Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for April 19-25, 1945.
HITLER'S FINAL FRONT
As the Allies converge on Berlin from the east and the west, it becomes a question of increasing interest how and where Hitler will continue the war, for continue it he will - as long as he can find Germans willing to die for him. Even after the loss of the capital and the north German plain, his human resources will be considerable and his natural resources substantial. There are in Italy 24 German divisions, in Austria and Czechoslovakia probably 30, and a tendency has been noted to concentrate in these areas some of the best troops.
A process of redistribution has been going on in the German Army, and in a recent month 75,000 soldiers were transferred from the Wehrmacht to the S.S., men chosen for their fighting qualities and their political fidelity. It is probable that in the final phase of the war Hitler will write off the Wehrmacht and will rely mainly upon the Black Guards, of whom there is a considerable force.
There is some evidence that Hitler's original plan was to defend a large portion of Germany lying south of the Harz Mountains, but that has been frustrated by the American drive to the Czechoslovak frontier. Any enemy resistance in these mountains must now be local, isolated from the main resistance farther south. Hitler's final battleground will be Bavaria, the western parts of Austria and Czechoslovakia, and Northern Italy, a formidable region, flanked on the west by neutral Switzerland, with the Alps for backbone and many subsidiary ranges for ribs, and havIng in the aggregate considerable mineral resources. It would embrace the famous Skoda Works at Pilsen, the munitions factories of Munich and Augsburg, the coal of Czechoslovakia, and the steel of Northern Italy. It would not suffice for large-scale mechanised warfare, but Nazi strategy is based upon the reinforcement of natural defences to create a great stronghold, which, well stocked with food and munitions, could stand a long siege.
CENTRE FOR FREED AIRMEN
The RAAF has set up its own prisoner of war reception centre in England to handle the increasing number of RAAF prisoners now being repatriated. The Minister for the Air (Mr Drakeford) said that on arrival in England all prisoners of war were met by a medical officer, who checked their general health, and by a welfare officer who escorted the men to the reception centre. At the centre each repatriate was allowed to send two cables to his next of kin in Australia. Education and rehabilitation began as soon as possible.
DISTRICT WAR PRISONERS FREE
Two Newcastle district members of the AIF who had been held prisoner by the Germans have reached England.
Mrs C. Rayner, of Reservoir Road, Cardiff, has received a cable from her son, Private Edward Rayner, MM, saying that he had escaped from a German prison camp and had reached England safely. Private Rayner, who had been a prisoner for four years, was attached to 2/1st Field Ambulance, 6th Division, AIF, commanded by the late Colonel Russell, DSO. While a prisoner he volunteered several times to stay and care for the sick and wounded when he could have been repatriated. Mr and Mrs L.P. Gibson, of Moore Street, Toronto, have been advised that their son, Private G.O. Gibson, has arrived in England after having been released from a German prison camp. Private G. Gibson was a member of the 2/1st Battalion, AIF, and was captured in Crete. He was held by the Germans in Stalag13C. Mr and Mrs Alfred E. Osborn, of Raymond Terrace, have been advised that their son. Flying Officer Alfred George (Jock) Osborn, DFM, previously reported missing, has been liberated by the Allied armies in Europe. Flying Officer Osborn was in England from November, 1941, and was shot down over Germany on January 28, 1944.
CONQUEST IN SIX WEEKS
Military observers believe that the complete conquest of Germany is only a matter of weeks. Furthermore, it is entirely likely that Northern Germany can be overrun to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in about three weeks, while the conquest of Czechoslovakia and the remainder of Germany might be accomplished in about six weeks.
NEW GUINEA STILL BIG THEATRE OF WAR
The huge number of service personnel carried by air between Australia and New Guinea showed that New Guinea was still a big-scale theatre of war, said the Minister for Air (Mr Drakeford).
He said that in the last four months 73,000 personnel and 4900 tons of freight had been carried by air. The figures had already equalled those for the previous six months. The dropping of supplies to frontline Army troops, inaccessible by land or sea, had been highly developed. In a brief period recently, 406 drops, totalling 504 tons had been made.
ADVANCE ON WEWAK
The Australian advance on Wewak, the biggest Japanese base in New Guinea, is being made against light opposition, says an Army statement. The Australian ring is closing around the key enemy base of Maprik. Patrols are only a mile from the settlement. Several more villages south of Maprik have been captured.
The development of great numbers of superb rifle shots among the Australian troops is one of the features of the war in New Guinea. Of these, few, if any, can better the record of Private A. ('Spider') Webb of Wallsend. He is credited with eight Japanese, while the section of which he is a member has a tally of 17.
