America at war! (1941–) – Part 3

Aerial Burma Road fliers win citation by Roosevelt

Halsey, back in America, plans Tokyo celebration

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

At the frontlines in Italy – (by wireless)
The human packers of supplies to our group high in the Italian mountains interested me much more than the mule trains, partly because their job was much harder and partly because thy talk instead of heehawing.

You can get an idea of the magnitude of this human freight service when you realize that in one 10-day period Americans soldiers packed up this one mountain nearly 100,000 pounds of supplies for their battalion. That was just one outfit. The same thing was being duplicated in a dozen or more places during the same time.

More than half the trail was out in the open, across bare rocks, all under German artillery fire. The top part of the trail was so steep th9ey anchored weights alongside the path for the men to pull themselves upward with.

We tried to hire Italians to do the packing, but after the first day they were never seen again. I heard a report that on one mountain Italian women had volunteered and were carrying up five-gallon cans balanced on their heads, but I was never able to verify this story. I think it’s a myth.

Some of the soldiers carry the water cans on their shoulders while others lash them onto pack boards. At first some of the packers would cheat a little and pour out some of the precious water when the can became too heavy. But the laws of physics soon stopped this, for with the can only partly filled the water would slosh around inside and throw the packers off balance and make it doubly hard to walk.

Miniature Paul Bunyan

From the bottom of the mountain to the top, a good walker carrying nothing whatever could make it in three hours. Carrying a heavy load, it took longer than that, and yet there were some fantastic exhibitions of human strength on that mountain.

The champion packer in our outfit was Pvt. Lester Scarborough, but he had left the area when I was there and I never did get to see him. He was from somewhere in West Virginia, and he was a miniature Paul Bunyan.

He had been sick and was supposed to be convalescing, yet he could take a full can of water to the top and be clear back down again in 2½ hours, where others took three hours and longer just to get up.

He didn’t do this just once, but day after day. He reached the climax of his carrying career when he made four roundtrips in one day – the fourth one being an emergency dash to the mountaintop to help beat off a German mortar attack.

Pvt. Scarborough is no giant. He is 18 years old, stands only 5 feet 7½, and weighs only 135 pounds. I have never heard of so much strength in such a small package.

Bewhiskered and begrimed

When I went up the trail my guard was Pvt. Fred Ford of East St. Louis. He is a tall, rugged fellow, and he had two weeks of whiskers and grime on his face. He looked sort of ferocious but turned out to be pleasant and friendly.

Like practically all the regular packers, Pvt. Ford was a line soldier who had fought for weeks on top and was supposed to be down for a rest. He was a Browning automatic rifleman in an infantry company. And there’s a funny thing about that.

Pvt. Ford said:

I threw dozens of hand grenades, and even rocks, and I guess I killed plenty of Germans. But I never had a single chance to shoot that automatic rifle.

On the back of his jacket Pvt. Ford has printed in purple ink his serial number, the name “Betty,” and underneath that “East St. Louis, Illinois.” Betty is his wife, and she is a chemist in a defense plant.

Pvt. Ford’s feet were all taped up because of blisters, and he walked on his toes to save his heels from rubbing. He said:

Sometimes going up the mountain you get to the point where you know you can’t make it, but somehow you always do.

Actually, some of them don’t. I saw packer after packer report back in at the bottom of the trail saying he “couldn’t make her.” He’d dumped his load and come back down.

A few of these may have been malingerers, but most of them were genuine. The men were exhausted, and their feet were broken out, and infirmities such as arthritis, hernia or heart weakness would leap to the fore on those man-killing climbs.

Mountain aeronautics

When we started back down, German shells began dropping quite a way behind us.

Pvt. Ford said:

If I get to going too fast for you, just yell. When they start shelling, we practically fly down the mountain. We don’t stop for nothing.

But I didn’t have any pressing business engagements along the way to detain us, so Pvt. Ford and I flew down the mountainside together, going so fast the rocks we kicked loose couldn’t even keep up with us.

Pegler: On recent political affairs

By Westbrook Pegler

Clapper: Air transport

By Raymond Clapper

Leaders of the second front –
Spaatz, Pantelleria’s conqueror, to lead air assault on Germans

He plays wild poker but knows planes and pilots
By Boyd Lewis, United Press staff writer

Upon a handful of Allied leaders rests the success or failure of the coming “second front” against the European continent. Who are these men? What are they like? Are they capable of the big job?

In this, the fifth in a series of articles, Boyd Lewis of the United Press tells the story of Gen. Carl Spaatz, the man who reduced Pantelleria by airpower alone, and who will lead Eisenhower’s bombers against the continent.

