My Dearest Reggie:
Again I find myself breaking the rules of war correspondence, though not with news of fear and danger, but rather of business. Matters financial I leave to the bottom, where your daughter-out-of-law kindly appends a thorough precis of the "Bretton Woods" system. In short, she thinks it solid, for at least this generation. As far as I can make out, this is just female intuition, but it is ostensibly not unsupported by political arithmetic, and I cannot argue my case. The business, then, is concerned with more irregular matters.
First, Wong Lee has been to Los Angeles, and has established that the "Section 60" clause is no boilerplate. It was inserted into our friend's contract two years ago, in response to some marital issues which have apparently been resolved as far as they can be. Unfortunately, before he appealed to us, our friend took the rather desperate step of burning his own house down. This seems to have confirmed his employer in his suspicions at the same time that it apparently removed any evidence. Even more unfortunately, it now appears that his employer has been offered independent confirmation. Although it seems absurd that a morals clause would be triggered by such a barbaric law, our friend has relations who will not wish to see the facts emerge. The point here being not to humiliate someone in public, but leverage contract negotiations. Our friend wants his freedom --but at what cost?
Second, after diffident sniffing about submarine tours and various grandiose and implausible aerial projects, Fat Chow is going homewards the way he came. His pan-Turanian friends may be both mad and pro-German, but the bomb plot has soured them on Berlin, and they are willing to extract him. He has the precious medium, and a device for "reading it," which the Gestapo, for its own reasons, has manufactured entirely of components removed from American aircraft --which should help if his belongings are searched. He will not, of course, proceed to the Panchen Lama and make broadcasts to set Central Asia aflame --he doubts even his Gestapo handler takes this project seriously any more, never mind the Foreign Office girl assisting him. They just want to cultivate us, Fat Chow intimates. Well, we shall return the favour, however ambiguous. The girl and the man's family, anyway. I doubt that anyone will care very much if someone with that much innocent blood on his hands slips into the black waters instead of being delivered to Buenos Aires safe and hale. As for the Pan-Turanians, they get one last chance to bleed us. Fat Chow has been evasive about his route, but if they really do send him through Tashkent, I shall be quite cross. Considering its reputation, the NKVD is surprisingly inept, but I do not trust Russian slackness anywhere near that far.
However, whether via the Pansheer or the Vale of Fergana, Fat Chow will not be returning to California directly. You will have heard of the fall of Nomura. Now comes word from Nagasaki of a willingness to exchange yen-for-Hawaii dollars-for-US at a most favourable return. Or, indeed, for promissory notes on the right conditions. Some money is better than no money, it is thought, an American investment even better under the circumstances. I have word that our Hawaiian counter-parties are pleased by the idea of silent partners of such distinction. Moreover, though I have misgivings about dealing with the old enemy, the exchange will be done at the old house in Alicia, giving us the means to reward old retainers. Fat Chow will need to be conducted thence, and Nagasaki's assistance will greatly ease the trip from Kashgar to Zamboanga. If the matter does not disintegrate into a mutual massacre of Moros and Satsuma men, Fat Chow will then make his way to New Guinea and join me on Sparrow, and we shall see to the freight from there.
Speaking of Sparrow, I am definitely taking a temporary leave of "Cousin H.C.'s" employ to drive to Vancouver to join my ship. I will be accompanied by your youngest, "Miss V.C.," my housekeeper, and one other. I have taken your counsel, and will not chance having someone with "Miss V.C.'s name register at the Provincial Archives. Rather than ask her to use forged papers, it proved a simple matter to arrange the accession of certain papers to the city's holdings. I get the sense that while the money is not unwelcome, ancestral memory weighs heavily on a house trying to forget its past.
Whether the father or the mother more, I do not know. I could tell them that those days could be hard for an orphan girl, that not all who "gave honey for money" had their heart in the old trade. But I expect they would misunderstand, and my disapproval of their lack of filial piety might come through.
I may not approve of the lack of filial piety, but that just causes "Miss V.C.'s" inquiries to warm my heart the more. I do not think her lessons advanced enough yet to read the old papers, so I have asked that Miss Wong accompany us as translator. I imagine that your youngest could read them, but he has so far kept his oath of silence remarkably well.
Young Lieutenant A. will be joining us in Vancouver from Bremerton at what I expect will be all-too frequent occasions. I gather that his admiral has chosen to fly his flag from the New Jersey battleship, notwithstanding its dubious suitability. She will be returning to Pearl to make up its most serious deficiencies with some equipment to be assembled in Seattle under the young man's supervision. That is the admiral for you.
Have I mentioned that I met Lierutenant A.'s grandfather in Palo Alto? A younger sibling is in prospect of being sent to the college, and inasmuch as the father is serving in the Pacific, it is left to the grandfather to see libraries and sororities and be jollied by his old chief. The Engineer is as uncomfortable in the role of college booster as you would expect, and I managed to restrain the temptation to grab the old admiral by the lapels and yell, "Where are my ships?" For I gather that it was really all no-one's fault, or possibly that of the Admiralty, or of Stark, or King, or the President, or perhaps even tourism boosters who would not black out the coast. Heaven forbid that we should trouble the old man in his retirement!
Time, 17 July 1944
Ribbentrop was in Finland to promise that there will be a negotiated peace in the end. Apparently, Germany will remain the dominant power in Central Europe, and the Anglo-Americans will end up arming it against Russia. Yes, you read that right, Reggie. We will arm Germany. Remarkably enough, all the picked troops whom the paper’s correspondent saw in Helsinki were in good spirits and well turned out!
In other news related to God-awfullyboring German operas with fat ladies singing and spears waving at the end oftime, but not soon enough for you and me (at least I had you there, Reggie, joking on a mile a minute), one Count Knyphausen has shown up in Sweden to spin tales of the horrible things that will happen in Germany if we do not see the error of our ways and negotiate a peace. I would provide details of alpine redoubts and mass guerrilla movements, as if you had not heard them elsewhere, if I did not know a pitch when I see it.
“The Damnable Thing” The paper’s correspondent apparently got lost in Westminster and made the mistake of following Flight’s correspondent rather than the Economoist’s. Let that be a lesson about trusting the pessimist more than the optimist. Except this time, he has imbibed the pessimistic view from the fake Prime Minister’s speech. Perhaps I should stop belabouring this one. I doubt that it was funny the first time I trotted it out. The upshot is that the paper agrees that the flying bomb, or, as it still calls the thing, the “robot bomb,” is a new weapon of terrible power. The paper says that the flying bomb blitz is more terrifying than the Great Blitz. It may have killed only 2,752, wounded 8000 in the first four weeks of the campaign, but its power of disruption is terrible. New deep shelters are being opened, and special trains are evacuating 15,000 children a day. Twenty-four shows have closed in the West End. Our correspondent seems especially shaken by the death if his Ministry of Information handler, Kay Garland. Will there be bigger, more powerful, more accurate flying bombs? Time will tell.
“Don’t Touch” “Doc Salomon, the studio manager for Warner Brothers in England who scooped the world with a recording of a sound of a flying bomb, was killed by another one last week while out in his sound recording van looking to record another.
“The Ladies of Woodbridge” The paper is trying to tell us something. It begins with a vice patrol of Voluntary Vigilantes (“busy little Miss Wilby” and “Mrs. Juby, the Methodist minister’s wife”) patrolling a lover’s lane in the London suburb to prevent things from “going too far,” and continues with “Voices from the Poorhouse,” specifically Ernest Bevin and Lord Woolton saying that Britain has liquidated its foreign investments in this war, and with noble intent. The wallet is empty, the cupboard is bare, economy will be the word.
Well, the investments people were, er, patriotic enough to declare, anyway.I would choose another word, but I must salve my conscience with the thought that our black money was invested in making American guns.
Rumania is surrendering more. Czechs and Slovaks and Yugoslavs and Argentines are excitable. In the interest of making ending the war as difficult as possible, a German detachment massacres a village in Italy.
“Rhapsody in Red” The Soviet government having tightened up divorce laws and “otherwise encouraged the production of more babies,” the Moscow press rhapsodises the wonders of motherhood. Motherhood is “an inexhaustible source of human rapture,” Pravda says, quoting some Russian novelist. “And that’s why more women should be forced to do it,” the paper did not go on to add, as that would have muddled the story. Well, more people means a better choice of tenants, so I support the effort. I just doubt that it will work.
“The Girls” Speaking of the flight and plight of the masterless woman, American troops in Cherbourg decline to shelter 23 girls who prostituted themselves with Germans, send them into the demimonde instead. Of such people, Koxinga made a kingdom and dreamed of more.
“Common Sense in Normandy” The Allied policy for running Normandy has shaken out as “Let the French do it.” Without telling anyone in advance, de Gaulle simply appointed a Regional Commissioner and a Military Representative on his first visit, then told Eisenhower that he had done it on his return. “At that moment, one of the great decisions of the war was made. General Eisenhower smiled and said that it was a splendid idea.”
