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

Raider downed off Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland –
A four-engined German Focke-Wulf bomber was intercepted by U.S. fighter planes and shot down off the north coast of Iceland Thursday, it was announced today. Seven of its crew were rescued by a British patrol vessel.

Salvagers ‘move’ old Normandie

Oh, to be in England–

By Florence Fisher Parry

Wake Island: Do bombings presage as avenging attack?

Bombers, guns shatter town

Yanks soften up Troina for ground attack
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer

Outside Troina, Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 4, 9 p.m., delayed)
Fifteen hundred death-bound Germans who have held off Yankee assaults on the mountain fortress of Troina for five days learned about hell today from waves of dive bombers and the greatest American artillery bombardment since El Guettar.

Prisoners told us the German officers in Troina threatened to shoot any man who retreated. The Yankee job today probably saved them some cartridges.

Close to 200 guns and 106 dive bombers were turned loose on Troina. Through tremendous clouds of smoke over the town aerial observers saw piles of masonry and huge chunks of earth tumbling.

Softened for attack

Not since Jebel Berda at El Guettar in Tunisia had the Americans had just a fight and not since then had such an artillery job been necessary. Col. Robert B. Cobb, of Ulm, Washington, a 28-year-old hero of Tunisia, testified to that.

But the planes and guns have set up the town for the final assault.

As I write this at the frontline, the Yanks are 2,500 yards from the northwest approaches to Troina. They were ready to move up after the bombing.

Guns follow planes

The artillery barrage was at its height at 5:20 p.m., five minutes after the last wave of 36 dive bombers hit the city and the supply roads over which the Germans could be seen rolling up ammunition trucks.

The guns boomed for a half-hour. One three salvoes of 155 howitzers set up an explosion in what must have been an ammunition or gasoline dump. At another point, the church steeple was toppled. The Germans had been using it for an artillery observation post.

Before the sun went down, U.S. soldiers were scrambling out of their foxholes on three sides of the city. Once a German mortar tormented them, hit two men and their broken bodies were flung into the air.

Regiment pinned down

Directly ahead of me, a regiment was pinned down by machine-gun fire a foot over the heads of the men concealed in shallow holes. On my right was a regiment that had already gone through 18 hours of constant bombardment.

They had been shoved off a hill directly south of the town last night but counterattacked and regained it at 11:30 a.m. today. Again, the Germans threw in a heavy assault which pushed it back down into a gully where they had to stay until the dive bombers went to work.

Soles of 6 pairs of shoes emphasize cost of victory

They’re visible in rear of truck, showing that those Americans gave their all in Sicily
By Hugh Baillie, United Press staff writer

Hugh Baillie, president of the United Press, wrote the following dispatch after a tour of the entire front in Sicily.

With the Allied armies in Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 4, delayed)
The town of Agira has fallen and Canadian troops, many of them stripped to the waist, are going through the streets collecting weapons.

Their lank brown torsos are gleaming with sweat and many of them are carrying Tommy guns ready for immediate use. They all looked well pleased. I saw one swinging along wearing an ordinary felt hat at a jaunty angle. He had on shorts and wore a bandana handkerchief on his neck. His Tommy gun seemed the outstanding portion of his costume.

The Fascist Party secretary sat glumly, refusing to answer questions. There were other officials wearing Fascist regalia, some cooperative, some not.

Shops reopen

However, most folks in Agira were rapidly returning to their peaceful pursuits, reopening shops, chattering excitedly while troops, guns and supplies poured through the narrow, tortuous streets of the medieval city. The town’s chief magistrate went about his duties wearing the word “mayor” in crudely-lettered English on an arm brassard.

The Germans were then shelling a road beyond the town, causing an eight-mile traffic jam before their batteries were silenced. The grunt of their gun could be heard, then it seemed like a long wait before the missile arrived, whereupon a plume of coal-black smoke would shoot up.

Gives orders under tree

The commander of the Canadians, youngish and brisk, was seated under a tree receiving one officer after another who snappily saluted and reported, getting orders in rapid fire fashion from the general while studying maps and sipping tea.

Entering the American zone, I encountered “the Yanks,” as they are universally termed here. At a road intersection a tall, lean young American, iron-hatted, uniformed against the cold Sicilian nights, gives directions in a familiar Midwestern accent. The fact that every man must wear an iron hat as part of his fighting uniform gives the Americans a grim, tough, purposeful aspect. And they have had some of the toughest, grimmest fighting of this campaign.

Prisoners in trucks

Near the American front, I met streams of prisoners riding trucks to the rear. The Germans outnumbered the Italians in this particular batch. They did not seem downcast. In fact, the prisoners seemed to be enjoying the ride, reveling in the refreshing breeze caused by the trucks moving rapidly over the bumpy road. They stared around curiously and interestedly. They seemed either youngish or oldish, not in the prime 20s like most of the U.S. troops.

All of them were plenty grimy, covered with the gray Sicilian dust. However, that is not confined to prisoners. Everybody gets a coating of Sicilian chalk. You eat it, breath it, also carry it in your eyebrows and ears. It is inescapable, even for generals.

Shells whoosh

Another town, almost abandoned, seemed a sinister place. About a half-dozen residents remained, one aged woman munching her gums in a doorway apparently oblivious of the shells whooshing and exploding in the next block after which debris pattered, glass tinkled and the noise of the explosion reverberated and echoed in the deserted alley-like streets.

However, the church was still alive. The bells rang at noontime, sounding sweetly amidst the various ugly noises. I entered and found the church unattended, also undamaged except for a few broken windows from which glass littered the marble floor.

The cost of war

Outside through the city square passed jeeps carrying lightly-wounded young Americans, some with arms, legs or heads neatly bandaged in the field, now en route back to dressing stations.

They had crimson-stained, grim, preoccupied expressions. Our casualties are described as light, but nevertheless it gives you a strange feeling to see the soles of six pairs of army shores visible in the rear of a truck and comprehend that there are six more Americans who have given their lives to halt German aggression.

It somehow carries more wallop about what should be done to prevent Germany from repeating the crime after another few years than many speeches that will probably be made at the peace conference. The poignant shoe soles were scratched from scrambling over rocky hillsides. Well, they have made their war contribution, giving everything, including life itself.

Nazis loot Catania homes; mayor complains to Allies

Sicilian official describes how Germans blew up hotel, power plant before retreat
By Ned Russell, United Press staff writer

Catania, Sicily, Italy – (Aug. 5, delayed)
The Mayor of Catania, Marquis di San Giuliano, officially welcomed British military authorities to deprived the 50,000 inhabitants remaining in the city of food for 24 hours before the British troops arrived.

Sitting in a spacious office in the Carabinieri headquarters, beneath a huge photograph of King Victor Emmanuel, the dapper little mayor turned over his battle-scarred city to a brigadier, who commanded the first troops to sweep through Catania in pursuit of the fleeing Germans.

The mayor spoke bitterly of the departed Germans and vowed enthusiastically that “Fascism and the Germans are enemies of Sicily.”

Blow up hotel

His bitterness was accentuated when he told the British commander how the Nazi troops, on their last night in the city, blew up the Hotel Moderna, which had been the German headquarters, the city’s electricity works and the post office.

The Marquis said:

They used to be wonderfully smart and cheerful soldiers, but since Tunis fell, they bullied us constantly and stole food, clothing and household belongings and sold them in other cities and villages.

Only about 50,000 of Catania’s 244,000 inhabitants remained in the city before the Allied advance, the mayor said, and most of them had not eaten in the past 24 hours.

Permission granted

He appealed to the brigadier for permission to repair the electricity works in order to operate the flour mills and use big supplies of wheat stored near the city.

The Allied commander immediately complied and at the same time informed San Giuliano that the local authorities and police were given responsibility for halting looting and restoring order.

The mayor disclosed that nearly 2,000 civilians had been killed in Allied air raids since June 15, and that more than half of the 50,000 who remained in the city were forced to live constantly in basement air-raid shelters.

Loot mayor’s car

The Germans started to leave the Catania sector three days ago, San Giuliano said, after attempting by various means to block the Allied advance.

