Friday, August 11, 1944

The Charlotte News

Friday, August 11, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the extent to which Allied forces were moving toward Paris remained undisclosed. Paris radio reported that the Americans had surpassed Alencon, 30 miles north of Le Mans, placing the forces 42 miles from the Canadian-Polish forces moving toward Falaise from the north. The Americans were closing in on the eastern side of Mortain, below Vire, capturing Gathemo, advancing close to Vengeons. No strong opposition to the move toward Paris had yet been reported.

NBC reported that the drive had reached Chateaudun, 62 miles from Versailles and 30 miles from Orleans, toward which another spearhead was moving. Another source reported that Chartres was already in American hands, just 37 miles from Versailles.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the Americans had captured 4,322 German prisoners.

On the Brittany Peninsula, operations continued apace, as mopping up persisted in Nantes and Angers. In St. Malo, on the northeast corner of the peninsula, all enemy resistance had been eliminated save in the Citadel. Brest, at the western tip, continued under heavy attack, both from the east and along the north coast, as Americans faced opposition from three German divisions, every bit as strong as the forces which had guarded Cherbourg.

The British continued punching unrelentingly against the German defenses 15 miles below Caen, capturing Thury-Harcourt, key road juncture in Normandy.

Five hundred American heavy bombers struck oil dumps and airfields near Paris and at rail yards in Saarbrucken in Germany, as well as at Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Belfort in Alsace-Lorraine.

German troops were being transported by rail through Strasbourg, Antwerp, Brussels, Metz, Lille, and Sedan, each of which had been bombed the night before by a thousand bombers of the RAF. Mosquitos had also attacked Berlin. RAF bombers also struck several U-boat pens at Bordeaux and Pallice in France, already cut off from supplies of oil.

In Warsaw, the Polish patriots of the underground reported being slowly overrun by the Nazis, their ammunition being close to exhaustion. They waited in vain for Allied planes but saw only Luftwaffe combing the skies. Likewise, they had heard no Russian artillery bombardment from across the Vistula since August 3.

The Red Army had pushed two pincers, one each to within 50 miles of Memel and Tilsit in East Prussia, while another plunged toward the border, originating northeast of Warsaw. This latter Army of Marshal Rokossovsky also increased pressure on Warsaw. The Russians were reported to be seven or more miles inside the Suwalki Triangle of East Prussia.

On August 6, two of the captured Nazi generals in Russian custody issued statements to the German people via the Soviet press that 30 German divisions were doomed to extermination because of following Hitler's ruinous strategy. They urged internal opposition. They expressed agreement with a July 22 manifesto signed by 60 other German generals, denouncing Hitler. "He who fights against Hitler fights for Germany," they concluded.

In Italy, Polish troops advanced two miles along a six-mile front on the Adriatic, capturing high ground overlooking the Cesano Valley, sending patrols across the Cesano River, seizing the towns of Seapezzano, Monterado, and Corinaldo, placing them halfway between captured Ancona and Pescara.

Heavy storms impeded progress by the Fifth Army and Eighth Army on the western and central fronts.

In China, the Japanese on August 8 had captured Hengyang, taking 13,000 Chinese prisoners and killing over 4,100 of the defenders of the Hunan capital. The prisoners included the Tenth Army commanding general and four divisional commanders.

Admiral Chester Nimitz announced that all active resistance of the Japanese on Guam had ended August 9 and that the United States suffered 7,247 casualties, of whom 1,214 had been killed, during the twenty-day operation. Fully 10,000 Japanese had been killed.

General MacArthur announced three successive night air attacks on Davao on Mindanao, striking airdromes on each occasion. The heavy pounding from the air forecasted landing operations to come in the southern Philippines.

Associated Press correspondent John Hightower speculated with authority that President Roosevelt had as prime objective in going to Hawaii the coordination of the command of General MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific with that of Admiral Nimitz in Naval operations in the South and Central Pacific, as their lines were close to intersection ensuing the capture of the Marianas and the virtual capture of all of western and northern New Guinea.

On Thursday, two forces of B-29's struck a pair of Japanese industrial giants 3,500 miles apart, one being Nagasaki, occurring one day less than one year to the day when the second atomic bomb would strike that city, finally to bring Japan to surrender. The attack on Nagasaki lasted ninety minutes. It was the home of the Mitsubishi shipbuilding works and aircraft manufacturing facilities, as well as other heavy manufacturing. The other target had been Palembang in southern Sumatra, the longest bombing mission ever undertaken, targeting the Pladjoe refinery, a major source of Japan's high octane gas for its ships and planes. Each attack encountered only limited resistance from enemy air and ground forces. Three B-29's were missing and one was forced to land in friendly territory in China, albeit strafed by enemy planes after obtaining ostensible safe harbor.

On the editorial page, "A Visit" finds the President's trip to Hawaii to review the sailors and troops at Pearl Harbor, Fort Shafter, Hickam Field, and Schofield Barracks, to have been an honorable one, primarily aimed at coordinating operations between the Army under General MacArthur and the Navy under Admiral Nimitz to prepare for the last phase of operations in the Pacific, the return to the Philippines and subduing of the Japanese home islands.

That there were other expected incidents of the trip did not cause it to be political, especially in an age prior to television.

The public, the piece suggests, would be well advised to ignore the likes of Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce in her characteristic attacks on the President for using the trip to campaign, shaking the hands of three wounded veterans to appeal to voters, and other such "loud and bitter protest" to be expected from "the Connecticut wild woman and her compatriots".

We could think of a few contemporary analogous scenarios, but we shall refrain.

Here's to you, Ms. Luce, and your globalonious incantations.

"Hurry Up" remarks on the likely unprintable reaction of the doughboys heading toward Paris, now with lightning celerity—still publicly unknown to have been kicked into high gear by the injection of General Patton and his Third Army on August 1 to turn the corner into Brittany and head down the road toward Paris—when Izvestia in Russia had printed an urge to move on to the French capital, that the Nazis were without sufficient forces to defend it. Finding the exhortation by one ally of the others to be innocuous enough, nevertheless, it was likely annoying to the Americans and British now that they were in rolling mode.

It concludes that the race to Berlin from the West would be highly competitive with that from the East, the Russians now appearing to have stalled in siege before Warsaw and on the fringes of East Prussia, the Baltics, and about 70 miles from German Silesia to the south, after the lightning fast June-July offensive.

The overall Allied war picture appeared, perhaps not coincidentally, to be engaged in stutter steps, whereby in the East would be thrust a great offensive in one direction, occupying Hitler's primary attention, while in the West supplies and reinforcements were being accumulated after the landings on D-Day, while bombing and slowly pushing the enemy into retreat, the process then turning about in reverse, with the Western forces proceeding now with speed and the Eastern forces in siege and attritive mode.

"New Tenant" finds the fact of General Eisenhower having removed from England and established his command post in Normandy to be indicative of secure possession of same by the Allies and being firmly rooted on French soil. The whole of Supreme Allied Headquarters would likely soon follow, it predicts. The road now seemed paved all the way to Paris, even beyond, to Germany, itself.

While Paris indeed was not far from falling to the Allies, the road to Germany would meet stiffened resistance along the way, resistance which would take through the deadly cold of coming bitter winter finally to overcome.

"The Peril" sardonically addresses the War Department's decision, based on the Taft Amendment, preventing the armed services from being exposed to any form of political news and propaganda, to ban the Fibber McGee and Molly film, "Wilson and Heavenly Days", on the ground that it glorified the Wilson Administration. The piece suggests coupling it, for neutralization, with films glorifying the Lincoln years, or perhaps at least those providing the beneficent attributes of the Harding, Taft, and Hoover Administrations. If Wilson was taboo because he was a Democrat in wartime, what about glorifying unduly Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson? asks the editorial. The future of the republic was in grave peril.

"Let Up" predicts that the recent strikes by 80,000 workers, including the previous week's Philadelphia transportation workers' strike, now ended with Government takeover of the transportation company, was harbinger of things to come as the war wound down with consequent increased tendency to believe that it was alright to take the foot off the throttle of production. It reminds that the job of production for the war was not yet done and that cooperation continued to be needed between labor and management to effectuate the final victory.

Although the piece does not make the connection, maybe Dave Clark's tendency before the war openly to express admiration for Adolf Hitler's suppressing of labor organization in Europe and effecting full employment without it, even if accomplished only through a military dictatorship and mandatory slave labor, had caused his recent denigration of the seminar at the University of North Carolina for the benefit of the Textile Workers Union of America, as reported in the column of the previous day.

