Saturday, July 29, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 29, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that an American tank and mobile gun column along a 30-mile front from Canisy to the Sienne River below Lengronne had trapped elements of seven escaping German divisions nine miles southeast of Coutances. Supported by American dive bombers, the forces had inflicted huge numbers of casualties on the Germans, who were said to lay in heaps of dead bodies along the roadways. The advance had brought within artillery range the road hub at Brehal, eleven miles south of Coutances. Rommel's Tiger tanks had attempted to distract the American forces while Germans to the south were retreating from the trap formed by a flanking maneuver from both sides.

A new type of especially concentrated saturation bombing had preceded the American breakthrough on the Lessay to St. Lo front by dropping 65,951 bombs, 4,302 tons, from 2,423 planes in an area of ten square miles. Germans had been dazed by the intensity of the strike and were said to be wandering about confusedly for two to three days prior to the inception of the American move.

Some of the bombs had suffered mechanical failure and fallen short of their intended targets, striking American troops. Apparently, one of those bombs had killed Lt. General Lesley McNair, as reported two days earlier.

The 70 German tanks reported to have been destroyed the day before were the quarry of the Ninth Air Force over Granville-Villedieu. Another 34 tanks were damaged or probably destroyed. A thousand other motor vehicles clogging the roads in escape had also been damaged or destroyed. It was the best day yet in Normandy for air assault.

A report surfaced from a French woman working with the Vichy equivalent of the Red Cross that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had died from wounds suffered near Liseaux in Normandy two weeks earlier, after his staff car had been strafed from the air. Many of the recently captured German prisoners had confirmed this claim.

Apparently, it was untrue as the official history has it that Rommel was forced to commit suicide in October for his alleged role in the July 20 attack on Hitler's life. But, when you are dealing with Nazi history, it is a house of mirrors incapable of accurate penetration for the house having been run by the pathologically insane, most notably Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler, whose entire premise for establishing and maintaining power had been to perpetuate the Big Lie.

The Russians had obtained the outer suburbs of Warsaw and the Latvian border at the rail hub of Jelgava, the latter bisecting the Baltic States and trapping potentially thousands of Germans in that region.

Col. General Heinz Guderian, the new German Army chief of staff, suggested that the Russians, despite their mighty gains, were engaging in self-deception, good for the Germans, and that soon their rapid movement toward Germany would be arrested and they would be thrown back on their heels.

The Nazis had not given up on seeking to disseminate the Big Lie.

In Italy, New Zealand troops had penetrated the last natural defense barriers in the mountains five miles from Florence against fierce enemy counter-attack, forcing a 600-yard retreat by the New Zealanders.

A B-29 attack of the 20th Air Force had taken place on Anshan in the Mukden area of eastern Manchuria. It was the first American air attack of the war on Manchuria. A Japanese broadcast contended that one of the six attacking B-29's had been shot down, but there was no confirmation by Allied command of the number of the force or whether there had been any losses. Another force also bombed Chenghsien in northern Honan Province on the Peiping-Hankow railway, striking rail facilities.

On Tinian, the Marines had captured a second airfield and chased the Japanese into the southern half of the island, as they took Tinian Town.

On Guam, Marines and soldiers moved 500 yards toward the seaward half of Orote Peninsula whereon were trapped an estimated 2,000 Japanese defending the airfield and Sumay Naval Base. Along the beachheads north and south of Orote, the American troops had penetrated inland two miles, killing 2,000 enemy troops, reaching to within 800 yards of Agana, the capital.

Through the first week of fighting ending Thursday, at least an estimated 4,700 Japanese on Guam had been killed. The total enemy killed thus far in all three operations in the Marianas, including that already completed on Saipan, amounted to some 27,000.

A story tells of the fiancee of top European theater flying ace, Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, starting a prayer vigil for her intended, who was reported missing from his July 20 mission over Germany.

He finished the war in a prisoner-of-war camp after 28 air kills to his credit. The mission in question was to be his last of the war before reassignment and marriage. He lived until 2002. He finally married Kay Cochran the following June.

