Monday, July 31, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, July 31, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the American forces had broken out of the Cherbourg Penisula, advancing sixteen miles to move into the streets of Avranches, while thirteen miles to the northwest, they had seized Granville, plus Torigni-sur-Vire, 27 miles inland. The troops had moved 40 miles from Lessay since the prior Tuesday.

Seizure of Avranches would provide a springboard for moving from the east toward Paris, 160 miles distant, or southward to the Brest Peninsula.

The Americans had captured 10,000 prisoners since the offensive had begun the previous Tuesday. They had virtually eliminated the German Fifth Parachute Division, the 77th, 91st, 243rd, 352nd, and 353rd Infantry Divisions.

The British meanwhile advanced eight miles south of Caumont, along a seven-mile front, to take Hill 309, a 900-foot height east of St. Martin-Des-Bescages, plus several villages, including St. Germain de Tot, Cahagnes, Les Loges, St. Jean des Essartiers, and La Vallee.

An American Army private described to Wes Gallagher having been captured by the Germans at St. Dennis le Gast while he manned a machinegun, as the Nazis moved their armored forces to try to break through American lines at Roncey, to act as decoy while other Germans escaped to the south. But, he had managed to escape amid confusion, including one drunk German general he saw directing traffic along the column. In such disarray were the German forces that he was able to effect capture of 80 German prisoners while managing his own escape.

More than 3,000 American planes struck Munich, Central Germany, French airfields, and Rumanian oilfields at Bucharest and Ploesti. Of the 1,700 heavy bombers, 1,200 flew from England and the remainder from Italy. The bombers encountered no enemy resistance. Several hundred more planes provided air cover for the Normandy operations.

The Russians had begun a large-scale attack across the Vistula River on the eastern edge of Warsaw, said by the Germans to have reached the suburb of Praga, six miles from central Warsaw, thus within easy artillery range of the city.

In Lithuania, Kaunas had fallen to the Red Army. Other forces moved seven miles inside the Suwalki Triangle, to within 21 miles of the boundary with East Prussia.

In Italy, the Eighth Army held their ground five to seven miles southwest of Florence, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. Artillery duels continued across the Arno River between the Fifth Army and Germans guarding the northern portion of Pisa. German radio falsely claimed that the Leaning Tower was being shelled by American artillery, while a later report indicated it had been destroyed.

The Tower still leans. The Fifth Army had, however, confirmed that the Tower was being used by the enemy as an observation post.

On Guam, the American troops and Navy had secured Port Apra, the best harbor in the Marianas. The Marines had cleared the Orote Peninsula of enemy forces and also had captured a 4,700-foot airstrip, the primary airfield on Guam.

A report from Tinian revealed the use of a new secret weapon which would obliterate any enemy resistance within an area of 100 feet.

The new weapon was napalm dropped in the form of bombs from F4U Corsair fighters, raining fire over the area on which it was deposited, burning more slowly and with more deadly results than conventional gasoline for the fact of its thickening agents, naphthalene and palmitate.

Its burning gel smelled like Victory—until its results were starkly revealed by Life in a single photograph in June, 1972.

The first use of napalm had been on July 17 over Normandy, striking a fuel depot at Coutances.

A Honey Brook, Pa., businessman, Walter White, who had successfully predicted June 6 as D-Day two weeks ahead of time—even though at that time the Allies believed D-Day would be June 5—tried again. He predicted that the Germans would end their fighting August 4, four days hence. He should have quit while he was ahead.

In any event, perhaps his predictive powers were only a bit misturned, for twenty years to the day later, August 4, 1964, in the Gulf of Tonkin...

On the editorial page, "Victory Nears" finds triumph in the European war by the Allies to be less than six months away with the Russians advancing on Warsaw against German defenses incapable of stopping them, while the Americans and British were beginning their break out of Normandy toward Paris against severely weakened and crumbling German defenses, as the Allies continued to move northward against the German Gothic Line in Italy. Added to those narrowing walls was the news that Turkey appeared finally ready to break from its neutral status, sever all relations with Germany, and enter the war on the side of the Allies. Likewise, Bulgaria appeared ready to jump to the Allied side.

Nevertheless, the column's gift for prophecy in this instance appeared as wanting as that of Mr. White, even if not nearly so optimistic.

"Little Gains" agrees with the forecast of Drew Pearson that the recent victories for New Dealers in various Senate and Congressional elections across the country and losses by the most rabid opponents of the New Deal and internationalism, had suggested an easier working relationship between the White House and the Congress in a Roosevelt fourth term than in the third term. The thusly registered gains were not only good for the New Deal but would enable more easily Senate ratification of a peace treaty and thus stood as gains for the nation and the world as well.

And still, there were more races to be determined with the same stakes.

"A Payment" finds the B-29 attack on Mukden in Manchuria the previous week, the first air strike of the war on Manchuria and the first daylight raid by B-29's, to have been 13 years too late. For it had been in 1931 that Japan had undertaken its first aggression against Mukden and established thereby the means for about half of its industrial production for the war. The steel and mining facilities, plus the continued flow of scrap iron and oil from America through July, 1941, had provided virtually all of the raw materials for the war machine which had begun the war.

