Monday, November 4, 2013

Postblogging Technological History: October, 1943: Labour at the Limit: Martha's Burden Is Lightened By Speed

Welcome to Yorkshire!

My Dearest Wing Commander:

Congratulations on your promotion, Reggie! As you will suspect from the arrival of the familiar courier and the heft of the package, this correspondence is a response to the Earl's anxious inquiries. Resuming my practice from the spring of 1939, I provide commentary at the head before financials in the hopes that this will help him understand the choices we have made with the money he dare not own. 

As I look back at the older letters, I marvel at how much has changed in four short years. Then, you were lying low in Vancouver in disgrace. Now you are back in RCAF uniform in dear old Blighty, putting your experience to the benefit of Brittania. Or Canadia? It does not quite seem to roll off the tongue, and I remain in exile amongst the orange groves of Santa Clara County, under standing invitation from Scotland Yard to assist them in inquiries. 

Being that your son now wears his Captain's rings, and can expect his broad pennant in due time (although not, alas, the Vice-Admiralship, thanks in no small part to his just-ended South Pacific 'exile'), it stands to reason that the family that you disgraced so long ago is no longer inclined to press the issue.  Meanwhile, so long as our cousin refuses correspondence with his daughter, I stand suspect of the most lurid imaginable crimes. You will find enclosed, by the way, another package from Chungking with photographs of the grandchildren.  Now that you and he are near-colleagues in war billets, I can even dream of you somehow persuading him to look at them. If not, film footage might be more compelling. It is expected, although unfortunately not soon, for our courier has chosen to reach civilisation via the wilds of Central Asia. What the Red Fort and the NKVD do not know, cannot hurt us.  

Speaking of your son, he arrived on the West Coast at the beginning of the month. One may infer goings-on at Scapa Flow if his services are no longer required in New Caledonia. I will be his host while he pokes about some nooks and crannies for the Admiralty. Amusingly, your boy, who currently rejoices in his after-school status as a Navy dispatch rider, picked him up at the wharf. I was in Seattle at the time, and somehow, someone (and by this I mean Grandfather, who at 103 has not entirely lost his sense of humour) got the idea that a man who had just flown across the Pacific in a PBY might enjoy being harried through the streets of San Francisco like Dundee's bonnet by a seventeen year old on his monstrous American motorcyle. Although, diplomatically, "Captain (E)  J. C." only emphasises that he enjoyed his first opportunity to meet his half-brother.  Had he only been delayed another day, and I could probably have arranged for his wife to do so in something more closely approaching a satisfactory number of wheels, but she was on a train somewhere west of Denver due to bad flying weather in the Rockies. 

Borrowed from's_bikes
Having, at least obliquely, reintroduced our familiar cast from 1939 (yes, it is Fat Chow who is trying to move those documents from Kashgar to Kabul right now), I should close this ramble and get on with . . . Well, my only slightly more on-topic ramble. Forgive me, I am aging, and garrulous.

First, the context (and to show off that family channels are restored and that I can take The Economist currently, though ocean and submarines bar the way.)

The Economist,  2 October 1943

Leader: “A Time for Decision:” Blah blah inter-allied talks blah blah Russia Poland; “New Men, New Measures:” Minor cabinet shuffle due to Sir Kingsley Wood having  died. Foreign affairs need attention, particularly theh “dollar problem. “Scotland’s Future:” how is the congenital depression of the past interwar to be prevented in the next? More Science. (In heavy engineering, which is Scotland’s past and future.)

Colour me skeptical that every corner of the world can get rich off of steel and ships. Although I would suggest that Scotland has a better chance than California. At least it has coal. We are railing it in from Utah. 

“Notes of the Week:” The Russian steamroller –is rolling. “Corsica and Algiers.” The self-liberation of Corsica raises questions about France’s political future. “The Women;” a conference of 6000 female leaders was held in confidence with various members of the Cabinet. The leader finds hilarity. 6000 women keeping a secret! Unfortunately, this is a lead in to ”Womenpower Policy,” making it clear why the cabinet has to take time to explain everything to the little dears. I wonder if there will be the looks and quiet comments that sometimes make me so foolish in the midst of explaining something lengthy and complicated to the now-Mrs. "J. C." Fomerly "Miss G. C.," and hopefully you know what I am tallking about, Reggie, as I am almost as confused as any putative snoop reading this missive is supposed to be. “Recruitment and Replenishment:” to make up labour in the factories in the face of attrition. “Advance in Italy:” we’re advancing. “Self Redemption:” is happening. “A Positive Policy:” things are not as bad in coal, cotton, and iron as they could be. “Pendulum Turns;” whereas in three elections so far this year, the government of a Dominion has been returned with a triumphant majority, in New Zealand it has been returned with a minority, boding ill for the future perhaps? In any event, the next six months will be crucial.

