Friday, July 7, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 7, 1944


Site Ed. Note: Another attack by B-29's had taken place on Japan the previous night (Friday, across the dateline), reports the front page, the second since June 15 against Yawata. This time, in addition to Yawata, the target of the Twentieth Air Force was the major naval base at Sasebo. No further details of the attack were yet available.

As mentioned in the report, foreshadowing events to come thirteen months hence, Sasebo is just north of Nagasaki. No doubt to send a message, the attack coincided with the seventh anniversary of the beginning of Japan's war with China.

In Normandy, American troops, operating under cover of heavy artillery fire, crossed the Vire River and advanced more than a mile in a new American offensive along a widening 33-mile front, taking the village of Airel, eight miles northeast of St. Lo, and then driving west through knee-deep marshes, toward St. Jean De Daye. Airel had been deserted for days, but both sides had thought it held by the other. Foot patrols also entered La Haye Du Puits, as the town was nearly surrounded by American troops. A BBC report had it that La Haye had fallen, but subsequent broadcasts did not repeat the claim, and Allied Headquarters did not offer confirmation.

Wes Gallagher reported that the Supreme Allied Command had expressed some dissatisfaction with the rate of progress of the Normandy invasion during the previous month, though not rating it unsatisfactory. The commanders attributed the problems primarily to consistently bad weather during June, the worst in Normandy in 40 years, and the unexpectedly tenacious fighting by the Germans, described as being similar to their fight to the wall in Russia, for every inch of ground, willing in some cases to stand to the last round of ammunition.

In the largest aerial battle since D-Day, about 2,000 American planes attacked seven plane manufacturing and oil refining facilities at Leipzig in Germany. The force shot down 75 Luftwaffe planes.

Another force of about 500 planes struck from Italy at targets in Yugoslavia, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. In one of the longest flights yet into Germany by Italian-based bombers, the mission also hit the German synthetic oil facility in Silesia at Odertal.

In Russia, the Red Army had moved to within ten miles of Wilno in old Poland, passing Kowel and approaching the Bug River at a position 135 miles southeast of Warsaw.

The Germans had declared martial law in Wilno and imposed a curfew from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., forbidding walking in groups greater than two persons. Underground activity had been reported in Kaunas, Mariampole, and Vilnius in Lithuania.

In Italy, the Germans had counter-attacked from behind their Gothic Line to the north for the first time in two months, halting the forward progress of the Fifth Army in its drive toward Leghorn, Florence, and Pisa. A house-to-house fight was being waged in the village of Rosignano, ten miles from Leghorn. Other strong resistance was met at Castellina, Colle Di Val D'Elsa, and north of Montecantini.

The Eighth Army also was obtaining only grudgingly surrendered ground at the rate of yards at a time.

On Saipan, the American troops were closing in for the kill on the northern tip of the island, providing opportunity to 10,000 to 15,000 civilians trapped along with the Japanese defenders to escape across American lines to safety. Already, some 7,000 civilians had sought sanctuary with the Americans. The soldiers appeared prepared to fight to the death.

The worst circus fire in history had occurred in Hartford, Connecticut, as the big top had caught on fire during a performance of the Ringling Brothers act, killing 146 and injuring at least 250 others. Some of the survivors recount their experiences, including the mother of two, a two-year old girl and a five-year old boy who she managed to lead from a ten-foot high platform to ground level and out of the tent, stepping over bodies as she went.

A prominent attorney in Pittsfield, Mass., whose lead defense counsel was a former Massachusetts Governor, was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to die in the alleged killing in September of his six-month old son, mentally retarded. The infant died from an electrical shock suffered in the bathroom area of the family home, contended by the prosecution as a deliberate act of the father, based on his concept of euthanasia. John Noxon, the defendant, had proclaimed his innocence of the charge, asserting that the child died when he left him unattended in the bathroom, nearby an electrical cord.

Subsequently, though the conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and, by 1949, Mr. Noxon was released on lifetime parole.

And, after all of that cheery news, we find that June brides were going to be afforded a break on the availability of can openers by the fact of loosened restrictions on their manufacture by the War Production Board, with the availability of more steel, enabling twice the production of the essential kitchen utensil for home use and 2.3 times more for industrial consumption.

