Thursday, August 17, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 17, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that four important cities had been captured on the road to Paris, including Chartres, with the American Third Army moving to within 35 miles of the capital.

The Allies had opened a 50-mile wide front 30 miles deep in the South of France, moving in the west within ten miles of Toulon and in the east to within ten miles of Cannes. German reports indicated that the Allies had already entered Cannes after bloody fighting. Napoleon had landed in Cannes in 1815 to begin his 100-day campaign.

The Allies had also captured St. Tropez, Ste. Maxime, St. Raphel, Frejus, and Le Lavandou, as well as the inland towns of Le Muy, Le Luc, Coliobrieres, and Lorgues, 27 miles inland from the coast at Cap Camarat along the central part of the front, the deepest penetration yet reported. The report also indicated that the forces might have advanced well beyond these points and be in the process of taking Toulon. The land forces had already joined the airborne troops dropped inland by parachute and glider during the initial invasion on August 15, implying that transportation arteries, which the airborne troops had been assigned to block, were now available to the Allies for swift movement and supply.

The invading forces numbered three divisions of Americans, supported by heavily armored French forces. They had seized approximately 500 square miles of territory in just three days.

The American Fifteenth Air Force operating out of Italy again gave support to the landing forces of the Seventh Army in southern France, flying over a thousand sorties the day before, encountering no opposition and limited flak only over Toulon. Another arm struck eastward against the oilfields of Ploesti in Rumania and German airfields in Western Yugoslavia, as well as the rail center at Nia, 120 miles from Belgrade.

An inside page shows a map of the three-pronged threat now to Germany, in addition to the Russian thrust from the east. The Seventh Army from the South of France, the British and American Armies from the west, moving toward Paris, and the potential for movement out of Italy.

Acting Secretary of War John J. McCloy provided the losses thus far in Normandy between June 6 and August 6. There had been 16,434 Americans killed, 76,535 wounded, and 19,701 missing.

He added that it was unlikely that the Germans could mount any form of counter-offensive west of the Seine. The landing operations in the South of France were already a day ahead of schedule after only three days. The Resistance in France was now so widespread in its activities as to constitute a general uprising against the occupation forces.

"Germany seems definitely to be on the toboggan," he concluded.

Mr. McCloy, as we have pointed out before, became after the war, between 1949 and 1952, the High Commissioner of the United States zone in West Germany, and presided over the World Bank between 1947 and 1949. He served as an adviser to every President from John F. Kennedy through Ronald Reagan, with the exception of President Ford. He also served on the Warren Commission in 1964.

The Allies had cleared all of the Japanese from Northeast India with the exception of stragglers on the road to kingdom come. The Allies had advanced two more miles on the Burmese frontier, approaching Tiddim.

Also on the inside page is a report of 42-year old Chief Radioman George Ray Tweed of Portland, Ore., who spent 31 months playing Robinson Crusoe on Guam, hiding in the brush from the Japanese the while. He could not discuss his diet but avowed never again to eat rice. He had been stationed on Guam on December 9, 1941 when it was overrun by the Japanese, had retreated to the jungle and there lived a free man until the Americans found him there as part of early reconnaissance work before the main invasion July 21. He was on U.S. soil again by July 16, trying futilely to cash his Navy back pay, provided him in a whopping check of $6,300, which no bank would honor in San Francisco or even in Portland. Finally, he got it cashed. He was content to be home, wanted no hero's welcome, just his mother's home cooking, including mashed potatoes.

Navy Commander Ernest Snowden of Beaufort, N.C., predicted that the American forces would have to fight all the way to Tokyo, that the Japanese air force would seek to lure the U.S. fleet close to home waters and then launch their land-based air defenses against it. Commander Snowden was one of the youngest group commanders in the Navy, a part of Task Force 58 operating west of the Marianas in the battle of the Eastern Philippines.

The President returned to Washington from his 15,000-mile five-week trip through the Pacific, to Hawaii and Alaska, having plotted strategy with General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz for the next phase of the Pacific campaign. He announced on his return that the Allies would drive into and occupy both Germany and Japan, even if enemy resistance collapsed before their borders. They could not, in other words, accede to unconditional surrender and thereby avoid occupation forces. There would be no armistice as in 1918.

