Saturday, July 15, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 15, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American troops reached the outskirts of Lessay, as street fighting ensued in the suburbs. As the Germans launched their largest artillery blast of the five-day old campaign against the Americans advancing on St. Lo, the doughboys nevertheless closed to within 2,000 yards of the town. Other forces moved toward Periers, between St. Lo and Lessay, taking four towns in the process, sixteen during the previous 24 hours.

Don Whitehead reported that a Major indicated that the German troops defending St. Lo were much tougher than those originally encountered on the beaches, that there were fewer non-Germans among their ranks, and were fighting to the death, pulling their dead from the field immediately so that the advancing Americans would not see them. The situation did not paint a rosy picture for an immediate breakthrough and capture of St. Lo, key communications center, connecting with roads and railroads through to Paris, the taking of which would effectively clear all enemy resistance from the Cotentin Peninsula.

Fighting remained relatively quiet for the second day in a row on the British end of the line, with the British recapturing Hill 112 north of Esquay and again striking in Maltot, four miles southwest of Caen. The British were reported to have captured 7,000 prisoners since D-Day and inflicted about 28,000 additional casualties on the enemy.

The worst flying weather since D-Day prevented large-scale air cover operations, limiting the Allies to 50 sorties over the Normandy front.

The RAF had flown night raids against the Villeneuve-St. Gorges rail yards in the suburbs of Paris, costing seven British bombers, six of which had been lost during the early morning daylight portion of the raids.

Hampered by the need to maintain infantry along the northern coast of France, to guard against potential invasion from other points, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was reported to have been able to commit to Normandy less than half of his available troops, amounting to between 20 and 25 divisions, compared to seven divisions present at the time of D-Day. Eleven or twelve of the divisions were facing the Americans on the Peninsula. Total strength in France was estimated at 60 to 65 divisions. On June 6, the Germans had concentrated their largest strength, ten divisions, in the area of Pas-de-Calais, indicative of their expectation, given the heavy bombing of that V-1 nest during April and May, that they believed the invasion would occur there.

American troops of the Fifth Army in Italy accomplished their most significant advance during the previous two weeks, placing them within 3.5 miles of Leghorn along the west coast approach, capturing also Chianni, 13 miles inland, a position which guarded the Era Valley avenue toward the Arno Valley, nine miles from the Arno River. These forces also took Belvedere, 5.5 miles northeast of Chianni.

The French pursued the Germans northward from captured Poggibonsi. German movements showed an intent to fall back to the Arno River.

In Russia, the Red Army launched a drive in southern Poland, to extend the front to 500 miles from its northern extremities, twenty miles from the Suwalki Triangle of East Prussia. The new offensive was initiated from northwest of Tarnopol, and moved to within 30 miles of Lwow.

To the north, the Germans were reported beginning evacuation of Konigsberg in East Prussia. The Russians were shelling Grodno from seven miles distant. German counter-attacks had been launched north of Grodno and the Germans were reported to be erecting barricades for a fight to the death in Grodno, Brest-Litovsk, and Bialystok.

An intercepted Japanese broadcast claimed that, in retaliation for the June 15 B-29 raid on Yawata, the enemy had executed American fliers, it being unclear whether the claimed executions were of captured B-29 crewmen or crew of other Pacific missions. The broadcast promised retaliation in kind should the B-29 attacks persist.

Admiral Nimitz announced the tenth straight day of bombing missions on Guam, a mere 150 miles from the newly activated airbase on Saipan. The bombing had been concentrated around Port Apra which had served as a peacetime anchorage for naval vessels when Guam was a U.S. protectorate. Another target had been Agai.

The Japanese attempted breakout from their encircled position east of Aitape continued stalled since Wednesday, 21 miles east of Aitape, after some 45,000 troops had crossed the Driniumor River. By July 25, the Japanese would suffer an estimated 10,000 killed in this arena, against 3,000 casualties inflicted on U.S. forces, of whom 440 were killed.

Former Ambassador to Mexico Josephus Daniels, arriving in Chicago for the Democratic convention to begin Wednesday, predicted that there would be eventual unity in the Democratic ranks by November and that the press had overstated the rumblings of discontent. There would be ultimately, he forecasted, a Solid South for the President.

And, he would be proved correct.