The belated attack was a reminder of the consequences for inaction in the face of international aggression, for isolationism, for withdrawing into unreality.

"In and Out" remarks on the repudiation of Representative Ham Fish of New York by Governor Dewey, concerning particularly Mr. Fish's recent remark that Jews were supporting uniformly Roosevelt and the New Deal and would be better off splitting their votes between the parties.

The editorial, describing Mr. Fish as "an anti-Semitic demagogue of long standing", finds the Dewey rejection of Mr. Fish possibly enough to cause Mr. Fish's defeat, given his narrow victory in 1942. But, suggests the piece, it also might cost Governor Dewey votes in New York.

Regardless, the stance contrasted remarkably with the general attitude of vice-presidential nominee Governor John Bricker of Ohio, who had openly accepted all supporters of the ticket, no matter their pedigree or apparent prejudices.

In any event, Mr. Dewey was said to be humming this tune, with clear conscience.

Drew Pearson provides an explanation of the competing forces within the German Embassy before war with the United States began, one group being anti-Nazi and favoring the technique of favorable trade relations and wooing fascist-leaning members of the State Department to prevent United States entry to the war. The other group, pro-Nazi, favored engaging in sabotage activities, actions which the anti-Nazi group believed would only hasten America's entry by alienating the isolationists of the country who might otherwise work to keep the country out of the war.

The members of the anti-Fascust group were attaches General Friedrich von Boettincher, Vice Admiral Robert Witthoeft-Emden, Theodor von Knoop, and first secretary Dr. Wilhelm Tannenberg.

Members of the pro-Nazi faction included second secretary Ulrich Freiherr von Glenanth, first secretary Karl Resenberg, and Dr. Manfred Zapp, head of the Trans-Ocean News Service.

Dr. Zapp had sought from Berlin the ouster of Dr. Tannenberg, but to no avail as the latter had ties within the old German bureaucracy.

The end result was that the two rival groups spent more time undermining each other's efforts than they did instructing any form of sabotage to America.

An important German diplomat had remarked three days prior to Pearl Harbor that if the war between Britain and Germany lasted more than two more years, it would become problematic. Germany had to knock out England before America became involved or it spelled doom for Germany.

As pointed out in "Little Gains" in the column, Mr. Pearson also relates of the several New Deal Senators and Congressmen, as well as non-incumbent New Deal candidates, who had won their races, while anti-New Deal counterparts had lost or determined not to run for re-election. The Congress therefore should be more friendly to Roosevelt in a fourth term, concludes Mr. Pearson, should he win re-election.

Marquis Childs writes from Chicago of Marshall Field III, whose department store was renowned and had made the family fortune. He had invested part of that fortune three years earlier in founding the Chicago Sun which had begun its life, as with most newspapers, in fits and starts. The newspaper endorsed Roosevelt and the New Deal but, Mr. Fields contended, was neither a Democratic nor Roosevelt newspaper. He had been a delegate from New York to the Democratic Convention and had maintained to the very end his support for Vice-President Wallace despite urging from the top to shift support to Senator Truman.

Samuel Grafton propounds the notion that Germany was now seeking to blame its defeat on the Junker officers, similar to the method utilized to blame Jews for the defeat of Germany in World War I. The reason for the defeat in Russia, according Goebbels, was that the German generals had not called upon the German reserves. But, rejoinders Mr. Grafton, there actually were no reserves available upon which to call. They were simply a figment of the Propaganda Ministry's imagination.

Now, the Nazis were trying to rally Germans around the concept of a revivified Party, with the same old cast, Goebbels and Himmler, merely placed in new roles. It amounted only to self-parody and self-delusion, not reinvention.

A letter writer, a black veteran of the war, writes to voice his displeasure with the Roosevelt Administration, that it had done little or nothing for blacks beyond the symbolic and superficial, had kowtowed to various mutually inimical minorities within the Democratic Party, to the disadvantage of blacks, including placating Communists whenever they had complained. He feared the takeover of the country by Communists who would assuredly subject blacks when it happened. "Chaos and only chaos can result from such a mongrel-like mixture in the post-war world."

He preferred to Roosevelt race-baiting Senator Cotton Ed Smith of South Carolina as the next president. At least, he writes, he knew where he stood with Cotton Ed.

Given that the segregationist South had, until the convention, been threatening revolt from the party and FDR in the fall and to deliver up its electoral votes irrespective of the popular outcome, largely premised, as a final straw, on the notion that the Supreme Court had delivered in April its Allwright decision directing that state-sponsored party primaries must allow blacks to vote, it was quite a lot of stir produced to have been generated only by symbolic gestures of the Roosevelt Administration.

Hal Boyle informs of the French inn in No Man's Land between enemy lines which, when discovered without a proprietor and full of wine and liquor, had become such a popular draw for both sides, German and American, that the Americans were volunteering for dangerous night patrol duty, encountering Germans using the open bar at the inn but, by tacit agreement, neither side bothering the other while busy imbibing.

Eventually, after the men had returned several times from the patrols in abnormally high spirits, the officers were able to ferret out the reason, discovered the attractive nuisance, and ordered the bottled liquor and wine casks destroyed. Suddenly, night patrol duty became not so popular anymore.

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