The President appeared in good spirits, was tanned and looking fit. He dismissed speculation he had read in the press that the trip had political motivations. He affirmed when asked that he would meet with Senator Truman provided he was in Washington, as well as with Secretary of State Hull, military leaders, and Congressional leaders, though would make no formal statement to Congress.

Dr. Frederick Koch, well known to University of North Carolina alumni as the founder and director of the Carolina Playmakers, the theater group in which such literary and dramatic luminaries as Thomas Wolfe and Paul Green had cut their teeth, had died of a heart attack at age 66 while visiting his son in Miami. Professor Koch was also a Kenan Professor of dramatic literature, Kenan professorships being the highest endowed faculty chair at the University.

On the editorial page, "The Trap" finds a missed opportunity in France in that the Third Army of General Patton moving from the south and the Canadians moving from the north on Falaise had been unable to close the eight-mile gap between Argentan and Falaise, permitting many of the German Seventh Army to escape back into the interior.

General Eisenhower had earlier in the week lauded the troops for having created "a fleeting but definite opportunity for a major Allied victory..." Fleeting was, says the piece--in reliance on the resident expert at The News on military history, presumably John Daly, possibly Burke Davis--the operative word. It conjured images of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Such opportunities of entrapping an entire army were always but fleeting in time of war.

Not being able to close the deal stood as a failure of sorts and a lost chance perhaps to win the war in France immediately, with the remnants of the German Army instead slipping through the Allies' fingers.

"______", another lost editorial for the time being, appears to discuss again the War Department's censorship of political news to the servicemen. Stressing this time that the Republicans, having originally put forth the bill in fear that the Administration would seek to disseminate propaganda among the soldiers, were now afoot using the squelching of the news to the servicemen by the Republican-led War Department as anti-Roosevelt propaganda for the fact that the soldiers, in addition to not receiving party pamphleteering, would likewise not receive the adverse publicity to the Administration from the standard press, 90 percent of which had been against Roosevelt in each of the three previous elections.

"Mr. Hillman" presents the Who's Who biography of Sidney Hillman, head of CIO, of late in the press because of its wealthy PAC, with $700,000 to spend on the presidential election. Full of facts too numerous to summarize, you may read it for yourself. Mr. Hillman had been born in Lithuania in 1887, had received Rabbinical training after coming to the United States at age 20, and had done a wealth of organizing of labor during his 57 years.

"Isn't Funny" speculates on the presence of spies, given the accuracy of a Japanese report on life in the United States, insofar as the limited availability and extraordinary cost of whiskey, $15 to $20 per bottle when it could be had at all, said the report. Aside from the other inaccuracies of the report, describing the increasing shortages of food in restaurants and hotels where, it contended falsely, meat was being served only once a week and butter and cheese were completely unavailable, the pinpointing of the problem with unavailability of liquor was enough to make a person turn to drink.

The Japanese report, it should be noted, was speculating, or deliberately engaging in false propaganda, based on press reports of the situation in Britain, not the United States.

Drew Pearson points out that observers of the Dewey campaign believed that he had laid the groundwork for a successful fall run, having met with the other Republican Governors in St. Louis and effected a good rapport with them, stepped on no toes. The meeting was quite against the bulk of opinion offered by his advisers who had believed the reverse might be the outcome. But Herbert Brownell, his campaign manager and future Attorney General under President Eisenhower, had been in favor of the meeting and had pulled it off.

At one point during the conference, Governor Dewey and Governor Bricker were to have their pictures taken with each of the other 24 Republican Governors, who awkwardly stood in line to wait their turn for the honor during two long hours, as if in a cafeteria queue. But even with that potential problem, they were kept in good humor and the event did not strain relations with the ticket.

With the party base thus shored up behind him, the worst of the campaign, thought his staffers, was now complete, twelve weeks before the general election.

