1943: Detroit race riots and World War II

These awful headlines in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican were staring readers in the eye on Wednesday morning June 23, 1943, in the middle of World War II.

I could salvage only about one-third of the Press, but the brief stories, cut off after a couple of paragraphs, will give you an idea of what it was like back then.

“DETROIT, June 22 (AP) — Under orders to ‘load your guns and don’t take anything from anybody,’ United States Army troops patrolled Detroit streets today, restoring calm to this great armament production center after 24 hours of racial conflict that brought death to 28 persons and injuries of varying degrees to at least 700 others.

“All but three of the dead were Negroes; of the injured, 74 remained in the hospitals today, six of them policemen.

“An estimated 1,300 persons were under arrest. Police officials said about 85 per cent of them were Negroes. Most of them were held in specially established prisons guarded by Michigan state troopers.”

Roosevelt was president

President Franklin Roosevelt was serving an unprecedented fourth term and died 26 days before the end of WWII in Europe. He died April 12, 1945, and the war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. V-J Day, victory over Japan, was “effective” Sept. 2, 1945, but apparently a treaty was not signed until the 1950s.


D-Day, the invasion of Europe, was on June 6, 1944, and was being discussed in June 1943 on page 1:

“WASHINGTON, June 22 (AP) — Secretary of the Navy Knox asserted today that preparations for an Allied invasion of Europe ‘are going forward.’ He spoke in comment on a Russian statement that victory over Germany cannot be won without a second front.

“Questioned about the Russian assertion, Knox said at a press conference that it was impossible at this time to talk in specific terms but there had been no ‘cessation’ of preparations for the complex operation of an amphibious attack on the European continent.”

War headlines

“ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH AFRICA, June 22 (AP) — Waves of American and British bombers, striking in whipsaw fashion from bases in both North Africa and the Middle East, rocked the Italian mainland yesterday with shattering assaults on the port of Naples, the two cities of Reggio Calabria and San Giovanni and several other southern industrial towns.

“American Flying Fortresses and British Wellingtons intensified the announced campaign to bomb Italian industry out of the war with day-long attacks which left the vital factory area of Naples smoking from 25 great fires, one covering an area a mile wide.”


“LONDON, Wednesday, June 23 (AP) — Formations of RAF heavy bombers thundered over the coast toward the continent today after American Flying Fortresses, completing round-the-clock smashes on the German Ruhr for the first time, kindled a square mile of blazes that raged through the German synthetic rubber town of Huls yesterday.

“The American raid which plunged into the heart of Nazi war production came shortly after the RAF had blasted the important Ruhr steel town of Krefeld with upwards of 2,000 tons of bombs.

“Today’s RAF operations indicated the Allies were keeping up the bombings, which a German war reporter in a British broadcast described as ‘conveyor-belt actions.'”


“ALLIED HEADQUARTERS IN AUSTRALIA, Wednesday, June 23 (AP) — The largest Japanese force to be hurled against Allied lines on the ground front of New Guinea at Mubo was thrown back by Australian troops with American air support, leaving more than 100 dead or severely wounded.

“Today’s communiqué reported the enemy ground defeat in a sector 12 miles below Salamaua where jungle fighters have faced each other without major activity for many weeks.

“The ground action yesterday was presaged in yesterday’s communiqué telling of strafing action over the area by planes of both sides.”

Bomber crashes in U.S.

“Moses Lake, Washington, June 22 — (AP) Eight Army airmen [only five names are listed] died in the crash of a heavy bomber plane 15 miles southwest of here yesterday, Lt. Col. Clarence D. Barnhill, commanding officer at the Moses lake Army air base, announced today. There were no survivors.

“The Army list of dead included: Second Lieut. Lyle E. Graham, pilot, of route No. 1, Guys Mills, Pa.; Sgt. John J. Babb, South Boston, Mass.; Sgt. Guy H. Reeves, Minden, La.; Louis S. Sacerino, Johnstown, Pa., and Charles H. Lane, Glencoe, Pa.”

Stories cut short

“Six Italians Held on Sabotage Charges — Rochester — The Italian born head of the Antonelli Fireworks Company and six assistants pleaded innocent today to charges of sabotage …”


“Rationing Is Blamed for Low Tax Revenue — Albany — Rationing was blamed today for a 36 per cent drop in New York’s gasoline tax revenue for the first four months …”


“Lewis Directs Miners return to Their Jobs — Washington — John L. Lewis [president of the United Mine workers] tonight ordered his mine workers back into the pits until October 31 with a broad indication that during that time they would resort to the courts to obtain the portal-to-portal pay they failed to get from the War Labor Board. The back-to-work order meant that the workers were under existing pay and conditions only as employees of the government and not of the mine owners …”

Good news from Washington

“Higher allowances for dependent children of men in the lower ranks of the armed forces were recommended to Congress today by the Army and Navy. A wife with one child would get $68 a month, instead of the present $62, with $11 a month for each additional child, instead of $10.

“A wife without children would continue to receive $50, of which the government contributes $28 and the enlisted man $22. The entire cost of allowances for children is borne by the government.”


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