On the editorial page, "Wallace" states flatly that the South would not support Henry Wallace for renomination at the convention, had soundly rejected him in 1940 in favor of Senator William Bankhead of Alabama, by a vote of 237 to 35. Had the convention retained the two-thirds majority rule, Mr. Wallace would not have become the nominee in 1940. The trend against him this time was even stronger.

The piece stresses that the party would nominate for symbolic purposes, to provide an acceptable symbol of moderation on the ticket, someone who favored retention of the New Deal gains but who also was not in favor of extending those programs to other areas of society--a euphemistic way of expressing the real underlying issue, concern about extending civil rights domestically on the one hand, and, on the other, being too inclined to internationalism after the war.

But, perhaps, the greatest concern among the Democrats who had actually seen the President since December, was the unspoken concern that his health was giving way and that, at war's conclusion, he might resign the position--or, never make it through the term alive.

In any event, the forces of the South who wanted Mr. Wallace out would get their wish. But what they wished for ultimately, while of the moment appearing palatable, was not that which would come to be, Harry Truman. He would whipsnake them far more strenuously for his own border roots than ever did President Roosevelt, who always felt a kindred spirit to the South because of Warm Springs, but nevertheless realized he was not a native and could not browbeat Southerners lest they would recoil in their sometimes terrible manner.

Mr. Truman was enough one of them that he could accomplish things his predecessor perhaps could not have--just as would be the case with President Johnson after the assassination of President Kennedy.

"Russia" recommends the first of two parts of Dorothy Thompson's column on the Soviet intentions with respect to Poland, now ripe for determination, with the Soviet armies poised to move through Poland to the very borders of Germany.

The editorial remarks that, while Russia had been a favorite bogey of America during the prior two decades after the Revolution of 1917, it appeared that Americans had underestimated the greatness of the nation being built underneath the secretive exterior behind the walls of Communism, kindling distrust and fueling hatred where there was no basis for fear in fact.

Russia had now reached a point where it stood as a trusted ally and appeared to be acting the part in cohesion with the desires of the West with respect to the smaller nations of Europe, the first major test of which premise would be in how it treated Poland.

"Women" indicates that women had gained full political power in the country, had four years earlier comprised 45% of the national electorate, in 1942, 53%, with predictions being that they would make up 60% of the voters come November, 1944.

As they enjoyed all civil liberties, women were not cast in the role of a special interest group voting as a bloc, but rather voted their own individual interests and consciences as did men. The polls showed that 80% of the registered Democratic women would vote for FDR, while the majority of Republican women had favored Governor Dewey prior to his nomination. So…

"Ervin" laments the passing of Morganton lawyer Sam J. Ervin, Sr., father of then Judge Sam J. Ervin, Jr., future North Carolina Congressman, Supreme Court Justice, and long-serving Senator. The column also mentions the other son, Joe Ervin, then running for the Congress, to which he would be elected in the fall, the seat to which his brother would succeed after Joe's death by suicide at Christmas 1945.

The father, says the piece, had lived in the tradition of the country doctor and itinerate preacher, someone who molded public sentiment from the front porch and kitchen rather than from the hustings.

The editorial finds the breed vanishing from the landscape. Sam Ervin, Jr., would prove the prediction of demise premature. And well were we blessed as a society to have his like when in 1973 and 1974 otherwise, we might well have lost our freedom permanently to a bunch of CREEPS.

"Mad Dogs" commends the wisdom of the City of Charlotte in setting up the new Pet Department and naming as its superintendent former News writer Tom Revelle, dog lover and dog protector, but one who had the sense to understand that dogs and humans must get along, with dogs taking the secondary place when push came to shove. Thus, his getting through the City Council the new Revelle Law protecting against roaming mad dogs, a reported problem through the city during the prior year, had shown the wisdom of the selection of Mr. Revelle.

Perhaps it is of historic interest to note specially the juxtaposition of the five pieces in this day's column, in their way, predictive of the entirety of the ensuing thirty years of American history and practical math.

Dorothy Thompson looks at the situation soon to be forced to a head by the invading Russian armies moving into Poland, that of the differences between Russia and the Polish government-in-exile in London. She gathers from the report of professor Oscar Lange of the University of Chicago, following his visit with Stalin in May along with Father Orlemanski, the latter silenced by church discipline for taking the trip without leave, that the Soviets were willing to accept the government-in-exile as legitimate and not dictate how it was constituted, provided that anti-Soviets were not included in its membership. But Russia did not mandate leftists or Communists and would leave to the Polish otherwise the determination of who led the country.

