Friday, June 9, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, June 9, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report that Americans of the First Army and airborne troops had joined to capture Ste. Mere Eglise, 19 miles southeast of Cherbourg, near Utah Beach. Other American forces had captured Formigny, between Ste. Mere Eglise and Bayeux.

Canadians and British of the Second Army and airborne troops had joined in a thrust toward Caen. Canadian tanks were firing point-blank at 200-yard range into German formations, representing the largest tank battle of the invasion yet reported. German Tiger tanks had moved into the area from Falaise. A dispatch dated Wednesday at noon indicated that Caen was within imminent fall to the Allies. But the previous night, Canadian reporter Ross Munro stated the town was still strongly held by the Nazis, apparently the result of moving reinforcements into the area.

General Omar Bradley was reported to have arrived on the beachhead to lead the First Army personally.

The forces thus far had captured 2,400 German prisoners.

In air operations, limited by weather conditions, the Allies lost 40 planes the day before while destroying 72 German planes. The Luftwaffe sent 60 planes over the beaches where landings were still taking place, but were quickly chased away by Allied aircraft. RAF planes struck rail targets the night before at Rennes, Fougeres, Alencon, Mayenne, and Pontaubault, south and west of Normandy. Other targets were Lisieux and Argentan in the area of the Cherbourg Peninsula.

By noon the preceding day, the number of sorties had increased to 27,000 since the invasion began, an increase of 5,000 since the previous day's report. Total losses of planes had reached 280, one percent of the sorties flown. Most of the losses were from ground fire. The Allies had dispatched 170 Luftwaffe planes, the lower number of losses being the result of the few sorties flown by the Germans.

A force of 500 to 750 American heavy bombers from Italy struck the Munich area and at Augsburg. Other bombers struck near Venice.

Richard McMillan, A.P. correspondent, wonders why the Germans had not fought to hold Bayeux, allowing the Allies to cut the rail link between Cherbourg and Paris. It enabled cutting off of the Germans trying to hold the Cherbourg Peninsula. One theory propounded was that there was so much Allied equipment amassed in the area that the Germans had decided to regroup their panzer divisions further east for a large counter-assault.

He also reports that the coastal defenses of the West Wall lacked continuity and method in construction and were without guns of sufficient caliber. The Germans had readily abandoned their defensive wall and taken to flight soon after the landings began. Supplies were being offloaded without the slightest interference from the Luftwaffe. "It all seems very mysterious," he concluded. One soldier had observed that it was not unlike maneuvers on Salisbury Plain in peacetime.

Associated Press correspondent Lewis Hawkins had accompanied the First Army ashore at Omaha Beach and reported of the carnage. He stated that bad weather had probably been the chief cause of the heavy losses. The report does not say, however, whether he formed his own conclusion based on his own observations or obtained the information from troops or commanders.

He reports of having watched on Wednesday night some amphibious landing craft move in toward the beach. Suddenly, there was a loud boom and there appeared a gap amid the landing crafts where one had been which was no more. Leaving the beach on Thursday morning and heading into a valley filled with poppies, he was moved to recall the famous poem of the previous war, now recited for those left behind on Omaha Beach.

Paratroops who had landed on Cherbourg told of the perilous fighting amid the hedgerows behind which the Germans had sought cover. One informed that the Germans had run away but that the paratroops, while also quickly adapting the hedgerows for cover, remained steadfast.

In one instance, a glider had landed on the roof of a house along the Vilognes-Carentan road. The crew then descended from the roof and captured German prisoners sleeping inside.

Many of the men had now procured nags to ride from Russian conscripts found in the sector.

DeWitt MacKenzie, on an inside page, discusses the adverse impact of bad weather on the invasion, having significantly delayed the landing of additional troops and supplies, allowing Rommel an opportunity to bring up reinforcements and to strengthen his own supply lines. He quickly adds, however, that the invasion appeared to be going well and that there was no cause for alarm. The immediate goal was the Cherbourg Peninsula and its port, capture of which would facilitate the further landing of troops and supplies, and grease the rails and roads to Paris.

William Stoneman of the Chicago Daily News tells of the American First Infantry Division and the British Fifteenth Northumbrian Division (the front page report correctly indicating it as the Fiftieth Northumbrian Division) having led the way of the invasion forces. The two divisions had fought side by side the previous year in Tunisia and again in Sicily.

