The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 9, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Of shoes and ships, and protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, perhaps sealing wax also--the subject of the column today--as the situation in Europe darkened, with the fall of Salonika hard on the heels of that of Derna in Libya, as reported the day before. With the Balkans in dire straits, the consequent threat to the Dardanelles and thus Turkey became more imminent, and, with it, the oilfields of what today is Iran and Iraq became the more vulnerable to the Nazi tramp. The result of that, as "Gloomy News" points out, would have been to break the back of the British blockade on oil. As "In Iraq" of May 3 points out, the Nazis began activities in Iraq around this time in early April, enabling their stooges to seize control of the government. In late April, the British, in response, sent in troops, and, after a month-long war, succeeded in restoring control of the government to forces sympathetic to the allied cause. Iraq, having maintained nominal neutrality since the outbreak of the war in 1939, though, in desiring independence from British and French empire interests, flirting with the Axis during this interim since the fall of France ten months earlier, eventually declared war on the Axis at the beginning of 1942.

The North Carolina, referenced in the first piece, having had its keel laid in October, 1937, would not actually enter into service until after Pearl Harbor; thus, for perspective on how long it took to build a battleship of its size under normal pre-war conditions, its entire route from keel to battle spanned longer than the entirety of Cash's service as associate editor at The News.

Since 1961, after a drive sponsored among North Carolina's schoolchildren, the ship has been a floating museum docked at Wilmington.

And, by pure coincidence, not our first time aboard it, we nevertheless won our first airplane ride in spring, 1965 to it, from playing one of those contests on the waves we mentioned once upon a wavy day last year, before having read the piece below. In any event, we shall let you figure why we call it a coincidence. Regardless, the ship made it through the war and so we assume it never met, in battle anyway, The Flying Dutchman, even in the niar or enihs.

Nevertheless, and even so, if the world were entirely rational, would there have ever been a thing invented called jabberwocky? Indeed, would we even be here? Would there be any need for birth when be there would no such thing as death? Or a man named Lear?

And anent such things as sealing wax, Ray Clapper makes an entirely true, if thoroughly irrational, statement on the page today, regarding how it goes ultimately with those who seek to extinguish in humanity, whether of individuals or of whole states, the eternal light of liberty.

Has Quickly picked your pocket, or 'twas Prince Howl?

Let us see these pockets, the letters of which he speaks. Manners balm us not.

North Carolina

Great Ship Carries State's Name Upon The Seas

There is no sealing wax in today's talk. It is of boots abroad and ships at home, of the tramp of Nazi feet in Yugoslavia and the tramps of the Danish fleet seized in the United States. Yesterday the President announced that the solution to the problem of handling the confiscated steamers would be their purchase from the Danes. Today news of greater importance to Tar Heelia is the commissioning of the Navy's newest battle wagon, the North Carolina.

She is the promise of greater armaments to come for the United States Navy. Today, as her new crew takes over, she is the most efficient battleship afloat under the stars and stripes. That distinction won't last long for soon her sister ship, the Washington, will also be ready. They are the early birds of the new combatant vessels--fifteen destroyers and three submarines--to be readied for the Navy this year. Next year 80 more warships will be commissioned, each an improvement on our Wednesday child.

But today is North Carolina's day. Shelby-born Clyde Hoey spoke the few words which sent her sliding into the water last year, though 'twas said that he mistook the gold-braided band leader for the presiding admiral; North Carolinians heard a full description of her capabilities over the air-waves this afternoon. She represents the first major achievement in the accelerated two-ocean Navy program, completed six full months ahead of schedule. She's a 704-foot, 25,000-ton advertisement for our state.


French Generals Fell Into Mistake Natural to Mankind

The Vichy Government now says that General Corap was unjustly accused.

Corap is the man who commanded the Ninth French Army at Sedan in 1940 when the Nazis broke through what had been supposed to be impregnable defenses. Specifically, he was charged with failure to blow up the bridge over the Meuse. He was summarily removed from his command by Paul Reynaud, the former premier, who denounced him on the radio.

The Vichy exoneration is not necessarily the close of the case. For Vichy is so anxious to discredit everything done by Reynaud that it may be whitewashing Corap.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the main reason for the failure of the French was their lack of modern equipment, and Corap is represented as having often protested to Gamelin about that lack.

In the last analysis, perhaps none of the French generals are to be blamed too much. That they were a pretty incompetent lot is clear. But their complacency and failure to embrace new methods of warfare is comprehensible enough. The last war had been won, and it was natural for ordinary human nature to fall into the easy belief that the methods which brought about that effect would be good enough for the next conflict.

It can be said, of course, that men of such lazy and smug outlook ought not to have been in charge of armies. But, alas, no way has yet been found to determine just how good a general is save by actual trial in war.

Flimsy Claim

Wheeler's Civil Liberty Charge Lacks Evidence

Burton Wheeler writes to Attorney General Jackson that there have been "invasions and violations" of civil liberties in several cases growing out of the draft.

The only case he cites to prove this contention, which he promptly announced to the press, is that of a photograph showing one man drafted in New York being forcibly carried off by officers.

The man in question claimed to be a member of a sect with conscientious scruples against war and asked exemption on that ground. The local board turned him down, and no appeal machinery had been set up at the time. The fellow refused to carry out what was legally required of him, pending the final disposal of his case. And he was arrested under a warrant issued by the district attorney's office in New York.

Precisely what that has to do with civil liberties we don't know. The draft law is a law like another, and failure to comply with its requirements is punishable, as Burton Wheeler, who is a lawyer by profession, should know. The man has a right to have his contentions heard, of course, but there is no evidence that he has been denied it. And Wheeler himself confesses that he knows nothing of the facts.

None of that makes any difference, obviously, if your real purpose is to stir up suspicion and hatred against the Government and its policies.

Gloomy News

Hitler, However, Still Has Not Gained Objectives

There is no use in trying to blink the fact that the fall of Salonica leaves the Allied cause in the Balkans in a thoroughly discouraging condition.

The Greek armies are now split in two. The eastern forces along the Struma River Valley are caught between two German armies. And the armies in Albania are threatened with attack from the rear. That they can hold out on the present lines does not appear probable, and it may be impossible to retire to new ones, since events have taken this evil term.

As for the Serbs, they seem to be already disposed of save for guerrilla warfare. And the English have so far given no account of themselves at all. If the army said to have been landed has been in action, it has not been reported. And if it has been so easily defeated, that would be the most shocking news of all. It is made up of veteran Australians, the best soldiers England has, and is well-equipped.

For all the gloom engendered by the way things are going, it does not, however, follow that the original purpose of the English campaign has been defeated.

Hitler undertook his Balkan enterprise with two objectives plainly in mind. One was to deprive the English of a foothold on the Continent and bring Greece and Yugoslavia fully into his orbit. The other, and ultimately more important one, was to bring Turkey to terms. That would open the way for an attack on Suez by way of Syria. And what is much more, it would give Hitler access to the oil wells of Persia and Mesopotamia--i.e., would break the British blockade in what is unquestionably its most important respect.

To date these things remain to be accomplished. It seems incredible that the British will let him accomplish any of them without much more of a fight than has so far been in evidence.

Meanwhile, he has acquired a very important base. The British, apparently foreseeing the fall of Salonica, have been pooh-poohing its value. But it plainly will allow the German submarines to operate in the Eastern Mediterranean--a thing that could be of the gravest consequence if Hitler tried to seize the Dardanelles. And also it will give the Nazis an air base within fairly easy striking distance of Suez.

But what is perhaps worst of all is the effect that these new disasters are likely to have on the already timid and wavering Turks.

A Service

Weir's Move Seems To Have Headed Off Big Steel Strike

Ernest Weir may have had his ulterior motives in suddenly giving his employees of the National Steel Corporation a raise of ten cents an hour. Weir is as militantly anti-union as ever, and he probably saw the move as a good one to head off new attempts at CIO penetration among his workers.

But the move nevertheless is one which promises to make it possible to head off a long strike in Big Steel, and so is a service to the nation.

Weir's attitude at least shows that he is aware of the fact that what mainly ails labor now is that it feels that it isn't getting its share of the national defense profits, and will insist on being cut in for more. It is an attitude which is calculated to keep the wheels rolling in industry generally, which is the most important thing now.

And an extended strike in Big Steel was something which would have had disastrous effect. For war steel is the basic industry and U. S. Steel is of course the most important steel-producing unit in the industry in this country. The company is expected to match Weir's wage increase, and the union leaders have already announced that they will not call the strike merely over the closed shop issue.

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