Just why the piece assumed that the ideal wedding gift for a bride would be a can opener can only perhaps be appreciated by having been a bride in 1944 or thereabouts. Whether it was by the giver of such a gift meant to convey something symbolic, we have no idea and would dare not question the motives of those with honorable eleemosynary intentions exerted toward the institution of marriage.

On the editorial page, "Freight War" comments on the testimony before the Interstate Commerce Commission hearing on discriminatory freight rates between the South and North. A representative of 17 Southern railroads had testified that the higher Southern rate structure was mandated to keep pace with lower profits than enjoyed by Northern railroads. But another individual, from the ICC, testified that statistics showed that Northern railroads actually made less profit than did their Southern counterparts.

"Who's Who" finds the new publication of the annual reference book on prominent Americans to be well-stocked, as it now contained as 25 percent of its content biographical information on armed forces officers. It even included a listing for Private Marion Hargrove, former correspondent with The News, now famous for his book of anecdotal asides on the life militaire, originally printed as stories in The News, See Here, Private Hargrove, and the resulting film based on the book, oh boy.

Private Hargrove, it reports, was the third veteran of The News to be listed in Who's Who in recent years, his predecessors having been former editor J. E. Dowd, now in the Navy reserve as a lieutenant (j.g.) for the duration of the war, and former associate editor W. J. Cash.

"See-Saw" remarks with skepticism on a report from Stockholm that Hitler was pouring vast numbers of reinforcements into the Northern Russian front to make a last stand before East Prussia, Poland, and the Baltic States. To do so would mean siphoning off much needed reinforcements from the critical Western Front in France.

It was more likely, offers the piece, that the German generals had observed signs that the Russians were slowing their northern offensive, and that the Nazis were merely seeking to take advantage of that prospect with a printed report of bogus troop movements to make it seem that they were resisting the Soviet armies in a defensive stand, when the fact would be more likely simply a shifting emphasis of the offensive effort conducted by the Red Army.

"Correction" supports the efforts of Commerce Secretary Jesse Jones to encourage Texas Democrats to abandon their planned revolt should they not get into the party platform their prized states’ rights planks and anti-civil rights planks. Though Mr. Jones was suspected as having led, sub rosa through his nephew, the revolt himself, he now wisely counseled the futility of such an action. It was only one aimed at spiting the party to which they belonged, biting the hand which fed them. It would serve little to carry such a campaign so far as to defeat the Democratic nominee, whether FDR or someone else. What then of their political patronage?

Drew Pearson reports of a disaster which occurred after the recent shuttle bombing raid on Germany, June 21, when the planes landed then in Russia at a northern base. The Luftwaffe fighters had followed them to the base but had refrained from attacking, lying in wait until 2:00 a.m. when suddenly they brought their full weight to bear on the base, finding the Flying Fortresses to have been parked in such close proximity to one another as to afford accommodating targets for the Nazi fliers, who then proceeded to decimate the force, though few of the crews sleeping in nearby barracks had been killed.

There was also a separate base in Southern Russia, to which American bombers out of Italy flew on shuttle missions.

He next tells of progressive Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia having suggested to the President that he put the squeeze on Jesse Jones for his having been responsible in large part for the Texas revolt among Democrats. The President had responded that no one could squeeze Mr. Jones and that he had possessed the temerity to tell the President that he had no idea of the Texas revolt until he read of it in the newspapers. The President had not believed him, as he knew that no Democrat could do anything political in Texas without the permission of Mr. Jones.

Next, Mr. Pearson comments on the consternation of liberal Republicans regarding the avoidance mechanisms employed in the Republican platform, especially the planks on civil rights. The platform advocated anti-lynching laws, but only as enacted by the states, dodging their endorsement at the Federal level. Even Southern Democrats would support such a plank, based on the preordained result in the South that no state would pass such a law, though being where it was most sorely needed.

The platform also favored abolition of the poll tax, but only by Constitutional amendment, not practicable of achievement with the Southern Democrats in Congress. Thus, while sounding of principle, it represented actually only cosmetic maneuver at work.

