Wednesday, August 2, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, August 2, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Americans, finally out of the hedgerows of Normandy, plunged deeply into German lines, moving toward Brest and Rennes in Brittany, advancing thirteen miles southwest of Avranches, past Pontorson. Another American armored column traveled along the See River to Cuves, thirteen miles east of Avranches. Yet another pushed up the Sienne River to Le Buat, nine miles southeast of Avranches. The Americans had captured Percy and Tessy-sur-Vire.

The British, now but sixteen miles from the American forces, moved thirteen miles south of Caumont, clearing the Homme Forest of enemy troops. The British had made it imperative that the Germans stand and fight between Caen and Villers-Bocage, without retreating to Paris, for the fact that such a retreat by daylight would be disastrous under the heavy artillery and air bombardment, and by night, chaotic. A headquarters spokesman stated that the British were confident that they could destroy Rommel's forces in such an engagement in the area of heavily defended Villers-Bocage.

As the Germans retreated in confused fashion toward Villers-Bocage, the British Second Army pursued them, moving toward Estry, Carvillere, and Buain in the area north of Vire. They had also seized Hill 266 east of captured Le Beny-Bocage, while other forces captured Hill 361.

General Bradley had established his first three goals since D-Day, even if slowed by weather and rough terrain in doing so. His troops had established and secured the beachhead on Normandy, captured Cherbourg, and broken out of the Cherbourg Peninsula into the open where armored forces could be finally deployed with full effect. The pace of battle would henceforth significantly accelerate.

Meanwhile, Berlin confirmed that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had been hospitalized for a concussion suffered July 17 in action in France. Earlier, it had been reported that he had died from an air attack. The German report indicated his condition as satisfactory.

In Russia, the forces of General Ivan Cherniakhovsky reopened their drive toward East Prussia, moving within ten miles of the frontier along a 200-mile front.

A drive to the sea west of Riga had split the German 16th and 18th Armies, consisting at one time of as many as thirty divisions. One Russian force was twenty miles from Riga; another had moved north along the Gulf of Riga; and a third had advanced on the ports of Leipaja, Ventspils, and Mazirbe.

Other Russian forces, under General Ivan Bagramian, continued the fight in Praga, just over the Vistula River from burning Warsaw.

In Italy, the Eighth Army moved toward Florence despite a tenacious effort by the Germans to defend the city. New Zealand troops had struck a firm foothold in La Romola, 6.5 miles southwest of Florence, while to their left, an Indian Division captured Castiglione, ten miles from Florence. British troops moved toward Sezzate, eight miles southeast of the city. Other British units were within thirteen miles, moving toward Incisa.

In a thousand sorties flown the day before, fighter activity rained destruction on German communications facilities in the Po Valley in Northern Italy.

An Allied spokesman reported that it had been learned that the whole of the armed forces of German-controlled Bohemia and Moravia had been transferred in late May to Northern Italy to operate as security forces.

In the Marianas Islands, Tinian had been completely captured on Monday night after nine days of fighting, the operations hastened by the deployment of the new secret weapon, napalm, against the 4,500 Japanese defenders. Mopping-up operations were continuing. By comparison, it had taken 25 days to neutralize the Japanese on Saipan.

On Guam, the Marines continued to push north in the fourteenth day of operations, seeking to entrap the remaining 10,000 Japanese still fighting on the island.

On Monday, new forces of Americans of the Sixth Army had landed on Vogelkop Peninsula in Dutch New Guinea to bring reinforcement of the forces seeking to eliminate the threat of the 45,000 Japanese attempting to break out of their entrapment in starvation, cut off off for weeks from their supply lines. The American troops had landed without opposition on both sides of an enemy barge base ten miles from the Sansapor beachhead established Sunday. By noon Monday, the forces had linked the two beachheads.

Prime Minister Churchill told Commons that he believed the progress of the war forecasted an end sooner than he had anticipated just a few months earlier and that the war in Europe might end very soon. He provided, however, no timeline.

As expected, it was announced that Turkey had broken off diplomatic and economic relations with Germany and declared itself with the Allies, abandoning its prior neutrality. The Allies had been seeking actively Turkey's cooperation since 1942 and talks to this end with the Turkish government had proceeded with both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill after the Cairo and Tehran conferences in November and December, 1943.

It was also reported that the Russians and Finns had agreed to terms of armistice for Finland after the resignation of the pro-Nazi President Risto Ryti and the installation the day before of the new President, Marshal Baron von Mannerheim. The new Government had been assured of favorable terms of armistice by the Russians before it came to power. German troops were already said to be leaving Finland, their mandated departure being a crucial term of the armistice.

In Wilimington, a major tropical storm had inflicted two million dollars worth of property damage on the area, but without loss of life and with only few reported injuries.

The Philadelphia Citizens Committee asked the Mayor to declare martial law in the wake of fights erupting between blacks and whites of the city and looting by roving bands of black teenagers in black neighborhoods, resultant of a work stoppage the night before by the city's transportation company which operated buses, subways, and trolleys, preventing thousands of war workers from reporting to work. The group also requested that the President seize the transportation facilities. The War Labor Board was considering the request. The transportation company employees union was seeking a Government-sponsored vote on employment of black drivers, the issue which had precipitated the work stoppage. Three hundred persons had been arrested.

It was the first racial violence reported in the country since the outbreaks of the previous May and June, spread between Watts in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Harlem. Crowded housing and inequitable employment conditions, especially among war workers newly arrived in the urban areas, along with social chafing between fresh emigres from the South and native Northerners, exacerbated by their often being in competition for the same jobs, were given as the primary problems giving rise to the earlier riots.

An attorney, Woodbury Rand, of Brookline, Massachusetts, left $100,000 for the benefit of his eight-year old tiger cat named Buster. He was upset with the alleged mistreatment and "contemptuous attitude" against the cat by seven of his relatives and so revoked their devises totaling $20,000. He left care of the cat in the charge of his former housekeeper.

That darned Buster. The seven eliminated Rand relatives were said to be forming, at last report, a lynch mob, carrying a noose of about four inches diameter.

But then they might wind up inside Buster, or being hunted down by Mrs. Partington.

At least Mr. Rand was beneficent toward the feline, unlike his canine loving counterpart in Colorado, of whom Cash had written in July, 1939, regarding her will ordering that her two Scotch terriers be put to death at her own demise.

Brookline, incidentally, a suburb of Boston, is the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy.

On the editorial page, "Rommel" finds the reported incapacity of the most famous of the Nazi generals to hearken perhaps the collapse of the German Army. For Rommel, above all other Nazi generals, had been singularly symbolic of the vaunted invincibility of the Nazi. And his reputation in that regard appeared not to have suffered measurably at home, despite the humiliating retreats he had led in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

"Last Words" reports that Cotton Ed Smith, to become within three days hence the longest serving Senator at that point in U.S. History, 35 years and five months, was exiting after his defeat to Governor Olin Johnston of South Carolina, with noble manes and unceremonious determination only to cuss a little more before the end of his term. He had not so much cherished the role, he said, anyway.

The piece points out that, as with other Southern states, Senator Smith had been elected by very tiny percentages of the population, often less than one percent voting in the decisive Democratic primary. That explained his long tenure, spanning back to 1909 when Senators were not popularly elected, only becoming so in 1913 after the Constitution had been amended from its original provision that the legislatures of each state would select its two Senators.

"Conversion" comments on Thomas Dewey's statement before U.S. businessmen in Pittsburgh that the Roosevelt Administration and the Congress were doing nothing toward reconversion of industry from wartime to peacetime status and that the failure to do so would potentially create serious economic problems for the country as the war came ever closer to its end. The editorial remarks that, while the issue, apparently to become central to Mr. Dewey's campaign, was quite important, the Governor had overstated the case of inactivity by the Administration. The Senate was preparing to return from its convention recess to undertake planning for this eventuality. Moreover, while victory was in sight, until it was achieved in both major theaters, there could be no letdown in production in the country and so the issue had to be approached with due caution.

"New Pace" celebrates the breakout of the American forces under General Omar Bradley from Normandy into Brittany, heading for the Brest Peninsula, entering open country. They were now setting a pace similar to the Russian Army, having in just a week advanced 40 miles to Avranches and beyond, eliminated six German divisions from the fight and seriously hobbled two others, destroyed about 400 tanks, and taken an estimated 15,000 prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Germans resembled the French in the dark days of May and June, 1940, wandering about dazed and ready to surrender.

There were many miles yet to plod and bloody fighting, the piece warns, still lay ahead for the Allies as they advanced on Paris and Berlin. But now, they had escaped the hedgerows of Normandy and were no longer bogged down, could move apace in the open country.

Drew Pearson remarks on the efforts of the banks and building and loan companies to gut the G.I. bill, insofar as its guarantees of low-cost, government-insured loans to veterans. The banks wanted to raise the interest rate chargeable on second mortgages from 5% to 6% and increase the government insurance from 20% of the second loan to 100%. It would mean increased interest for the lenders with no risk of loss.

He notes that the Congress generally credited publisher William Randolph Hearst with the conception of the G.I. Bill.

He next turns to a recently disclosed letter drafted in March, 1939 by General Hap Arnold, commander-in-chief of the Army Air Force, in response to a proposal made by General Hugh Johnson, the columnist who died April 15, 1942, obtained in turn from a cartoonist, Harry O'Neill, creator of the comic strip "Broncho Bill". General Johnson had suggested that the Air Force consider development of a flying bomb, similar to the V-1 now being launched on England by the Nazis. General Arnold thought the idea a good one, had reminded General Johnson that toward the end of World War I, such a device had been in development to deliver a 200-pound bomb a distance of 100 miles, the same range of which the V-1 was capable. Nevertheless, the idea had never come to fruition in the United States.

Experimental flights, however, over France and parts of Germany, secret though they were, were about to begin just two days later involving remotely controlled B-17's and B-24's packed with explosives. Ten days hence, one such flight, freighted with disastrous results, would be particularly noteworthy.

Finally, Mr. Pearson explains why there had been a moratorium on the prohibition of alcohol for liquor manufacture during August. Alcohol had been used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, but the supply of raw synthetic rubber had so accumulated outside factories without sufficient labor to produce manufactured goods from it that it was sitting around deteriorating, having a shelf life of only a few months.

Samuel Grafton comments on the latest pair of orders from Herr Doktor Goebbels, canceling all vacations for German women war workers in the Reich, and compelling bridge and road repairs be done by front line soldiers rather than, as previously, the Todt foreign workers detail.

These orders were emblematic of that which was now characteristic of the crumbling Reich: Hitler and Himmler and Goebbels were so desperate as to aid the Allied cause by making more work for Germans, killing German officers and generals, and generally depressing their own morale, both at home and within the military.

Marquis Childs provides a face behind the grim figures of daily increscent casualty figures in the war. A 21-year old named Walter Shepard had grown up next door to the Childs family, had played with their children. He had been killed in Italy. Mr. Childs shares some of Private Shepard's final thoughts culled from his last letters home, anent how unstable he had come to realize life is.

Hal Boyle relates of several vignettes from the Normandy front. There was the escapade of a drunk German sniper who became indignant after being thrown into an American prisoner of war facility on Normandy. He had wandered out of the hedgerows into the American lines, waving a bottle, and inviting his enemy troops to share a drink before he returned to his sniper duty. They promply threw him in the clink. He was sorely displeased.

Whether his name was Otis, Mr. Boyle does not impart.

An American Private, John Howard of Bradford, Ill., rounded a corner in his jeep and suddenly came face to face with a German Mark IV tank. He jumped out of the jeep, intending to land in a side ditch, but instead wound up in the middle of the road in front of the tank. He pretended to be dead and lay still for thirty minutes. Finally, he began slowly to move, just one hand at a time; but, spotted, the tank opened fire. The gun was so close to his position, however, that the bullets went over his head and he was thus able to scramble into the side ditch and escape through a hedgerow. Finally, he was confronted by another armored vehicle, which fortunately turned out to be American. It promptly dispatched the German tank.

An Army barber, George Oakes of Hampton, N.J., had managed to capture three Nazi prisoners with his mess kit, as they followed him down a road, trying to surrender. Hailed by his comrades to turn around, he did so, and, seeing the Nazis, promptly held up his mess kit in menacing fashion and marched them into camp.

Had his name been Barney Floyd, it would have been nigh on perfection.

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