“American Survey"

“Plot and Counter Plot:” last week’s alleged plot to get rid of General Marshall by kicking him upstairs give way to charges of an Administration scheme to replace him with Sommervell as a first step to grooming him as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee in 1944. The Chicago Tribune likes both theories. At the same time. Meanwhile, MacArthur’s surprising comments on the Mountbatten appointment, that he will do what he can with the resources that he is given, and that “island hopping” has proven a mistaken strategy, have allowed Pacific Firsters to resume the criticism. This is the likeliest line of attack against the President. Isolationists love the Pacific War, and MacArthur’s name has been bruited as the “anti-Roosevelt” candidate in 1944.

“Shipping in Economic Policy:” the Journal of Commerce reports on the Maritime Commission’s plan for a postwar fifty-fifty division of foreign trade between American and foreign ships. This is in line with Admiral Land’s vigorous campaign promoting American shipbuilding: 2,100 ships, 22 million DWT. Again I observe that unless Americans learn to make better, cheaper ships, this is unlikely to happen. But who am I to stand against pessimism on the Clyde, as while I am not saying that Americans will take their business, I am saying that. . . . Well, never mind. Walter Lippman suggests that America is getting ready to have “no ecomomic foreign policy.” Which I take to be an argument for American autarky. All of the war industries are staking their claim to be strategically vital –rubber, aviation, shipbuilding. What room is there for foreigners to make anything for sale to Americans?

“Bypassing WLB” The Los Angeles railwaymen strike is over after 2 days. A WLB decision striking down a wage increase (from 15 cents to 4) is now to be reviewed by a special Presidential panel. The suggestion is that the new wage will be accepted at the price of extending the workweek by 10—14 hours/week.

The World Overseas
“Bulgarian Tensions:” rats, ships, sinking; peasants and workers are resisting in various ways, although a bumper cereal crop has eased tensions. The way forward is seen in Sofia as the formation of a “totalitarian” state party to push totalitarian solutions. Far sighted, for look how Germany has marched from success to success! “Employment in Eire:” employment in Eire is down due to all the young people leaving for Britain. It looks like Great Britain has taken the whole of Ireland’s underemployment problem, that is, the whole labour surplus, and “perhaps more than the surplus.” But we see problems in the long run as Britain demobilises and they all come home. Good news now means bad news later! “Germany at War:” bread shortage; failure of New Order.

The Business World

“Inflation in India.” British procurement in India is met by direct spending, and the excess stirling coming into the country is not being mopped up, but rather escapes into the economy. The effect of the rise of prises has been to encourage subsistence farmers to withhold food from the market. More taxes, or a transition to defence financing by loans is needed. Hmm. Well, what is the worst possible outcome from encouraging farmers to withhold subsistence crops from the market?

Business Notes

Shipping firms taking on “the power to run airlines;” warring currencies in Italy; Coal position is bad, search for volunteers to work in the mines not going well; ‘optants,’ at, for example, the fully mechanised Bolsover Collier Company are going into training to work the new machinery instead of to the faces to cut coal. But that’s good, right?”New High Levels:” business expansion was solid, but less than optimists expected. “Engineering Wages Award.” The strike at Barrow-in-Furness continues as the award was less than the unions asked for. “Bombay Bullion restrictions:” Bombay bullion quotes have slumped with restrictions such as a limit of forward puts to 2 days. Even 4 days was too long to prevent a Bombay trader from doing an in-and-out with no money changing hands. We now have a situation where any bullion sold must go to actual “savers or hoarders.” Raw cotton production is weak; hard fibre production is being promoted; a/c production is up, as is hp/structure weight lb.

The Economist,  9th October 1943

Leader: “Military Approach;” Italian surrender not well handled. “The Upper Regions:” aviation needs a postwar organisation/settlement. “What Kind of Agriculture:” Agriculture needs a postwar organisation/settlement.  “The Means of War:” Chatfield, Field-Marshal Milne, Air Marshal Salmond, Lord Hankey and Lord Winter have just sent an open letter to the Times saying that munitions production needs a postwar organisation/settlement (but beginning now). The paper notes that at a time when labour is being shifted from munitions to a/c in response to higher political direction, it is a little silly to have the duties transferred from one office in MinSupply to another in MAP. Leaving it up to the Battle of Whitehall just means a continuation of the trend for Bomber Command to overbear Army Cooperation and the FAA. There should be more a/c for specialised use, but the bombers keep getting in the way. In summary, less MAP, more MinSup, more efficiency, centralisation, planning.