In Italy, the Fifth Army was reported to have captured Viterbo, 40 miles northwest of Rome, and also Tarquinia, 55 miles north along the coast. In the area of Lake Bracciano, completely secured, Capratola was captured, 34 miles north of Rome. There was no evidence that the Germans were attempting to make any determined stand at any point along the front and were fleeing as fast as their legs could carry them. Some of the prisoners captured were from a division transferred from Denmark only a week earlier.

The Eighth Army was moving along the east side of the Tiber River, but progress was slow in that sector because of mines and demolition.

On the Adriatic front, German troops had abandoned their lines to avoid encirclement and advances by the Eighth Army in that sector were being made as well, moving into Tollo.

The President stated that he was prepared to see General De Gaulle during latter June or early July, pursuant to a request relayed to him via a French Admiral. The President appeared flip about the timing of the meeting, that he would work it in around the Democratic convention in latter July, the election in the fall, and Christmas afterward. He had no idea what the purpose of the meeting would be.

On the editorial page, "The Trap" foresees that, soon or late, the Allies would now vanquish Germany of a certainty, with crushing blows to be brought to bear from three directions, Western France, Italy, and Russia.

Whether German morale was, as being reported in France from German soldiers, that the war was a fait accompli or whether the German people still held out hope to the last, brainwashed by the propaganda ministry, was hard to discern.

Regardless, the arithmetic of numbers of troops any longer available to the Wehrmacht made the trap conclusive and any chance of a stalemate now out of the question.

"Commies!" reports of and quotes from Dave Clark's editorial in his Textile Bulletin anent the decision of Martin Dies to retire from Congress, signaling an end to his witch hunts within the framework of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Dave thought Mr. Dies a great American and thus had determined that the Raleigh News and Observer and the News, consistently critical of him, were both friendly to Communists and piloted by editors with Communist leanings. He stated that had Mr. Dies gone after Nazis with the same fervor with which he had sought out Communists, then neither newspaper would have found any fault with his activities.

He also had asserted in another editorial of the same issue that Generalissimo Francisco Franco was "representative" of the Spanish people and that Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the University of North Carolina and member of the War Labor Board, was a Communist leader in aid of the Loyalists in Spain--in a civil war which had ended in 1939.

The News felt there to be scant chance to bridge the gap between its editorial views and those of Dave, so responded thusly.

Also, word to the wise re those such as Dave, his wily ways, and his Textile Bulletin...

"Loophole" comments on the complaints of two of the losing candidates in the recent Senate primary in North Carolina, that the election was essentially bought for the fact of low turnout, the result of the war and no hot issue among the voters. The piece recognizes the complaints as valid and suggests that, at such a time of greatest sacrifice abroad, the people still allowed their votes to be purchased by chicanery at home.

It should be noted, however, that the News had endorsed the winner of the race, Clyde Hoey, as the best man for the job.

"Deserts" gives praise to the ultimatum presented to 15,000 striking workers at Wright Aeronautical Corporation in Ohio, that they either return to their jobs or be fired. The workers had struck in defiance of War Labor Board orders and in defiance of their own CIO union leaders. Thus, to face firing was only just deserts, opines the piece, in the face of the critical need for their jobs for continued efficient prosecution of the war.

Drew Pearson reports of a meeting between Vice-President Henry Wallace and the President just before Mr. Wallace left for his trip to China. At the meeting, the Vice-President indicated that he understood that the greatest political issue at present in the country was whether he would be included on the 1944 ticket, that he was at ease with being left off the ticket if the President concluded that it would help his re-election. He further asserted that the President need not consult with him further on the matter before making his decision. The President, says Mr. Pearson, was appreciative but gave no response, as he had not yet confided in anyone his final decision on whether to run.

He next points out that new Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal was having a difficult time initially pleasing everyone with his choices for appointments. He had first sought a Wall Street lawyer heading the Navy's legal division, Struve Hensel, to be the new undersecretary, but objections arose for there already being too many Wall Street types in the hierarchy of the Department.

The President, notably, recommended Adlai Stevenson, then one of the bright young men of the Department and grandson to Vice-President Adlai Stevenson under President Cleveland. But Secretary Forrestal rebuffed the suggestion so abruptly that Mr. Stevenson was said to be quitting the Department--no doubt, holy soles or not, never to be heard from again.

