Thursday, August 31, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 31, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the British Second Army had captured Amiens and crossed the Somme river, advancing 60 miles in just two days, beginning at the Vernon bridgehead. A second column captured Beauvais, 30 miles northwest of Vernon. Another column out of Louviers took Gornay-en-Bray, 15 miles west of Beauvais. The total progress of General Dempsey's Army was from the Seine halfway to Belgium in just 48 hours.

The Americans took Laon, moving within thirty miles of Belgium. Another column took Dizier and moved within 40 miles of Verdun on the Maginot Line. There was no indication that the Germans were intending to make a stand anywhere beyond the German border. With the fall of Amiens, there was now no longer any possibility that they could attempt a stand on the Somme. The forces appeared headed toward the Ardennes, rather than attempting to penetrate the Maginot and Siegfried lines.

American bombers blew up a German ammunition dump near Dieppe in the Darques Forest. Both American and British bombers attacked Cezembre Island which blocked the mouth of St. Malo Harbor on the north coast of Brittany. RAF Mosquitos attacked Frankfurt.

In the South of France, remnants of the German Nineteenth Army fled toward Lyon. The U. S. Seventh Army took a largely intact Nice without opposition. The Americans were engaged in a heavy battle with the Germans at Livron on the Drome River, eleven miles south of Valence. The cost of the move north with substantial rearguard action was heavy to the Germans. The fiercest rearguard action yet had been fought in and around Montelimar.

General Eisenhower officially announced that General Bradley would become a full field commander, on equal footing with General Montgomery. The reason for the promotion of General Bradley was stated as no reflection or demotion of General Montgomery, but rather simply a recognition of the superior job being done by General Bradley in directing the First and Third Armies in the breakout from Normandy and the swift sweep of Brittany. Once the breakout had occurred, there was no longer the necessity of a single field commander as there had been since D-Day until the breakout.

The General also reported that originally, the plan had been to have only the French Second Armored Division enter Paris, but with the FFI calling for support during the weekend to assist in elimination of snipers, he sent in what was available under exigent circumstances, the French Division and the American Fourth Infantry Division.

He further reported that the Germans had suffered 400,000 casualties in France since D-Day. Of these, 200,000 had been taken prisoner, of whom 135,000 had been captured since July 25. Twenty-five divisions had been destroyed and another eighteen decimated. The Seventh Army and the Fifth Panzer Division had been completely defeated and much of the fighting strength of the First and Fifteenth Armies had been eliminated. The Allies had lost 3,000 planes in the bombing operations in France in the same period. The Germans had lost 3,500 aircraft both in the air and on the ground. They had also lost 1,300 tanks and 20,000 motor transport vehicles.

The Army reported 23,249 new casualties during the week of August 6-13, bringing the total to 264,636, including 53,101 killed, 142,686 wounded, 44,643 missing, and 44,408 captured. Of the wounded, 60,314 had been returned to duty. There was an increase of 4,300 killed in the one week. The Navy had 58,353 casualties to date, including 23,544 killed, 9,652 missing, 20,701 wounded, and 4,166 captured. The heavy losses of the Army was a reflection of the forceful advance by General Patton's Third Army. Casualties of the Seventh Army in Southern France so far amounted to 1,247 killed and missing, plus another 5,000 wounded. Those latter casualties occurred after August 13 and thus were not included in the overall number for the Army.

The Russian Second Ukrainian Army had taken Bucharest, having already captured the Ploesti oilfields the day before, cutting off as much as a third of Germany's oil supply. Most of the Ploesti fields were captured intact.

In Taylorsville, N.C., a juvenile of 15 was convicted and sentenced to death in the gas chamber for the murder of the Taylorsville police chief on July 9.

Justice moved swiftly, and sometimes cruelly, in those days. It was not, truly, as Mayberry.

Bob Hope reports that, upon the inception of his trip to Tarawa to entertain the troops there, he pulled his parachute ripcord prematurely, the wind then catching it, and carrying him into the control tower.

On Tarawa, in a theater on the beachhead whereon the Marines had suffered so many terrible losses during the landing operations of the previous November, they watched a movie, "The Battle for Tarawa". Beside the theater, in inimitable cinema verite, were the graves of the men who had died there as planes took off constantly on the airstrip behind the screen.

He spent the afternoon, along with Frances Langford and Patty Thomas, playing baseball with the troops. He stopped after eight innings when he realized that he was the only one keeping score.

Homer's base Odyssey, no doubt, lay ahead in the Ninth.

On the editorial page, "Free & Easy" contrasts the liberal, free-spending members of Congress with those labeled Bourbons, the tight-fisted, niggardly conservatives. New York Democratic Representative Emmanuel Celler had applied the moniker "Bourbon" to members of his own party who had helped to defeat the bill to provide substantial unemployment payment increases to displaced war workers during demobilization.

The editorial takes the side of the Bourbons in this matter, and asserts that, with the Federal debt approaching 300 billion dollars, some degree of parsimony needed to be practiced somewhere.

"Blind Man" finds curmudgeonly the words of Dr. William J. Stickle, a nationally known chiropodist, who told an assembly in Chicago the previous week that shapely legs were simply the result of distorted muscles, that men could have them as easily as women, and that the nation should rid itself of high heels, get down to earth and encourage "straight, trim legs".

For whatever reason, notes the piece, the crowd sat on its hands, did not roundly boo the suggestion. The editorial thinks this interference with comely legs would not only prove to diminish the aesthetic quality of the general environment but would also cause serious hardship to the shoe industry, precipitating a downward spiral in the economy.

Distorted muscles, the perception of the writer wasn't.

The News should have called upon O. N. Looker from days gone by to provide his 2 cents plain on the matter. Or, perhaps, Mr. Shapely, the quintessence of tact and decorum.

"One Better" again congratulates the job of the Junior Chamber of Commerce a couple of weeks earlier in collecting in one day 600,000 pounds of scrap paper for the war effort, but finds the nearby town of Monroe to have accomplished even more of a feat by netting 75,000 pounds of paper in a town of 6,000 people, a per capita contribution therefore of over three times the four pounds person provided by Mecklenburgers.

Perhaps, Monrovians read more and thus had more newsprint of which to dispose, or, read less, and had more old paper of which to be rid.

"Doubletalk" takes a leaf from Samuel Grafton and criticizes the chief carpers at the Administration, finding them engaging in paradoxical critique, on the one hand taking the measure of the President as being a dictator, on the other, a poor administrator, unable to keep members of the Executive Branch in line, as exemplified by the recent resignation in anger by Charles Wilson as vice-chair of the War Production Board. You could not have both in verisimilitude.

There appeared no one on the other side of the matter to speak the case for the Administration with any degree of eloquence. Only the American people themselves seemed to recall that which the President had done for them in nearly 12 years in office, and would likely so express that feeling in November.

"Army Split" provides an opinion of the soldier vote which had not occurred to the editors: that the soldiers were likely to vote for Roosevelt based on their empathy with the workers of the society, while the officers were likely to vote for Dewey based on beliefs simpatico with those held by executives.

Drew Pearson devotes his entire column to the brewing issue of America's stand on the independence for India from Great Britain, in the wake of the flap over the British criticism and demand for resignation of U.S. Ambassador to India William Phillips following Mr. Pearson's having published the previous month Mr. Phillips's letter to the President recommending that the United States intervene on the issue to bolster flagging morale of Indian troops, that the extant condition was hampering the Allied military effort in Northeastern India and Burma.

Mr. Pearson recounts that it had been a year since the Quebec Conference in which the President and Prime Minister had agreed on the stress to be given the Burma front, to reopen the Burma Road into China, to supply better the war effort in the Sino-Japanese war, to enable ultimately the supply and use of Chinese bases from which to stage air attacks on Japan. Yet, in that year, little progress had been made on the Burma-India front, and it was a good bet that a primary reason for that condition was the lack of fighting resolve of the Indian troops.

Mr. Pearson reprints, in the remainder of the column, a letter written by Chiang Kai-shek in July, 1942 to the President, recommending then the same thing that Mr. Phillips had recently recommended and for the same reasons, that the United States should take an active role in advocating to the British India's independence, and, in so doing, induce the belief in the Indian fighting men that the Allies were truly on their side in their struggle for sovereign independence.

Marquis Childs discusses the exchange of letters between President Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie concerning a meeting between them, as invited by the President. Mr. Willkie had expressed a desire to wait until after the election.

Both parties were actively courting his support. The Republicans were holding out the carrot of a position in the Dewey administration. But Mr. Willkie appeared resolute in his intention not to declare for either side until it was clear that one or the other supported completely his views on internationalism.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the two wars simultaneously being fought in France, the military war and the political war over Fascism, the latter having been fought by the Resistance even before 1940. For the fall of France to the Nazis had come not just from German military might but also had been the result of undermining from within by traitors sympathetic to the Nazis.

A New York Times reporter, Herbert Matthews, had described the Resistance movement during the war as one more akin to the French Revolution of 1793 than to the First World War. Just as in the Revolution, the people had arisen against both the the foreign invaders and the monarchy.

In the hands of the Maquis, the German infantry soldier was imprisoned and treated as a prisoner of war; the Nazis of the Gestapo, by contrast, were summarily executed without trial. Likewise, French Fascists were summarily executed for treason. That differentiation was a reflection of the Russian treatment of the Germans, but was inconsistent with the American and British view.

Moreover, inside France throughout the war, a contingent of Germans had worked for the overthrow of Hitler, having escaped Nazi Germany before the fall. There had also been a group of 250 Americans hiding in France since 1940.

Ms. Thompson thus concludes that it was overly facile to try to draw the lines of demarcation in the war between ally and enemy on the basis of national boundaries.

A letter writer responds to the previous day's invitation to rank the FDR Cabinet, by giving it a high grade. The author then lists the members of the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover Cabinets, finding among them no great public servant.

Of course, in fairness, it must be remarked that the present Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, had been Secretary of State under President Hoover. And Harlan Fiske Stone, the Chief Justice, so appointed in 1941 by FDR from Justice Stone's position already on the Court, originally appointed by President Coolidge, had been Attorney General under that Administration. So, the letter writer fudges a bit.

Hal Boyle explains that the Germans had introduced the black market to Paris and then became its victims. It was the only French business turning a profit. The Germans also came to rely upon it for goods.

The prices were steep: under rationing, the French were allowed two pairs of shoes per year, costing $8 per pair; on the black market, they ran $40 to $46 per pair. Suits cost $28 to $32 on the ordinary market, when they could be had; on the marche noir, they were $160 each.

The Germans had gained, according to one man with whom Mr. Boyle spoke, an appreciation for French wine during the occupation.

The worst yearning among the freed Frenchmen was for cigarettes. They could get only four packs per month under rationing, at 13 francs per pack. Most were sold on the black market, fetching 140 francs per pack. When the Americans arrived, the most frequently asked question by the French had been, "Have you another cigarette?"

Yesterday, the Washington Post carried this story which we found interesting.

Now have we journeyed to a spot of earth
Remote--the Scythian wild, a waste untrod.
And now, Hephaestus, thou must execute
The task our father laid on thee, and fetter
This malefactor to the jagged rocks
In adamantine bonds infrangible;
For thine own blossom of all forging fire
He stole and gave to mortals; trespass grave
For which the Gods have called him to account,
That he may learn to bear Zeus' tyranny
And cease to play the lover of mankind.

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