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

Heftige Angriffe zurückgewiesen

dnb. Rom, 1. August –
Der italienische Wehrmachtbericht vom Sonntag lautet:

An der sizilianischen Front kam es auch am Samstag zu harten Kämpfen. Im Raum von Regalbuto wurden wiederholte heftige Angriffe des Gegners zurückgewiesen.

Feindliche Flottenverbände haben Ortschaften an der tyrrhenischen und der jonischen Seite Kalabriens beschossen, ohne nennenswerte Schäden anzurichten.

Durch Japans Luftwaffe –
USA.-Stützpunkte ausgeschaltet

tc. Tokio, 1. August –
Durch die während der vergangenen Woche von der japanischen Luftwaffe auf nordamerikanische Luftstützpunkte in Tschungking-China systematisch durchgeführten Bombenangriffe sind diese, wie von militärischer Seite erklärt wird, als Basen für Luftangriffe auf das japanische Mutterland für die nächste Zeit ausgeschaltet worden.

Insgesamt wurden während der vergangenen Woche bei den japanischen Angriffsflügen auf die nordamerikanischen Luftstützpunkte 35 USA.-Jagdflugzeuge abgeschossen.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 2, 1943)

San Stefano falls in push along coast

10,000 prisoners, half of them Nazis, taken by Americans

Screenshot 2022-08-02 055007
Gains in air, on land and sea were scored by Allied forces in Sicily and Italy, with British and U.S. planes and warships striking at Italian cities and shelling the coasts. In Sicily, Americans captured San Stefano in the drive on Messina while the British 8th Army deepened its bridgehead before Catania. U.S. planes bombed Naples, and British warships struck at two places on the top of the Italian toe and one point on the sole (inset map).

Allied HQ, North Africa (UP) –
Allied armies have launched an offensive to crush Axis resistance in northeastern Sicily, smashing forward on the entire Messina bridgehead front of more than 60 miles despite strong enemy opposition.

An official announcement said that “Allied forces in Sicily have started an offensive,” with the U.S. 7th Army under Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr., capturing 10,000 more prisoners – half of them Germans – and driving 12 miles into the enemy’s northern flank. The north coastal town of San Stefano and the town of Mistretta, six miles south of San Stefano, fell to the Americans, as did Castel di Lucio, Castel di Tusa and Matta Pettino.

Reports steady progress

Today’s communiqué reported steady progress on all sectors despite strong counterattacks, which were repulsed.

The communiqué said:

Assoro, Nissoria, Nicosia, Mistretta and San Stefano are in our hands.

The network of roads in enemy hands was greatly reduced by the new advances and the remaining roads are being pounded day and night by Allied airplanes.

The latest bag of Axis prisoners increased to about 87,000 the number of Axis troops taken during the entire Sicilian campaign.

Crushes counterattack

The famous British 8th Army, veteran of El Alamein and Mareth in Africa, crushed a strong Axis counterattack on the southern side of the Mt. Etna Line, and Canadian troops pushed forward in heavy fighting to the south of the American columns.

Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, commander of the 8th Army, told his troops that “we will now drive the Germans out of Sicily,” and praised the Americans for seizing “more than half of the island in record time.”

Axis losses high

Axis losses on all fronts were reported heavy. The heaviest fighting was said to have taken place in the Assoro and Nissoria areas of central Sicily. There the Canadians faced the toughest German motorized elements in a difficult mountainous region where the Axis was contesting bitterly for every foot of ground.

The new American drive gave the 7th Army possession of the last important north-south road held by the Axis leading to the central part of the island. The road runs south from San Stefano through Mistretta and the Caronia Mountains to Nicosia.

The American advance of 12 miles brought the 7th Army within 70 miles of Messina along the north coastal road.

Yank bombers rip Romania’s key oil fields

Americans leave flaming ruin at Ploești; 20 planes lost
By Leon Kay, United Press staff writer

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Giving Hitler an ‘A’ card, U.S. bombers yesterday blasted one of Germany’s main sources of gasoline by blasting the Ploești oil fields of Romania in a 2,400-mile flight.