“Notes of the Week:” “New Sea Lord;” Pound steps down, is replaced by A B Cunningham. Well, that’ll end well, the paper says. Or implies. I think. At least with a destroyer man in charge there will be no shortage of bold moves. Such as dragging our aircraft carriers into Stuka range of land. “Italian Front.” Don’t say bogged down, say selectively advancing. “Goebbels at Home and Abroad;” Goebels' recent and putative moves are construed as a  ‘peace offensive’ abroad, intended to break up the Alliance. “Practical Demobilisation:” a plan is released. “Strikes and Strikers.” The strike at Barrow is over. Strikes are down year over year, and Parliamentary Labour’s anti-Trotskyitism is transparent. Hey, you on the Left! Fight all you like! “Finnish Tug-of-War: rats. Sinking. Ships. 

American Survey

“The Great Contradiction:” American isolationism is dead; and replaced by American nationalism. Admiral Vickery’s recent comment that America is now a great maritime nation and intends to stay that way whether foreigners like it or not, is Exhibition A. “Economic Foreign Policy:” America proposes to export everything and import nothing. Walter Lippman is quoted again. “the Practical Issue:” is that Americans do not realise how quickly the country has changed from being a net debtor to a net creditor, and anyway think that it could be easily reversed.

American Notes

“RE-birth of an Elephant” Wendell Wilkie demands that the Republican party change its spots and reclaim its status as the great American liberal party. Luce's Time, by the way, thinks that the Grand Old Party needs to be less captured by donations and more attentive to its progressive past. Wilkie has some salty things to say about people who talk free enterprise and practice monopoly and restriction. He is for more and better social security. He is vague on foreign policy, and afraid that mismanagement of the home front will extend the war. “the Senator’s Report:” the five senators who have been touring the war fronts are getting ready to present their report, instead of talking about it whenever a reporter is in earshot. Senator Lodge suggests that we will need Russian bases for the air war against Japan. 

"The Tax Programme: " Mr. Morgenthau has presented his new proposals to the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Doughton, the chairman, promptly attacked them as “more than the people can bear.” Congress, we predict, will authorise nothing like such increases, and the successes of the third war bond drive will be pointed to as an example of the success of voluntary loan measures, and a blind eye will be turned to the spending frenzy that has shops in the country open from morning till night. “Little Orphan Annie”has been getting in trouble. The famous comic strip heroine, beloved of the McCormick-Patterson press, has ventured too deep into politics, getting into a feud with the local Office of Price Administration director over gasoline rationing, which is hugely unpopular in the Mid-West.

The World Overseas

“Fascist Republic” the situation in Italy is ….confused. Also, Croatia. Somehow.

The Business World

Business Notes

Talk of  postwar financial order. Situation in Barrow reunsettled. “Women Trade Unionists:” Once the AEU opened its ranks to women, all of the TUC had to,and now they are working out women’s wages, especially that of women not “hired as men,” that is, to replace a male worker. And then there is the need for domestic accommodation. Without this, there is a risk that “industrial fatigue” and “confidence in the outcome of the war” will lead to increased absenteeism. The laundry industry is overburdened; “Skilled men for the services;” People should look at their Army Technical School as a place for careers for boys. This will make the Navy's recruitment work even more difficult, I would wager.

The Economist 16 October 1943


“Pacific Command:” Lord Mountbatten has arrived in India. The ever-oily T. V. Soong has joined him in New Delhi. I am almost ready to root for the Reds just to get rid of the Soongs. With America exerting itself to its utmost in the Pacific, any increase in resources there and acceleration of the Pacific war will have to come out of British resources and thus from Europe. Will it happen, or will we continue to nibble at the peripheries of the Japanese position? “Coal Comfort:” can coal be nationalised” Not without an election, the PM said, so shut up about it. There will be no extension of powers to coerce labour. There needs to be more labour, and more coal per worker. American coal mines are more productive because of mechanisation. Ours have been kept going by low wages. This, the paper thinks, must change.

Notes of the Week

Pravda says that the discussions in the Moscow conference must be strictly military. There can be no more question about the postwar borders of the Soviet Union than about the frontiers of the United Sates or the status of California.” 

"The Great Surprise:" Remember how the Brusilov Offensive turned out to be Russia's last hurrah? The resumption of the Soviet offensive has shattered German hopes. The Azores open to an Allied base. “A New Phase?” The Germans have in the past been more militarily dashing than the Allies, so the midget submarine attack on Tirpitz is refreshing. We credit Cunningham, who apparently used his time machine to set it in motion while he was still in Washington. Follows a series of items on the “end of the political crisis” in Germany occasioned by the Italian surrender, which I was unaware of at time time, on the Conservative adoption of a number of reform measures in their traditional role as the “clothes  snatchers” who borrow Liberal clothes while the Liberals distract themselves at bathing; on domestic service, a sticking point in the recent Ministry of Labour decision to take women into the compulsory labour regristry; 

“As Others See Us:” apparently, Americans and British are inclined to see themselves as blundering amateurs, the other as Machiavellian schemers. The Vital statistics of the nation continue to be good, with live births in the last quarter at 180,691, giving a crude birth rate of 17.5/1000 versus an average of 15.7 for the same quarter over the last 5 years. The infant mortality rate is the lowest ever recorded, but an ominous sign for the future is a  fall in the marriage rate over the 5 year average. Death rate is also lower.

