Friday, July 21, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 21, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Marines and Army assault troops had landed the day before on Guam, the first territory seized by the Japanese, two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Guam having been captured by 8,000 Japanese troops against 200 Marine defenders. Guam was only 130 miles southwest of conquered Saipan in the Marianas Islands. Estimates were that a complement of enemy troops numbering about 20,000, similar to that originally on Saipan, were holding Guam. The island had a native population of about 22,000.

The attempted assassins of Hitler the day before had already been killed, including Col. General Ludwig Beck, former chief of the general staff, and the plot's chief implementer, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, though not reported by name in the piece. Beck had been removed as chief of staff in November, 1938 because he had disfavored Hitler's plan to take over Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Thus, July 20, 1944 had proved an important day for the war on all fronts: an attempt had been made on Hitler's life, signaling internal collapse in Germany; Tojo was removed from power in Japan; Guam was invaded; and President Roosevelt was renominated for a fourth term by the Democrats.

The President delivered his acceptance speech to the convention the previous night by radio from an an undisclosed naval base, to which he made reference in the speech. The move was likely to avoid any security issue in Chicago. The President was in fact in Hawaii at the time and so presumably delivered the address from Pearl Harbor.

At the Democratic Convention, Henry Wallace had attracted 20 of 96 delegate votes from New York, bringing his preliminary tally of committed delegates to 369.5 of the 589 needed for nomination. Senator Truman received commitments for the other 76 delegates, bringing his number of commitments to 181 delegates. Several delegations appeared split, with Massachusetts delivering 12 delegates each to Truman and Wallace, with another 5.5 committed to Senator Alben Barkley. In the South, Alabama and Mississippi had committed their 44 total delegates to Senator John Bankhead of Alabama. Texas also had committed 22.5 delegates to Senator Bankhead. Both South Carolina's and North Carolina's delegations were solidly behind Governor J. Melville Broughton of North Carolina.

The Texas delegation had walked out of the convention in protest of the plank favoring racial equality and were caucusing with other rebelling Southerners to determine their next move. The leader of the rebellion, E. B. Germany of Dallas—whose middle name may or not have been Bosch or Boot—, indicated meetings of the Bolters were to be held in the rooms of former Misssissippi Governor Mike Conner. Mr. Germany charged that "the bureaucrats, the CIO Political Action Committee, and a liberal sprinkling of Communists joined forces to tell Texas Democrats just where they stand in national politics."

It would not by any means be the last time such charges would be heard from Texas and from the South.

Heinrich Himmler had been placed in charge of the Army in Germany and was conducting a general purge of those deemed responsible for the plot against the Fuehrer. A Berlin broadcast claimed that there was information that a foreign power had been involved in the attempted coup. All communications from neutral observers in Germany were terminated at 8:40 the previous evening and continued to be blocked into Friday.

Secretary of State Hull found the news of the assassination attempt to underscore the determination by the German military leaders that the war was lost. Hitler's putting "his chief executioner", Himmler, in charge of the Army, said the Secretary, would not change this inevitability.

Thirty-six hours of continuous rain and resulting mud had slowed the progress of the thrust by the Second Army out of Caen in Normandy, as Canadian troops took St. Martin de Fontenay, five miles south of Caen, after also taking St. Andre-sur-Orne on the east bank of the Orne River. The British had moved eight miles east of Caen toward Paris, bypassing Troarn. In Troarn, the British encountered strong resistance from German Tiger tanks and withdrew to the outskirts of the town.

To the west of Caen, the British gained a thousand yards along a two-mile front below the Caumont-Tilly Road. The advance thus far of General Montgomery's armored and infantry forces had averaged but two miles per day in three days and failed to draw out the main force of Germans, encountering relatively few enemy tanks and capturing only about 2,000 German prisoners. Given the size of the operation, the results thus far had been disappointing.

On the St. Lo to Lessay front, the Americans cut off a portion of the road from St. Lo to Periers.

About 1,900 American planes struck from England at Regensburg and Schweinfurt in Germany, while another force of 500 flew from Italy to within 125 miles of Berlin, striking Brux in the Sudetenland, northwest of Prague in Czechoslovakia. The raid from England included 800 fighters, the largest contingent of fighters to accompany any raid thus far in the war.

In Italy, the Fifth Army had one of the quietest days since the offensive drive to break out from Cassino and the Anzio beachhead had begun May 11, as big German guns harassed Leghorn, captured by the Allies, from positions behind Pisa. There were still strong German pockets of resistance on the north side of the Arno River.