Cairo, Egypt –
Twenty out of nearly 200 U.S. Liberators that turned Romania’s vast Ploești oil fields into a flaming ruin yesterday were shot down over the target area and an additional unspecified number have failed to return from the record 2,400-mile flight, a communiqué announced today.

Advices from the Balkans said that great fires were still raging today in the oil fields, 24 hours after the raid, and the attack was hailed here as a success, with the results far outweighing the cost.

Hits were reported from heights of 100-500 feet on distillation plants, fractionation towers, boiler houses and storage tanks, which provide oil for one-third to one-half of the German war machine.

See sheets of flames

A Royal Air Force communiqué on the raid said:

Heavy explosions and sheets of flames were observed among oil refinery installations while many fires were started.

At least 51 intercepting German fighters, including Fw 190s and Me 109s and 110s, were shot down by the unescorted Liberators, according to the communiqué, and other reports indicated that the bag might reach 53.

The Liberators also ran into heavy anti-aircraft fire.

Two refineries wrecked

At least two of the 13 oil refineries in the Ploești area were wrecked and the entire district, 35 miles north of Bucharest, was left wreathed in flames and smoke. Col. Leon Johnson, who commanded one group of Liberators, said the scene was the “closest thing to Dante’s Inferno I ever saw.”

Dipping to chimney-stack level, wave after wave of the four-engined bombers swept over the 19-square-mile oil fields shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday, dropping 300 tons of high explosive and firebombs and strafing everything in sight.

Brig. Gen. Uzal G. Ent, chief of the 9th Air Force Bomber Command and leader of the raid, said in an NBC broadcast from Cairo that the raid “contributed materially to hastening the end of the Axis.” Normally, he said, the fields produce 18,000 tons of fuel oil, “but it will be a long time before they turn out that much again.”

The refineries provide 90% of the German Air Force’s gasoline supplies.

The Astro Română refinery, believed to be the largest in Europe, was reported damaged heavily and still burning. The pumping station on the Giurgiu pipeline which conveys oil to the Danube received numerous hits followed by many heavy explosions.

The Creditul refinery, newest in the fields and producer of aviation gas, was reported the site of raging fires. Vital parts of the Steaua Română refinery were hit squarely. The Româno-Americană refinery’s distillation plant was reported “most heavily damaged.”

Cracking tower hit

A refinery at Câmpina, 20 miles from Ploești itself, was destroyed, and direct hits were scored on the cracking tower of another nearer Ploești, effectively halting production there. Smoke and fire hampered full observation of damage to other objectives.

The raid was the fourth by the Allies on the Ploești fields, the Russians having bombed them twice in 1941 and the U.S. 9th Air Force having followed through with a raid from Palestinian bases a little more than a year ago.

Trains 2,000 fliers

This time, the Allied High Command decided to attempt to destroy the Ploești refineries and other installations with one massive blow and Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, U.S. Middle East commander, took over the task of training 2,000 American crewmen.

The big Liberators roared out from their Middle Eastern bases early yesterday and swept across the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and Bulgaria into Romania, barely skimming the treetops at times. Churchgoing crowds waved to them.

Over Ploești, the airmen rained bombs on their targets and within a matter of minutes the oil fields were a mass of flames. The fliers used special low-level bombsights. Many of the bombs dropped had delayed action fuses.

Soot covers plane

Maj. Norman Appold of Detroit, who piloted one of the last planes over the target, said a tremendous explosion in the middle of the oil fields covered his Liberator with smoke and soot.

1st Lt. Frank D. Slough of Woodland Hill, California, who once raided Kiel from a base in Britain, said the raid was “far rougher” than those he had seen on Germany. Anti-aircraft fire riddled several fires.

Col. John R. “Killer” Kane, another veteran raider, said the whole refineries area appeared on fire. His group shot down at least 33 enemy fighters.

Sgt. Jack Swafford, waist gunner on a plane known as Little Joe, said he saw one oil tank “open up like a coffee pot,” sending flames high in the air.