Gen. Spaatz

Lt. Gen. Carl Andrew Spaatz has devoted most of his adult life to an effort to transform airport from a question mark to a sure thing.

He soared into newspaper headlines in 1929 when he took the Army plane Question Mark aloft in a refueling endurance flight and held it there for six days and a new record. His assistant was a young Army captain named Ira Eaker. Both boys have done rather well in flying circles since.

He comes up from the Mediterranean to command the strategic bombing of Germany for Second Front Generalissimo Dwight D. Eisenhower, convinced that he has erased that question mark on American airpower.

If adequate airpower can be applied against the heart of a nation, no other force is necessary, he asserted after Pantelleria hoisted the white flag to airpower unassisted in June of last year.

Nothing has occurred in the course of the air war since that time has caused him to change the idea – one which he has held, incidentally, since he fell under the spell of Gen. Billy Mitchell as a young officer.

Will get bombers

Informed persons believe that the heavy bomber force which will be available to Gen. Spaatz in Britain, soon to include the B-29 super-bombers, will satisfy him as “adequate.” Of course, he will not be asked to reduce Germany by air assault alone.

His task will be to wage a war without front – to pour destruction through the open roof of the Nazi “Fortress Europe” – before, during and after Gen. Eisenhower hurls his massive land forces across a bridge of ships against the German land defenses.

The man behind this 20th-century war-making concept is no winged automation but an extremely human high-stake poker player, fond of strumming a guitar to accompaniment of group singing and addicted to buckets of coffee and chains of cigarettes when under pressure.

In World War I

One of the first American fliers of World War I, he commanded the training center at Issoudon through which virtually every American pilot and mechanic was filtered. He emerged a rabid fan for air war and was delighted to demonstrate it with a flying circus of Army planes after the war. Then followed command of various Army flying fields and training centers until he and Capt. Eaker took the Question Mark up for its endurance record.

Gen. Spaatz’s name is pronounced “spots,” like in spots before your eyes. Because it was too often pronounced “spats” (like what you wear on your feet!} the colorful air officer added another “a” to his name as it was originally spelled, Spatz. He laughingly admits, however, that his friends and enemies have other, and more colorful, names for him from time to time.

While Eaker held the controls, Spaatz would juggle the refueling hose, leaning far out of the supply hatch. At one point in the flight the Question Mark jerked away from the refueling ship, drenching Spaatz with high octane gasoline which would have scarred his skin. Without hesitation, he stripped off his soaking clothes and resumed refueling – stark naked.

A return engagement

He was one of the first officers called by Gen. Eisenhower to join his air-ground team in North Africa. Teaming up with British Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, another red-hot airpower fan, he had ample chance for experimentation, culminating in the reduction of Pantelleria by air.

His return to England will be in the nature of a return engagement because he was stationed there as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army Air Forces in the European Theater when Gen. Eisenhower recruited him for Africa. His blunt, forthright diplomatic methods and his flamboyant poker playing made him a popular officer among British as well as American circles.

Of his diplomatic methods, these stories are told:

He had been warned that Sir Sholto Douglas, then chief of the Raf Fighter Command, was a formidable individual. When they met, Gen. Spaatz thrust out his hand and said:

I hear you’re damned tough and that you and I aren’t going to get along together. Is that right?

They got along famously from that moment.

‘You’re a general!’

While reviewing the 8th Air Force with Queen Elizabeth, a storm blew up. With the gallantry of a Sir Walter Raleigh, Gen. Spaatz draped his battered air force raincoat over the Queen’s shoulders and said:

Your Majesty, this makes you a major general in the American Air Force.

His poker playing is described as more enthusiastic than expert, he plays generally with an “inner circle” of officers on his own staff who are said to be regarded by old-0timers among airmen poker artists as “easy meat.”

British Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder and several correspondents are supposed to have discovered that while the free and easy betting of the Spaatz clique is momentarily disconcerting, they usually fall victim to close-to-the-vest players.

Sub boys hand Dot Lamour new name

By Erskine Johnson

Selznick serene as clamor for Oscars hits Hollywood

Reason is that three of his roster are top candidates for Academy Awards

Elderly craftsmen back to forge making commando knives for war

By Neil J. Bulger, North American Newspaper Alliance

Völkischer Beobachter (January 8, 1944)

Wir werden ihnen gebührend Antwort geben –
So möchten sie uns behandeln

75 Jahre plutokratisch-bolschewistische „Aufsicht;“ Die deutschen Schulen unter jüdischer Überwachung

Washington zum Krieg im Pazifik –
Der Weg zum Sieg noch weit

London und Washington stecken die Ohrfeige ein –
Der große Sowjetrüffel für die Westmächte

Befestigungsanlagen von gigantischen Ausmaßen –
Auch der Südwall Europas steht

U.S. State Department (January 8, 1944)

President Roosevelt to Prime Minister Churchill

Washington, 8 January 1944

Op priority

Personal and secret, Number 437. For the Former Naval Person from the President.