“Germany Then and Now” Germans are living in one-room shacks due to bombing and building shortages, which is not what the Labor Minister promised in 1941, so let us all mock him, because he is an enemy politician who promised more than he could deliver, something never seen over here.
“Enough for My Family” Nicaragua dictator Anastasio Somoza speaks English well. married even better (the Debayle family), “liquidated” his main rival, Augusto Sandino, and secured office in a rigged election, and is now corrupt. Perhaps he will be troubled by unrest soon. Central American countries are like that, you know.
“The Face of Disaster” The Germans face disaster in the East. Is it because their eastern army is “sicker” than the western in some way, or is it because the Russians have a better grip on their enemy, and so take more chances than some other generals the paper might name but chooses not, who happen to command the Allied armies In the west? (I’ve the cat! Now where are the pigeons?)
“Fifth Column” It turns out that the French “Fifth Column” actually exists.
“Nazi Shakeup” The paper notices Marshal von Rundstedt’s relief. It is thought that his replacement by Marshal v. Kluge, an officer of much less prestige, will give Rommel a freer hand.
“Pursuit’s End” The Germans have almost finished falling back into the Gothic Line, after which they will probably hold in place through the Italian winter, especially after the Allies launch their amphibious invasion of the southern coast of some unknown country whose name starts with “France.”
“Target: Oil” The Combined Bombing Offensive is back to attacking oil targets. Storage tanks near the front were attacked by fighters and medium bombers, while the 15th Air Force attacked synthetic oil plants in Germany and Poland. The paper continues to be impressed by “shuttle bombing” from Russian bases.
“Gone to Earth” Robert Sherrod’s report on mopping up operations on Saipan make war sound ugly and cruel. And here I thought the entrails of a poor sailor wrapping around the terrified ears of a twelve year-old boy was romantic and glorious. You bore up so well that day, though, Reggie, never crying until we had to face our return in defeat. I have never understood how you do it.
“To the Victor: The Bases” A massive construction effort is underway on Saipan to prepare it for B-29 operations against the Japanese mainland. Too bad that bombs cannot give the kind of personal attention paid to Nanking. Meanwhile, MacArthur’s forces took Noemfoor Island off northwestern new Guinea, and are now 800 miles by air from Mindanao. Now if only Mindanao were not the Moor-infested back end of creation. Ahem. That’s rather ungracious to the memory of Subadar Haji Ali, especially under the circumstances. The point is that we shall certainly be bypassing Mindanao on our way north.
“The Unpredictables” The defence of Henyang by Tenth Army under Marshal Fang is going unexpectedly well.
“High Guns” Colonel Francis Gabreski gained a kill last week, raising his total to 28, first among American aces, while Wing Commander “Johnny” Johnston raised his to 35 and Alexander Pokryshkin’s bag increased to 53.
“Pick’s Pike” Once Stilwell’s troops clear the Japanese out of at least one route through northern Burma to Yunnan Province, “straight-backed, six-footer . . . . dambuilder” Brigadier General Lewis A. Pick can get on with building the Ledo Road. With 9000 American engineer troops, a regiment of Chinese engineers, and 10,000 native labourers, he has already finished 167 miles of “twisting” road and six airfields over the rain-sodden, hills. Already, the rain has washed out some of the 700 bridges. Pike, former District Engineer of the Missouri River Basin, came to the effort from “Pick’s Plan,” a system of dams and reservoirs to tame the Missouri.
“The Cost Goes Up” After 31 months, the U.S. has suffered more casualties than in the 19 months of World War I: 262,179 killed, wounded and prisoners. Notably, the Philippine theatre still leads all others in casualties, at 31,285 to Europe’s 30,095. Rather brings home the scale of the Philippine fiasco, does it not?
“King of the Cans” Captain Arleigh Burke has been made chief of staff to Vice-Admiral Marc Mitscher, who will command “superpowerful” Task Force 58. Which is to say, all of Halsey’s carriers. I know what you are thinking, Reggie. A destroyer man? But it turns out that Burke was gunnery at the Academy. His destroyer background consists of having only held command of a destroyer on sea time back in 1931, then of a division in the Solomons, where he actually won sea fights against the Japanese, uncommon enough for living American admirals that I am surprised that he was not beached for embarrassing the side. I suppose being two aviators’ brains will have to be punishment enough.
“I Did What I Could” ‘Atabrine-yellowed’ Lieutenant Mitch Paige, USMC, a field-commissioned peacetime volunteer and Guadalcanal war hero, is back home in Versailles, Pennsylvania to show off his Medal of Honor. The paper is pleased to see that he is, quiet, private and self-effacing. Sounds like a good man, even if he has stolen our favourite excuse. Or perhaps making it “atrabrine” instead of “hereditary jaundice” makes all the difference.
Ed Massey, a barber on Main Street in Kansas City, says that a number of his customers think that the war will end any day now. Perhaps by Labor Day, or Christmas. Meanwhile, war production is winding down and everyone has money to spend, while the shelves are full. Most books on the best seller list have nothing to do with the war, and the top song hits, “Swingin’ on a Star,” “I’ll be Seeing You,” and “I’ll Get By,” while the weather is good, and “the American woman, the slim prototype of world fashion, appeared in fewer clothes than ever before, with fashion, even in the office, running to bare backs, bare legs, bare knees, bare idriffs, to the lowcut, short-skirted, off-the-shoulder dinner dress.” The first hint of autumn includes advanced notice that Town & Country’s July number will have more fur advertising than any American magazine has ever had before. Politics is “normal,” but terrible accidents include the fire in the Ringling Bros. circustent at Hartford, Conn., several train derailments, the loss of 64 coal miners, and an explosion at a dynamite plant, fortunately evacuated in time. Detroit weathered the first anniversary of its race riot, while the South and border cities were “pricked by the thorn of ‘nigger trouble.’” The hundredth Medal of Honor of World War II was awarded to the mother of an Eighth Air Force navigator, Walter Treumper. In conclusion, it is hard to fill out the paper in July.
“The President and the General” General de Gaulle was in Washington last week. He met with the President, saw various people. His longest and most revealing conversation (before the press) was with General Pershing, at the Walter J. Reed Hospital.
De Gaulle: “Mahomet once said that without war the world would be in a condition of stagnation.”
Pershing: “We have never had peace long enough to know.”
I wonder what de Gaulle’s France will look like?
“Six Minutes” The paper’s coverage of the disaster in Connecticut is heart-wrenching.
“If the People Command Me” President Roosevelt intimated his willingness to serve a fourth term.
“Half-Free, Half Open” The Democratic Convention will be free to nominate a Vice-Presidential candidate other than Henry Wallace. This is the greatest change in the way that party conventions has been done ever.
“The Well-Tailored Farmer” Governor Dewey dresses well. And he has a farm hear Albany! And he is running for President! All good Republicans everywhere agree with everything the Governor says about everything.
“White Primary” In order to avoid “violence” only a select few Coloureds turned out for the ostensibly open Georgia Democratic primaries, so as to create court cases. The paper notes that its contemporaries see signs of progress in said lack of violence, and notices that the Atlanta Constitution ran an editorial calling for Coloureds to be allowed to vote. If this is progress, than compared with the repeal of the Exclusion Act, it is pretty slow progress.
“The McSheehy” Mayor McSheehy is dead. We have become old, Reggie, without noticing.
“Van Doos at the Vatican” The 22ndRegiment of Canada, which traces its regimental lineage from the Papal Zouaves, paraded for His Holiness this week in Rome.
“First Foot Forward” The CCF cabinet in Saskatchewan was unveiled. I cannot tell if the paper actually cares about a socialist provincial government in Canada, or if this is part of its obligation to provide a quota of Canadian coverage.
“Fungus Fighter” Professor Elvin C.Stakman, famed University of Minnesota palnt pathologist, warns that wheat rust is rising to epidemic proportions, and intimates that further funding for his $300,000 laboratory is money well spent. The paper agrees.
“End of Infantile Paralysis?” Chicago researchers have found a way to make immunizing vaccines by exposing live germs to ultraviolet light. This has led to a promising polio vaccine, and promise for a number of other diseases as well, including salmonella, the staphs, one type of pneumonia, a strep, St. Louis encephalitis and rabies.
“Females in Factories” There are now 16 million U.S. women with jobs, 3,500,000 of them in factories. Women can be quite productive in jobs where strength is not required, but they are difficult to keep content. “So prone are they to complain, get sick, ache, stay home, quite. That many a factory supervisor will be glad when his women are paid off for good.” But Lockheed Aircraft has the answer, of course. Doctor Marion Janet Dakin, who spent four months incognito at their Burbank plant and concludes that riveting really is not that wearing on women. They are just mentally maladjusted to industry, and need a Woman’s Clinic, run by Dr. Dakin, of course, to look after their special needs.As a “Lockheed has a solution” article, I give this a solid second. The presence of a self-aggrandising doctor saves it from the Gentleman’s C, but the absence of punch cards in the solution keeps it from being first class work.