He explained:

They looted my car once and stole it from me at the point of a machine-gin this morning to carry ammunition to a machine-gun post at a road junction north of the city. I told the first British officer I met about that machine-gun post and he fixed it.

The Germans tried to tell us they were fighting for Italy, and they couldn’t understand why we didn’t fight. But we know they are only fighting to keep you out of the European mainland as long as possible.

Senators urging government aid on synthetic gas

Government and fuel officials recommend building of gasoline-from-coal plants with public funds

Yanks tend to attackers, then to fires on bomber

Fortress on Kiel raid comes back with bomb bay doors off, engine dead, holes everywhere
By Walter Logan, United Press staff writer

Editorial: Now, how do you feel?

Editorial: Two-way street


Ferguson: Draft women?

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Mrs. Roosevelt, returning from a journey to the West coast, called a Washington press conference and announced that conscription of women would be inevitable if recruiting efforts failed. This is equivalent to saying that conscription of women is in the cards. One who has followed Mrs. Roosevelt’s conferences and columns must be convinced by this time that she is a trailblazer for administration moves.

A great many people believe that the drafting of women may be necessary and would be wise. Quite naturally too, there are those who oppose it.

A bill, the Austin-Wadsworth National War Service Act, has already been introduced in Congress and if passed, would change our whole pattern of life. An organization to oppose the measure has sprung up in Philadelphia and we may expect to see the country split wide open over the issue.

On the other hand, Mrs. John Whitehurst, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, took a private poll of her membership recently with startling results. Those living in Southern states voted a preponderant “Yes,” while Northern members were mostly on the negative side.

I don’t know what this proves, if anything. But regardless of where we stand on the issue, we face a social innovation which would have appeared incredible and preposterous five years ago.

Instead of taking sides violently, why not study the question intelligently? Snap judgment is no good on such a question – not even Mrs. Roosevelt’s.

This proposition of a general draft for women certainly calls for an expression from the people. The matter is too serious to be trusted to pressure groups or politicians.

Crack crews of American railroaders haul supplies through Iran to Russia

Yanks overcome heat, bandits and mountains
By Lt. Col. Karl W. Detzer

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Somewhere in Sicily, Italy – (by wireless)
It is an axiom that the closer you get to the front, the less you know about what is going on. During the invasion of Sicily, we would often say that we wished we were back in New York so we could find out how we were doing.

During the first two days, we had no word at all in our sector about the two American sectors to our right. Even though we were within sight and sound of their gunfire we knew nothing about how they were faring. You in America knew, but we didn’t.

Aboard ship, we were better off than the troops on land, for we did get some news by radio. Many of the troops inland didn’t know about the bombing of Rome till nearly a week later.

On our ship, what news we did get came mostly from BBC in London, the German radio in Berlin, and our little daily newspaper assembled from worldwide shortwave broadcasts picked up during the night.

Our skipper, Cdr. Rufus Young, feels that a lack of news is bad for morale, so he did all he could to give the ship’s crew the news. He asked me to edit the daily mimeographed paper, and took one radio operator off his regular watch and just gave him his own time to sit and sample various air channels for news.

Missed only one day

This operator was Frank Donohue, radioman second class, of 139-49 87th Ave., Jamaica, Long Island. He started in as a child with the Commercial Cable Company and has been a radio operator for 18 years, though he is still a young man. He was working for Press Wireless when he joined the Navy a year ago.

He has had so much experience taking down news dispatches that he has a good news sense. He took as much pride in our little paper as I did, and it got so he would sort out the stories by subjects before waking me at 3 a.m. Then while I assembled and rewrote the stuff, he would bring us cups of coffee and cut the stencils for the mimeograph.

It was always daylight when we finished, and I would stop on the bridge to talk for a little while with the men of the early-morning watch. Off Sicily, as everywhere else in the world, dawn is the most perfect part of the day – if you’ve got the nerve to get up and see it.

We did our work in a big steel-walled room where about 30 other radio operators were taking down code messages by typewriter, so it did seem sort of like a newspaper office. Throughout the invasion period we missed getting out our paper only one day. That was on the morning of our landings. Getting up at 3 a.m. every day and not getting any sleep in the daytime almost got me down before it was over, but there was considerable satisfaction in feeling that you were not entirely useless aboard ship.