As I told you in my 422, Harriman requested information on the action we were taking to carry out our commitments to turn over Italian ships to the Soviet by 1 February so that he could discuss the matter with Molotov if he were queried. I told him it was my intention to allocate one-third of the captured Italian ships to the Soviet war effort beginning 1 February as rapidly as they could be made available.

Harriman then reminded me that Stalin’s request at Tehran was a reiteration of the Soviet request originally made at Moscow in October (namely for one battleship, one cruiser, eight destroyers and four submarines for North Russia and 40,000 tons displacement of merchant shipping for the Black Sea) and that no mention was made at Moscow or Tehran of the Russians’ getting additional ships up to one-third of those captured. Accordingly Harriman regarded my cable of December 21 as being for his information and he has not discussed the question of one-third with Molotov.

Harriman also emphasized the very great importance of fulfilling our pledge to yield these ships. For us to fail or to delay would in his opinion only arouse suspicion in Stalin and in his associates as to the firmness of other commitments made at Tehran.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Pittsburgh Press (January 8, 1944)

Allied fliers hit Nazis with 3-way attack

Yanks rip South Germany, Mosquitoes raid Ruhr, France attacked
By Phil Ault, United Press staff writer

Yanks smash into village beyond fallen San Vittore

Americans blasting Germans from houses
By C. R. Cunningham, United Press staff writer

Allied airmen hit Jap ships and airports

Superiority demonstrated in heavy attacks over wide Pacific area
By Don Caswell, United Press staff writer

Poll: Nearly 17 million have flu as epidemic sweeps nation

It may be worse than 1940 siege when 25% suffered; children under 10 are hit hardest
By George Gallup, Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

Hoover’s wife dies suddenly

Ex-First Lady stricken in New York suite

Mrs. Herbert C. Hoover, noted for her graciousness.

New York (UP) –
Mrs. Herbert Hoover, 68-year-old wife of the former President, died of a heart attack in their fashionable Waldorf Towers suite last night while dressing for dinner.

Mr. Hoover, 31st President of the United States, was with her at the time. They came here Dec. 13 from their home at Palo Alto, California, to spend the holidays.

Mrs. Hoover, noted for her graciousness, had attended a concert with friends in the afternoon and then went for an auto drive. When she returned, she was said to be “feeling fine.”

Shortly after 7:00 p.m. EST, while preparing to leave for dinner, Mrs. Hoover suffered an acute heart attack. The former President summoned their personal physicians and also the house doctor, but Mrs. Hoover died within 10 minutes.

Their two sons, Herbert Jr. (radio engineer) and Allan (a rancher), were notified in California and left immediately for New York.

Mrs. Hoover, the former Lou Henry, was born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1874 and would have been 70 March 29.

Married in 1899

Although the tall, white-haired former First Lady was content to remain in the background, she had been a constant companion of Mr. Hoover ever since they met in 1898 on the campus of Stanford University, where both were studying geology.

They were married the next year and spent their honeymoon in China, where Mr. Hoover, as a young engineer, had been appointed an adviser on mining to the Chinese government.

By the time their first son was four years old, they had traveled around the world three times, sometimes living in tents and were in Tientsin, China, during the Boxer Rebellion.

Never in limelight

Outside of her activities with the Girl Scouts, of which she was National President in 1922. Mrs. Hoover was never in the limelight while she was the First Lady of the land.

Indicative of her retiring nature, Who’s Who gave only nine lines to her biography, describing her as a translator and “a member officer and honorary officer of many educational and philanthropic organization.”

Her principal role as translator was in aiding her husband to transcribe the medieval Latin Agricola’s De re metallica.

The death of Mrs. Hoover left five surviving wives of former Presidents. They are Mrs. Thomas J. Preston (the former Mrs. Grover Cleveland), Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Mrs. Benjamin Harrison and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge.

Funeral plans will be announced later.

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Heart ailment to W. K. Vanderbilt

Roosevelt may be unable to deliver his message

Washington (UP) –
White House Secretary Stephen T. Early said today that President Roosevelt’s personal physician is still uncertain whether to let him deliver his State of the Union message to Congress next week in person.

Mr. Early said the President was working on the message, but that it would not be decided until Tuesday when it would go to Congress.

Mr. Roosevelt is covering from grippe.

Under new ruling –
Draft boards begin to set up pools of 1-As

Final exams now will be given at least 21 days before induction