“Eureka” Doctor Samuel George Barker has become obsessed with the high standard of diet and oral hygiene of his dental assistant, Miss Lois Price, and has shown her to the clinic at the Iowa State Dental Meeting. Does Miss Price not have a responsible guardian?
“The Pursuit of Knowledge” The University of Chicago has dropped its requirement of high school graduation in favour of ostensibly rigorous entrance exams, and now enjoys the presence of 20-year-old “Sunny Ainsworth, thrice-married seventh wife of Playboy Thomas (“Tommy”) Franklyn Manville, Jr. The paper finds Mrs. Manville(?) amusing. I suspect that the alumni of the University find her less so.
“Ernie Pyle’s War” A movie is being made of Pyle’s reportage. Like all coverage of Mr. Pyle, this ends by pointing out his increasing exhaustion and persistent premonitions of death. Someone has to get this man out of the war, but I fear that the problems run deeper than combat fatigue.
“Thought Control” The paper deems the U.S. Army too diligent in its suppression of political news. Pity the poor soldier, deprived of coverage of last month’s “Anyone but Dewey” landslide at the GOP convention, or the nail biting suspense over whether the President will run for a fourth term, without or without Wallace as his running mate!
The paper was amused by a hoax on Australian literary periodical Angry Penguins by two Australian army subalterns who made up poems from random phrases taken from a dictionary and created a properly modernistic-sounding poem out of them, thereby proving that modern art is bunk. I am sure I have heard this story before, Reggie. A Pekinese doing paintings? Composers who cannot tell the difference between a symphony and a bag of cans going down the stairs? It also quite liked Since You Went Away, with, among others, the intriguing ingenue Jennifer Jones.
The paper runs four articles under this heading this week. When there is no real news, notes on the pulpit will apparently serve. We are falling short of Heaven's expectations, Reggie. Well, I don't know about you, but I am.
“Washington War” War Production Board Boss Donald Nelson (“WPBoss,”) is fighting the colleagues over his reconversion order. In the paper’s formulation, the order is all to the good. Idle manufacturers would be allowed to “utilize the great masses of surplus aluminum and magnesium.” Also two-and-a-half million tons of steel in odd lots, shapes and sizes that has no use. Square in opposition to this are the army and navy, plus the majority of WPB members, who argue that the “U.S. soldiers had much better have too much and too soon than too little and too late.” The paper replies that at the moment we have a logistics, not oversupply problem. Yet it can be argued that the more peacetime manufacture builds up, the more likely that manpower will desert the war program for the long-time security of peace-plant jobs. Realistic American workers are skeptical of the idea that the war will continue much longer, and do not want to be the last to jump. There are critical labor shortages in steel, on the rails, on the farm in canneries and in lumbering, and steel production has slumped to 94.3% of capacity.
I know that I covered the numbers on the production side in my last, from The Economist, but I am struck by the paper’s lapidary explanation: “Individual Americans, in short, are cannily doing their own reconverting right now.”
“1,300 Men with a Mission” “When the Great Chief of the White House called the tribes of men together for a conference on wampum in the forest of New Hampshire, came the prophets of the nations, foremost in their craft and wisdom . . . .Keynes urged, “Be not slave to wampum, throw away the truss of wampum, start a fund for prudent lending, that all tribes of men may borrow, each get credit from the other, using anything for wampum, Sterling, beads or even fishbones.” Morgenthau, the Chief of Wall street, tighter strapped the belt of wampum. “My world bank for reconstruction must be ona wampum basis.” So they reasons as they wrestled, whilte they both exclaimed together, “Let us order world finances, let us keep away inflation, let us stabilize exchanges, for the profit of the people. . . .”
This is rather too clever for the paper, and turns out to be the work of “Sagittarius,” of the New Statesman & Nation. The paper thinks that funny doggerel is more likely to sustain the reader’s attention than the vital details of the proposals that might make up a whole postwar Bretton Woods System. I am not sure that I agree, but feel a little helpless in the face of the complexities of the proposals. Some more lucid summary seems needed. Fortunately, your daughter-out-of-law has acquired one of those queer feminine obsessions with the details, and promises you a lucid and short account with examples when it is finalised.
“Top Prices” Having sustained egg prices in face of what turned out to be an egg boom instead of an egg deficit, the War Food Administration has stepped in on the bumper billion bushel wheat crop to buy at the top of the market. Commodities brokers are disgusted at the fact that they will be unable to make proper returns on futures trading, and bread prices will be too high, but at least farmers will make the expected return. Meanwhile, all of the alarmists who predicted famine in the winter are lining up at a press conference in Chicago to admit their errors and recant. Kidding, Reggie!
“From Shadow to Substance” Detroit’s dream of the biggest peacetime boom in all autmotive industry history came closer to realization last week with … see Fortune for the details.
“Rock Bottom” Although another way of saying it is that the U.S. is almost out of new automobiles.
Flight, 20 July 1944
“From the Horse’s Mouth” German officer Freiherr v. Imhorn suggests that the problems the Germans are having in Normandy stem from the fact that aircraft are involved. Which is more than good enough for the paper to run with as first leading article.
“Air and Sea in the Baltic” Also Russia!
Night and Day” Bomber Command has operated by day over Normandy, while the medium bombers of IXth Air Force have attacked by night. That will confuse those dastardly Germans!
“War in the Air” We are bombing Axis communications! American day bombers have been attacking Munich and Berlin. What is less clear is whether British night bombers have been doing the same, or whether the German night air defences are still the master. Our attempt to shoot down “air torpedoes” is meeting with mixed success, and bombing of French communications is said to be causing a food shortage in Paris. One can reportedly tell from the fact that Parisian women are all so thin.
Here and There
Canadian made Douglas DC-4s will get Merlin engines. Blackpool wants a Trans-Atlantic airport after the war. An American source wants to remind us that they were the ones who actually invented the flying bomb, back in the 1920s. A patent has been produced in a Kentucky courtroom, and word has it that rather than litigate in America, Verflugen Gebomben GmbH of Germany will concede American priority of art and take out a licence, paying the American rights-holders a fixed fee for every crater blown out of New York and points adjacent. The paper commemorates the anniversary of Britain retiring the Schneider Cup by virtue of no-one else wanting to compete in the delightful sport of diving under-engineered aircraft within five hundred feet of the ground at speeds in excess of 300mph. Prestwick wants a trans-Atlantic air port. De Havilland is launching a contest to name its next plane. I suggest settling for “Typical DeHavilland junk,” so as to get Australian sales through a claim to “truth-in-advertising.” (It is amazing how much higher the firm’s reputation stands in Canada than in Australia. Perhaps it is the lack of opportunity for floatplanes in Australia?)
“Invasion Closeup” The weather was terrible last week, so the paper’s correspondent visited an air-sea rescue station to see how men are saved from the drink. Their crates are old Power Boats machines powered by three Napier Sea Lions, which is pretty remarkable longevity, considering how long the monsters have been out of production. He also visited a press conference given by Group Captain P. G. Wykeham-Barnes, at which was described the “communications-interrupting” work done by his Mosquito wing, and the existence of new jet fighters other than the much-publicised American crate is intimated.
“Indicator” discusses “Making Our Own Futures” Indicator thinks that overblown claims about present and future aircraft are a mistake, that we need to make a virtue of the necessity of honesty. Twenty medium-sized types might be wanted for every Brabazon, and, indeed, existing types are nipping on the heels of the predicted performance of monsters like the Super-Constellation, Brabazon and Mars.
The U.S.T.A.A.F. headquarters reports staggering figures of bombs dropped and sorties flown on an ever-increasing curve over the last six months. Soon we shall drop infinite bombs in just slightly-less-than-infinite numbers of sorties.
“Studies in Recognition” Helps us tell the Curtis Caravan C-76 from –the Whitley? And the Ju 52/3M? As if this parade of antiques is not enough, and the evidence of the complete inanity of this series suggests that it is not, we end with a new plane, the Go 244, which given that it flies with French engines, is not likely to be around very long unless the war goes very badly for us. But while we are not likely to need to “recognise” it, it is at least quite novel in appearance, and it has a better chance of being seen than the C-76, which was cancelled before series production began a year ago!
S. W. G. Foster, “Fire Risk in Aircraft” The Henderson Safety Tank Company has made the risk of in-flight fires and in crashes much less by its “Hencorite” technology. Various innovations in piping and valving reduce the risk of ruptures at these points. Electrical equipment can be carried adjacent to fuel systems if sufficient care against fires caused by shorts is taken. Fireproof fabrics are practicable, which would be a boon far beyond flying, I would think.
Behind the Lines
The German News Agency releases a public claim that the V-1 is not just a “political” weapon, aimed more-or-less at London and left to work its will by a vague reduction of civilian morale or whatever the euphemism is, but is rather capable of taking much more accurate targeting, so that the places attacked bear some relevance to a policy of retaliation in kind for Allied attacks. Word of the He 219 heavy fighter reaches us. Again, if I recall correctly. Ah, well, I suppose that if I want to check this I need only ask your boy.
“Fighting an Implacable Foe: Engine Life Prolonged by Filtration: A Vokes Exhibition” Buy Vokes!
“Rotol Cabin Supercharger” Buy Rotol! In the absence of turbosupercharger, British experiments in cabin pressurisation have taken the form of this supercharger. As it is driven directly off the motor, extraordinary measures must be taken to keep the oil in the drive train and not get it into the air being compressed. All of this sealing turns out to have a little more relevance to the previous article than I thought it might have, but only a little. My basic position is still that American firms are likely to dominate the “stratospheric” air transport field because they have more practical experience, but perhaps Rotol is keeping up via whatever top secret strospheric experiments the RAF might be doing. (I need to seek your eldest out and see if I can raise an eyebrow. Unfortunately, he is off to Honolulu for the weekend to dowse some flames raised over torpedoes and check the pipes of a cruiser just returned from the Marianas for signs of the dreaded graphitisation.)
“Budd Conestoga” That one reader not tired of hearing of a plane that will not be built is in for a treat here! See how stainless steel can be used to make an aircraft, only provided that it does not have to fly!
Apart from more people correcting other people about jet engines, letters on the impracticality of the wider use of exhaust-driven turbines and the redundancy of great new ground engineering schools suggest that the brigades of the old and worldly, pessimistic and resigned, have recovered from whatever was distracting them earlier in the summer, giving them time to dash cold water on all and sundry.
Time, 24 July 1944
“Report from Mme. Chideu” Madame Chideu runs a little grocery store near the Cherbourg waterfront, where the housewives come to buy necessities and gossip. Last week, the paper’s correspondent, William Walton, dropped in to talk to her about money. She reports that at first she kept and deposited invasion money separately from the old Bank of France notes. People suspected it, and unexpected reserves of old banknotes appeared on the market. (Walton reports that they were dug up from the vaults of a ruined bank, but I am inherently suspicious.) Prices might have ballooned out of sight at the shop had the Allies dumped all of their invasion money at once, but they did not, supposedly because the GIs were out in the country and only parted with their money for cognac and “amour,” because all their needs were met by the quartermaster. (Who does not provide amour or cognac in the American administrative system.) Thus, prices have not risen, and the Liberation Committee is recognised, and all is well, except perhaps for Mrs. Walton, whose husband does not seem to understand how speculating on money works.
In all seriousness, I take this as a good omen for China, even if I am perhaps clutching at straws. The French see a government with the mandate of history, and so are enthusiastic about getting their country back up and running. This means that they are willing to treat the new money with respect. The Italians are not, and so do not. A proper Chinese government will have the same good fortune.
“Exit Asmahan” Sultry Arabic torch singer Amal el Atrash has died in a motor vehicle accident. In Sudan, the heir of the Mahdi has stepped in to break the marriage market among his followers, because the bride price has risen to $400. When a good will not clear the market, the state, there is a coordination failure, and the state (or, in this case God’s Anointed) must step in, Sir Sayed Abdel Rahman el Mahdi Pasha seems to believe. As you can see, Reggie, I have benefitted a bit from trying to make heads or tails of the Bretton Woods system. At least I can talk like an economist. (Shoot me the day that I talk like the Economist.)
“The New Morality” Not only is Russia becoming more serious about marriage and family, but Eisenstein is making a movie about Ivan the Terrible, portraying him as a national hero. Which is highly moral, I gather. Perhaps related, the Russians are disappointed by the damage done to the Pushkin shrine at Sviatoger Monastery by the retreating Germans.
“Miracle in the East” Four U.S. correspondents, including the paper’s Richard Lauterbach, were allowed to accompany Eric Johnston on his junket to Siberia where he saw that all the factories that made all the Russian war materiel actually exist, surprisingly enough. The works director at Magnitogorsk promises that it will grow up to be a real city at some point. We learn that Omsk is a very nice place, albeit afflicted with a an awful housing shortage because the brick works cannot keep up. (Because of course houses should be made of brick in a town carved out of a forest.) Novosibirsk “is becoming one of the world’s great cities, the Chicago of Russia.” Samarkand is “like southern California,” and Alma Ata is, oh, say, the Boise of Russia. Tashkent is promised in the title of the article, but does not appear in the body. I imagine that it is the Sacramento of Russia.
“Resurrection” Gandhi appears to accept partition.
“What Now?” Italy’s government holds its first cabinet meeting in Rome, spends it pointing out that the administrative situation in Italy is hopeless. Meanwhile, the leader of the Italian Communist Party attends mass in Naples and confers with the Papal Secretary of State. The Vatican signals not-complete-disapproval-of-all-Marxists-everywhere. Surely a grand compromise is in the wind!
“Sit-Down!” In the paper’s version of the town planning bill, it is a devious scheme to wrong-foot Labour.
“How Dare You!” Colonel Diogenes Gil launches an attempted coup against Liberal President Pumarejo of Colombia. The paper finds the incident to be full of anecdote-worthy Latin American moments. Moral: Latins are excitable.
“Gloom in the Reich” Newsflash from the paper: Germany is losing. This must have some impact in Germany, the paper supposes, and, oh, look, here are some tealeaves. The paper reads them. “Ace German military commentator” Lieutenant General Kurt Diettmar points out on the radio that the enemy was at the gates. Ace war commentators are those who have shot down at least five enemy prognostications. Christof von Imhorn, war correspondent in Normandy, notices that the Allies have air superiority. An anonymous correspondent notes that German army truck drivers behind the front are living on nerves. A joke supposedly going the rounds in Germany and leaking out through Switzerland: “What is the only secret weapon that can save Germany? A long pole with a white flag on top.”
“The Germans Squealed” Reports suggest that the Germans are discomfited by the fact that Russian attacks are making gains in many directions that require endless hours of pouring over maps to make out. Takeaway points include that there is a sea in there somewhere (the “Baltic;” that the Russians have thoughtfully named towns “Minsk,” and “Pinsk;” that you have to go through a marsh to capture the latter; and that Germany has a province that is so far east that they named it “East” Prussia, and it might well soon be invaded by Russian troops who have been issued German phrasebooks: “Please point us to the loose women and alcohol, and give us your watches or we shall shoot you even more.”
“To the Line” The Allies are closing up on the Germans’ selected defensive position in Italy.
“War and Weather” The Germans are cheating in Normandy by enjoying bad weather. The result is something of a stalemate, which cannot be allowed to go on. Since the Germans have 20 to 25 divisions in Normandy in good defensive terrain, a breakthrough may well be impossible. Marshal Kluge claims that the Allies planned on being in Paris on D+40, or D+60 against heavy resistance. They have, therefore, in his view, been stalled. In which case, the Allies must almost certainly launch another major invasion. Given Mr. Janeway’s prediction of a long war in Europe, I confidently predict that the invasion of the south of France will break the situation open before summer's end.
The heavy casualties of the Battle of Saipan ended with “the strange little men . . .[sweeping]. . . forward in alast, hopeless, noisy assault.” It was pointless and futile. You can tell that it was futile and had no chance of success from the way that the artillery had to defend themselves at the muzzle of their guns with captured rifles and the death of several battalion commanders in last ditch close combat.
“Death at Home”
The paper waxes blue about the state of London, spared for the last few nights of any nocturnal flying bomb attack, although plenty came over by day. The Germans promise more, and heavier bombardment.
“Jap in a Trap” Futile fighting continues in New Guinea.
“Saipan’s Conquerors” The names of the ground commanders on Saipan have been released. Careful examination indicates that the commander of the Army’s 27th Infantry Division was relieved during the fighting, and the paper reports a rumour that he was removed by the Marine commander. Congratulations, General. A U.S. Marine thinks you’re incompetent. Words fail me, Reggie. The Marine commander, by the way, is nicknamed “Howling Mad.”
“Murder at Oradour” Disappointed that their colleagues in Italy and the East were getting to commit all the pointless massacres, some SS men of the Das Reich Division massacred the citizens of Oradour-sur-Glane last week. A Swiss newspaper reports that even the German occupation authorities were appalled, as the massacre was planned for the neighbouring village of Oradour-sur-Vayres.
“Combat Report” The Marines have been taking Coloured recruits since June 1942, breaking with a 167-year tradition of not giving the time of the day to persons of pigmented hue unless they had a good line about atabrine. The corps has no “public race troubles,” the paper reports. It has no Coloured officers, either, but it does have “16,000 strapping Negro enlisted men.” Some have reached as high as sergeant major, but the real responsibility enjoyed by a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant is right out. Most of these are in service companies, but, in Saipan, Coloured Marines finally saw action in the line. Lieutenant Joe Grimes, a white Texan, thinks that they did well in combat, but really excel in their normal duties, being the hardest working men on Saipan. They were also surprisingly gentle with the White wounded, continued the Lieutenant, letting not a hint of irony escape.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Town” Have you heard that Jimmy Stewart is in the Air Force? He is! Fortunately, all involved eschew all publicity, which is why you are not reading this.