The Soviets shortly would be able virtually to dictate terms based on their geopolitical position, and time had come thus to find out with specificity what the new Polish government would look like. If it should follow the model in Yugoslavia, where the government was determined by Yugoslavians, balancing the forces of King Peter and Marshal Tito, then, says Ms. Thompson, it would be good for Poland. But, as yet, no firm commitment had come directly from either the Polish government-in-exile or the Soviets.

She would continue the analysis of the issue on Monday.

From this vantage point in time, parenthetically, it would appear that President Ford's remark during the 1976 presidential debate with then Governor Carter, that Eastern Europe was living under sovereign self-determination, would have been an entirely correct statement.

Incidentally, the AMT's were far superior, in our estimate, to the Revell's. Revell specialized in ships and planes. We specialized in cars. The only Revell car we ever recall putting together was a 1956 Chevy. Its doors opened and so did its trunk, as we remember, and that was pretty keen, but the wheels were really shaky on the thing, mainly because the front wheels actually were steerable and that was a problem. The roaches therefore did not enjoy the ride, found it bumpy. So, we continued on only with AMT's, which had the nice solid steel axles, cross-beamed, to keep the wheels moving smoothly, right in a straight line. We didn't need steering in those days. Brakes would have helped, though, especially that Sunday when one of our three 1963 Falcon Futuras--two of which were pre-built, one of those a foundling stray out in the yard, one put together by us--went right down the storm drain at the end of the sidewalk near Greenbrier and Avalon, and we had to find a way to fish it out. We do not wish to discuss it. Suffice to say that it did not involve the little dog, Pard.

Samuel Grafton discusses the need for a leader who would unite the country in time of war by addressing frankly the perils lying ahead and the need to pull together and not cheat one another or quit halfway through the conflict. Vague generalities of the type which had been placed in the Republican platform re foreign policy could not sustain such leadership, for it offered something for everyone, higher wages, lower taxes, more to be spent on the war, all at the expense of rational sense for the inability of anyone to serve all such masters at once.

Mr. Grafton concludes that perhaps Governor Dewey could rise above this platform, but, in the meantime, the nation would look again to Chicago and the Democrats to provide the requisite better sense of unified purpose.

Drew Pearson devotes his entire column to the forces in the Democratic Party hierarchy who were seeking to pull down Henry Wallace and replace him with another vice-presidential nominee. He describes the process in some detail and relates of conversations between the President and Vice-President upon the latter’s recent return from his trip to China and the Soviet Union.

As prior to his departure, he instructed the President, when asked whether he wished to run, that he believed the welfare of the country was more important than his political future and so left it to the President. The President responded that some advisers had favored his retention while others believed it would harm the ticket. His feeling was that he would leave it to the convention but would consult the Democratic bosses in the larger states and seek their commitment to Mr. Wallace. For his part, the Vice-President expressed his desire that the President endorse him publicly or he would not wish to run.

Mr. Pearson states that, because of the loyalty of Mr. Wallace to President Roosevelt, even during the crisis with Jesse Jones a year earlier regarding mismanagement of the Bureau of Economic Warfare, in which the President had sided with Secretary of Commerce Jones over Wallace, the President felt great deference to him and desired that he remain on the ticket. He would ordinarily, in peacetime, he told the Vice-President, insist on his being kept aboard or else not run himself. But he could not afford to take such a principled and uncompromising stand with so much at stake in wartime.

When Mr. Wallace told him that he had taken his own polling among the states and found that he had some 300 delegate votes assured at the convention, the President was pleased. But when he informed also that former New Deal Brain Truster Tommy Corcoran was working hard to obtain the nomination of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas for the position, the President, says Mr. Pearson, simply responded, "I'll be damned."

Concludes the column, "Thus, Henry Wallace, like a tired, lone deer on the range, was driven backward and forward, nipped and badgered by the wolves, but never quite pulled down."

Mr. Pearson remarks that in Washington, when they wanted to destroy someone, they usually accomplished it by rumors of scandal and graft. But the forces at work behind the scenes knew in this case that they could not accomplish it that way, for Henry Wallace was scrupulously honest and honorable. So, they had sought to squeeze him out in this other way, by casting him as a drag on the ticket in wartime and thus a threat to political stability at the point of criticality.