Send oil ‘by air’

Enough bombs were dropped to “send all the oil in Romania to Berlin by air,” commented 2nd Lt. Arthur A. Johnson of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Another pilot told of seeing three to four fires burning in one refinery and flames shooting 500 feet in the air from storage tanks.

Capt. Harold A. Wicklund, who took part in the raid on Rome, said he “enjoyed this one much more.”

He said:

I saw lots of smoke. We did some damage. It all happened so fast I don’t know for sure what we hit.

Corn sticks to plane

Sgt. Harry Schultz of Kansas City, Missouri, said the fires in the Ploești fields were the largest he had seen in any raid.

Flying Officer Raymond J. Lacombe of Providence, Rhode Island, said his plane swept so low that it returned to its base with corn on the bottom.

The bomb bay doors failed to open on a Liberator piloted by Lt. John Blackis of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and Sgt. Joseph Landry of Manchester, New Hampshire, the engineer, climbed down from the top turret and cranked them open by hand. Replacing him in the turret, Sgt. David L. Rosenthal of Newark, New Jersey, the radio operator, brought down a Me 109 with the first 50 rounds he had ever fired from a machine gun.

Lt. Blackis, 22, is the son of Thomas Blackis, 1250 Taylor Ave., New Kensington. A former Carnegie Institute of Technology student, he began flying five years ago while still in high school.

Brereton greets fliers

Gen. Brereton was on hand at the signal tower waiting for the Liberators to return to their bases. The first to come in was the Doodlebug, piloted by 1st Lt. John E. McAtee of San Francisco.

Gen. Ent was in the sixth plane to land and Gen. Brereton shook hands with him as he emerged.

Leader of raid on Romania nearly lost his life here

Heroism aboard burning balloon won medal for Gen. Ent

Brig. Gen. Uzal G. Ent, leader of the American raid on Romania’s oil fields yesterday, is a former Pittsburgher and in 1928 almost lost his life in a balloon race from Bettis Field.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Cheney Award for his conduct after lightning struck his balloon shortly after the start of the race.

The bolt killed the balloon’s pilot, Lt. Paul Evert. Gen. Ent, then a lieutenant and Lt. Evert’s aide, attempted to revive the pilot and then brought the burning balloon to the ground, despite the fact that his right arm and left leg were paralyzed temporarily by the electric shock.

He said he wasn’t sure Lt. Evert was dead and didn’t want to leave him in the burning balloon.

During another balloon race, he and a companion were caught by a storm and tossed about all night, once catching in a tree and finally being dumped out of their basket when it smashed into a mountain in New York State.

Gen. Ent’s wife is the former Eleanor Marwitz of Pittsburgh. She and their nine-year-old son are now visiting her mother, Mrs. Minnie B. Marwitz, at 419 N Craig St. They were in Florida all winter and, after their visit here, plan to take up residence either in Florida or New York.

Their romance began in Dayton, Ohio, in 1929, the year following the balloon race at Bettis Field. Miss Marwitz, of stage and radio fame, had just completed a season in the Ziegfeld production of Rosalie, in which she was a singing star, and went to Dayton to visit relatives. There she met Lt. Ent.

Held nine decorations

From 1939 to 1942, when the Ents were living in South America, Mrs. Ent kept up singing career by appearing in Red Cross benefit concerts.

Gen. Ent now has a total of nine decorations, including three from Peru and one from Bolivia.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1900, Gen. Ent served as a private and corporal in 1918 and 1919, then entered West Point in June of the latter year. He graduated and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Air Service in June 1924. The following year, he graduated from the Chemical Warfare School at Edgewood Arsenal, and the year after that from the Balloon and Airship School at Scott Field, Illinois.

Specialized on balloons

For years, he specialized in balloon and airship work. He was the pilot of the airship TC-5, which landed on the steamship American Trader while it was under full steam off Ambrose Light in 1928. Next year, he landed the same airship on the Munitions Building in Washington.