“After Four Years” After four years as head of Army Ground Forces, Lieutenant General Lesley James McNair is going overseas. Although his new appointment has not been announced, it is suspected that he will have the command of an American army group somewhere in Europe.
The Struggle” There is to be a struggle at the Democratic National Convention over the renomination of Vice-President Henry Wallace. It will pit Mr. Wallace against everyone else. I wonder who will win? Probably the one who gets the most votes. Let me see: one person versus more than one person. Hmm. I think I might be able to venture a prediction here, Reggie. In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that this is not much of struggle! This goes to show that I am no political journalist. Also, the President informs the Convention that he will accept the nomination if offered.
“Wheat Dunes in Texas” Due to shortage of elevator space and labor, the Texas wheat harvest is piled in heaps on the ground, and farmers are worried that rain will spoil the crop. Worse, 4800 loaded cars are stalled in Kansas City, preventing clearing. Or being prevented from clearing by the “wheat dunes?” This bit is confusing.
“The Score” The score is being set for the next few months. War production will be cut back 50% as soon as Germany is beaten per Nelson’s plan, 35% per the Army/Navy plan. Even this will provide almost as much manpower, material and facilities for civilian production as before the war. Colour me skeptical on this one. Are we not predicting that many reluctant workers will leave the workforce? One thing that has not happened in the last six years is a significant increase in the American population. Ratiioning will continue until after the first peacetime harvest in Europe, probably until the fall of 1945. Meat will soon be rationed again, but canned goods will be more available. Sugar rationing will not be relaxed, as the supply has fallen 25% below 1941. Used cars will be rationed by year’s end, clothes not. “Shoemen” fear an end to shoe rationing.” Coal production is better than originally forecast (how extraordinary, after all those concessions to the coal miners!), but the Eastern Seaboard will still get only 87 1/2% of its normal supply. “No talk is heard of rationing wood, the nation’s No. 2 fuel supply, although the U.S. will be eleven million cords short of its needs.” Demobilization is likely to be only 250,000/month, and the Army expects to keep 2 million troops in Europe. Civilian good production will begin with simple necessities such as cocktail shakers, teakettles, washtubs, tableware, pots and pans, hairpins, safety pins, etc. After that will come things made in quantity but currently absorbed by the army, such as radios. The radio industry has expanded about twelve times; even an 8% cutback would take care of prewar civilian demands, but Army and navy demands for radio-radar (not secret this week) equipment is going up. (I have a suggestion: build more electrical engineering factories!) Third in line are goods with many or rotating parts, such as wife-savers like washing machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, irons, cooking equipment. Last in line will be articles using materials in which there will still be shortages even after Germany’s defeat, such as lumber, paper, textiles. The wage freeze will not be lifted before war’s end. No real tax cuts are expected until 1946.
“Ozark Rescue” The end of a ten-day saga that gripped the nation came this week, as the national press documented the greeting of a freed Drive the Coon Dog, liberated from a cave in Sugar Camp Hollow by 25 Ozark farmers blasting through a 30ft limestone wall.
“66% on Roosevelt” I have mixed feelings about the man myself, but this headline is well worth taking up to the club just to see some peoples’ reaction. Or Palo Alto, if I dare. (the joy of twitting that man curdles in the chest in the face of his fish-eyed stare. Your daughter-out-of-law has taken to warning me not to do it, as he must have something in the works, but she is just taking the counsel of feminine fears.)
“The New Force” Sidney Hillman of the CIO was at the Democratic Convention this week, throwing his weight around, even though the old axiom is that no one can deliver the U.S. labor vote.
“Hot Blueblood” Most Massachusetts politicians toe the party line, but not Robert Fiske Bradford, a well-born Harvard graduate who is stirring things up. The paper is excited about his future. Teddy Roosevelt’s son, a brigadier-general recently promoted to divisional command, died at 56 of a heart attack near Cherbourg. See? This is why armies need a retirement policy. Imagine if, say, Halsey had a heart attack in the middle of a battle! Actually, never mind.
“Scrap” The American troops seconded to build the Alaska Highway are allegedly burning and scrapping the supplies sent north with them as they pull out of their grand construction job.
The short-sighted see this as a grand boondoggle, but in reality we now have a delightful 1700 mile highway to show for it. Now the American taxpayer can drive to Fairbanks, and all of the interesting places between, whenever they want!
So, really, there is no cause for complaint if we happen to burn a few tens of thousands of winter coats rather than go to the trouble of removing them from northern Canada.
“Beef for Beefeaters” Britain has made a deal to take all the Canadian beef that can be shipped in 1944-45. I hope this works out better than the egg shortage. Will cows eat beef? In other Canadian news, all Canadian debt to Britain is now liquidated. All declared debt. I know that I should not be so smugly self-satisfied, but it would do our interests well if you could remind the Earl about how right I was about that, and how much we have profited from my decision of August of 1939. In southern Alberta, the paper is amused to report that the Duke of Windsor has joined the oil-drilling craze on his ranch. The dispute over sending Canadian conscripts overseas heats up. How much good are a prospective 35,000 casualty replacements really doing in Jamaica and Prince Rupert?
Genius at Home” Albert Einstein is a genius, and like all geniuses, an amiable eccentric. Also, I notice that he has top-level security, suggesting that atomic physics has military implications. I mention this to your eldest, and he just rolls his eyes at me, as if to ask whether I could possibly be so naïve. I am not, of course, but I was hoping he would spill some “gen” without prodding. He did not, which at least suggests to me that the details of any atomic explosive are not technically interesting to him.
“No Shrink, No Shine, No Runs” Monsanto held a presser last week to announce chemicals that produce silk and nylon stockings that do not run, wool that does not shrink, blue serge suits that do not get shiny, wool pants that keep a sharp crease, even in the rain. Donald Howard Powers, the 43-year-old Princeton graduate who achieved these homely miracles, shrugged them off as only a beginning. “He is also working on a method of water proofing and flame-proofing circus tents.” Which seems like a tastelessly indiscreet way of framing that research this week. We can draw the conclusion if you only say “flameproofing canvas.” Anyway, Monsanto promises that eventually the bottled chemicals will be available for home application.
“Cures for Childlessness” Two books on sale by Lippincot this week offer useful checklists of factors inhibiting fertility in men and women. The former, with a blue bookjacket, is by Lieutenant Commander Robert Sherman Hotchkiss of Manhattan, while the latter has a pink bookjacket, and is by Dr. Samuel Lewis Siegler of Brooklyn. Infertility is far more common than is believed. From 1910 to 1930, for all reasons, 17% of native white U.S. marriages were childless, while 5 to 8% resulted in only one child. About half of all cases of infertility can be treated by diet, rest, abstinence from alcohol, relief of “nervousness” and general good health. And all that some “sterile” couples need is sex instruction. “This is true of many highly educated people who seek medical advice.” I know: I heard that joke at the club too, the other day.
You say that it is not meant to be a joke? I was pretty sure that the blue and pink furniture gave it away, but I could be wrong.
“In the Shadows” Back in London after a trip to Normandy, the paper’s female correspondent, Mary Welsh, reports on the field hospitals, which are achieving miraculous rates of survival amongst the wounded, in particular thanks to blood and plasma infusions.
“Snafu” Senator Taft’s provision to the Soldier Vote Act, which was to prevent political propaganda from reaching the soldiers, has proved unworkable, because it turns out that all American journalism contains politics! Vote Warren in 48.
“Cissie Fuss” Eleanor Medill (“Cissie”) Patterson’s Washington Times-Herald published a bitterly anti-Roosevelt editorial that is generally deemed to have gone too far. I would not mention this were it not headlined by a note identifying the publisher of the New York Daily News as her brother, and Colonel McCormick as her cousin. This is the kind of thing that makes mad ranters mad. At least in our family we have the good grace to keep our conspiracies secret!
“17,000 Book Reviews” Lisle Bell has done 17,000 “brief, unsigned booknotes” in the last 26 years, as a sideline while working as a newspaperman, advertising copywriter and script writer. He is a master of the art form. Not bad for the son of a “real-estate developer who did not believe in education.” Given that he attended Ohio State, I wonder. There are some very large estates in Ohio, and I should think that an education that distracted the next generation of developer only so far as Ohio State and on to a career in freelance writing in New York so idle that he had time to read 17,000 books was a bit of a waste. I further note that the point of the story is that Bell has just broken his leg, which will, as happened last time, apparently curtail his output for some time. To break a leg once may seem an accident. To do it twice begins to sound like drunkenness.
“The Only One of Its Kind” The paper likes Passage to India so much that it reviews it, again, I assume, for the current second edition. It could be worse. The paper could spend more time reviewing Time For Decision and Candlelight in Algeria, although at least the latter has pretty people and exciting car-chase scenes. Which is why, I suspect, that I was dragged to see it.