Drew Pearson again reports on the struggle between Donald Nelson, head of the War Production Board, and vice-chair Charles Wilson, head of the statistical division of the Board, joined by War Mobilizer James Byrnes and General Brehon Somervell in opposition to Mr. Nelson's desire to begin demobilization. The statistical division had issued a report indicating that there was plentiful supply of arms, ammunition, and equipment to finish the war, and, in many cases, enormous surplus. Yet, the conservative forces of Messrs. Wilson and Byrnes, plus General Somervell, wanted to slow the implementation of demobilization to insure plentiful arms and ammunition and avoid the prospect of shortages in specific areas.

Mr. Nelson insisted that the requirements of re-tooling in industry, to convert back to peacetime manufacture, would require months to accomplish and thus needed to be phased in forthwith to avoid calamitous economic ramifications to industry during the transition, no longer with war contracts but yet to have the ability to put product on the civilian market. To keep the transition to peacetime production smooth and wrinkle-free, the process needed to proceed. Hence the release on strictures of manufacture of steam irons.

The matter was now under investigation by the Senate, under the assumption that placing in the spotlight the large surplus of supply of armaments would be highly demoralizing to the enemy.

Marquis Childs addresses the regrettable fact that demobilization had become a political issue. On the Senate Military Affairs Committee, chaired by retiring Senator Robert Rice Reynolds, the Republicans might have supported a version of the bill allowing unemployment compensation for discharged war workers which would have received the support of the Administration. But chairman Reynolds had been so uncompromising as to defeat this bi-partisan spirit, insisting on a version to which the Republicans and many of the Southern Democrats were opposed. The Southerners wanted the matter left to the states to determine compensation. But that could generate bitterness in the potential for wide differential in payment rates between states. Uniformity was desirable.

The Republican Governors' Conference in St. Louis had endorsed a plan of uniformity for disposal of war plants, but not as to the discharged war workers.

The worst thing which could occur, offers Mr. Childs, would be for the Congress to do nothing, thought by many Democrats to be the secret plan of the Republicans so that they might then blame the inaction on the Administration.

Dorothy Thompson examines the myth disseminated by many publicists on the war, that it had been secretly plotted by the German Officers' Corps, using Hitler from the beginning as a mere stooge, that they planned to eliminate Hitler when the time was ripe, that the while they were planning the next war from behind the scenes following surrender.

Ms. Thompson decries this version of the history of the war, explains that Hitler formed a mass movement in Germany which manipulated the strings of power from a minority status to form a plurality in the Reichstag and then to take over as a dictator. Germans from all classes had been in support of the movement; Germans from all classes had opposed it from its inception; Germans from all classes had abandoned support of it when they saw its actual intent.

The Officers' Corps could scarcely plot the next war from the grave, and Hitler was now systematically eliminating them, had used the July 20 plot, if, she cautions parenthetically, it occurred at all, as an excuse for so doing.

She chronicles the several events between 1935 and 1939 which Hitler accomplished in derogation of international treaties, from the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 to the occupation of Austria, Munich and consequent the occupation of the Sudetenland in September, 1938, followed in March, 1939 by the occupation of Prague. Ms. Thompson states that at the time, she had argued that Hitler was already making war, while others had charged her and those of like mind—including W. J. Cash—with being "hysterics", "emotionalists", and "war mongers".

Hitler's war was not the result of any underground plot, but had been one conducted quite in the open for anyone paying the slightest attention to observe. And, likewise, should the German generals and officers be plotting a third world war, she hoped the world this time would not be so naive as to stand in the wings and watch the stage play develop through the intermission, until it was too late to avert the final pair of acts.

Hal Boyle recounts a poignant scene at Hautteville, along the coastal road of Normandy, near Cherbourg, where French villagers had gathered by a makeshift shrine to their Allied liberators, paying their respects and giving thanks in prayer and hymn on Sunday, July 30.

An American tank column had paused by the roadside to observe the commemoration, its soldiers removing their helmets in solemnity to listen to the prayer in French which most of them could not understand but all could feel. A country priest, Pere Lemaitre, led the procession of men and women across a field strafed earlier that morning by enemy planes.

After the prayer and hymn, he said quietly of the fallen, "Goodbye, au revoir. Merci, merci, merci!"

The men and women departed back across the fields. The soldiers resumed their tanks and moved on down the road to continue the battle.

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