A fly in the ointment, however, says Mr. Pearson, had developed when Mr. Dewey had sought to eschew a special train on the trip to St. Louis, describing his train as an "advance train", suggesting two or three reserved cars on an ordinarily scheduled train, to avoid adverse publicity of undue energy consumption during the war.

Nevertheless, the train turned out to be nine cars exclusively devoted to carrying members of the campaign staff and correspondents covering the campaign. Yet, there was no harm done. The Government had approved the train and stated that it would not impact the war effort. Furthermore, the President utilized a special train for his trips.

Mr. Pearson next informs of the process behind the scenes in selecting the Republican nominee for the Senate from New York, reminiscent of the Democratic Convention and its inner wranglings over the vice-presidential nominee. The Republicans and Mr. Dewey were likewise not immune from the clout of exerted on selections by political bosses. Governor Dewey had initially given his blessing to W. Kingsland Macy, disliked by the Old Guard, as the nominee for the Senate seat. The bosses, however, told the Governor that Mr. Macy was unacceptable. So, after Governor Dewey's return from St. Louis, he gave Mr. Macy the brush-off, called in his old friend from the New York City District Attorney's office, Tom Curran, and told him he would be the Republican nominee. Reluctant to accept, not wanting the position, Mr. Curran nevertheless was drafted.

Republican Mayor La Guardia, however, thought Mr. Curran to have been a good alderman, but that incumbent Democrat Robert Wagner had been a great Senator.

Marquis Childs, following up on his piece of the previous day calling for the President to give a speech on his return from the Pacific, gives praise for the Saturday speech of the President from Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Wash., even while finding the speech not to be as effectively delivered, with a pronounced air of extemporization, delivering nearly a travelogue, as the more substantive and profound speeches of the President in the past. Apparently he had a script before him, but it sounded otherwise. Mr. Childs chalks it up to fatigue from the trip or his intense preoccupation with the war.

Few realized in the country to what degree he had directed the war effort. Former Undersecretary of State Sumner Wells, in his recently published book Time for Decision, from which the column quotes, had provided insight to this hands-on approach of the President: he had, for instance, made the decision from early 1942 to begin American infantry involvement in the war against Germany and Italy with the November 8, 1942 invasion of North Africa.

It was going to be difficult for the President to adjust from these weighty decisions of world-impacting import, with which he had been preoccupied for the previous three years, and again focus his attention on relatively mundane and seemingly minor domestic matters. But, warns Mr. Childs, within two years, domestic matters, especially demobilization and how it would be effected with as little unemployment as possible, would be the primary issues on every citizen's mind.

The George bill, which had just passed the Senate, had been a compromise with the confused proposed alternative, the Kilgore-Murray bill. Now the House had to tackle the same issue. The President was inexorably going to be faced in the coming months prior to the election with a very real challenge to exert leadership on this crucial aspect of domestic policy.

Hal Boyle, reporting on August 10 from St. Malo on the north coast of Brittany following its capture, tells of the brave bayonet charge of American troops across a 400-yard open expanse to take out Nazis entrenched in 26-inch thick concrete pillboxes, blocking entry to St. Malo. He quotes some of the soldiers involved in the operation.

Dorothy Thompson also tells of the futile defense by the Nazis holed up in St. Malo, under the command of "Mad" Colonel Andreas Von Aulock, who had ordered his men to fight to the death despite the hopeless situation. Even his own men called him "mad". The battle was, says Ms. Thompson, a microcosm of the entire German position now in the war. The soldiers were at the mercy of the Colonel, despite their own individual recognition that the fight was hopeless. They had surrendered their liberty and could not get it back of their own will.

So, too, was it so with the whole of the German people and all of the citizens of the occupied lands. Women were now being called into compulsory military service in Germany; a fourth of Germans were being fed in communal kitchens.

The only forces powerful enough to liberate either the trapped Communists and Social Democrats, who had to have bitterly opposed the war all along in Germany, or the trapped of the occupied countries, were the Allied military forces. Internal revolt was too restrained to be effective except in support of invading Allied armies.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.