The View From Tobruk – June 17, 1942
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – News Of The World – June 17, 1942 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
News for this day in 1942 was about battle fronts – the situation in the Middle East was one of tipping scales. The British Army was heavily engaged in fighting all around the Middle East, with action particularly heavy around the Tobruk area of Libya. It was a game of cat and mouse, between Germany’s Rommel and Britain’s Ritchie. As of this June 17th, it was looking likely that Rommel would re-take Tobruk, putting the rest of North Africa into jeopardy, particularly Egypt. It was looking unlikely the Allies would establish enough of a hold in North Africa to establish a second front, aimed at invading Southern Europe anytime soon. Much of the problem lay with supplies and support. One convoy of supply ships did manage to cross the Mediterranean, bringing supplies to Malta and Tobruk, but it was at heavy cost. In London, a rethink of strategies in that region of the war was underway.
Meanwhile, the Russians were holding on to Sebastopol by their thumbs. With vicious attacks by the German army hurled towards the city, being stopped or repulsed by Russian troops performing, what observers called miraculous feats. The population of Sebastopol had dwindled, and who was left had been living underground since May, but the city continued to recover and resurface to continue fighting.
In the Pacific, Australia’s Prime Minister John Curtin took to the airwaves earlier that day to deliver what many called one of the grimmest summaries of the War so far. Saying frankly that it was possible Australia could be lost. Going on to say that shipping losses had far outstripped replacement capacity and that news, the Prime Minister went on to say, was not good. Speaking about the Russian front, Curtin went on to say Russia was fighting for its very existence and that its fate was in the very balance. The only bright note came when Curtin discussed the Battle of the Coral Sea, which he pointed with pride at the Australian army’s part. He went on say bluntly, that the combined effect of the Coral Sea, Midway and Aleutian battles, while frustrating from the Japanese point of view, was far from decisive and that only continued efforts with combined participation would bring any positive results in the coming months. Prime Minister Curtin’s speech, though grim was not defeatist and that it was a reminder to the overly-optimistic that the war was far from won.
On Capitol Hill, news was about the Rubber drive and the all-out efforts to collect scrap rubber from Gas Stations and individuals. Reports came in of 15,000 pounds of scrap rubber collected from one gas station in Florida alone. Another gas station in Wisconsin issued a threat to customers there would be no gas if there was no contribution of scrap rubber. In Iowa a gas station amassed 2 tons of scrap rubber in one day. It became a contest to see which state would turn in the most scrap rubber. President Roosevelt called for a total fitness program for all Americans and put out the word to all communities to get on a health regimen. He also commended government and community efforts improving health and eliminating “red-light districts” from the vicinity of Army camps and Naval stations.
And that’s a small slice of what went on this June 17th in 1942, as presented by The Blue Network’s News Of The World.
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