On the editorial page, "Leslie McNair" laments the loss to the Army of Lt. General McNair who had been slain, apparently by friendly shell fragments, on Wednesday. He joined a long list of illustrious American generals and high-ranking officers through the Civil War and American Revolution, in dying in battle. His importance in his newly assigned role as commander of the Army Ground Forces could not be underestimated and his loss would be felt.

"Four Years" contrasts the events extant in the world following the party conventions of 1940 with those of 1944. The anti-Roosevelt feeling, while high in 1940, was even higher in 1944. Yet, the world picture was exceedingly different. No longer was France evacuated of the British; no longer was Great Britain on the ropes, and America ill-prepared for war. No longer was Russia perceived every bit as much the enemy as Germany. Now, it was Germany on the ropes, with the Russians moving steadily toward its borders.

And, with it all, there existed largely political apathy at home, another significant contrast to the actively disputatious campaign of Mr. Willkie and the Republicans, joined by many bolting Democrats, in 1940.

"Florence" comments on the Eighth Army being only a short distance from the great Italian Renaissance city, seat of art, literature, and culture for 700 years. From the hands and minds of Leonardo, Galileo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and many others in Florence, all under the patronage of the Medicis, Western culture had flourished in high tide in every field of artistic, scientific, and mathematical endeavor.

It would soon be unfettered from its Promethean straps which had held it down under the reign of Fascism and Nazism.

"Pep-Up" finds Herr Doktor Goebbels unconvincing in his latest speech to the German people urging their buoyed spirits, that the tide of battle would soon turn in their favor, that the new robot bombs were working severely to disrupt England, and that the secret weapons yet to be introduced were heart-stopping in their destructive power.

The piece assumes that his audience understood that Goebbels was speaking to them for one of the last times, as the curtain was set to descend on the Third Reich and the stage play which the Propaganda Minister had written and promoted for eleven years, 21 since the advent of the Party.

Drew Pearson continues his detailed report of the back-stage maneuvers to put Senator Harry Truman on the Democratic ticket instead of Vice-President Wallace. On Friday night, the crowds had cheered the Vice-President to the point that the bosses, Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City, Mayor Ed Kelly of Chicago, Ed Flynn of the Bronx, and DNC chair Robert Hannegan, had sensed a groundswell which they feared would carry the day for Wallace were the balloting to proceed at that time.

Thus, Mr. Hannegan told the Convention chairman to adjourn. Finding him reluctant, Mr. Hannegan insisted, said he was speaking for the President. The convention was adjourned by close acclamation, some believing that the nays carried the call. Senator Claude Pepper of Florida had sought to reach the rostrum to demand a roll call vote but was too late. Mr. Pearson suggests that had he been quicker, the vote might have been tallied on Friday and the result a majority to Mr. Wallace. As it was, he had polled 427.5 votes on the first ballot, providing a substantial lead over Senator Truman.

By Saturday, the bosses, along with Postmaster General Frank Walker, having worked the delegations during the night and early morning by phone, had made it a horse race, with the second ballot putting Senator Truman ahead 477.5 to 474. (Other sources we have seen reverse that vote, but we shall stick with the contemporaneous account of Mr. Pearson, as it is historically a moot point.)

Technically, there was no third ballot. The delegations, through some button-holing and arm-wrenching, began switching their votes, despite protests from the floor, protests which could not be heard for the fact that the microphones had been switched off by Mayor Kelly, just as he had instructed his police to prevent spectators from entering the galleries to avoid the spontaneous demonstrations of Friday night. (Perhaps, Mr. Reagan, who apparently was a fan of Senator Truman, had instructed Boss Kelly to do his worst against Senator Pepper, a troublemaker, an agitator.)

The while, Senator Truman sat near the podium, not seeking the nomination, unassumingly eating a hot dog and drinking a soft drink. Suddenly, he was called to the rostrum as the next vice-president. At first, he did not respond and had to be informed that the call was for him.