Sumner M. Slichter warns of a postwar shortage of consumer goods due to a boom that will overtax productive capacity. Senator Taft has foolish and uninformed opinions about the new international monetary fund, the paper says. Harold Laski predicts a postwar American depression as a result of the inability of the American free enterprise system to achieve full employment. The paper imples that Geoffrey Crowther, editor of The Economist, agrees. While I do not put anything I hear about The Economist’s down-at-the-mouth styles past that paper, what he said was that he is more frightened of an American depression than a British, and this is not saying that he thinks it more likely. This paper clearly falls in with Slichter’s boom, but Laski’s worry about a failure to achieve full employment causing a decline in demand leading to lower employment, etc, is not really address by Slichter, as far as I can tell. Also of the opinion that the transition to peace can be managed is Abraham David Hannath Kaplan, an economist from the University of Denver, who has a book out on the subject form McGraw-Hill.
“Houses to Live In” The paper notices the boom in suburban real estate. Few experts see the ‘boom’ going ‘bust’ any time soon, either. An exception, however, is Federal Home Loan Bank Administration Commissioner John H. Faley, who believes that too many reckless loans have been made, and that the “unsound wartime realty boom” must lead to a postwar wave of foreclosures worse than the last depression. Against this, it is pointed out that loans made so far are being amortised very quickly, that second mortgages have virtually disappeared, that modern mortgages, instead of running 3 to 5 years, are now going to easy 25-year terms comparable to rent. Nor is the buying really profligate speculation. ON the contrary, people are buying homes to live in, or as a hedge against inflation, or both. Prices are up: a Los Angeles home that sold in 1942 for $7,850 brought in $15,500 last winter. A home in Pittsburgh is up from $10,000 to $11.900 over six months.
The big boom, however, has not yet even started.
Washington planners are counting on new residential building to support postwar employment. Estimates of building in the first full postwar year range from 560,000 to 1 million, and for 2 billion dollars expected to be spent on new building in the first postwar year, $3 billion will be spent on renovations and repairs. I, for one, am hoping to get a roof on the old house before the rain goes through the foundations. It is a race against time, and I dread what we might have to do with the phoenix floor and the Whale Man.
“Victory Over the Phone” Don Nelson has won the backing of Jimmy Byrnes in a phone call. Workers will not be forced to relocate to work industries, will be allowed to be released to make consumption goods of surplus aluminum. Also, Bob Hinckley, fresh from Sperry, is to be Director of Contract Settlement.
“Paper and Steel” The automobile industry is declining to avail itself of the War Production Board’s Blue Order, intended to allow phased resumption of production. The order’s future allocations of raw materials are too contingent, and the idea that the companies can start work on experimental models is mistaken, for they are shorter of engineer and designer labor than anything else. What the industry really needs is machine tools, and reconversion cannot really get started until the Government releases those.
I am not sure that you care for me wasting your time with this section of the paper, Reggie, but my eye is caught by the death of Betty Compton (Mrs. Theodore Knappen), 38, of an illness following the birth of her first child. It seems as though one does not read as many of these melancholy notices any more. More normal is the news of Nancy Coleman (26), giving birth to twins. Or, regrettably, of John Rippey Morris’s (43) suicide and the death by heart attack of 48-year-old Captain Frederic John Walker. The worst, though, seem to be enduring the stress. Mussolini wants us to know that he lost 50lbs and got ulcers in his last months in Rome, while Madam Chiang has arrived in Washington for an extended rest to relieve nervous exhaustion. On the other hand, the sad news of the death of Archbishop Hanna, in the same month in which we have lost Mayor McSheehy, at least tells us that good people who keep an even keel may hope to live long and prosperous lives. Their loss leaves me feeling sad and old.
The paper may be having the same kind of reflections, because it sub-heads “Knighthood’s Flower” to cover Margherita Clement’s damage suit against “former soldier socialite Sidney B. Dunn, Junior,” who attacked her with a paring knife and liquor bottle when she refused his suit, and the assault on Jeannette MacDonald, who got a black eye and facial cuts struggling with a 14-year-old bellboy who trespassed in her Santa Barbara hotel cottage, supposedly looking for souvenirs.
Flight, 27 July 1944
“The Tactics of Fusing” The paper is impressed by the way that the RAF has learned to adjust bomb fusing to give the maximum amount of useful support to the Army in the great bombardments now being used to advance our troops.
“Superfluity in the Air” We have enough aircrew now, and the RAF is transferring men to the Army, in particular. Who could have imagined, six years ago?
“The Stars in Their Courses” Those who complain that the weather is on the enemy’s side should remember that it was perfect for us in the Dunkeque evacuation. Bad weather assists the weak.
“War in the Air”
The air attack on Caen preparatory to the last operation, in which 1000 RAF heavies were followed by 600 Americans, was too remarkable to describe in words. However, the paper notes an additional important fact, which is that the explosives dropped by planes did not have to be shipped to Normadny, and so did not count against the administrative backlog there. The paper is impressed by the “break-through into new country across the river Orne,” the fall of Ancona and Leghorn, and Russian victories. Forgetting to end on more than a nominal note of aircraft being involved (bombs, factories, oil shortage), the paper here breathes the hope that this war cannot go on much longer. Ultimately, the thought is inspired by the Hitler bomb plot, in which it cannot be concealed that aircraft were not involved. Not even a Luftwaffe general, it seems! Although the paper is pleased that the direction of Germany’s war effort did not fall into more competent professional hands. The same cautionary does not, of course, apply to the fall of Tojo, who might be good or bad, as who knows with Japanese statesmen.
Here and There
Captain C. Eric Smith has been elected chairman of Rolls-Royce in place of the late Lt. Col. Lord HerbertScott. The R.Ae.C. will close for nine days to give the staff a short holiday. Members sleeping at the club will have to fend for themselves for lunch and dinner. The daughter of Roy Chadwick has married Radio Officer John Dove. Manyprominent Cheshire people, sensing the way the future was going, attended. People are still talking about talking about civil aviation. Talk out of Stockholm is of a new type of flying bomb that weighes 10 tons, flies at 750 mph, can fly at 20,000ft, and can reach New York. The explosive is said to be 30 times more powerful than the ordinary. If the Germans have an atomic explosive, I am told, it is unlikely that they have so many that they can waste it in “flying bomb” attacks. Though, to be fair, “30 times more powerful” is such an underestimate that this might not be a sly intimation of same.
“Invasion Close-up” Our correspondent visits a reconnaissance squadron, which flies Mustangs equipped with Williamson F24 cameras, Spitfire XIs with F52 and F8 cameras. The F52 has a 36 inch lens! (Would this be the place to ask if you can obtain a supply of pancake makeup from a store of my acquaintance in London? Thick as lard, that stuff, and it might make even me presentable under such nightmarish conditions. But, of course, you will be long since familiar with such things.) The first Australian-built Mosquitoes have been delivered to the RAAF. Australian woods were used “to a great extent” in its production. DeHavilland is to have an apprentice shool.
Maurice F. Allward, “Engine Mountings” Mounting engines is quite difficult due to all the stresses the mounting must absorb. Obviously the traditional engineering solution of adding more weight and hoping for more strength is out of the question in aircraft. Allward notices the possibility of improvements in radial engines in particular, given that, in spite of the success found with forged mountings in inline engines, it is strange that there are none for radials. This might be in part, I suspect, because American makers, who cover the majority of radial makers, are a bit behind hand in metal work in their shops. However, Bristol is an eminently British firm. But, however again, Bristol is leading the world with its interchangeable “power eggs,” and this kind of thing would be much easier on a machined-down casting than forged down to exacting dimensions.
“Indicator” supposes that we are “Asking Too Much of Adaptability” It has been a long time since Indicator has talked about flying. Has he been grounded? Father Time does catch up. The point of the column is to ask for more standardisation in utility aircraft.
Studies in Recognition
This week we feature the Blohm and Voss Bv 222, the colossal German six-engined flying boat, The not-so colossal Grumman Gosling, the Dornier Do 24, and the Boeing B 314-A. No new jokes on the subject of flying antiquities occur to your humble correspondent, Reggie. I could swear that this is not even the first time some of these have appeared in this feature!
Behind the Lines
A German ace, Eugen Zweigert, has been lost on the Western Front. The Germans are short on planes in Norway, a breathless report from Norway confirms. The Germans have not enough new aircrew coming up, and so rely on their old ones. Japan is mobilising its scientific community to do science for the war effort. This might turn out to have been a bit late in the doing. It is reported (again) that the Germans are using the Fokker G.1 “operationally.”
F. E. Burger, “Aircraft Suspension Systems” In our March 30th, number, we published an article by Mr. R. H. Bound, who argued in favour of the levered suspension. Mr. Burger, assistant chief engineer of Sir George Godfrey and Partners, responds by putting the case for telescopic cantilever undercarriages and makes the case for a new bearing that will address “sticking” trouble.
Qantas’ D.H. 86 have now flown 1.5 million miles, most of it by Aussie pilots who wish they were DC-3s.
“In Northern Waters” Our carriers attacked a coastal convoy off Norway with more Corsairs than I would expect the convoy was worth. (Two 6000 GRT, one 3000 GRT “supply ship,” four(!) AA ships.) The convoy was “virtually” annihilated.
“Airfield Roads and Runways” Are being made with Somerfeld Flexboard tracking. We are shown a picture of the wonder material being used to “debogg” a Stirling, so presumably Stirlings are being used as transports into and out of Normandy. It is good that they have finally found a use to which that low aspect-ratio, deep wing is actually adapted! The flexboard sounds as though it might be useful in rough country, unless it is too expensive, in which case old-fashioned corduroy will do as well.
More sour notes on the hapless optimism of the young, from back in the days of late June, when they ruled the correspondence columns. One visionary, Major J. R. Gould, does make the case for diesel-powered flight, but only in the context of poo-pooing the idea that the current generation of petrol engines will ever be commercially practicable, given the exorbitant inspection and fuel costs. I am more struck by the gentle ridicule of the bad thermodynamics of an earlier correspondent writing in favour of gunpowder-burning aeroengines. It is a little late to get “in” on the joke, which envisions flying bombs, once launched, gliding gently backwards into the launching crew on the basis of the correspondent’s efficiency calculation, but I do notice that he is late in replying because of “some minor disturbance to my personal property caused by the Hun’s jet-propelled aerial torpedo.” Somewhere in England, one A. R. Ogston has capitalised a good understanding of thermodynamics into a sufficiently comfortable living that we should seek him out and repair his domicile for him on Government-guaranteed profits!
Time, 31 July 1944
“New Front” The paper suggests that the new front is the domestic one in Germany, as a result of the bomb plot against Hitler, a statement given to the press by Lieutenant General Edumund Hofmeister, captured with 41st Armoured Corps in White Russia two weeks ago, and rumours of divisions mutinying in East Prussia, and the arrest and sometimes execution of 5500 Army officers, including 34 generals.
“Five Miles More” The paper is discouraged by the week’s end communique from Normandy that opened with “There is nothing new to report.” The late drive on Caen is the subject of this disappointment. Given the great air and artillery barrage, and the massive drive, with Montgomery putting his tanks ahead of his infantry for the first time since Alamein, greater things were hoped. Then, five miles in, they stalled against a “murderous screen of German 88-mm guns, mortars, cleverly emplaced tanks firing like mobile pillboxes.” Isn’t the point of a pillbox that it is not mobile? The paper suggests that Montgomery might have been “over-economical” of loss.
Reggie, I might have spent my world war trying to cure condensoritis (it does not sound very courageous in retrospect, but I think that it beat being bombarded by Japanese Quick-Firers, or sniped at by Boer commandoes, as much as I recall you differing at the time), but I remember the war news quite well enough to appreciate how much the men at the Flanders or Somme front would have treasured a man who gained five miles while “over-economising” on their lives! Well, the Germans are predicting an offensive on the American front to follow the one against Caen. Let us hope it meets the paper's expectations.
“Fragments” The paper dismisses the German forces in the East as such and hopes for the fall of Koenigsburg, while admitting that its natural and human-built defences are strong, also for the fall of Riga. The loss of Brest-Litvosk may be expected, and that of Pskov is imminent. “Joseph Stalin and company would no doubt find a saturnine pleasure in dictating peace terms in Brest-Litovsk.” Let us hope that the Red Army does not have to fight its way into Paris before peace returns!
“Close to Earth” The Red Army is victorious, and aircraft were involved! No, I am not reading the wrong paper. “Novikov, Chief of the Red Air Force” is on the cover of this number. That is, Marshal Alexandr Alexandrovich Novikov. The Russians like “tactical” planes, by which is meant small fighters and single-engined and twin-engined bombers lacking high altitude performance. As for some reason the “Hun in the Sun” does not exist in the East. Russian pilots do not get combat fatigue, for reasons that we shall omit for long enough after the end of the war against the Nazis as to make it permissible again to imply things about the basic humanity or lack therefore of Tatar stock. I like the explanation that the Germans do not have enough planes rather better.
“Next to the Gothic Line” We are advancing in Italy. To the Gothic Line. Ancona and Leghorn have fallen.
“The Worst, and Worse to Come” The worst week of “robot bombing” has ended in London, but, you guessed it, worse is to come. “The explosions sometimes thundered seconds apart as the bombs arrived in groups, like artillery salvos. Some of the things sputtered in power drives, but many drove silently for whatever was in their paths. Londoners did not know what to expect. They were warned to expect worse.” Specifically, the larger, longer-ranged V-2. One bomb fell near a US headquarters, slightly wonded four WACs. Another flew by the paper’s office window.
“All We Had to Tell” Theodore White accompanies a failed attempt by 151st Division to relieve Henyang. The division had no artillery. Under Ch’ien-lung Ti, a Chinese army would never lack artillery.
“Under New Management” Saipan, that is. (Guam and Tinian as well, the latter being better suited for airfields.) The paper broadly implies other changes. Perhaps General MacArthur will command the land forces in the invasion of the Philippines, and not some lunatic Marine? Professional lunatics beat amateurs!
“First at St. Lo,” American troops have penetrated as far as St. Lo. Good news, except that the story frames the incident as another Pickett’s charge. I do not think we are there to stay.
“Crack of Doom” The paper covers the German press coverage of the bomb plot against Hitler. Various rumours involve flung grenades, Teller mines, the death of Hitler’s double, the shooting of a thousand German officers at a Bavarian concentration camp, the arrest of Field-Marshal Kesselring, the execution of General Fromm, the suicide of four hundred German officers, a naval revolt at Kiel, SS fighting pitched battles with the Army in France, 10,000 people in hiding from Gestapo retaliation. That’s a lot of hiding.
“Gauntlet of Hate” 57,000 German prisoners were marched through Moscow on their way to internment while Russians did their best to be correct, the crowd hushing hecklers and Pravda warning, “No heckling.” The Germans, on the other hand, marched 2000 Allied prisoners through Paris and into a picked crowd of hecklers. Or so, at least, the paper tells us.
“Back to the Desert” The Grand Senussi has returned to Libya after twenty years of exile. The dawning of a bright new day for Libya is well indicated by the fact that Idris visited Tobruk and el Mrassas.
“The Bear’s Paw” The paper is upset that the Russian press characterised Chiang’s government in negative terms.
Poles and Japanese are excitable.
“No Problem” Segregated Japanese-American combat units have excellent records.
“Last of the Line” The 5,396th and last Dauntless rolled off the line in the El Segundo Aircraft plant this week, was promptly trundled over to a time machine and sent back to 1940, where it would find some use against time-travelling Japanese attackers. The paper notes that it has set a new record. Of the 95 U.S. planes lost in the battle of the Philippine Sea (of which we will say no more, lest it be noticed that we sacked the victor), “there was not one Dauntless.” I do not believe the paper intended this the way it sounded, as it goes on to suggest that the Dauntless has had a very good loss ratio since it was withdrawn from active combat and relegated to antisubmarine patrols and training.
“The Spearhead Sharpened” General Holland Smith is given command of Fleet Marine Forces in the Pacific. Which is to say, a command has been found for a Marine of lieutenant general’s rank that does not involve an Army tasked with taking the Philippines (or, to give the possibility of misdirection its moment, Formosa.)
General William Signius Knudsen is made chief of Army Air Force Service and Materiel Command, with the shepherd of the B-29 programme, Brigadier General Kenneth B. Wolfe, as deputy. Either this means that he is not going to go back to GM, or that we should watch out for a GM-built jet turbine. If I am not too cynical.
“New Margins” The Army is 150,000 beyond its planned 7.7 million strength, although this will not affect Selective Service callups. In fact, the Navy is asking for 194,000 men to speed up the Pacific War.
“The Man Who Wasn’t There” Is Roosevelt, who did not attend the Democratic Convention, for fear that Little Orphan Annie would shoot him, or perhaps because he wanted to disassociate himself with the addition of Senator Truman to the ticket in place of Henry Wallace. The Convention did at least establish that it will be running against Herbert Hoover in the upcoming election. I suspect that the Engineer would have been pleased to have received the nomination, but, in an as astonishing a turn of events as the removal of Wallace from the Democratic ticket, Dewey carried the day instead. Perhaps someone should let the Democrats know this? At the convention, keynote speaker Bob Kerr rejected the idea that nominating a man who is obviously at death’s door was a mistake, because “Shall we discard as a ‘tired old man’ 59-year-old Admiral Nimitz . . . 62-year-old Admiral Halsey. . .64 year-old General MacArthur . . . 66-year-old Admiral King . . . 64 year-old General Marshall?” So there you have it, Reggie. America has given birth to no competent soldiers or politicians since 1885.