Before the war, Private Webb was a steelworker at Lysaght's plant in Newcastle. He enlisted in the permanent army when he was 17, and later transferred to the AIF. Of his two brothers, who also enlisted in the AIF, one, who was a hospital orderly there, was killed at Rabaul. In one day Webb killed three Japanese, two of them as they were running down a steep hillside. He was one of the two forward scouts of his section, which was working its way to the rear of what the Japanese had designed as an ambush. The other scout fired and killed a Japanese, and the other two of the enemy plunged down the side of a spur toward safety. Webb dropped them both with one shot each.
RATION BOOK CHANGES
The 1945-46 ration book and clothing coupon card to be issued in June will differ slightly from the present books. Its main alteration will be a variation in the present order of pages in the food book. The meat coupons will be moved from the centre of the book to the front to prevent undue soiling. Food books issued in non-meat ration areas will not contain meat coupons. Instead, pages one and two will be replaced by six spare meat coupons, to be used if the owner temporarily visits a ration area, and the application form for meat coupons which may be used if the owner of the book moves permanently to a meat ration area. Alterations in the clothing coupon card include a change of lettering from A and B to Y and Z. Y coupons will probably be current for 12 months from the date of issue, but the Z group will not be available until a date to be fixed.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: ANNOYED BY CATALINAS
Sir, I came to Marks Point four days ago, intending to stay five or six weeks, but we are returning home immediately, as my wife, although ordered away for health reasons, is now practically a nervous wreck from the noise made by seaplanes, which fly night and day just above the housetops, to the detriment of residents. If it is a fact that it is proposed to build a hospital here, I would suggest that first an assurance be procured from the authorities that planes will not be allowed to annoy residents in flying over the lake. Residents say it is practically impossible for shift-workers to get proper rest. J. Woodburn, Marks Point.
The State Government Dockyard at Newcastle participated in work on more than 35 merchant ships, ranging from vessels of 9000 tons down to six ocean-going tugs, more than 50,000 small craft, and 100 naval vessels which have been built, or are in course of construction in Australian shipyards since the war began. In addition to this vast construction program, Australian shipyards, between August and December last year, completed a program of repair and maintenance of a total of nearly 40,000,000 tons of merchant and naval shipping. Details of the staggering size of the shipbuilding program were disclosed in the official publication, Facts and Figures, issued by the Department of Information.
The Royal Australian Navy program of shipbuilding included Tribal class destroyers, two of which have been completed, and one of which is now fitting out. Of 60 corvettes built, 20 were for the Royal Navy, four for the Royal Indian Navy, and 36 for the Royal Australian Navy. These vessels, which are described as Australian minesweeping vessels, were largely used for escort work.
As part of the merchant program, six 9000-ton standard merchant vessels of the River class are in commission. The seventh was delivered in February, two are due for launching soon, and good progress is being made on the remaining four.
Orders have been placed in New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia for eight D class freighters of 2500 tons. The Newcastle Dockyard has laid the keels of the first two D class vessels and good progress is made with the construction. Construction of these vessels will take precedence over B class freighters of 6000 tons, of which contracts for four have been entered into.
Contracts have been let in NSW for seven ships of E class, 550-ton freighters powered by Queensland-built diesel engines. More than 20,000 small craft have been delivered, orders are in hand for considerably more than 30,000 and prospective orders are visible for more than 10,000. In all, the Australian contribution to the Pacific invasion fleet may be 60,000 serviceable craft of all shapes and sizes.
SHELTERS TO GO
The City Engineer (Mr Knott) reported to Greater Newcastle Council that the Under-Secretary of the Department of Works advised that instructions had been issued for demolition of trench shelters at Gregson Park, Civic Station. Allworth Street and Glebe Road, Merewether, Bridge and Station streets, Waratah, and Northumberland Street, Maryville.
TRAMS TO GO AFTER WAR
Buses would replace trams in Newcastle as soon as possible after the war, the Commissioner for Road Transport and Tramways (Mr Neale) told Newcastle Rotary Club. "The day of the tram is doomed and their entire disappearance in the post-war period will depend entirely on how quickly delivery of new buses can be effected," Mr Neale said.
He added that that policy was adopted in Newcastle after a conference with Greater Newcastle Council. The greater mobility of buses would provide a more efficient service in taking transport to the people, instead of people having to go to transport on fixed tramway routes. Rehabilitation of the tramway plant in Newcastle would cost a big sum of money which would be much better applied to providing double-deck buses.
The footboard trams in Newcastle were obsolete and should be scrapped as soon as possible in the interest of the public and the employees. Corridor trams would cost more than buses, and provided only a similar carrying capacity.
Aileen Laureen Burgmann, Hamilton; Muriel Murray, Waratah; Judith Isobel Turner, Scone; William Harold Auld, Elderslie; Neil Sylvester Thornton, Denman; Celia Gertrude Ballardie, Pelican Flat; Jack Thomas Gates, Mayfield West; Mary Doreen McDonald, Maitland; