America at war! (1941--) -- Part 2

OPA stews over meat rationing

Officials irked over housewives eating out
By Anne France Wilson

Warning given on major flu epidemic in 1943

Great hazard is overcrowding in plants, buses and trains

Invasion based on a big Army, Stimson says

Secretary calls on civilian economy to stand shock

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

A forward airdrome in North Africa – (March 9)
Once more I’m with the House of Jackson – the bomber crew I wrote about in England and again elsewhere in Africa. We follow each other around so much that our reunions are getting to be commonplace.

They were out on a mission when I arrived at their remote airdrome. So, I went out to their plane’s parking place, and was waiting when they came back. The first man to drop out of the plane was Lt. Malcolm Andresen, of Hixton, Wisconsin, the navigator. We are good friends, and I hadn’t seen him for weeks, but he just grinned and said, “Hi, Ernie,” and didn’t even shake hands, as though I’d been there all the time.

The House of Jackson is still perking, but the inevitable perils and shiftings of war are starting to whittle her down. Her skipper was Capt. Jack Taylor, of Wollaston, Massachusetts. Now he has been promoted to ground work in an operations job, and takes the faithful old plane on its mission only once in a while.

He hates office work; just isn’t the type. But when I asked him if he didn’t chafe at being on the ground so much, he said:

Hell no. If I never go on another mission, it’ll suit me all right.

But later I noticed he was begging the squadron leader to let him go on one.

The bombardier is temporarily out of the crew too. He got a piece of flak in his left hand, and now goes around proudly with his arm in a sling. He is Lt. Joe Wolff, of Omaha. He’ll be flying again in a few days, but the boys kid him about maybe he’ll get a ticket home, now that he’s wounded. Joe laughes too, but he wishes they weren’t just kidding.

One man of crew killed

There is no laughter about the ball-turret gunner. For he is dead. He is the one who loved his ball turret so much he even wanted to be in it while the plane took off; loved it so much he wouldn’t let anybody else get inside it.

His death was a brave one. When the Germans came over the airdrome one night, this gunner jumped from the trench, where he was safe, and dashed to the nearest Fortress and began shooting at the enemy planes from the upper turret. A bomb landed nearby, and a small fragment tore through the side of the plane and went through his heart.

I was on the field that night, and the rest of the crew were asking their officers if they could take up a collection and send his body home. It is impossible, but they will mark his grave well, and maybe after the war his body can be arranged.

That night, Lt. Andresen asked me if I could say something in the column about how wonderful the ball-turret gunner had been, and how he had died, so his folks could read it. But I had to tell him it was impossible, because I can’t give his name.

There is a censorship rule which forbids us mentioning the name of a casualty until after his family has been notified by the War Department. The rule is good, I think, but there’s no way for us over here ever to know when the War Department has sent its telegram. Consequently, the rule really forbids us even mentioning casualties at all.

So, all I can do is tell the little incident, and someday the other members of the crew will write to this brave gunner’s family and tell them how he died.

The gunner was Sgt. John D. Wadkins, of Coolidge, Arizona. Ernie Pyle gave his name is a confidential postscript to this dispatch, for use of the War Department confirmed that the next of kin has been notified. This the department has done.

Fliers have ‘special’ language

The Air Forces have a language all their own. One old Air Force expression has increased in popularity over here until now it substitutes for about 50% of ordinary verbs. The expression is ‘'sweating out.” You “sweat out” a mission, or you “sweat out” the weather, or you “sweat out” a promotion. It means you wait, or you fight, or you do anything hard that takes some time.

Another much used expression is “rugged.” When you’ve been living in mud, that was “rugged.” When the flak over Bizerte has been especially bad, that was a “rugged” trip. Anything extraordinarily tough is “rugged.”

In the village near our airdrome, there is a terribly crippled Arab kid, about 10 or 12 years old, I’d judge. He can’t walk, and crawls on his stomach all over town through the dirt and filth.

And what have our soldiers done? Why, they’ve taken the wheels off a battery carrier at the airdrome, and made a little wheeled platform for the kid to lie on, so he can roll along the streets instead of crawl.

U.S. Navy Department (March 11, 1943)

Communiqué No. 306

North Pacific.
On March 9, a force of Mitchell medium bombers (North American B‑25) and Liberator heavy bombers (Consolidated B‑24), with Lightning escort (Lockheed P‑38), bombed Japanese positions at Kiska. Hits were observed in the camp area. Anti-aircraft lire was encountered but all U.S. planes returned.

South Pacific.
On March 10:

  1. During the early morning, Liberator heavy bombers (Consoli­dated PB4Y) carried out minor bombing attacks on Japanese positions at Kahili, on Bougainville Island, and at Munda and Vila in the central Solomons. Results were not observed.

  2. Later in the morning a large force of Avenger torpedo bombers (Grumman TBF), Dauntless dive bombers (Douglas SBD) and Wildcat fighters (Grumman F4F) attacked Vila, on the southern coast of Kolombangara Island. Several large fires were started.

  3. During the afternoon, U.S. aircraft intercepted 10 enemy dive bombers, with an escort of 12 Zeros, northwest of Guadalcanal. One enemy bomber and three Zeros were shot down.

  4. No U.S. planes were lost during these actions.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 11, 1943)

Stimson reports –
U.S. casualties 2,242 in 6 days

Bulk of 2,007 missing are believed prisoners


Allied HQ, North Africa –
Heavy fighting is in progress at Ksar Rhilane, 40 miles from the southwest end of the Mareth Line in southern Tunisia, according to reports to Allied Headquarters tonight. The British 8th Army was reported to have inflicted heavy casualties on Nazi forces.

Washington (UP) –
U.S. casualties in Tunisia from Feb. 14 to 20 – the period of the Allied retreat and initial counterattack – totaled 2,242, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson disclosed today.

These included 59 killed, 176 wounded and 2,007 missing, Mr. Stimson said. Of the missing, most were probably taken prisoner by the enemy.

Mr. Stimson said in this period U.S. losses ran heavier than those of the British and French.

He said:

Losses on both sides in Tunisia during the past month have been substantial. We probably have fared better than the enemy. More than 1,000 Germans and Italians were taken prisoner during the month, and over 100 enemy tanks captured and destroyed.

Allied forces in Tunisia have had much the better of the fighting during the past week. Highly mobile Axis forces have been extremely active but the net result has been decidedly unfavorable to the Axis.

Mr. Stimson said that aircraft have been playing an important part in the Battle of Tunisia, supporting ground troops and attacking Axis shipping, airfields, docks and other installations.

He said:

In air combat, our planes continue to show gratifying superiority. Last week, we shot down 58 enemy planes for a loss of 31.

In Tunisia –
Allied advance toward Gafsa

British beat off attack in northern sector
By Virgil Pinkley, United Press staff writer

Allied HQ, North Africa –
Allied forces have occupied Métlaoui in a drive toward the Axis anchor point at Gafsa and have beaten off another enemy attack in the Sedjenane sector of northern Tunisia, a headquarters communiqué announced today.

French troops which methodically have been cleaning out Germans and Italians from the northwestern shore of Chott el Djerid (salt lake) in south-central Tunisia, turned northward and captured Métlaoui, an important rail and road center from which the Allies can strike quickly toward Gafsa.

Becoming untenable

Gafsa was rapidly becoming an untenable point for the Axis. It was one of the first towns taken by Marshal Erwin Rommel in his big westward push on the central front last month. He was later driven back from most of this area by counterattacking U.S. troops.

Once reestablished at Gafsa, the Allies would be in excellent position to strike eastward toward Sened, Meknassy and the Gulf of Gabes – the areas known as the Tunisian bottleneck.

The British 8th Army stopped the Axis cold for the second time this week in the area west of Sedjenane. The enemy attacked yesterday afternoon, according to the communiqué. Gen. Jurgen von Arnim has made heavy sacrifices in trying to budge the British from the northern end of the Allied line, his gains have been minor.

Blast airdromes

Allied heavy bombers again attacked the Axis airdromes at El Aouina and La Marsa, near Tunis, scoring direct hits on both fields.

At El Aouina, planes on the ground were hit and fires were started. The attacks cost the enemy eight fighter planes.

Allied medium bombers attacked Gafsa in support of the advance toward that town, and fighters opened up their guns on enemy vehicles and infantry in the northern and central sectors. Only one Allied plane was lost yesterday.

Zero hour near

Obviously, the zero hour of the final Allied offensive was nearing. The weather on the northern front had been a major factor, but United Press staff correspondent Edward W. Beattie, with the British 1st Army in the north, reported:

Fine days now greatly outnumber rainy days on the northern sector, and the ground rapidly is hardening, but neither side will be in a position to make a full-dress attack until steady sunshine is assured.

The situation was different at the other end of the Tunisian front, where Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery’s powerful 8th Army was drawn up. Fighting weather has already arrived, but will end in six weeks or two months, when southeastern Tunisia will become unbearably hot and infested with malaria.

Three men adrift 83 days wiggle toes to bait shark

U.S. gunner tells how fish were roped; 2 of 5 die

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Roosevelt promotes two more generals

Washington (UP) –
President Roosevelt today nominated two of the high American commanders in the North African Theater, Maj. Gens. George Smith Patton Jr. and Carl Spaatz, for promotion to the temporary rank of lieutenant general.

Gen. Spaatz is deputy air commander in the North African Theater.

Gen. Patton, an expert in mechanized warfare, is commander of the U.S. Western Task Force in North Africa.

On Lend-Lease anniversary –
Roosevelt warns Axis: We’ll choose battlefields

Litvinov says his countrymen ‘are fully aware’ and are grateful of help from U.S.

Tax guess in error –
Treasury ‘off’ about $1 billion

Confusion blamed in collection estimate

Social revolution program wins backing of Roosevelt

Federally controlled economy, voice for labor in management of industry, great expansion of Social Security system urged

Coal meeting directs plea to Uncle Sam

Operators’ spokesman recites pay increases of miners


Manicure girl

By Florence Fisher Parry

You would have thought I was a lady of leisure, in that booth with one girl at the permanent and the other at the manicure… And who knows, they may have been thinking so too, and envying me; while I, on my part, was thinking how wonderful to be young and beautiful and life ahead., never mind what life, but AHEAD!

O Prospect!

The girl bent over the manicure had soft black hair and a skin like marble. Her eyes were soft, and the corners od her mouth were soft deep dimples. How lovely she would look dressed like a Cinderella at a ball, her creamy skin against creamy brocade, and brilliants in her black hair.

Why yes, she could be the daughter of the proudest dowager.

Yet there she drooped over the manicure at the end of a long day.

And the girl who was timing the permanent, and combing the test curl critically… she had been talking this long while, and her words were as clean and sharp as pebbles, and her thoughts as clear as a seer’s.

Second generation

Two girls in a booth… at a beauty parlor. American youth incarnate. Steady, bright, healthy, young – your girl or mine, America.

So, I asked the girl with the ebony hair and the skin like warmed-up marble:

What is your name?

And she said “Margaret.”

…But your last name?

And with a curious reluctance, she gave me an odd-sounding name.

What country did your people come from?

She said, “Czechoslovakia.” And, encouraged, went on to explain:

Of course, it wasn’t Czechoslovakia then, for that was in 1913. But my father and mother knew no peace, persecution was everywhere, there was always someone to oppress them; so, my father escaped to America and later sent, underground, money to my mother to join him here. She had a hard tome getting away; was held and questioned and nearly was imprisoned; but she would not tell where my father was, and later managed to be spirited out of the country and come here. Now my brother is an aviation cadet and it makes my parents proud.

And as she spoke it was an though I were listening to the story of America. Multiplied by millions, millions, was her story; the story of the people here who are ordained to win for the world an almighty peace such as the world has never known.

For never again, after this war, can we in America who have not been “foreigners” for many, many generations, look upon our neighbors here as “other” people from the Old Country. We will be one.

The awakening

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

That’s what we are beginning to realize, when we look at the pictures out of Poland and Norway and Crete… And when we see our armies gather strength and purpose and watch them embark for the ends of the earth, we are beginning to understand as never before, why we are INVINCIBLE. For we know now that we are made up of the sons of the persecuted from all over the world, who had the spirit and energy to spring free from oppression and come to our shores – whether one generation ago, or three, or six, what does it matter?

WE ARE the oppressed of Europe, freed only by the grace of God and the initiative of our forebears. No wonder our armies are there, there already, and that the second front long since has been established within the borders of Poland and Greece and France by all who await there the coming of their brothers, their deliveries.

And never again will a “second generation,” Czech or Pole or Finn or Greek, hesitate, embarrassed, when she – or he – is asked:

What is your name, your real name, and what country did your parents come from?

Shame on us that all these years, until this war, we “long-timers” in America, gave out the insufferable assumption that we were the superiors of these later immigrants, who are now in the front ranks of our almighty army fighting the fight for Americas with a fiercer consecration than even “early Americans” can summon.

Wheeler spurs move to block dad-drafting

Bill to defer farm workers faces delay in Senate

Let victory precede talk of 4th term, Ickes says

Washington (UP) –
Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes said today that a year and a half before election time is too soon to discuss the question of a fourth term for President Roosevelt.

Mr. Ickes said at a press conference:

We shouldn’t go into any political speculation while we’re at war. Let’s win the war first.

Planes batter Japanese ships

Six vessels damaged in widespread attacks

Adm. Standley assumes full responsibility

Informs Welles remarks about aid to Russia were his own

Gen. Teddy Jr. hunts action aboard jeep

Roosevelt bounces into battle riding jeep ‘Rough Rider’
By Phil Ault, United Press staff writer

Bridge in Burma hit in American bombing

New Delhi, India (UP) –
U.S. planes, attacking Jap-held Burma, raided Pazunosung Bridge, north of Rangoon, with 12 tons of bombs yesterday, a 10th Air Force communiqué said today.

Five direct hits were scored on the north end of the bridge, the communiqué reported, but the full damage has not yet been determined.

British bombers last night attacked objectives at Akyab, strategic Jap sea and air base in western Burma, a communiqué announced.

During offensive patrols yesterday, British fighters made low-level raids on two Jap positions in the Rathedaung area some 25 miles northwest of Akyab.

All British and U.S. planes returned safely.

Editorial: ‘The primary need’

Ferguson: Mrs. America looks ahead

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson