Friday, July 28, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 28, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American armor had pierced fifteen miles from west of St. Lo to the outskirts of Coutances, taking control of its heights, taking 4,000 prisoners, trapping an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Germans of the 84th Army Corps, albeit some reported escaping to the south. The Germans were fleeing in ragtag disarray as the Americans had crossed the Soulles River.

Another part of the drive captured Tessy-sur-Vire, halfway between St. Lo and Vire. A column slowly moving into evacuated but heavily mined Lessay gained another two miles to Marguerin, while another column moved four miles from Periers to Corbucho, seven miles north of Coutances.

Lessay was said to be the most heavily mined town yet on the front, with as many as twelve mines buried in sequence in holes, each doorway of each house and shop booby-trapped. The mines had already claimed American lives.

From England, 1,500 American planes bombed a synthetic oil facility in Merseburg in Germany, as well as nearby Halle and Dessau, all west of Leipzig. A like complement flew from Italy to bomb the Ploesti oil fields of Rumania. Other forces gave support to the Allied fronts in Normandy. Another 105 Luftwaffe planes had been detroyed the previous day.

The Russians had captured Brest-Litovsk and, to the south, near the Czech border, Lwow, as well as Jaroslaw and Przemysl, west of Lwow. Bitter fighting was ongoing in Kaunas in Lithuania, as the Soviets had captured Siauliai. The direct move toward Warsaw had advanced to within thirty miles with the taking of Garwolin, only 310 miles from Berlin.

As a British officer had quipped, in response to a journalist's inquiry whether they would meet the Red Army in Paris, the forces under General Montgomery, he said, might reach Paris about the time the Red Army moved into Berlin.

Nazi officials were reportedly disappearing from Warsaw. It was unclear whether their disappearance was in flight from the approaching Russians or was the result of the underground exacting vengeance for oppression suffered at the Nazis' hands during the previous five years.

In Italy, the Eighth Army moved to within seven miles of Florence, capturing San Casciano. The Fifth Army was exchanging artillery fire across the Arno River with the Germans in Pisa. New Zealand troops were fighting in the vicinity of Cerbaia, eight miles southwest of Florence and six miles from the Arno River. Indian troops to their left gained three miles northwest from Monte Spertoli toward the Arno Valley.

Admiral Nimitz confirmed Japanese reports that a Navy task force had completed a two-day strike on Palau, sinking ten Japanese ships, including a destroyer, bringing the total Japanese losses of ships to more than 50 since mid-June and the invasion of Saipan. Truk had also been struck.

On Tinian, the Marines secured additional territory in the north, now holding a third of the island, after the capture of Ushi airfield, being readied by the Seabees as a new base for American air operations.

The Japanese were steadily retreating in northeastern India along the Palel-Tamu road and along the Tiddim Road.

Governor Thomas Dewey openly expressed the hope that his fellow Republican, New York Representative Ham Fish, notoriously isolationist before the war, would lose his place in Congress in November. He had also opposed his re-election in 1942. This time, the New York Governor openly castigated the Congressman for making remarks injecting racial or religious issues into the campaign by suggesting that Jews were uniformly supportive of FDR and the New Deal.

In fairness to Mr. Fish, he was only stating a demographic fact and it did not appear, at least from the quoted passage, to be in any manner anti-Semitic or discriminatory, merely expressing the belief that Jews would be better off splitting their votes between the two parties.

Nevertheless, Mr. Dewey thought it disgraceful to bring up any sort of racial or religious factor in a political campaign. It probably, however, did not harm his own political capital in heavily Jewish New York City to allow Mr. Fish to have swallowed a hook, line, and sinker, enabling Mr. Dewey to try to reel in the Big Apple.

Mr. Fish, though he would live to be 102, dying in 1991, would lose in November after 24 years in Congress, and never again serve in elective office.

A Navy torpedoman on a submarine in the Pacific described how a whale helped his submarine elude Japanese air fire, as the sub dodged away, while the Japanese fired upon the whale-decoy, thinking it the sub.

Jonah must still have been piloting that whale. Or, he was the other famed leviathan of literature, which thought that the Japanese airman might have been Captain Ahab, still after him after all those years.

On the editorial page, "Argentina" discusses the statement of the State Department officially refusing to recognize the new Argentine Government of President Edelmiro Farrell until such time as it ceased all Axis relations and amity. The action was appropriate, opines the piece, even if Argentine resentment of the United States was somewhat justifiable. Nothing short of military force, an untenable prospect, would likely motivate Argentina to abandon its determined course of nationalism and fascism characterized by military dictatorship; but isolating it from the other countries of Latin America could at least attenuate some of the worst inimical aspects of the regime.

"Of Truman" quotes at length a North Carolina delegate from the Democratic Convention who had favored re-nomination of Vice-President Wallace. He nevertheless spoke well of the selection of Senator Truman, felt his purpose to be that of the practical man who could align both parties in the Senate behind a treaty commitment post-war. In that role, Mr. Wallace would not have been as efficacious, being as he was polarizing.

Mr. Wallace, he concluded, would have made a better choice for President, had the delegates been considering that prospect. But the delegate was convinced that President Roosevelt would finish the fourth term. He was also equally certain that one day, Vice-President Wallace would be elected President and, in the meantime, would likely serve in the Cabinet.

"John Wilkes" gives praise to Charlottean, Admiral John Wilkes, just selected to command the Navy in European ports and bases. Earlier in the war, while still a captain, he had been in the Pacific, first commanding sub flotillas in the Philippines, then leading operations with the Dutch Navy in the Dutch East Indies, and subsequently being transferred to the Solomons. Eventually promoted to Rear Admiral, he was transferred to command operations in the Mediterranean and off Southern France. His new role for which he was well-suited, would be important to operations off Normandy.

"The 'Border'" allows that Governor John Bricker's prediction that the Republican ticket would carry Missouri and other Midwestern border states might be correct, but insists that it had run afoul of all probability in its extension of the prognostic to North Carolina, or, for that matter, to Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, also included on Governor's Bricker's list of prospects.

Perhaps, says the piece, some inroads might be made in two or three of those states, but not in all of them. The Governor was counting on the vocal anti-New Deal sentiment to sway voters in those states. But, assays the editorial, his hopes were misplaced, misled by trumpets which gave herald louder than their regiments in train would adduce results at the polls.

And, the column was correct. None of those states would be detached from the FDR-Truman camp by the Dewey-Bricker ticket. Each, save Missouri, where the margin of victory was 3%, 46,000 votes, would be carried by large majorities.

Drew Pearson discusses in detail the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to obtain the vice-presidential nomination for Harry Truman. In the end, political bosses Ed Flynn of the Bronx and Mayor Ed Kelly of Chicago, along with DNC chair Robert Hannegan, had been the messengers between the delegations and the President. The President, after publicly endorsing Vice-President Wallace, had privately endorsed Senator Truman and Justice William O. Douglas as his next choice. But, Mr. Hannegan and the bosses had told the convention delegations only that President Roosevelt had endorsed Senator Truman, hiding the endorsement also of Justice Douglas. The delegations at first balked because of the failure of any proof of this endorsement, running counter to the President's public expression of continued confidence in the Vice-President, until...

Mr. Pearson promises a further installment on this inside look at political king-making.

Marquis Childs observes, from his having been among the people of Iowa and Illinois during the previous couple of months, that the country was in a hurry to travel, that trains were doing a booming business, ridership up 50 percent over the previous year. It was not just a function of the summer's two major party conventions having been held three weeks apart in Chicago. Following immediately the Democrats in Chicago was the International Chick Association Convention.

The general consensus of public opinion appeared to be that FDR had to finish the job in the war that he started, whether people saw him as having started the war or merely having been in the saddle fortuitously when it began and thus having acquired the sapience to see it through to its finish. Even the Republicans reluctantly admitted that he should be the leader to effect the peace. Mr. Dewey had, therefore, the burden of proof to show his credentials were the better.

Samuel Grafton finds a parallel in the defeat of race-baiting reactionary South Carolina Senator Cotton Ed Smith by moderate Governor Olin Johnston and the defeat of liberal Henry Wallace at the Democratic Convention, in favor of liberal Harry Truman. In both cases, the common element appeared to be a rejection of that which was perceived as extremism in the party in favor of that which was considered moderate.

These changes in the party, combined with the decision of Martin Dies in Texas not to seek re-election to the House and the defeat in Alabama of his reactionary cohort on HUAC, Joe Starnes, signaled the demise of the most bitterly rabid anti-Roosevelt forces, "the jazz babies of reaction", as Mr. Grafton terms them, who had used the swing method to brand their opponents, including the President, as Communists and radicals.

Hal Boyle tells of the liveliest newspaper in Normandy, that for the Fourth Army, as published by former San Francisco Examiner staff member, Major Roy D. Craft. His paper's policy was to be totally free, except as restrained by orders from superior officers and from the demands of the soldiers down below.

There was no political news and they never took strong stands on anything. It would have been useless.

Beyond that, the newspaper with a circulation of 2,000, restricted only by unavailability of newsprint at the front, took orders from no one and slanted the news whenever it could.

It had scooped the London papers with the annoucement of the taking of Cherbourg a day before it happened, even if it had obtained the report from a broadcast by the BBC. Major Craft believed that the news should be either 24 hours ahead or 24 behind the times.

He had already received the Legion of Merit for an earlier front line newspaper, as well as a bronze medal for public relations work.

Especially appreciated by the soldiers was the humor, most of which, satiric and otherwise, together with the poetry, were the contributions personally of Major Craft. A parody of the prosodic, elegiac, patriotic, idiotic tendencies characteristic of the standard press offerings in overly lionizing the soldiers, titled "The Bright News Writers", had been a favorite.

--"We happy few..." C'mon. What d'ya been smokin' poppies, Shakespeare? We many, we miserable many.

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