News from 1943 Headlines Milwaukee Journal
in part one….
1. The Lord’s Supper
2. Easter Candy and Flowers
My son’s father-in-law and my friend lent me a newspaper dated April 22nd 1943. He knew of my interest in history and thought I’d like to see it.
What is more, it’s a newspaper from my hometown. It’s a Milwaukee Journal and it’s in rough shape.
It’s deeply yellowed, frayed on the edges and frayed in the center where it had been folded for nearly 70 years. It’s also very dry and could be used for kindling in a pinch except for the fact he paid $100.00 for it and wants it back.
It is a great find and a fascinating snap-shot in what the news looked like and how it was presented during the war year of 1943 in the City of Milwaukee.
It appears to be a complete paper or edition for Thursday, April 22nd, 1943. All the sections are rolled into one. Sports, Business News, Classifieds, Local News, Features, and Picture Page are all there as well as the Headline Page.
My plan is to write a series of blogs on its content so this is the first installment.
My friend purchased the paper because of the headline page. At the center there is a reproduction of the Lord’s Supper.
1. The Lord’s Supper
I might be mistaken but as I recall the Milwaukee Journal always ran a picture of the Lord’s Supper on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. I remember this occurring well into the 1970’s and possibly the 80’s. I suppose they terminated the practice after it became politically incorrect to be a Christian and didn’t want to offend anyone with Jesus.
But in 1943 in the midst of World War 2 political correctness was not on anyone’s radar while faith in God apparently was.
It is remarkable enough that there is a picture of the Lord’s Supper on the headline page but the story is even more remarkable.
Underneath the picture is a passage from Jeremiah’s prophecy:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV)
To tell you the truth I was shocked to see this passage (or any passage for that matter) on the headline page of a major newspaper. As I alluded to before, these days it would not happen and if it did it would not be in the respectful manner it was presented in 1943.
Furthermore, it’s a remarkable passage to quote.
The story underneath the passage is mangled and frayed in some places hard to read. Enough remains to make the point that the prophecy of Jeremiah was in the process of being fulfilled at the Lord’s Supper when Jesus said while taking the cup of wine, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. “(Matthew 26:28 ESV)
It seems there was a time when those words meant a great deal to a great many Americans and they would not be embarrassed by them to see them printed in their newspaper. Now, not so much.
Next to the story about the Lord Supper’s is a single column story with the headline that reads:
2. Candy, Flower Sales Booming.
The first few paragraphs read like this:
This Easter season seems headed for the busiest week-end that Milwaukee florists and candy shops have ever had.
War factory dollars that go jingle jangle in the pockets of more persons than ever were employed here before are boosting sales to a record volume. Orders from service men in camps and overseas, arranging for Easter flowers for their parents and sweethearts help set the pace.
And all this despite restrictions on candy manufacture and a definite shortage of many popular Easter flowers…
As some may remember America entered the war when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. President Roosevelt and Congress declared war on Japan following the attack. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy then declared war on the US to support Japan and we in turn declared war on those two powers as well.
Remember that WW2 did not start in 1941. The Japanese had been fighting in China for much of the 1930’s and Germany and the Soviet Union had invaded Poland in 1939 which drew Britain and France into another war in Europe with the Germany and Italy.
The US was therefore a relative late comer to the war and it took a while to bring industry up to snuff and to mobilize the Army and Navy we did.
By April, 1943 American troops were fighting in North Africa against the Germans and Italians. Americans had landed in various North African countries in November, 1942 controlled by Vichy France (part of France not occupied by the Germans and a nominal German ally).
By the 22nd of April the war in North Africa was nearly over as the combined American/British forces penned up the last German\Italian armies that had been fighting there since 1940. They would surrender in May, 1943 just a few weeks after this newspaper came out.
This means the paper is dated roughly when many historians consider the turning point of the war. The Russians had been victorious at Stalingrad in February, 1943 and the Japanese stopped at the Battle of Midway the previous June. The invasion of North Africa and subsequent victory there meant further invasions of Sicily, Italy and ultimately the invasion of France in June, 1944. In other words it seemed clear that the momentum of war had turned against the Axis powers and they were on the defensive everywhere.
The candy column in the paper makes references to a number of war-oriented items marking about the 1/2 point of American involvement in the war.
First there is the fact that nearly everyone who is not in the service is engaged in war industry and there is a lot of money to be made as can be seen from the candy and flower story. It has been said that Roosevelt did not bring the USA out of the Great Depression and that WW2 did.
Certainly, there is truth the observation. From men too old for service and for the physically unable to the huge number of “Rosey the Riveters” America was mobilized for war by April, 1943. Not only did the US supply our own Army and Navy but we also supplied our Allies as well, notably the Soviet Union who received everything from tanks to planes to trucks, to jeeps as well as radios and vast quantifies of the famous Spam.
It probably was the one and only time in our history when there was zero unemployment. I’ll discuss this more when I get to the employment ads of the paper in the later post.
3. Doolittle Raid
Absent from the paper is much detail regarding events in either theater of war with the exception of the back page (which is a photo essay on the Doolittle raid that took place a whole year before) and then a small blurb on the headline page.
The blurb reads:
Lives Were Taken, Rochester, N. Y.-AP
The disclosure that some of the eight fliers captured after the bombing of Tokyo have been executed by the Japanese Thursday prompted a local rephrasing of the war bond drive.
Instead of “They gave their lives-you lend your money,” the city’s bond committee announced adoption of this slogan:
“Their lives were taken-we lend our money.”
The article is in reference to this: April 21, 1943 – President Roosevelt announces the Japanese have executed several airmen from the Doolittle Raid.
Here’s the back story.
In April, 1942 16 B-25 Mitchell Bombers took off from the USS Hornet (Aircraft Carrier) to bomb Tokyo in a surprise raid.
It was to be a surprise because the Japanese had been advancing across the Pacific and didn’t think we had the capacity to strike the Japanese home islands. The raid itself did not accomplish much materially but it certainly sent a wake-up to Japan and cause American morale at home to soar.
Eight crewman were captured from the raid when then their plane had to ditch and three were executed by the Japanese. The blurb refers to the deaths of the three men executed.
Here are some other facts from the Doolittle website:
80 men took part in the raid. Five men each in sixteen planes.
10,000 Navy personnel in the Task Force that launched planes.
One man killed on bail-out after mission, Leland D. Faktor, 17003211, Corporal. He was buried by Rev. John M. Birch after whom the John Birch Society was later named.
Two men from Crew #6 drowned as a result of crash landing in the water off China coast.
Donald E. Fitzmaurice, 17004360, Sergeant
William J. Dieter, 6565763, Staff Sergeant
Eight men captured by the Japanese – Hallmark, Meder, Nielsen, Farrow, Hite, Barr, Spatz, and DeShazer
Three executed by firing squad – Hallmark, Farrow, and Spatz
One died of beri-beri and malnutrition while in prison – Meder
Four survived 40 months of prison, most of which was in solitary confinement.
In my next installment I’ll detail some of the other stories from the headline page of the Milwaukee Journal, April 22nd, 1943.