American Survey

Priorities in Labour: the grim prospect of labour rationing has been held up by an extension of the work week to 48 hours, by the summer student hiring boom, and by the recruitment of women, but the slack is gone. Unemployment is down to the limit of employability, 4 million more are envisioned to be called up for service or in the munitions industry, and production is  not forecast to plateau for another 4 months.

“Local Supply and Replenishment” The argument for the local control of labour is “built up from many angles.” There are (except on the West Coast) regions of employment shortage and surplus in every state. If the housing situation could only be remedied, these might resolve themselves. Meanwhile, there is the problem of labour hoarding, exacerbated by cost-plus contracts that have taken labour into the munitions industries where payrolls might still be padded, and there are particularly bad cases, such as the wage differential between Boeing-Seattle and the adjacent Kaiser yards. My mouth is closed. 

American Notes

The Five Senators are doing their hit, “British guile and Uncle Sam, the Sucker.” Or are they? What did they say, as opposed  to what the press said they said? “Political Warfare:” the President proposes to end the Chinese Exclusion Act to remove a weapon from the Japanese propaganda effort, and likewise to accelerate Philippine independence to 1946. Hurrah, I say. Perhaps in the next century or so Americans will be able to admit to themselves what was really behind the Exclusion Act. As you will have noticed yourself, there really is a most striking resemblance between your two sons. That last, however, is somewhat sinister, in that domestic sugar producers have always been eager to see Philippine independence sooner rather than later. “Shipping and Strategy:” the shipping situation is improving rapidly, and perhaps the war can be accelerated by sending an American army abroad faster than planned?

The  Business World

A World Capital Bank: should exist in the future. The Health Minister has concerns about housing; Admiral Vickery is still threatening to drive the white duster from the sea. Good luck with that on American wages! Nationalisation of transport; financial talk; an Italian loan; Bombay bullion prices now rising; liquidation of surpluses to be a post war issue; ‘Settling-in’ Grants to be increased to women who have to move to work in Britain.

The Economist, 23 October 1943

Leader: False Premises” Churchill should stop being such a wet blanket on reforming the coal sector. “Il faut en Finir.” Will the war be over in three months, in six, in twelve? We need more aeroplanes, and an invasion. 

Notes of the Week

Italian co-belligerency raises waves. Fresh Start in India:” Wavell replaces Linlithgow with the remit of fixing India’s war finance and ending the Bengal famine. “Democratic Planning:” Mr. F. J. Osborn, of the Town and Country Planning Association, deprecates too much emphasis on utopian city plans as opposed to what people really want –houses and gardens, for which they are willing to accept congestion, commutes, and ribbon development. As steward of a very large orange grove less than sixty miles from San Francisco and much closer to Oakland, I say no more. “Ukrainian Manganese,” the loss of Nikopol won’t cripple the German war effort.

: “Bombing and Ball Bearings:” The Flying Fortress raid on Schweinfurt on October 14 struck at the heart of German war production. Its objective was the destruction of the important ball and roller-bearing plants of Kugel Fischer AG and Vereinigte Kugellagerfabriken AG, the large German subsidiary of the Swedish SKF. Photos show that at least half the facilities were destroyed, and Brigadier General Anderson of the USAAF suggests that the plants had been knocked out of production, and that an eventual restoration of 25% of production is the most that one could hope for in the immediate future. The paper thinks that this is overstated, as is the idea that Germany has no more ball bearing production, since there are plenty of other export sources.

 “Stand  by Duties:” air raid warning work is getting harder for salaried civil servants to bear. “Fire Guard regulations” it used to be that many fire guards were paid a small, officially-set expense stipend, while some who were taken on before the national scheme was lput in place were paid more. Now all will be paid the same, low rate. Progress!

American Survey

The Senate is fine with a United Nations. “Common Grounds:” Wilkie and Sumner Wells think that, as well as  a two-way alliance, the United States should be in a Four Power alliance, so that everything is fair and open. Dewey seems to think that four-way instead of two-way is the way to go. The New York Daily News, organ of the isolationists, has very tepidly endorsed the Anglo-American alliance in an irresponsible way  that excludes Russia. 

“Coal Deadline:” last week’s strike in the Alabama and Indiana fields was a sharp reminder that this winter’s coal is in jeopardy, and the 31 October deadline of  the “labour truce announced by John L. Lewis last year is coming fast. The strike, although not called by Lewis, must not have been unwelcome to him, as it puts pressure on the WLB in considering the Illinois contract, which in draft form calls for a pay increase of $2/day and pay for time travelled underground. Approval by the WLB would be a bitter pill to swallow as it might increase general restlessness over wages and force the OPA to approve an increase in coal prices. It is on the Administration to reconcile justice for the miners, coal for the war, and inflation. 

The Business World

“Experiment in Price Control” price control is hard.

“Business Notes” Lord McGowan of ICI thinks that the British chemical industry is just fine; “The Future of Coal:” less to be produced at a higher price. “Research and Industry” “The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee” is all about scientific research. We only spend a tenth of what they do in the US and Russia, apparently, and that’s shameful. 

“New Rupee Loan:” the Government of India is getting the Victory Bond racket. The Red Fort is never afraid to be a mile long and a pound short! “ “Bread and Potatoes:” (British) people should eat more potatoes, less bread.  “Opencast coal” is something that we are experimenting with. And not for long, I expect. “Pulp and Paper supplies” are short. As someone who has committed to paging through literally hundreds of pages of advertising to find editorial copy, I can only thank my Maker. 

The Economist, 30 October 1943


“Co-Belligerent Italy” Badolgio makes nice. “Hungry Millions.” Food is a thing. “Infant Mortality” is down in England and Wales. But it is still too high in the lower classes. Mainly because of communicable diseases, which is appalling.

Notes of the Week

The Moscow Conference is apparently going smoothly; so is “The Super-Battle” in the south. “The Nation’s Debt:” is to returning veterans. Who should be prevented from forming proto-Fascist organisations.  The paper pays tribute to Haig and the British Legion for preventing that after the last war.Luce's Time, meanwhile, covers the recent convention of the American Legion in Oklahoma City, recalling its first convention there twenty years ago, when telephone companies arranged busses to convey operators to work, as it was deemed unsafe for a woman to be in the streets at the same time as the randy convention-goers. Now, it marvels that Legionnaires bring their wives to the convention. One wonders if  Haig also prevented epidemics of "fanny pinching." Which, I swear, I am not making up. Time really said that. 

“Slogging Up Italy.” Slogging is a motion of a sort, at least. “The Demand for Teachers:” falls 70,000 short of the supply under the Government’s proposed educational reforms. “Exchange Control” is relaxed.

American Survey

“Political Trends in American Labour” are pro-Democratic and anti-Wilkie in spite of his liberalism. One mine leader who recalls speaking in 1940 of millions of shrunken bellies might note that there are not shrunken bellies any more. “the Rising Tide;” of wages; “the Cost of Living” is up; ‘”Taxes: Nobody’s Baby.” “the View from Mid-Continent (by our Ottawa correspondent) has it that Europeans should stop growing wheat.

Germany at War

“November Days,” the 25th anniversary of Germany’s sudden and unexpected collapse in 1918 is imminent. We all hope that it will happen again, and Germany’s leading Nazis are making sure that it won’t. 

Business Notes

"The Harvest” will be the largest ever, but, nevertheless, I read that biscuits have to be rationed,  as the output is down by half of prewar production. Now, instead of raising the point value of a biscuit ration even higher, the Ministry of Food is lowering the point value of “Spam” type canned meat to attract points away from biscuits. The fact that people can divert points to biscuits suggest that the overall food situation is good. The idea that people will substitute American meat-in-a-can for chocolate-covered biscuits is, I suggest, less realistic. Let me not look a gift horse (or in the case of our American operations, lamb) in the mouth, but the fact that our drafty little isles are flooded with Spam is not an argument that people will eat it readily. 

So that is The Economist. But what of a more congenially American view? Here to tide you over until Time begins its delivery to our little hacienda is 

Fortune October 1943

As always, I must leaf through a great number of ads, and I sometimes wonder at whom they are aimed. Now I do not claim to be an art historian --I just blackmail their handlers through them-- but I see the diaphonous white fabric through the luminous white light and I see the story that hides behind this factory worker checking the parachute that "Must Not Fail" some flyer overseas.

But "Diplodocus forgot to change his mind?" The point here is so strange that I put it in text. It is that “Puck, the Comic Weekly,” brings America the laughs of Donald Duck and Blondie, and that if your firm does not advertise in it, you will be as extinct as a dinosaur. Which could have avoided species extinction by advertising in a comic weekly to reach the American buying public.

Fortune Management Poll: Executives see prosperity at home, “but without the freedom they desire.” Abroad, they hope for world cooperation, and will throw in tariff cuts to make it so. 70.3% expect a general boom, 66.7% a boom in their particular industry.

London Cable

The English are confident of victory; anti-invasion preparations are quietly decaying; the sound of bombers overhead is constant. “England exudes air power.”

Letters: Canadians think that Americans are ignorant and vulgar; Coventry is interested in this American “city planning” talk; a new system of Standardised Aptitude Testing will going to change education for the better. Southerners are better African handlers than Northerners says this Southern factory owner, who thinks that while Africans make good servants and workers, they would be terrible foremen, if his firm ever employed them in that role, which it would not, since then they might have to supervise Whites. Which is obviously not on.

Trials and Errors

No-one likes Wilkie or Roosevelt, and we are looking forward to a “lesser of two evils” style campaign. Though the Republicans might nominate a “Know-Nothing” who would ‘resume the battle of 1931,’ in which case he would soon be envying Herbert Hoover his popularity. Though looking up the road from Santa Clara, I see precincts where Hoover has not lost his popularity. Somewhat discouragingly, my view across my crowded study takes me across the kind of English murder mystery where, when the cad is presented with evidence of his ill-deeds and a loaded revolver, he retires into the next room and shoots himself, as opposed to the next sound you hear (remember Subadar Haji Ali telling us this story?) being that of a feet laden by a waistcoat full of gold rupiahs hitting the verandah floor on the first step of their trip to, eventually, California. 

But enough of family stories. If Wilkie wins, southern Democrats, knowing that Roosevelt has stop “fighting for Negroes and for labor,” will turn on him with zest. The country is headed for a ‘historic social crisis,’ and the paper is thinking now of the election of 1856. Optimism reigns at the offices of Fortune!


“Soldiers, Jobs, and the Peace.” Demobilization will be a trial. The paper points out that the day that Mussolini ‘evaporated,’ the markets slumped. The country has not sweated Depression out of its system, and peace has a taste of apples sold on street corners. Canada has done a good job of preparing for demobilization with a Veteran’s Land Act. We should have something like that. One thing that could be done is give soldiers and sailors a pre-separation education, or certification of their service trades. This will help achieve full employment. What is full employment? 1943 saw a workforce of 51.4 million, 11 million in the armed forces, and 1 million unemployed. Moreover, the average number of hours worked was 10% over 1940 numbers. This is not sustainable in peace. In August, “more than” 4 million school-aged children (14—17) were working, and most should return to school in the fall. Almost 1.5 million in the 55—64 age range were working, and more than 500,000 in the 65+. 70% of women, in the August 1944 Fortune survey rated homemaking higher than “career,” so female employment rates will no doubt fall in peace. Meanwhile, our industrial capacity has “grown and grown,” with an increase of $18 billion in productive capacity. GNP will have leaped from 97 to 181 billion in the same time frame. Even allowing for inflation, raising the employment level by 15% over 1940 will require a permanent increase of one-third of GNP over 1940.

Carl Swanson, “Big Butter and Egg Man.” Mr. Swanson is selling four times as much processed food as he used to. This is in spite of the black market , which is not a problem, although the Fayetteville, Arkansas plant that used to ship 7 cars of poultry a week now is lucky to fill one, because the black market takes all of Arkansas’s chickens.

“Quality Control,” is something that Walter Shewhart of Bell Telephone Laboratories is awesome at. The anonymous author of the article, who knows a great deal about quality control at Bell Telephone laboratories,  notes.

“To One-Millionth of an Inch,” is how closely SKF industries mills.

“The Earth Movers, III: I come in at the third and last installment of this account of Henry J. Kaiser and the Six Companies. I provide more context in the second part of this report, so I will confine myself to pointing out that this is a real "hit" piece. (Fortunately, the reporter proved amenable to removing the most embarrassing bits.) 

Kaiser remains a construction contractor. Which makes it hard to explain why Kaiser tried to turn a cement plant over to making magnesium? Other than, before it was noticed that magnesium-making was actually hard, it looked like Kaiser was going to take business away from Dow. Instead, in the Six Companies consortium originally formed around CalShips, Bechtel has moved away from rubber --another thing that the Six Companies were going to do-- to plane making in Birmingham, Alabama, and an arctic oil venture called Canol, and also construction,  but with Bechtel leading the way, not Kaiser.

Also, Kaiser got into West Coast steel back in 1940. There is a steel plant at Fontana, California, 50 miles outside Los Angeles, coal mines in Utah, 807 miles away, ore in central southern California, shipyards at tidewater, and, well, frankly, it is a mess. Now, what of theWPB’s fines for tampering with material schedules, or accusations of labour hoarding at the Richmond yards, where monthly turnover amongst 94,000 workers had reached 24,000 by the spring, and where more than a quarter of the labour force is just rotating through training courses? What about massive kickbacks to the AFL for labor peace on construction sites, and deals with the same to make shipyards closed shops? What about his proposed giant cargo planes, for which he and Hughes hoovered up $18 million in real money. What about Kaiser carriers and medical insurance? Kaiser has a great deal to answer for, the Luce papers think.

“China’s Postwar Plans.” Apparently do not include not being taken over by the Reds. Let us see. We have puritanical reformers in Shaanxi Province, and corrupt southerners in Chungking. I see that the Luce organisation does not employ gentlemen literati. What can I say? Our ancestors stood by the Ming, and were rewarded by having to slip back in from the margins, and while I do not advocate abandoning the Koumintang, I do see history repeating itself, and contemplate ways of quickening the process. Which is why Fat Chow has been to the north.

Aviation,  October 1943 (42, 4)

McGraw-Hill line technical magazines enjoy the benefits of two editorials. The wisdom of the magazine's leader not being sufficient, James H. McGraw, Junior, share his, as well.

Line Editorial: Mr. McGraw thinks, as a man with the company name and a "junior" appended might well be disposed to so think,  that free enterprise is threatened by the rise of ideas about state planning. This being said, a long acquaintance with a certain variety of businessman leaves me slightly nonplussed when he pivots to discussing the crux of the issue, which, according to him, is Tunemployment. Let it rise too high, and there will be “widespread fear and lack of opportunity, which will drive labor unions, agricultural groups, and business interests to take self-protective measures. Such measures are certain to restrict production, stifle progress, and imperil our democratic way of life.” The Great Depression has made an impression, I think.

Aviation Editorial: Leslie reminds us that men make planes, and planes save manpower at the front. Military demands for more manpower have hit the aviation industry hard. It is a young man’s business. “Between 25 and 50 percent of the engineering personnel of the industry are in the 18 to 25-year-old range and many of these men are unmarried.” That is, they are subject to the draft. What will help? Not the “Buffalo Plan” and attempts by the United States Employment Service to extend it nationally, but rather amendments to the Selective Service regulations to protect key personnel. Oh, and an actual plan defining what we are to have, men or planes. On the one hand, McGraw is concerned about unemployment in the future. On the other, Leslie is concerned about a labour shortage right now. 

John Foster, Jr. “Which Will We Get: Men or Planes?” The new West Coast Manpower Program is not enough. It is just a makeshift. Today, the industry has 1.7 million hands, and to meet the schedules already authorised will require 2.2. On the basis of previous turnover, we will need to hire more than 1.5 million to achieve a net increase of 0.5. The number would be far higher did the industry not plan on a 40% increase in manpower utilisation. This seems unlikely, as the labour barrel has been sucked dry, and the labour coming into the plants now, mainly women, lack “factory sense.” The Buffalo Plan is supposed to address this (in Buffalo), but has not. Skilled labour that does not want to work where the Buffalo Plan will certify them to work can always choose to leave town in search of better housing conditions elsewhere. Instead, manufacturers want to import labour from “surplus” areas and use Selective Service to cut down on turnover. If we could only draft our work force, everything would be splendid! Is it just me, or does this recall certain halcyon days in the past of American business?

Raymond L. Hoadley, “You Can’t Write Profits in Red Ink.” All that “war profiteering” stuff is shown to be false by demonstrating that while sales have soared, earnings per share have not. Although profits are huge, they are being socked away to cover postwar demobilisation. Huge reserves are being set aside for “postwar and contingencies." Senator Truman's rude suggestion that huge and burgeoning bank accounts are evidence that aviation manufacturing outfits are making a great deal of money from government contracts are shocking and wrong.

Design Analysis: Fleetwings BT-12. All you could ever want to know about the Fleetwings basic trainer.

Jock Simpson, “Douglas Licks U-Boats Without Bombs.” How you are wondering? Because you cannot torpedo DC-3s. Planes fly over the water carrying cargo, while ships sail through it with cargo,rendering them eminently torpedoable! Given the level of analysis here, you will be at least happy to know that the main body of the article descrbies just how good Douglas is at making DC-3s.

Gerald E. Stedman, “Refrigerators to ‘Thunderbolt ‘ Wings,” (Photo of wing assembly in today’s photo file.) Servel made refrigerators before the war. Now it makes P-47 wings.

Kenneth S. Jackman, “Super-Aluminum Alloys for Aircraft Strutures.” 24S alloys, some of them artificially aged, that is, baked till done, are really good for making planes, but corrosion issues remain to be resolved. At Consolidated Vultee’s Engineering Test Laboratories, we are doing that work.

Aviation News
General Arnold hints that our two new super-heavies will be in service in the near future and will dwarf the B-17. Canada will continue to increase production of the Lancaster, Mosquito and Helldiver. Resin-impregnated plywood is replacing duralumin in aircraft hatches. Cities look horrible when you enter them by train, so people should fly in instead, because airports are as attractive as they are convenient to the city beautiful. Speaking of which, architect Paul R. Williams predicts that the “decentralization” of cities will be one result of the war. Of the 3500 people hired for Convair’s new Nashville plant, 60% had never been in a factory before. Plastic needs to be “deglamorized.” Because it is, you know. Glamorous, that is.