On the Adriatic front, Polish troops continued to chase the Germans, forcing them across the Esino River on a fifteen-mile wide front, fifteen miles northwest of captured Ancona.

On the Ukrainian front, the Red Army moved to within five miles of Lwow in Poland and reports indicated explosions could be heard from the city, indicative of German preparations to evacuate. Other forces had moved twenty miles to the west to within 100 miles of Warsaw.

On the northern front the Russians had captured a junction 50 miles west of Daugavpils, 85 miles southeast of the Latvian port of Riga and 165 miles east of Memel.

On the editorial page, "Wild World" comments on the swirl of events of the previous day. No sooner than local pride had been buoyed by the convention speech of its co-chair, Mrs. Tillett from Charlotte, the news had come over the wires that Tojo had been removed from office in Japan.

Then, as the Southern revolt fizzled at the convention even after its participants had been labeled by Vice-President Wallace as Republicans in the guise of Democrats, news came of the assassination attempt on Hitler.

The day was topped off, not unexpectedly, by the nomination of President Roosevelt for a fourth term, yet begging the question why he chose to deliver his acceptance speech from a Navy base in the Pacific.

Next came news of the invasion of Guam, as the Russians continued their drive toward Germany, all in the wake of the reports earlier in the week that Leghorn and Ancona had fallen in Italy, and that General Montgomery had started a drive out of Caen toward Paris.

"Catholics" finds that, with the post-war world promising little power to Italy, Spain, and Germany, the Catholic Church would likewise suffer diminution in power, that Protestantism being the dominant religious affiliation of Britons and Americans, and Russians being largely without religion, there would likely be wrought significant change within the Church as a whole after the war.

"Army Game" expects the veterans of the war to return full of anger, to be vented at the various politicians who had both insured that the availability of their ballots for the November election would be subject to the cumbersome routines followed by state statutes rather than the uniformity promised by the defeated Federal ballot measure, and that the news they obtained from the States was sanitized, free from any political and controversial matter.

Meanwhile, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, who had sponsored the censorship amendment, passed the buck to the Army, contending that it had badly misinterpreted the spirit of the law and too strictly applied its restrictions.

"Hitler" muses about the attempted assassination of Hitler having missed its target, resulting in mixed emotions. The news had come as the editor was reading a piece on a V-1 having struck a schoolhouse full of students.

Thus, it became clear what to do with Hitler at war's end: strap him to one of his rocket bombs, fire it from Murmansk "as far into the Frozen North as the danged thing will take him."

--Au revoir.

"Paper Dixie" appeals for waste paper to be placed on front yards for collection on August 20 so that the replacements for the Young Commandos and the Junior Chamber of Commerce could come around and collect it, the polio epidemic and resulting quarantine of those 15 and under having prevented Charlotte youth from fulfilling their volunteer spirit to do the honors.

Paper, in severe shortage during the war, was needed to make shipping containers for ammunition, medical supplies, rations, and other necessities of the war, as well as being used directly in the manufacture of some explosives and ammunition.

Drew Pearson describes two very different scenes at the Democratic conventions of 1932 and 1944. In 1932, FDR's right-hand man, Louey Howe, had holed up in a hotel room in Chicago, trying to deliver the convention vote to the man he had helped make Governor of New York. Jim Farley, the other power broker behind the throne, was monitoring the delegate count. Roosevelt was ahead but Speaker of the House John Nance Garner of Texas was nipping at his heels, and the delegates were ready to bolt to him on one more ballot. Mr. Farley stepped into the breach to maneuver a compromise to secure the votes of the Texas and California delegations to put Roosevelt over the top, taking Mr. Garner as the vice-presidential nominee instead of Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana who had trumpeted himself as the likely vice-presidential candidate in stump speeches in the Northwest, but whom the President did not want on the ticket.

As pointed out earlier in the week by Mr. Pearson, Vice-President Garner had not always gotten along with the President during his eight year stint in the office, had, in 1940, when it became obvious that he was not going to be the vice-presidential nominee a third time, returned home to Texas in June to pout and did not return to Washington to finish his term.