Dick Young writes of the enduring grace bestowed on the Courthouse lawn, despite the terrors of war abroad, by the annual blooming of the dark pink crepe myrtle, his "personal symbol of the eternal verities and of the permanency of beauty, which outlive the destructive forces of the God of War."

So, with all of those verities stated, we need a little balderdash to make the day complete, dedicated to our own musicianship, and to a good portion of that of those performing for us on YouTube. But, the effort is always worth the expenditure of pain, we suppose, both to one's self and to the ears of those unfortunates within earshot. Those blessed as prodigies should always nurture their gift and realize that it is that. We quit before we even got blisters on our fingers, for the blisters to our ears. We don't get how you do it, musicians. We understand a little about the lyrical process, but the ability to play an instrument is quite mystical. So, that is why we play so much of it recorded by others, we suppose. One day, maybe, we might learn, perhaps, to plunk out, at least, something like "Mairzy Doats". Then, we'll break it over the bedpost to avoid having to do it again. We think we did once blow some semblance of "Jingle Bells" on the alto saxophone, but that's about as far as we got in six years of trying, miming the rest, and so we gave up finally. We just listen.

Never underestimate, however, our powers of perception. Last night, less than 24 hours after posting Thursday's note, and shortly after posting last night's, the earth moved where we are ever so slightly, perhaps about a 3.3 and a third.

Chapter 2.1.IX. Symbolic.

How natural, in all decisive circumstances, is Symbolic Representation to all kinds of men! Nay, what is man's whole terrestrial Life but a Symbolic Representation, and making visible, of the Celestial invisible Force that is in him? By act and word he strives to do it; with sincerity, if possible; failing that, with theatricality, which latter also may have its meaning. An Almack's Masquerade is not nothing; in more genial ages, your Christmas Guisings, Feasts of the Ass, Abbots of Unreason, were a considerable something: since sport they were; as Almacks may still be sincere wish for sport. But what, on the other hand, must not sincere earnest have been: say, a Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles have been! A whole Nation gathered, in the name of the Highest, under the eye of the Highest; imagination herself flagging under the reality; and all noblest Ceremony as yet not grown ceremonial, but solemn, significant to the outmost fringe! Neither, in modern private life, are theatrical scenes, of tearful women wetting whole ells of cambric in concert, of impassioned bushy-whiskered youth threatening suicide, and such like, to be so entirely detested: drop thou a tear over them thyself rather.

At any rate, one can remark that no Nation will throw-by its work, and deliberately go out to make a scene, without meaning something thereby. For indeed no scenic individual, with knavish hypocritical views, will take the trouble to soliloquise a scene: and now consider, is not a scenic Nation placed precisely in that predicament of soliloquising; for its own behoof alone; to solace its own sensibilities, maudlin or other?--Yet in this respect, of readiness for scenes, the difference of Nations, as of men, is very great. If our Saxon-Puritanic friends, for example, swore and signed their National Covenant, without discharge of gunpowder, or the beating of any drum, in a dingy Covenant-Close of the Edinburgh High-street, in a mean room, where men now drink mean liquor, it was consistent with their ways so to swear it. Our Gallic-Encyclopedic friends, again, must have a Champ-de-Mars, seen of all the world, or universe; and such a Scenic Exhibition, to which the Coliseum Amphitheatre was but a stroller's barn, as this old Globe of ours had never or hardly ever beheld. Which method also we reckon natural, then and there. Nor perhaps was the respective keeping of these two Oaths far out of due proportion to such respective display in taking them: inverse proportion, namely. For the theatricality of a People goes in a compound-ratio: ratio indeed of their trustfulness, sociability, fervency; but then also of their excitability, of their porosity, not continent; or say, of their explosiveness, hot-flashing, but which does not last.

How true also, once more, is it that no man or Nation of men, conscious of doing a great thing, was ever, in that thing, doing other than a small one! O Champ-de-Mars Federation, with three hundred drummers, twelve hundred wind-musicians, and artillery planted on height after height to boom the tidings of it all over France, in few minutes! Could no Atheist-Naigeon contrive to discern, eighteen centuries off, those Thirteen most poor mean-dressed men, at frugal Supper, in a mean Jewish dwelling, with no symbol but hearts god-initiated into the 'Divine depth of Sorrow,' and a Do this in remembrance of me;--and so cease that small difficult crowing of his, if he were not doomed to it?

--from The French Revolution, Thomas Carlyle, 1837

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