Aviation Personalities I probably shan't continue to follow this feature, as it is discouraging to notice just how young so many prominent aviation men are at death in this fast-paced war of ours. But I am an old and cynical man. In any case, Richard DuPont(38) George E. Irvin (49), G. Willis Tyson (38) and Major Edward G. Schulz have lately died.

Aviation Manufacturing

-Manufacturers want better provisionss against contract terminations in the event of an early end to the war in Europe; Convair is to make the ‘Seawolf.’ Northrop is to make a plane. Manufacturers complain about new “renegotiation and recapture” legislation. Wright Engine’s Lockland plant’s production rate is recovering from the recent Truman-inspired changes. The Justice Department is suing, but a defence is being planned. Remarkably, the dip in aircraft production over the summer proves to be the Truman Committee's fault. August aircraft production was 7,612, up in numbers but still below schedule, which calls on the nation to hit 10,000/mo by year’s end. Though Donald W. Douglas says not even a miracle would be enough to achieve this without new labour.

Thomas Wolfe of Western Air Lines predicts a 40% increase in air traffic volumes in the first decade of peace, and Harold Crary of UAL says that war surplus planes won’t do for peacetime service. Which is to say, do not short your aviation stocks just yet.

Which, besides suggesting that a little improvement will be needed before the little lady can drop you off up, quite remarkable hair unruffled, the Land of a Thousand Lakes for some manly sport, that B-17s will not make good airliners. I would personally be amazed if many of them were still flying, but perhaps I am unduly influenced by what I see going on down at the Oakland shipyards. Not to speak ill of a cousin but. . .

Aviation Finance: Curtiss Wright shows net profits of 13 million, or 1.45/share. Sales rose to 770 million over 373 million in the previous year, and renegotiation returned 175 million to the government, while a postwar tax refund of $1/share was set up. North American’s renegotiation reduced profits from 10.4 million (4.3% of sales) to 7.37, or 2.91% of sales.

I notice an ad from Hartzell Propeller Co. ad. No easing up‘till victory is won!

 Then we get to slack like the dickens. Oh, I am sorry. I believe that I am only supposed to think that last part.

Aero Digest October, 1943

I cannot even pretend that Aero Digest covers aviation news at this point. It seems even more thoroughly locked out of the service's distribution list than Grey's Aeroplane at its worst, and for much the same reason, It does run good technical articles, however.

“Precision Bombing and the Automatic Pilot.” The Norden bombsight was invented years ago, but an electronically controlled autopilot was recently announced.

“Our Aircraft the most Formidable in the Skies.” Out of context, this is an odd, almost hysterical article. In the context of the Army's late-October quasi-public inquest over the disastrous casualties of the Schweinfurt raid,  one can see where the defensive tone originates. 

If you are wondering, they are more formidable than, say, Lancasters because of .50 cals, and remote control. Also, cannons and local control. The B-17G has a chin turret! The P-47’s guns exert 96,000lb of pressure on a plate of armour. The 37mm cannon has an HE round! There is over 100lb of armour plate on one of our big bombers! This time in North Africa, a chap saw a plate of aeronautical-grade glass stop a 20mm shell! Our crews have body armour! Nathan Bedford Forrest said “Git that fustest with the mostest.”

The last, if you know Americans, and you do, is probably most telling of all. When they affect a Southern accent and quote General Forrest, they really do think that they are defending a lost cause. I am not myself convinced that such pessimism is warranted, but we shall see.


  1. The Economist of 1943 was a sight better than that of 2013.

    Where's the Yorkshire photo?

  2. It's captioned "Sheffield" in the November number of Fortune. I'm cheating, a bit.

    And, yes, The Economist has gone downhill a bit.

    1. It would have been my bet. I'd go so far as to say it's probably Forgemasters.

  3. 'F.J. Osborn' - who, considering that I know a few people who went to the Sir Frederick Osborn [comprehensive] School in Welwyn Garden City - can be assumed to have got his way. As for the harvest, it was the biggest ever - but there's still a chance to cock it up on my agri-simulator:

    1. Don't forget to add the Spam key in Level 1 to your inventory. You'll need it in the final boss battle. Hint hint.

      Oh. Not that kind of game? Pity.

    2. Hi Erik,

      Could I have permission to use your Minneapolis-Honeywell image in an online training course I am creating for translators working for Honeywell?



    3. Absolutely. Though any or all of the University of British Columbia Library, Aviation Week and Honeywell may retain rights management over the image.

    4. Thanks Erik, its a wonderful picture, I was thrilled to see it and I know others who see it will feel the same.