Last, he turns to focus on Congressman Charley Dewey of Chicago, who was taking an anti-government stance in the House hearings thus far on the April takeover of Montgomery Ward. He talked personally, however, with the CIO representative regarding the sticking point in the controversy, the maintenance of membership clause in the union contract, requiring that once a worker joined the union the member had to stay with it during the life of the contract, with the proviso that the member could withdraw within fifteen days of initiating membership. Congressman Dewey decided that such was not a closed shop situation as he had thought, given the 15-day provision, and therefore decided the union demands were not unreasonable after all. The union representative agreed that if the Congressman could get Sewell Avery to participate, the union would allow the Congressman to arbitrate the dispute. But Mr. Avery refused to be a part of any such arbitration. Mr. Dewey dismissed him as a "feudal" sort of fellow.

Mr. Pearson comments that Congressman Dewey might face a tough time, nevertheless, in his district as he continued to take the pro-company stance in hearings, given that his margin of victory in 1942 had been only 2,100 votes and that there were 500 Montgomery Ward families in his district.

Marquis Childs looks first at the lessons to be learned from Anzio, the failure to take advantage of initial German weakness in the sector right after the January 22 landings, instead obeying orders of Allied Headquarters that there should not be movement beyond a certain point until such time as reinforcements and supplies could be brought to the sector. By that point, the Germans had reinforced their lines, resulting in stalemate for four months. Mr. Childs indicates that military observers had learned from the Anzio lesson that responsible commanders would violate such orders and move forward when opportunity presented itself.

He then turns to suggest that the same lesson might be applied in Congress to its funding of the American portion of the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Administration, headed by former New York Governor Lehman. Partisan bickering over the amount of the outlay for relief had resulted in delays in getting food and clothing to needy civilians in North Africa and Italy, might conceivably delay the delivery of aid to France.

While not the point of Mr. Childs, we have to speculate that the overall strategy of the Italian campaign was one of delay during the winter months, to occupy and pin down as many German divisions, away from Western France and the Eastern front, as could be accomplished. A too quick victory, chasing the Germans completely from Italy might have worked to the disadvantage of the overall operations by ironically freeing some fifteen to twenty-five German divisions in Italy, estimated at the latter strength in early May, to be sent to the fight in France and Poland. As long as Hitler believed he could thwart an advance through the Brenner Pass, he would maintain a protective wall of troops in Italy. But was it ever the Allied objective to go through the Brenner Pass?

Samuel Grafton visits Richmond to have lunch with Virginius Dabney, editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, regarding the observations on race made in the new book published by Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma. In it, Dr. Myrdal had offered, after studying the issue pursuant to a $300,000 grant by the Carnegie Foundation, that the race issue stretched beyond the South and embraced the entire country, having also international implications. It was why, he concluded, that the North could not compromise with the South on this critical issue.

Anyone who has ever studied the race issue at all deeply will be familiar with the work of Dr. Myrdal.

Mr. Grafton points out, in anecdotal corroboration of the finding re international ramifications of racism in America, that he had just read a story that the Japanese had used a racist editorial appearing in a small town newspaper in Louisiana as propaganda, suggesting America as a racist country.

Mr. Dabney, a liberal, offered that his fellow Southerners had to realize that times were not static and that race relations were bound to change toward integration.

Mr. Grafton recognizes the boldness of the stance and that any Southerner who dared speak the lines had to be prepared for acrimony in response, a very different situation to that of the liberal in the North who could preach all he or she wanted about race without fear of reprisal. It was the difference, he suggests, between being on a ship heaving at sea and sending radio signals to the ship. Despite Mr. Dabney’s insistence to his readers that they were riding a storm-tossed ship, many naively believed the seas calm and the weather good.

A gentleman writes in response to a pol's suggestion that there be public executions to insure proper deterrent effect. He says they ought to do it and leave them hanging for 24 hours, maybe even place their heads on pikes outside the city gates to warn all who enter of the stern justice afoot. He forewarns, however, that when public executions were held in this manner in Elizabethan England, the pickpockets thrived.

The editor and managing editor of The Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill write briefly to inform that they believed there to be a conspiracy afoot to chase Frank Porter Graham away from the University, as well as all other liberals. The belief derived from the recent directive of the Board of Trustees given to Dr. Graham that he resign the War Labor Board and resume his duties exclusively at the University.

Tom Jimison writes a letter chastising The News for an editorial on May 29 irreverently referencing "Rev. Spaugh", which concerned the latter's receipt of a Doctor of Divinity degree from Davidson. It should, he insists, be Rev. Mr. Spaugh.

But, Mr. Jimison, the editorial was titled "Dr. Spaugh".

One of the quotes of the day: "Every stout boy born in 1943 may become a brave soldier in 1963." --German High Command Instruction Manual

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