He next turns to his "Capital Chaff", which includes the comment that bad weather on election day in North Dakota had kept farmers from the polls, most of whom would have opposed the re-nomination of longtime isolationist Gerald P. Nye for his Senate seat.

He also relates of former Vice-President Charles G. Dawes having sat on the dais at the convention, unsmiling and unheeded by his Party, while the President under whom he served, Herbert Hoover, made a speech to the convention. But the speech almost was inaudible for the fact that the microphones were not working properly, a problem quickly remedied by publisher and longtime supporter of President Hoover, Roy Howard.

Whether the former President proclaimed that he was paying for the microphones, was not related.

Marquis Childs predicts that the Democratic convention, to begin in Chicago on July 19, would entail quite a bit of fireworks, in stark contrast to the boring, uneventful affair in the Windy City put on by the Republicans the previous week. The Democrats would likely engage in two interrelated fights: for the vice-presidential nomination, the conservative Southerners especially viewing Vice-President Wallace as inimical to their goals; and the issue of race, with the Texas revolt having been in the winds for months, the flames of which had been fueled by the Allwright Supreme Court decision of April, ordering Texas to allow blacks to vote in the Democratic primary.

Both fights promised to stir a hornet's nest of controversy. Vice-President Wallace would return from his trip to China and the Soviet Union the following week and was scheduled to make a nationally broadcast speech on his findings, especially those anent the industrial base being developed in Siberia. The speech was seen as his effort to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his party and obtain the re-nomination. While popularity polls still rated him high throughout the country, and he had the resounding support of the CIO, he suffered markedly in the South and stood likely to become the object of a quid pro quo to placate the Southerners to stave off their threatened electoral college coup whereby they would throw their support to someone other than FDR, regardless of popular vote outcome, and thereby place the election in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Childs believes these positions of Southern Democrtats to be contrary to the interests of the country in the midst of world war.

Samuel Grafton comments on the conference of world economists being held at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, to plan for a world bank for lending among nations on mutually guaranteed loans to rebuild war-torn areas. John Maynard Keynes of Britain was the chief proponent of a ten billion-dollar bank. His goal was to eradicate unemployment from the world.

But, his views were being perceived by some newspapers, such as the New York Daily News and even the New York Times, as being too pro-New Deal and thus in need of a good face-slapping. Unemployment was good, ran slavishly the circular argument, because it encouraged people to find work.

Mr. Grafton asserts that such opinion, calculated only to embarrass the President and the Administration, might ultimately cause the loss of the war in the long run.

Consistent with the editorial titled "E Bond" of Wednesday, a news piece on the page reports that, as the Fifth War Loan Drive came to its end, it was but 636 million dollars short of its 16 billion-dollar goal, but woefully behind in purchases by individual investors. Over 11.45 billion dollars worth of the bonds had been purchased by institutional investors, 115 percent of the goal established for their portion. But only 3.91 billion dollars worth, 65 percent of the goal, had been so far purchased by individuals, with but five days remaining in the drive.

Hal Boyle tells of 66-year old Henri Rostand, cousin of Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac and Les Romanesques, the latter being from which The Fantasticks had its derivation. (Now, we know why this song was insistently suggesting itself on Tuesday.)

M. Rostand owned a chateau with 100 rooms, which, except for one wing which he was allowed to continue to occupy, the Nazis had requisitioned for their use as a regimental headquarters in the district, near De La Hague. He had been the mayor of the nearby village, Flamenville, and had headed a cooperative of 50,000 farmers in the La Manche Department. A major in the French Army in World War I, he had lost one son in the war while another had been sent into compulsory labor in Germany.

The Nazis had looted the nearby farms and engaged in occasional petty vandalism, especially when drunk.

With the Allied invasion, they had quickly abandoned the area, albeit contending that they would be back within a week as masters once again. Ten days had passed as of July 1 since their departure.

Among the quotes of the day was one prophetic, at least in the civil rights arena, offered by Federal Judge Learned Hand: "If majorities in Legislatures pass bills merely to press their advantage and say, 'Let the courts decide,' liberty will not be preserved in the courts; it will be lost there."

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