An observer at the bosses' headquarters at the Blackstone Hotel made the comment that it had been easier to obtain the nomination for Mr. Wallace in 1940 when he had been jeered by the galleries for his unpopular stands as Agriculture Secretary, administering the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, than it had been in 1944 when he had been roundly cheered from the galleries.

Samuel Grafton explains the law of complex machinery at work on Germany, that, while it took a lot of effort for the Allies to accomplish small gains, it was taking now only a small amount more to accomplish large gains against a vastly weakened and increasingly demoralized German Wehrmacht.

Dorothy Thompson offers her third installment re the partition of Germany, discussing it this time from the vantage point of former Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles, as set forth in his recent book, . In it, he had proposed a three-way division of Germany consisting of Southern Germany, the Rhineland, and Northwest Germany, including Prussia. His theory rested on the assertion that Germany's ability to wage war relied upon the unification of the Reich.

Ms. Thompson disputes that analysis, asserting with historical probity that the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 had been waged to unify the Reich by a coalition of Germanic states. And so unification was not necessary for Germany to wage war and indeed stood as bait to induce war.

Of course, her reckoning omits the passage of nearly 75 years since that war and the sine qua non for waging modern warfare being a tremendous and modern war machine produced from advanced industry. Russia, despite the fighting resolve of its people to protect their own soil from incursion, had been nevertheless losing the war badly prior to the advent of substantial Lend-Lease aid from the Anglo-American Allies in 1942 and 1943, at the point when it became plainly militarily advantageous to the Allies to see to it that the Germans were attritively diminished to the extent possible on the Eastern Front.

She suggests that there would be several problems with the division, regardless of its efficacy in neutralizing Germany militarily. First, there would be the issue of spheres of influence, Western Germany being a bait to France territorially, Southern Germany bearing propinquity to Austria, a fourth zone inevitably to be counted, and Northwest Germany to be naturally under the trade influence of Britain.

Second, there was the issue of cultural permeation between the regions, incapable of being stanched at the borders. She points out that centuries of diaspora among Jews had not stopped them from being Jews, nor Poles from being Poles, despite their various territorial permutations through time.

Third, there was the issue of economic division and the extent to which the proposed regions would be able to engage in mutual trade.

She further asserts that the proposed partition was without historical precedence for a society which was bound together by its ethnic and social identities. It was unlike the Austro-Hungarian Empire which had dissolved after World War I of its own accord for its lack of natural cohesiveness. Nor was the argument rational that Germany had only existed as a unified state since 1870. It had been in preparation for two or three centuries prior to that time, and unification, when it came, had been long overdue for the natural tendencies and interdependent gravitational pulls of the various states which had joined to constitute it.

Dick Young informs of the determined, nostalgic ten-year old of Charlotte who had phoned the Health Department seeking special permission to come downtown from behind the wall of quarantine imposed for the previous month on all young people under 15 to prevent spread of polio. He was out of luck, but city officials indicated that in another week it was likely that the quarantine would be lifted. The young lad would have to wait a bit longer to satisfy his hankering to see the Crossroads of the Carolinas at Independence Square.

Whether he was also hunkering, as were the Arkansas Razorbacks in November, 1959, anticipating the summit scheduled for May between President Eisenhower and Premier Khrushchev, was not told by Mr. Young. Perhaps, you, too, may figure it out.

A man called in to the Health Department, insisting on a pass for his two-year old so that he might take him to Myrtle Beach, a bodacious beach. He was informed that South Carolina authorities had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter and had forbidden anyone with a child to cross state lines from the area of Charlotte.

Seven polio cases had been thus far reported in Charlotte, all east of Tryon Street.

And, a news item reports that the Office of Price Administration, pursuant to its general freeze on restaurant prices, had ordered that a cup of coffee not costing more than a nickel in October, 1942 would be forced to return to that level.

So, we recommend going into your local coffee shop and telling them that the OPA has ordered coffee prices frozen at a nickel provided that their prices had not been more than that prior to October, 1942, that you demand, in the name of the law, a nickel cup of coffee, Mr. Starbucky-wucky.

When the cops come, just tell them you read it in The News. Thank you.

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