Monday, August 28, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, August 28, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Americans of the Third Army of General Patton had crossed the Marne River and captured Meaux, 23 miles east of Paris and 105 miles southwest of Sedan. The Nazis were reported to be continuing in their flight and had not sought to make a stand on the World War I battle plain.

Meaux had been the furthest point of advance during the First Battle of the Marne, won by the Allies in September 1914, arresting the German attempt to take Paris. It was at Chateau-Thierry, 24 miles northeast of Meaux, that the Second Battle of the Marne had been fought in July and August, 1918, also won by the Allies, and proving the final turning point of the war.

To the west, the British had established a fifth bridgehead across the Seine near Louviers, between Vernon and Point DeL'Arche, the point at which Canadian troops had already previously established a bridgehead. The other four bridgeheads, that established by the Americans at Mantes, the British at Vernon, and the Canadians at Elbeuf and Pont-de-L'Arche, meanwhile saw progress further toward Rouen, remaining center of German resistance in the area. The Allies had the Germans boxed at Rouen from the east, west, and south. These were the remnants of the escaping German Seventh Army out of the Falaise-Argentan trap. Elements of three infantry and two tank divisions were stuck in the Rouen river loop.

Fighter bombers had destroyed eight enemy barges seeking transport of troops out of Rouen across the Seine. There was no attempt by the Germans to reinforce these trapped troops, as reinforcement support had been switched to the area southeast of Paris attempting to cut off the drive aimed at taking Le Havre and from there pushing up the Pas-de-Calais coast. Le Havre was reported nearly in Allied hands.

Thus far, in two weeks since the invasion of Southern France, the Allies had knocked out of the war at least 50,000 German troops, thought to be about half the defenders of the region.

The fleeing Germans were attempting to cut through to the Rhone Valley via Valence, 25 miles north of Montelimar, in turn 70 miles southwest of captured Grenoble and 100 miles north of Marseille. The attempts had been squelched by the Seventh Army.

The French in the process of taking Marseille reported that virtually all German resistance had ceased in the port.

It was reported that Marshal Henri Petain had, before his arrest the previous week by the Germans, urged all Frenchmen to unite and that all which he had done in their name had been for their benefit. Rumors were circulating that Premier Pierre Laval had arranged his own arrest by the Nazis as well as that of Petain and Edouard Herriot, former Premier, in a deal with the Germans to prevent the three Vichyites from falling into the hands of the Resistance wherein their necks would not be safe.

About 500 American fighter planes gave support in numerous sorties over the Seine front, hitting trains, destroying 500 freight cars and damaging another thousand, oil tanks, flak emplacements, radio towers, power stations, and enemy barges.

Italy-based American bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force struck an oil facility in Austria, the Moosbierbaum refinery, another in Hungary, the Szony refinery, plus other targets in the area of Budapest.

German V-1's again fell on London after a lull of 30 hours, albeit in limited numbers. The total for the previous week was 450 of the buzz bombs. The Nazis were in the process of removing their troops from the Pas-de-Calais launch facilities in preparation for the beginning of the V-2 rocket launches, to start within another ten days.

In Italy, Polish troops of the Eighth Army on the Adriatic front had crossed the Arsilla River at Famo chasing German troops gathering behind the Gothic Line, seeking retreat from the Matauro River line. They had advanced to within five miles of the port of Pessaro and twenty miles from Rimini, located at the southern edge of the Po Valley.

Further inland, other Allied troops of the Eighth Army crossed the Maggiore River and captured Fossombrone on the main road to Fano.

The Nazis also continued to withdraw north and east of Florence into the Gothic Line. A British contingent near Ponassieve, nine miles east of Florence, and three miles north of the Arno, encountered German forces covering their retreat with heavy cannon and machinegun fire.

Russian troops had, in the wake of the joinder of Rumania with the Allies, advanced half the distance to Bucharest reported Saturday, to within 50 miles of the capital, after overrunning the Ploesti oil field region, vital to sustenance of the Reich's military machine. The Russians had poured down along the highway east from the captured Galati Gap, separating off into a right flank headed into the Carpathians toward Transylvania.

Unconfirmed German reports had the Russians 50 miles deep into Transylvania, which, after its 1940 cession from Rumania by the Nazis, belonged at this point to Hungary. There were conflicting reports, however, of Hungarians fighting alongside the Nazis against the Russians.

During the weekend, the most concentrated effort at bombing of Iwo Jima, Palau, and the Molucca Islands had taken place in the Pacific. An airstrip, closer by 200 miles to the Philippines than any other in Allied possession thus far, 600 miles from Mindanao, was taken at Middleburg Island off Sansapor near the northwest tip of Dutch New Guinea.

The European Advisory Commission was getting ready to submit approved Allied terms for Bulgaria's quitting the war against the Allies. No details were as yet disclosed.

Bob "Join the Peace Corps" Hope begins a syndicated report on the front page by chronicling his harrowing scrape with death when a Catalina Flying Boat, in which he, along with his sidekick, Professor Colonna, were being transported somewhere over the Pacific to entertain the troops, had its engine fail, necessitating a forced landing on water. They made it safely, except for Mr. Hope's bruised ego when the local fisherman who rescued him from the drink addressed him as a stranger in the night.

At least he didn't greet him as Father O'Malley.

Maurice Chevalier, reported as having been killed by the Resistance somewhere in the vicinity of Paris, could nevertheless still sing for nearly three more decades his signature song, as reports of his demise were unduly exaggerated. He had been, however, arrested and was tried as a collaborationist, but acquitted. He had remained in France during the Nazi occupation, but there is no evidence that he cooperated with the Nazis. Nevertheless, he was for some years after the war denied a visa by the United States State Department.

On the editorial page, "War Sale" advocates that the intention of the Government to sell off 100 billion dollars of assets accumulated during the war, representing fully a third of the entire war debt, should have as a rider that any slated future increase for Congressional salaries, as was quietly being proposed, be made contingent upon the asset sale resulting in profits sufficient to cover these increased remunerations.

"Ho, Hum" reminds of the continued importance of air power in the war, that with the focus now in Europe on the continuing progress of the ground effort, it would be easy to underestimate the continued contribution to that effort supplied by the Allied air forces. During the previous two years, the United States had made a substantial contribution to this effort, and continued to do so. The news recently of two days of raids, comprised of 8,000 and 5,000 planes, respectively, reinforced this view that air power still remained central to the Allied victory in Europe.

"Nip & Tuck" finds the polls predicting a narrow victory, if at all, by President Roosevelt in November. The margins spread among the states was so razor thin that a photo finish could occur in the electoral college, and events might throw this picture awry in a heartbeat.

Yet, critics of the polls pointed out that the pollsters had been quite wrong in their predictions both in 1940 and 1942, and that they were used as vehicles of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Regardless, there appeared still substantial indecision in the country and the re-election of the President was by no means a foregone conclusion.

"The Day" recounts the poll taken by the National Opinion Research Center revealing that 55 percent of Americans were of the belief that the war in Europe would be over by year's end, three months away, with only 10 percent of the opinion that it would end by October 1, the date which Representative Woodrum had recently asserted as that which the Army had set tentatively for Germany's surrender.

The Germans themselves, according to a Swedish report, believed that the war would end by November 1.

Despite the optimism of the Allies and the decided pessimism of the Germans at home, an early end foreshadowed by the events of the summer culminating in the fall of Paris and push of the Seventh Army into a trap in the Lower Seine with the rest fleeing northward, the fight would nevertheless drag on to the end of April, eight months hence.

Drew Pearson discusses the flak arising in Great Britain to his publication July 25, (published in The News July 26), of a letter written by Special Ambassador to India William Phillips, advising the President that America's interests were bound up in the issue of India's independence, contrary to the assertions of Prime Minister Churchill that it was none of the business of the United States. He had related the issue of independence to the fighting morale of the Indian Army, which he labeled as mercenary, and that their poor fighting spirit compromised the war effort in Burma and China, a sufficient portion of which was falling on the American shoulders, with the added notion that the entire war in the Pacific had as a key element the elimination of the Japanese from this area, to render of substantial importance to the U.S. this question of independence for India from Great Britain.

The letter had caused a firestorm in London, with Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden demanding the resignation of Mr. Phillips, a former Undersecretary of State and Assistant Secretary of State. That was so, despite the fact that Mr. Phillips, while remaining Special Ambassador to India, had been transferred to London to advise General Eisenhower on matters of state with regard to Belgium and France.

Mr. Phillips had recently come back to the United States, citing "personal reasons". But speculation was that he was called home because of the diplomatic flap aroused by this letter. Whether he would return to India was subject to question, as the British had insisted that he never do so.

The British had also demanded the resignation of George Merrell, head of the U.S. mission in India, based on his statements similarly supportive of Indian independence, and Mr. Merrell had recently resigned his post.

Mr. Pearson indicates that this foreign influence on the American diplomatic corps resulting from statements made to the President, intended to be private, was unprecedented. The President had asked Mr. Phillips to study the situation in India and render his report. Mr. Phillips had merely complied.

Marquis Childs addresses a recent study indicating that fewer than 50 million people were likely to vote in the November election, reduced numbers in the electorate favoring Governor Dewey. Many of the displaced war workers around the country, most of whom would support FDR, had not registered. Despite gains of 26 percent population in San Francisco and 20.6 percent in the Tacoma area, voting in recent primaries among Democrats was off.

New York had lost more than a million of its statewide population, spelling possible trouble for the President, as he had won in 1940 over Wendell Willkie by only 224,000 votes in the state. Many of these displaced persons were now war workers in the shipyards on the West Coast.

Oregon, which had overwhelmingly cast its votes for FDR in the three previous elections, was now listed at 51 percent for Dewey in the latest Gallup poll. The problem, according to Democratic leaders, was the failure of transient war workers to register.

Illinois was also being touted by Governor Dewey's supporters as being safely in the Republican column this time around, as the President had won in 1940 by only 95,000 votes and the state had lost 318,000 in population since that time.

Ohio had been carried by the President by 146,000 votes in 1940 but had lost only 76,000 from its population.

Republicans were claiming that a change of 1.5 million votes among the states from 1940 would produce a Republican victory in the electoral college. While the trends favored the President in time of war, the failure of displaced workers to register might turn the election.

A piece prepared by the editors chronicles a partial record of the strikes thus far during the year, in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Altoona, Pa., Pittsburgh, Boston, Atlanta, Passaic, N.J., Newark, Ashland, Ky., and Cleveland. The piece admits that the published list is weighted toward strikes caused by petty grievances of labor, emblematic of which was a Chrysler walkout of thirty tank production workers on February 15, regarding a complaint over the necessity of having to walk 25 feet to pick up overalls, and another at Chrysler on April 21, rendering a thousand workers idle because of a dispute affecting 350 employees at the tank manufacturing plant concerning a shift in the dinner hour from 7:15 to 8:00. It adds that management was also blameworthy for its intransigence in many of these strikes. The editorial predicts that, at war's end, there would likely be a flood of strikes issuing from labor and encourages Washington to meet the prospect of this burning issue, simmering just beneath the surface, and promising to ensnare the economy if not properly foreseen and remedied.

Ye Fala?

A news piece on the page tells of a streetcar collision in downtown San Francisco, probably on the Hyde Street Line, inflicting injuries to 35 persons, yet none injured seriously. Just a little shaken for the experience, most probably being tourists.

Once we had an unfortunate collision in a streetcar, not as a tourist, but as a tour guide for some friends from the Far-Near Middle East. The streetcar conductor, a brash fellow with few manners to his name, bolted the brake release stiffly into our back, knocking out breath from our person momentarily. We made a point, nevertheless, not to flinch, but turned and stared heavily upon his personage. He nevertheless felt obliged to instruct the person he apparently thought was a tourist in His fair City, of which he obviously knew little or nothing, undoubtedly as a recent reject from the Deep South, by saying, "I told you to look out and not stand so close to the brake." Actually, he had not. He Lied.

Hal Boyle reports of five American nurses and a woman Red Cross worker who had weathered their baptism of fire in the front lines near Chartres, helping to set up a field hospital in the area ten days earlier while the war raged around them. Before they could get the tents erected, they were bombarded by German artillery and had to dive for cover in the ditches. The women didn't flinch.

The first casualties came in from a mere 300 yards distant, the result of forward positions having moved ahead without fully eliminating Nazi opposition in the rear.

He next informs of a lieutenant who had the unpleasant duty of leading a burial brigade for the dead animals of the battlefield in France, usually burying 75 to 100 horses and cattle per day, on one occasion reaching 150, digging large holes with bulldozers to accommodate the large corses. It had nothing to do with wishing a decent burial for the departed beasts of burden. If the animals were not interred quickly, the resultant stench infiltrated the whole area and made it unbearable.

"There's something in the air of France that does a young man good."

One colonel, we believe, was heard to say, nevertheless: "I love the smell of rotting animal corpses in the morning. It smells like--victory."

Quote of the Day: "All you have to do with those Huns is to drive them up one hill and kick them down another all the way to Berlin," said General Patton. Though a statement made earlier, he seemed to be fulfilling admirably his adumbration, as the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in Georgetown planned the international politico-military slate of the world for a generation to come.

Now, connect them all up.

Clark's, Charlotte, July, 1964. Be there.

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