Thursday, SEPTEMBER 7, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, September 7, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American tanks and infantry of the Third Army had established a bridgehead below Metz across the Moselle River while losing another at Pont-du-Mousson, suffering heavy losses in the process against heavy German artillery fire from heights above the town, while heavy rains pelted the battle scene. The Third Army attacked along a 40-mile front from Luxembourg south to Nancy.

The U. S. First Army in southeastern Belgium broadened its front to 75 miles after establishing several bridgeheads across the Meuse River and into the Ardennes Forest, the latter weakly defended by the Germans.

In the South of France, the Seventh Army was approaching Belfort Gap, north of the Swiss border, seeking joinder with the Third Army to attack the Siegfried Line.

In Italy, the Americans of the Fifth Army had occupied Lucca, ten miles northeast of Pisa, and had pushed the Nazis back to within less than six miles of the main Gothic Line. Patrols were operating just south of Monsummano, fifteen miles east of Lucca and were within sight of Pistola. Progress was slow along the coastal area because of mines, mortar and machinegun fire.

The British Eighth Army made only slight progress on the Adriatic front, taking Riccione Marina and Besanigo. Troops crossed the Ventena River to within five miles of the principality of San Marino. Further inland, British and Indian units captured the 2,000-foot Monte San Giovanni.

The British Government, prematurely, declared the Battle of London over with the exception of the last few shots from the V-1's, the Second Army, in combination with the Allied air forces, having cleaned out the rocket coast from which they were being launched since mid-June. The wartime blackout of London was set to end within ten days.

A British Army spokesman disclosed that 2,900 Allied airmen and 450 planes had been lost during the previous 18 months of bombing the rocket coast. England had suffered 5,000 deaths since the attacks had begun. Only 2,300 of the 8,000 V-1's launched had reached their target. Of the misses, 1,900 had been dispatched by fighter planes and 1,560 had been knocked down by striking barrage balloons, with the remaining 2,300 either destroyed by ground fire or crashing harmlessly to the sea or elsewhere. Early launches had taken an average of one life per V-1; more recently, with more effective methods of interdiction in place, the average was one death for every three V-1's.

Some journalists departed the press conference believing that the V-2 installations had been knocked out before they could become operational. But the British spokesman stated that he was chary of discussing the V-2, as the Allies as yet knew little about it. He was confident, however, that within a few days, the press would be able to visit the destroyed launching facilities.

The Allies at this juncture obviously were not fully aware of the range capability of the V-2 and that it could be launched from sites in Germany.

The Russians had driven 160 miles in two days across Bulgaria into Greece, reaching the Turkish frontier in the area of Didymotelkhon in Thrace, 60 miles north of the Aegean Sea, 190 miles east of Salonika, and 130 miles northeast of Istanbul. Another tank column was on its way to Sofia in Bulgaria after the country had been invaded from three directions. The Russian forces had encountered little resistance and were now in control of the entire northern frontier of Bulgaria.

At the same time, Marshal Tito's Partisan forces in Yugoslavia were beginning an offensive to complement the Russian drive, with the object of sealing the escape route of the Germans from the Balkans. The Russians were within 90 miles of Belgrade and had already probably ferried across the Danube frontier and entered the mountain areas to effect joinder with the Partisans. The Partisans had attacked communications lines in Croatia. To the south, lines of attack had been mounted along the salients from Brod through Sarajevo and Mostar, from Uzire to Vinegrad, and along a third line from Zagreb to Belgrade.

General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson's headquarters announced that the Partisan offensive had been in progress for a week, with the assistance of the Allied troops in Yugoslavia, the Land Forces of the Adriatic. It was not clear whether American troops of the Land Forces were yet engaged in the fighting.

President Roosevelt was found by a Roper poll taken during the second and third weeks of August to be leading Thomas Dewey by a substantial margin, 54.6 to 40.9 percent. The margin had substantially increased from eight percent in the poll of August 5 and six percent in that of July 8, the latter taken a couple of weeks after the Republican Convention and eleven days before the start of the Democratic Convention.

Either the public was becoming increasingly disenchanted with Governor Dewey as an alternative to the President, the President had been substantially helped by the candidacy of Harry Truman, or both factors were at work, plus the added benefit to the President of substantial progress since August 1 on the European war front.

Bob Hope tells of a seven-hour trip to somewhere, censors preventing disclosure of the destination. There, they were greeted by 5,000 G.I.'s, plus a CBS correspondent, Father Duffy of Chicago, and Major Joe Foss, Medal of Honor winner and one of the leading flying aces of the war.

The entertainers performed their first show in a coconut grove, and when Frances Langford and Jerry Colonna appeared, the troops gave such an ovation that the coconuts began falling from the trees for miles around. Mr. Hope wanted to collect some and sell them to the beachcombers to make his fortune.

He was informed at Guadalcanal that Japanese stragglers would sneak into the shows at night and view them from the trees. He expected them to alight from their perches and protest the fact that poison gas was contra the rules of the Geneva Convention.

He met up with former Hollywood Brown Derby waiter Al Sanchez on Bougainville. Mr. Sanchez, says Mr. Hope, told of being on the frontlines one day when a colonel asked him to bring up some 20-mm. shells. He brought him 16-mm. shells. When the colonel objected, Mr. Sanchez responded, "Colonel, don't you know there's a war going on?"

That, Mr. Hope quickly corrected, was an apocryphal story.

He concludes by indicating that he had heard that headhunters were about and that he was going in search of their exchange program.

On the editorial page, "Conversion" finds the announcement by the acting head of the War Production Board that there would be a 60% return to civilian production after the war in Europe ended to be an indicator that the great production effort undertaken pursuant to the direction of Donald Nelson and Charles Wilson had been successful, despite opposition at times by the Army and Navy, and despite quarreling between the two men.

But there was an object lesson from the experience: that those who counseled a large board of businessmen to lead the country's production effort in peacetime were all wet. The problems and disagreements on the Board had become legend, with Mr. Wilson having recently resigned because of disgust over rumors circulated about him which he attributed to Mr Nelson's men on the Board.

"Rotterdam" reminisces of the dark time four years earlier, in late May, 1940, when the city had been overrun quickly by the Nazis. The small, yet determined Dutch Army was simply outmanned. When the Dutch commander of Rotterdam had hesitated briefly in surrendering the city, German Stukas had poured fire down, reducing a square mile of the city's heart to rubble in less than eight minutes. Though the Nazis counted less than 300 dead among the Dutch, correspondents subsequently found that thousands had been buried beneath the city's wrecked buildings.

Surely, therefore, contemplates the piece, these images were on the minds of the residents of Rotterdam as the Allies moved ever closer to liberating the city.

"Army Plan" applauds the democratic method by which the demobilization plan of the military had been created, consulting the G.I.'s themselves in its formation. Preferences for discharge would be based on length of service, overseas service, combat record, and number of dependents.

"Sir H. K.-H." indicates that Sir Hugh Knatchbull-Hugessen, the man with the memorable appellation, former British Ambassador to China in 1937, was back in the prints. In 1937, before Japan and Britian were at war, Sir Hugh had been riding in a car when a Japanese plane strafed it, causing him to have to hit the ditch, wounded in the process.

He was later transferred to Turkey, had now been sent to Belgium.

Concludes the piece, you could not keep a good Knatchbull-Hugessen down.

Marquis Childs eulogizes the deceased former Senator George Norris of Nebraska who had died at age 83 on September 2. The Senator, says Mr. Childs, never lost touch with his humble origins. He had been shrewd, quick-witted, selfless, an expert legislator who understood well the process.

His greatest singular achievement had been the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

More of the same determined spirit, says Mr. Childs, would be needed within the halls of Congress in the important times ahead.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the apprehension of Rumanians as the Russians took Bucharest. They were initially fearful that there would be retaliation in store for their having participated in the war against Russia with Germany since 1941. But, instead of finding the Russians bent on revenge, they found them bringing liberated Rumanian troops into the city who had previously been held prisoner in Stalingrad.

The gesture was magnificent propaganda by the Russians, suggests Ms. Thompson, demonstrating that those who stood with Russia would be forgiven, those who opposed, slaughtered or imprisoned. The Rumanians had responded with celebration, fueled by the fact that the Germans had bombed Bucharest in a senseless act of retaliation just before the Russians entered. It was characteristic of the spiteful behavior demonstrated throughout the war by the Nazisójust as in the taking of Rotterdam explored in the editorial column.

A series of letters to the editor tell their reasons for intending to vote either for Dewey or Roosevelt come November. The first letter writer believes the youth of Governor Dewey made him preferable to "old man" Roosevelt. The second plumped for the President because he had done more for the poor than any other Chief Executive. The third, while expressing respect for Governor Dewey's law enforcement credentials, believed that the experience and leadership of the President made him the better qualified. The fourth wanted FDR to be able to finish the job he had started, respected him for what he had accomplished thus far in office. A fifth, from an Army private, expressed support for the President on the basis of his demonstrated leadership, necessary at the peace table to establish a lasting peace, that which was lacking at the end of World War II.

Hal Boyle reports from Paris on August 28, presumably the piece filed after his motorcycle mishap during the Parisian celebration, providing some of the many things the troops would never forget upon first seeing the capital of France. There was one elderly woman who carried a ladder with her and every time she came across an American jeep, poised the ladder against it, climbed up and kissed the liberators.

Panic had erupted during the liberation day parade with General De Gaulle when Patriots began wildly shooting guns, causing more casualties than did the snipers.

The soldiers observed less evidence of hunger and suffering among Parisians than they had witnessed in England.

They admired the beauty of the city and the beauty of its women, especially after the disappointing views of the hedgerow-shaped ladies of Normandy.

Food and liquor were outrageously expensive, but cigarettes carried disproportionate barter power. Perfume could be had on the cheap.

Georges Carpentier, the French boxer who gained fame by losing to Jack Dempsey, looked smaller to the WAC's than they had imagined him, but remained fit at 50, reminded the female soldiers that he had only weighed 167 pounds when he had boxed.

The FFI were an interesting lot to behold, including the blonde woman with a walk like that of Mae West, packing two guns and a grenade in her belt. Maybe her name was Bardot.

Dr. Herbert Spaugh writes of a police chief from Ypsilanti, Mich., writing in the Christian Digest, indicating that he had never seen morals sink so low during his lifetime in the country as during the war. Wayward youth, smoking, drinking, promiscuity, juvenile delinquency.

Shish, kids today...

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