As to the new Vice-President, he is one of the President’s favorites. Not as favorite as James Byrne, but the latter’s record of filibustering anti-lynching bills was fatal, especially with Wallace making an idiot of himself by fighting for the nomination on the grounds of being the last hope for liberalism within the Democratic Party, instead of retiring gracefully. That is, Sidney Hillman of the CIO was the Convention (vice-) kingmaker, at least in the world of the Chicago Tribune, which may lie not unadjacent to our own.
“Light Him Up” “Block gangs” of “adolescent negroes,” armed with “’switchblade’ knives and crude, home-made pistols” are terrorising the law-abiding folk of Harlem, who can no longer “walk home from a dish of ‘rice & ribs’ at the restaurant.” “Gangs with names like Ebony Dukes, Imperial Huns, Pals of Satan, Slicksters, the Mysterious Five” engage in battle. A recent affray led to a boy being shot to death –by the police, which seems ridiculously tame compared to the old Tong wars, and look at how those boys turned out. (At least the ones who refrained from jumping into the bottle.) Not that anyone ever follows the average young “gangster” into middle-aged domesticity. Where’s the newscopy in that?
“Strange Cargo” The shocking explosion at the munitions-handling wharf at Port Chicago, which killed 321 and left “scores of buildings” damaged, and which could very definitely be heard from here, although not by me, as I was in Portland, gets a single page of coverage. I am sure that it will all turn out to be due to feckless Coloured stevedores.
“Dewey Week” The Governor sees Eric Johnston, back from Russia, and is noncommittal about seeing John L. Lewis at some point. Given that the United Mineworkers have endorsed him, this might seem churlish. The problem is that the Tribune has, as well. Governor Bricker suggests that no-one has heard of Senator Truman.
“Glimpses of the Moon” The word for your youngest is apparently ‘astronaut,” which describes people who dream of traveling through interstellar space. I rushed to tell him this, and he corrected me crossly. In no way is the Moon in ‘interstellar’ space, he tells me. Rockets, such as the ones described in the following article, can get us to the Moon, he says, but not to another star, which is thousands, if not millions of years away at the crucial number of twelve miles per second, which is the "solar escape velocity." We apparently only need 7 to get to the Moon, as the paper notes, and your youngest assures me that this is in sight, notwithstanding the fact that American pioneer Professor Goddard has not reached 700mph. Your son points out that nothing has been heard of Goddard since the war began, and happily predicts the imminent appearance of a proper “rocket ship.” Though your eldest throws cold water with abandon, pointing out that the ‘bazooka’ is more than enough explanation for Goddard’s silence. The boy takes ill of being corrected by his half-brother, vanishes to pitch futile woo at “Miss V.C.” I cannot decide which moon he is more likely to see.
I'm sorry, Reggie. But your son, in despite of superficial appearances, does not follow after you in these matters, and I count that a good thing. He will be the happier for not being the Lothario he imagines himself to be, and will find happiness far younger than you did.
“DDT news” The wonder insecticide, which I neglected to wonder at by reason of neglecting the 12 June number of Time entirely, is credited with clearing out the gypsy-moth plague in a 20 acre woodlot in the eastern U.S. when applied at five pound per acre. It also, the entomologists report, got rid of all the other insect pests.
“More Casual Confinements” Dr. Morris L. Rotstein, taking a bit of a leaf from the “hardy jungle mother who stops by the path a few moments to have her child, then catches up with the rest of the child,” now lets healthy new mothers get up on the third or fourth day after delivery and sends them home on the sixth to eighth day, thus relieving ward crowding compared with the old stay of ten to twelve. “Many other doctors, convinced that civilized women, like many highly bred animals, is usually physiologically knocked out by the birth process,” disagree.”
For future reference, Reggie, do not discuss this article, or any like it, with your daughter-out-of-law, be your tone ever so reasonable and detached.
Speaking of unaccountably awkward conversations, William James Sidis died this month.
Senator Taft demands that more magazines be allowed to circulate at the front under the terms of his own legislation. Senator Taft is looking like a complete fool here, although admittedly this is the paper’s take on things, and Taft is no favourite of the Luces, I understand. Also, the Neosho Mo., Miner and Mechanic will from now on charge 10 cents/line for all poetry published in its pages. “We trust that readers sending in poetry will keep this in mind.” I hope that the charge for aimless political prognostication is set commensurately. The story of the papers’ correspondent Stoyan Pribichevich’s adventures in Jugoslavia are continued in this number.
“The Hot Jobs” The war-production slump continues unabated, and the War Department is thoroughly alarmed. Artillery, heavy ammunition, electronics, heavy tires, steel plates, tanks, tank destroyers, dry cell batteries, cotton textiles, TNT and other explosives are all short. Manpower in US foundries and forges are below minimum need, “there is not a single bomber tire in the Army’s inventory,” whatever that means. There is a need for 300% more heavy shells than anticipated, there is shortage of tents in the southwest Pacific and hospital tents in Normandy. Nelson has changed tack slightly, and wants to enlist 200,000 war-industry workers, and the War Department makes it clear that “workers’ failure to sweat it out in the toughest, most thankless war-production jobs may ultimately be measured in lost American lives.” Good thing that it is not the War Department’s fault for underestimating the requirement for heavy shells! (And, really, who ever heardof such a thing before?)
“Harvest Brigade” U.S. farmers only agreed to plant an additional 13.8 million acres in wheat when they were guaranteed that machinery would be made to harvest it. This ws done, and now a “brigade” of self-propelled combines is far ahead of schedule. As to how the brigade works in practice, we are given the example of A. C. Ruthenbeck, “a tall, ruddy farmer from Tracy, Minnesota,” who took delivery of his combine in Enid, Oklahoma last month, began cutting 200 acre of wheat for “Farmer Fred Ash.” Cutting 5 acres an hour at 30 bushels an acre, Ruthenbeck figured that he would cut 5000 acres in a summer-long northward trek to Minnesota, ending by harvesting his own fields, I think, though the paper does not say so. In any case, given that he charges $2 to $3/ acre he stands to earn $10—15,0000 on his trek, never mind his own fields. The combine cost only $2700. It is not all profit, but let me again laugh derisively at the thought of $5000 homes.
“Tire Trouble” It turns out that the tire shortage is not the result of lack of rubber, but of workers and equipment to produce heavy-duty tires. One by one, the nation’s essential trucks and busses are limping into garages to find no tires to reshoe them. The civilian sector will get only 25% of the second quarter allocation in the fourth, at best.
“Hudnut versus Moses” Given that talk of city planning just might end up being important to real estate developers (imagine tones of heavy sarcasm, Reggie), I am pleased to report that the fight between New York City Park Commissioner Robert Moses and assorted city planning theorists continues in an elevated sprit of alternating, polysyllabic temper tantrums.
G.I.s, it turns out, like musical comedies, not “tinhorn war and home-front heroics.” They prefer Betty Grable over all other women, but also strongly favour Rita Hayworth, Ginver Rogers, Lena Horne, Alice Faye, Ginny Sinims, Betty Hutton, Ingrid Bergman, Greer Garson, Bette Davis. In Britain, where they can actually see women, Hope, Crosby, tracy, Cagney, Gable, Bobart, Abbott & Costello, Rooney, Grant and Kaye also rate mention in popularity contests. “In Iceland, oddly enough, five males vie with Miss Grable.” Apparently, Washington has discovered an effective means of reducing fraternisation with our Icelandic allies. For troops in the Indian theatre, recent favourites include all-Negro musicals, while Casablanca is preferred in the Southwest Pacific, Cover Girl in Normandy. Documentaries are not appreciated, newsreels are.
It is reported that radio now beats the papers for news scoops, and that a collection of the famed Alexander Woollcott’s letters has been published, as well as a book by John Dos Passos, which is described as a picture of a wartime America too tired by its own exertions of production and learning to appreciate the miracle that it had accomplished, but also ugly, unfinished, and in some respects fearful of the future. That is, Dos Passos tells a story about a man who once kept a hundred Coloured on his plantation but who had sold it, so that while his former tenants were currently making $4/day on construction jobs, when the boom ended, there would be no-one to take care of them. Thank you, anonymous Alabamian, but the lesson here ought to be that when a good tenant is ready to be buy, you should be ready to sell.
Speaking of the inadvertently patronising, the movie version of Pearl S. Buck’s Dragon Seed is out, and should be showing in Britain soon. I suppose that I cannot criticise Sai Wai Yuan for providing for her future, but“by one of Hollywood’s curious conventions, the Japanese in this film are, as usual, played by Chinese, while the Chinese are played by the Caucasians with their eyes painfully plastered into an Oriental oblique. The result suggests Dr. Fu Manchu and an epidemic of pinkeye.” Grandfather, were he still able to read this and insist on his status as the inspiration for the “Devil Doctor” would demand that dacoits be sent to avenge the implication that he is Japanese. Okay, well, a bit Japanese, but that was long ago, and we (almost) all share that blood.