Here’s that girl again

Such a privilege would doubtless seem fantastic to a German soldier, but we listened every night throughout our invasion to the Berlin broadcasts and to the special propaganda program directed at American troops.

The master of ceremonies on this program is a girl who purports to be an American and who tries to tell the boys that their sweethearts will marry somebody else while they are over here fighting a phony war for the “Jewish” Roosevelt, and that there will be no jobs for them when they get home. The boys listen to her partly to get mad, partly to get a laugh, and partly because the program always has excellent music.

The girl calls herself Midge. The soldiers in North Africa called her Axis Sally, and the boys aboard our ship nicknamed her Olga.

The biggest laugh the boys had had since joining the Navy was the night the traitorous Olga was complaining about something horrible President Roosevelt had done. She said it made her almost ashamed to be an American!

Olga has a come-hither voice, and she speaks straight American. Every night you’d hear the boys conjecturing about what she looked like. Some thought she was probably an old hag with a fat face and peroxide hair, but the majority liked to visualize her as looking as gorgeous as she sounded.

The most frequently expressed opinion heard aboard ship was that if they ever got to Berlin, they’d like first to sock Olga on the chin – and then make love to her.

Clapper: Unsung heroes

By Raymond Clapper

Fighting men groan at Hollywood’s ‘go-git-em’ movies

By Morley Cassidy, North American Newspaper Alliance

Speech expert wants Army to bar all stuttering men

Permanent K-K-K-Katy singers regarded by doctor as definitely unstable types

Radio head testifies –
Probe avoids communism

Questions concern only Fascist or Nazi leanings

Patton tells people of Sicily to behave

U.S. 7th Army HQ, Sicily, Italy (UP) – (Aug. 4, delayed)
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. told the people of Sicily today, through the Palermo newspaper Sicilian Librarta, that the American aim is not to enslave but to liberate.

Gen. Patton promised that Allied arms would ruthlessly destroy military opposition and warned that any “misguided” Sicilians who interfere with telephone communications, with supply lines or with any other American military activity would be dealt with summarily.

He expressed regret that it had been necessary to fight the Italian armies in Sicily. He told any Sicilians who feared the advent of the Americans to look at Africa:

…where we not only have demonstrated no territorial aims, but have done everything to restore normal conditions.

Völkischer Beobachter (August 8, 1943)

Bolschewisten verloren am Freitag 117 Panzer –
Die Sowjets in harten Kämpfen abgewiesen

dnb. Aus dem Führer-Hauptquartier, 7. August –
Das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht gibt bekannt:

Am Mius und mittleren Donez scheiterten örtliche Angriffe der Sowjets. Am oberen Donez und südwestlich Bjelgorod wurden mit starken Infanterie- und Panzerverbänden geführte. Angriffe des Feindes in harten, wechselvollen Kämpfen abgeschlagen.

Schlachtfliegerverbände der Luftwaffe griffen im Tiefflug motorisierte feindliche Truppen an, Kampf- und Sturzkampfgeschwader vernichteten über 100 mit Mannschaften beladene Fahrzeuge.

Im Abschnitt von Orel vereitelten unsere Truppen in harten Kämpfen, wirkungsvoll durch die Luftwaffe unterstützt, weitere Durchbruchsversuche der Sowjets.

Auch südwestlich Wjasma und südlich des Ladogasees zerbrachen alle Angriffe des Feindes an der Abwehrkraft der deutschen Truppen.

Die Sowjets verloren gestern an der Ostfront 117 Panzer.

Auf Sizilien griff der Gegner an zwei Stellen der Front erfolglos an. Er erlitt wiederum empfindliche Verluste. Kampfverbände der Luftwaffe griffen mit guter Wirkung Schiffsziele im Seegebiet von Sizilien an. Ein schwerer Kreuzer und zwei größere Handelsschiffe wurden schwer getroffen.

Britische Flugzeuge warfen in der vergangenen Nacht über Westdeutschland Bomben ohne Schaden.