It was during this period that he participated in the balloon races. Reports from North Africa indicate that the wing of Gen. Ent’s plane grazed a tree during the Romania raid, which must have seemed like old times to him.

In 1941 and 1942, he served as a senior neutral military observer at the settlement of the Peruvian-Ecuadorian boundary dispute, and early this year was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work there. He was a colonel at the time. Since then, he has been made a brigadier general.

Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, commanding general of all U.S. Army forces in the Middle East, is also a native Pittsburgher. A son of William Denny Brereton and Mrs. Helen Hyde Brereton, he was born here in 1890.

Glider crash fatal to ten in St. Louis

Mayor and leaders in aircraft industry are among victims

St. Louis, Missouri (UP) –
Army investigators sought to determine today what caused the wings of a new cargo glider to collapse, sending the craft earthward in a dive that killed 10 persons, including Mayor William Dee Becker of St. Louis and others prominent in the aircraft industry.

The new-type glider, making its second flight, crashed before 10,000 horrified spectators at Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport yesterday firing a public demonstration, the craft was similar to the one which was recently toward across the Atlantic to England in the first such flight.

Lt. Col. G. R. Johnston, Army Air Forces Press Relations Officer, said the Army would ground all similar gliders manufactured by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation on the possibility that structural flaws caused the crash. The number of such gliders in Army service and the number produced by the firm were not disclosed.

Air pioneer killed

Col. Johnson said a preliminary investigation disclosed no evidence of sabotage but added that the probe would continue.

The 10 victims included Mayor Becker, Thomas Dysart (president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce) and Maj. William B. Robertson (president of the Robertson Aircraft Corporation, which built the glider).

Maj. Robertson, a pioneer in aviation, was cofounder of Lambert Field and helped finance Charles A. Lindbergh’s historic flight to France. He helped organize transcontinental airlines, assisted in surveying and laying out the China National Airways and made an aerial survey of the air transport facilities of Turkey.

Women faint

The glider was flying directly over the field at an altitude of about 2,000 feet when spectators saw the right wing collapse. The wing dropped off seconds after the glider was released from the towline for the flight under its own momentum. Shortly afterward, the left wing buckled under pressure and folded back against the fuselage as the glider plummeted toward the ground.

Women fainted as the craft struck the earth. Splinters and fragments were hurled several hundred feet.

The flight was staged by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation and the I Troop Carrier Command of the Army Air Forces. Maj, Walter T. Fletcher, who piloted the Douglas C-47 cargo plane which towed the glider, said the craft was released from the towline without incident.

Made successful flight

Cpl. J. A. Briggs, crew chief who released the line, said the motorless craft faltered a few seconds later.

The glider was built to accommodate 15 fully-equipped soldiers or five soldiers and one jeep, but company officials said it could handle five times its weight capacity. Shortly before the crash, the craft made a successful test flight.

At a press conference before the flight, Mayor Becker was asked whether he thought glider flights were dangerous. Mayor Becker, who had never flown in a glider, replied:

You can die only once and we must die sometime.

Others killed

Others killed in the crash were:

  • Lt. Col Paul H. Hazelton, Army Air Force;
  • Max Doyne of the St. Louis Public Utilities Department;
  • Charles Cunningham, assistant city comptroller;
  • St. Louis County Judge Henry Mueller;
  • Harold A. Krueger, vice president and general manager of the Robertson Corporation;
  • Capt. Milton C. Klugh of the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron, Stout Field, Indianapolis (pilot of the glider);
  • Pvt. J. M. Davis, attached to the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron.

Italians flee cities in panic; Fortresses hammer Naples

Fighting between German, Italian soldiers in Italy reported

Ballet dancer? U.S. economist denies at all

$5,600-a-year employee also hits charge he has Red leadings

925 Nazi fighters downed in month by U.S. aircraft

U.S. bombers attack bases in France and return without loss
By Walter Logan, United Press staff writer

Warship honors Bataan

Camden, New Jersey –
The USS Bataan, the first aircraft carrier named for an American campaign in the present war, was launched yesterday at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation yard.

Grand illusion

By Florence Fisher Parry

Ploești raiders battle enemy at tree heights

Romanians in fields, streets wave encouragement; one plane caught in own bomb blast

Cairo, Egypt (UP) –
U.S. Liberator bombers flew through a sky filled with enemy fighter planes over the Romanian oil fields in a spectacular battle so close to the earth that a wing of Brig. Gen. Uzal G. Ent’s plane once dipped “into the middle of a tree.”

Returning pilots described the raid Sunday on the Ploești fields as one of the most sensational of the war, with aircraft of both sides diving in all directions and bombs exploding so violently that a ground blast destroyed one Liberator.

They said that people in nearby fields and city streets waved and appeared to shout encouragement to the bombers flying at housetop level and that they saw little evidence of panic.

Fired on by haystack

A pilot reported:

One bomber flew so low that its direct hit on a boiler house caused such a violent explosion that it destroyed the Liberator.

The bomber Reggie Ann, carrying Gen. Ent, flew so low that its wing flicked through the middle of a tree. Sgt. Robert T. Stoddard of Kansas City, Missouri, top turret gunner of the bomber Lorraine, said:

We were looking down gun barrels all afternoon. It was the first time I was ever fired on by a haystack.

The haystack was used to conceal an anti-aircraft gun.

Lt. Dan B. Lear of Houston, Texas, said:

We saw one of our boys on fire just a few seconds before he reached the target. The plane came on in anyway, through a crossfire of flak and machine-gun bullets, and directed its bombs just as briefed. The pilot couldn’t pull up. He tried to make a crash landing on a field but clipped a wing on a cart and was flaming when he stopped.

Little civilian harm

Several flights missed the target on their first run but turned and flew back through the terrific ground fire to drop their bombs.

Others plowed through a smokescreen to find their targets.

The civilian population suffered a minimum of harm from the raid, officials said. The pilots saw civilians in swimming pools, at the lakes and strolling about the city of Ploești, but they did not seem to be afraid of the bombers.

The crews said farmers and small children in Romania and Greece waved wildly at the planes.

Maj. Norman C. Appold of Detroit, pilot of the bomber Queenie, said that:

Civilians in the streets waved at us while gunners on the housetops shot at us. It was the darndest thing I ever saw.

Lesson in street fighting

Maj. Harry T. Bauer of St. Louis said:

The boys took a lesson in street fighting on this mission. There were many bitter personal battles between gunners and batteries in the fields, on roads and on rooftops.

Lt. Dale Sisson of Phoenix, Arizona said his plane, Desert Madness, scored hits on the Câmpina refinery and “they won’t put out any oil for a while. Our group murdered the place.”

Capt. Emery N. Ward of Salina, Oklahoma, said all the women in the fields and streets “wore red skirts.” He said his plane was tossed high in the air by the terrific heat caused by the fires when they got over the target, and that his gunners mowed down four men who were operating an anti-aircraft battery.

Yank anxious to get revenge for foot hacked off by Zero

By Charles P. Arnot, United Press staff writer

MacArthur turns on heat –
Japs handed record losses

July air attacks destroy 28 warships, 436 planes

WAACs become WACs

Washington –
The WAACs will begin to become WACs this week. The War Department announced today that swearing in of WAACs, who will abandon the “auxiliary” in their title to become the Women’s Army Corps, will begin Wednesday at the First WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Book ridiculing Roosevelt published for Nazi fliers

President’s son gets volume containing comical portraits of Cabinet members
By Thomas R. Henry, North American Newspaper Alliance

Bowles brings common sense into OPA setup

New general manager realizes job’s tough, but he knows answers
By James Y. Newton, North American Newspaper Alliance

Pinpoints of light grow into fires on Kiska hills

Reporter flies along as Yank planes, warships join in smashing attack on Aleutian Japs
By Morley Cassidy, North American Newspaper Alliance

Food output to top 1943’s by 4%

Meat production puts total over last year’s record

Army invisible to visitors on Catania front

But smell of battle and noise prove that men are dying
By Hugh Baillie