall to the last man, that no withdrawals would be permitted, were not being heeded.

Mr. McMillan described passing lines of German prisoners as well as bodies of unburied Germans and Allies lining the roads. The people of Bayeux told of the Germans scurrying underground as rabbits every time Allied bombers flew overhead. In the days preceding the invasion, they had seen fear on the faces of the German soldiers.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson stated that the invasion had only just begun and many more troops would follow.

Despite the reports of success, Prime Minister Churchill warned Commons against over-optimism, that a long fight still lay ahead.

American heavy bombers, 750 to a thousand strong, struck rail, bridge, and airfield targets at Rennes, Laval, Tours, Le Mans, Nantes, Chateaudun, and Anger. Night bombers of the RAF, flying at unprecedented low levels of 1,000 feet, struck airfields in the vicinity of Paris.

During the previous 48 hours, Allied planes had flown 22,000 sorties. Combined losses of the Americans and RAF for this day and the day before had grown to 104 planes, including 48 American fighters and fighter-bombers, two American heavy bombers, and 29 British heavy bombers.

Fliers reported that an airfield had already been established by American engineers on the Cherbourg Peninsula. American forces had gained a foothold at Carentan, 27 miles southeast of Cherbourg.

Allied Headquarters indicated that the first phase of the operations, the elimination of local German reserves and establishing a foothold, had been accomplished. The next phase was to defeat tactical reserves, the 7th and 15th Armies of Rommel now in France. The third phase would be to defeat the strategic reserves, those troops brought into France from Germany and other theaters.

German radio reported an Allied pincer movement on the Cherbourg Peninsula and that house-to-house fighting was taking place at Ste. Mere-Eglise.

On an inside page, E.D. Ball reports of having accompanied the PT-boats, preceding the invasion forces, led by Pacific hero Lt. Commander John Bulkeley. They were assigned to protect the minesweepers moving up and down the invasion coastline during a period of 24 hours in advance of the invasion, to clear the area for the troop ships to come. Despite the minesweepers and patrol boats forming a 30-mile long solid line of craft within sight of the coast, they spotted not a single German airplane or naval vessel and encountered no artillery fire. When the Germans did finally react from coastal batteries, it was intermittent and they saw no shells hit any of the ships of the landing armada.

In Italy, west of the Tiber, the Fifth Army captured Civita Castellana, highway and electric rail junction, after capturing the principal port for Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Civitavecchia, 38 miles to the northwest. Other units captured Bracciano, 20 miles north of Rome.

Meanwhile, as reported on the editorial page, General Mark Clark and other Allied military leaders were provided an audience with Pope Pius XII at the Vatican. He counseled directing force toward duty, truth, justice, goodwill, and, most of all, "the supernatural idea of brotherly love that Christ gave to the world."

An unconfirmed report from Berlin indicated that a major new Soviet offensive had begun in the sector of Rumania north of Iasi.

The Chinese moving west of the Salween River in Yunnan Province were reported to have taken Lungling on the Burma Road, the second most important Japanese base in the province. Other Chinese troops were advancing toward the most important provincial base of the enemy, Tengchung.

In the Schouten Islands off New Guinea, on Biak, the Sixth Army, operating in a pincer action, took Mokmer airfield, objective of operations since the landings on the island May 27. Other forces moved toward the remaining two enemy airfields on the island, Borokoe and Sorido.

Mississippi, with four eyes which couldn't see, held its state Democratic convention, following the leader behind Texas and South Carolina in threatening to deliver its electoral votes to someone other than the party nominee unless its demands were met: no racial equality or anti-poll tax planks in the platform; restoration of a states' rights plank and the two-thirds majority rule for nominating. As the two-thirds rule would surely not be restored, it appeared that the Mississippi delegation was headed for an impasse with the National Democratic Committee.

Likewise, in Georgia, blacks would be barred from the Democratic primary July 4, on the contention that the Allwright decision of April did not apply to Georgia because the primary was not established by state statute and thus was not state-sponsored, a contention exactly as that made by the South Carolina Democrats on April 21, led by their former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Eugene Blease.

Another inside page tells, fittingly at this juncture, of the local dog law passed by the City Council at the recommendation of a committee headed by News canine reporter, Tom Revelle. Says the piece, "[A] well-fed dog does not need to ramble."

Sheepdog, standing in the rain...

On the editorial page, "Normandy" counts it poetic justice that the invasion of the French coast occurred where the last successful invasion of Britain had originated, by William the Conqueror in 1066. His tomb was at Caen, now the scene of fierce battle.

"And it was there about Caen that the Germans began to discover what the dying William did not know--that Britons will not be conquered."

"A Miracle" praises the mutual understanding brought by U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Eric Johnston when he spoke before trade leaders in Russia. He spoke so candidly, against Communism, firmly in favor of the free market and private enterprise, against American Communism, against the concept of American workers as a proletarian mass, that his audience at first sat in stunned silence at its conclusion, then slowly, as they grasped what had been said, began to laugh, then applaud, then cheer. Mr. Johnston's brash candor had been so unvarnished of diplomacy and so determinedly believing in the American system that he had won over his stubborn audience.

"A Swap" questions whether the abdication of the throne in Italy by King Victor Emmanuele, as he had promised upon the fall of Rome to the Allies, in favor of his son Crown Prince Umberto, would bring any real change in the political scenery in Italy. Umberto had also embraced Fascism, had been a general under its imprimatur. Thus, it appeared that the substitute would offer little beyond symbolic generational change.

The real question would be whether soon the Italian people would have a vote in determining their new government, irrespective of the House of Savoy, in power for only 83 years.

"Justice" questions the fitness of the punishment of Major General Henry Miller, chief of the Ninth Air Force Service Command in England, who had, two months earlier, tipped at a cocktail party at London's Claridge Hotel the time of D-Day, or, according to Time, at least stated that it would be before June 15.

General Eisenhower had demoted him to his permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel and shipped him home. Time also reports that it held no weight that General Miller had been in the same West Point class with General Eisenhower and had been on the same baseball team with General Omar Bradley. He was given 24 hours by the Supreme Allied Commander to pack his bags and get out of England.

The editorial asserts that, despite General Miller being well known to the public, there would be questions as to why he was not made the subject of a court martial and provided the punishment his substantial breach of security deserved.

Regardless, it appears true, as we were recently instructed, that Paul Revere did indeed warn the British that the British were coming. Never underestimate the powers of perception of those who study history assiduously.

Drew Pearson addresses the calculation made by the President in the timing of putting forth his plans for the post-war peace. First consideration was that the Republican Convention would have to endorse the plan or be accused of trying to lay the groundwork for another war. Second, America was at the apogee of its contributions to the war effort and thus held maximum bargaining power on the world stage among the Allies. Third, to counter the speech by Churchill recently, enunciating the goal of having the Big Three play the dominant role in securing world peace after the war. The President was onboard with the notion that the smaller nations would need play a significant part in the construction of the peace. Fourth, U.S. prestige with Spain, Yugoslavia, Ireland, France, and Sweden was at its nadir and so it proved a good time to remind of America's continuing friendship to those countries.

Next, he turns to the astute choices, as perceived by U.S. military observers, made by Hitler in selecting his military leaders for resisting the Allied thrust from the West: Field Marshal Karl von Rundstedt, the best strategist in Germany; Field Marshal Erwin Rommel immediately under him, best at panzer tactics and hit-and-run operations; and Col. General Heinz Guderian, best tank commander in the German Army.

He next supplies his "Capital Chaff", among which is the report of Air Force Major Alexander de Seversky, advocate of air power, dancing a jig at veterans' hospitals to cheer amputees and show them what a one-legged veteran could accomplish. Major De Seversky, who had lost his leg in World War I, told of its hidden benefits, that his wooden leg served as a repository for $50,000 he was able to smuggle out of Russia.

In another item, Mr. Pearson informs that reactionary racist Representative John Rankin of Mississippi claimed to have set up the machinery whereby the President would not be re-elected even though receiving the majority of the popular vote; electors would vote in sufficient numbers for Senator Harry Flood Byrd to throw the election into the House, where Congressman Rankin was going to see to it that Senator Byrd was elected.

Mr. Pearson also reports that Jim Farley had supposedly hatched the plan to defeat his old boss in the electoral college, doing so apparently during his countrywide campaign for Coca-Cola, as Mr. Pearson had discussed April 4.

Dorothy Thompson asserts that the German generals, in surrendering Rome without a fight, the first such major objective in the war so treated, were recognizing the maxim recited by Hamlet, "Assume a virtue if you have it not." They sought to distinguish themselves from the Nazis and the S.S. who had committed the gravest atrocities of the war, and in so doing supplied to the Allies their recognition that defeat was at hand.

In appealing to Western sympathies by sparing the historically religious Eternal City, they hoped to beat the hangman's noose at the end of the war. It did not, therefore, as it might appear on the surface, germinate from a sudden sense of altruism and gentility, but rather from a characteristic of bullies, that, when beaten, they seek to avoid the worst of the punishment.

Still, Ms. Thompson asserted, the Baedecker raids on England, deliberately targeting in spring, 1942 religious and historical relics having no conceivable military objective than to destroy civilian morale, the bombing of Rotterdam after terms of capitulation had been reached with Holland, the destruction of Warsaw without purpose, among other such purely military operations, aside from the atrocities of the S.S. and Gestapo, still lingered sufficiently fresh in the Allied mind to deter any temptation to believe that these Nazis were now reformed from barbarism to civility.

Marquis Childs discusses the contrasting natures of FDR and Churchill, that the President gave an appearance of coolness and detachment from the war while the Prime Minister was constantly involved with the details of military planning, providing at regular intervals operational reports to Commons.

Still, the two leaders held enormous respect for one another and Churchill regarded FDR as part of a team, with Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek. They had differences regarding the post-war world, especially with respect to the continuity of the British Empire, but, ultimately, those matters would be left until after the war, as Churchill resolutely refused to focus on the post-war world until the war was won.

Stalin might see eye to eye with Churchill on perpetuation of the Empire, a way of re-establishing the world as it was in 1939, with Russia receiving its desired sphere of influence in the Balkans, the Baltic States, and Eastern Poland.

By way of demonstrating the Prime Minister's careful monitoring of the American political scene, Mr. Childs relates of an anecdote which the Prime Minister himself told to his War Cabinet. He had sought the opinions on American politics of a respected British Embassy representative in America, Isaiah Berlin, when the latter returned to England. The Prime Minister invited him to 10 Downing, but, after discussion, found his views to be remarkably prosaic on the subject of American politics. He insisted that he knew Mr. Berlin's work well, had followed it, and wanted some of the meat from it.

At that point, Mr. Berlin informed the Prime Minister that he had no idea he was interested in light music, his speciality.

Judging by the column of Drew Pearson two days earlier, the Prime Minister perhaps would have responded well to this piece.

Samuel Grafton, for the fourth time, turns to chewing of betel nuts.

Sample: "Have another nut. Mighty fine chewin', these nuts. Yes, sir, what we like are nice simple little issues, like where it says here that the Republicans promise not to run for a third term. That would be in 1952, if they were lucky. Now, there is an issue you can carry around in your vest pocket. Wrapped in a piece of fishy paper; not like some of those big issues, they break your back if you try to pick them up.

"The nuts are in that box over there… [T]his administration is planning to enslave the country, and it is going about it in a typically totalitarian way by being against the poll taxes and trying to give everybody the vote. First everybody gets the vote, and, next thing they know, they've lost their freedom. See what I mean?

"Have a nut?…"

And, by the "Side Glances", it appears that Elaine knew all along.

The tipster, we trow, was one of the brothers at Alpha Tau Omega.

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