In 1944, with Mr. Howe deceased, with Senator Wheeler a dejected isolationist who had long since come to realize that FDR did not like him, with Jim Farley, who wanted to be the vice-presidential candidate in 1940, now standing as an active enemy of the President, things had markedly changed since 1932. James Byrnes, who had helped engineer the 1932 nomination of FDR, had this time been in the mix of candidates for vice-president. Joe Guffey of Pennsylvania, also one of the arrangers in 1932, was still arranging. The most significant change in the dozen-year interim, however, was that Franklin Roosevelt, rather than scrambling for delegates, had accepted the nomination in advance.

Mr. Pearson next comments on a signal race in Texas to test how well soldiers would run for political office, already showing mixed results across the country. The race pitted Congressman Richard Kleberg, not a veteran of World War I, whose son had obtained a farm-work deferment in the current war, with Captain John Lyle, a veteran of North Africa and Italy. Mr. Kleberg also had various ethical problems for receiving kickbacks from Congressional pages for his sponsorship of them.

No one yet was making predictions on whether the House would remain Democratic after the November elections, but the Senate appeared a lock for the Democrats: two races, one in North Dakota and the other in Connecticut, promised victories for the Democrats over Republican incumbents, Gerald Nye in North Dakota and Senator Lanaher in Connecticut.

Among his "Convention Chaff" snippets is that of a newsmen who had difficulties getting an elevator to stop at the Stevens Hotel during the Republican affair, had as a result sent a wire to the Democratic National Committee making a reservation for one at 12:30 p.m. on the second day of the convention.

Mr. Pearson also mentions that the backers of Senator Alben Barkley for the vice-presidency had now expressed regret at the Senator's acrimonious Senate floor speech in February, attacking the President for his own attack of the Congress for not passing a new tax bill with more than a little over two billion dollars in new revenue, when the Treasury had expressed the need for 12.5 billion to pay for the war.

Marquis Childs focuses on the political bosses at the convention in relation to what he deems the probable compromise of the convention to nominate Harry Truman for vice-president, given that Boss Tom Pendergast had hand-selected Mr. Truman for the Senate. Now, Pendergast was old and out of power, having been brought down by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and dedicated Federal prosecutor Maurice Milligan of Kansas City. But Harry Truman had not been touched by the scandal, had grown in stature consistently as a Senator on the strength of riding herd on the efficiency of the war effort and exposing graft along the way.

Other political bosses, Frank Hague of Jersey City and Mayor Ed Kelly of Chicago, were still in stride, looking fitter than ever at the 1944 convention. President Roosevelt had used their power to deliver the vote, especially in 1936, more than was necessary, thought Mr. Childs, as the bosses needed the President more than he needed them.

Samuel Grafton contrasts the Democratic and Republican conventions, finding the Republicans to have been more superficially united but at the expense of substance, while the Democrats had many differences under a much more expansive tent where harmony therefore was more difficult to achieve. Out of the Democratic disunity, however, might come a more meaningful rapprochement.

Whereas the Republicans had excluded any voices of dissent by excluding Wendell Willkie from having a role at the convention, the Democrats had undertaken no such efforts with its unpopular or dissident voices. Henry Wallace was present; so were the Southern delegations who had voiced dissatisfaction with the Administration during the previous three months. The Republicans came together because they agreed with one another; the Democrats met to try to harmonize their many conflicting factions.

Hal Boyle, as on the previous day, reports on the interment of American soldiers on Normandy, indicating that fewer than one percent of the dead would not be identified. The 18-man unit responsible for burying them resorted to charts of teeth and fingerprints whenever they could not make the identification by dogtags. They checked papers found on the soldier, even laundry marks in the clothes when required to ascertain the name of a fallen comrade.

The cemetery on top of a green knoll overlooked the beaches where the slain had been felled by enemy bullets on D-Day. Most of them had died trying to get up the hill where they now lay in eternal silence.

In this cemetery, there were 2,000 American graves, 58 British, one Dutch sailor, and 719 Germans. In another plot of ground on Cherbourg Peninsula, there were 4,000 German graves.

Plans were being drawn by the unit to landscape the entrances to the cemetery.

One lieutenant expressed his wish that people back home, who complained of minor privations resulting from the war, could see the cemetery, that they might not then believe themselves so deprived.

A news piece on the page indicates that a Navy board of inquiry had begun in San Francisco to assess the explosion of the Navy ordnance depot at Port Chicago in California, occurring the previous Monday night and reported on the front page of Tuesday. The death toll was listed at 322 and the damage placed at six million dollars. It was already deemed unlikely that a cause for the explosion could be determined because the witnesses had perished in the blasts.

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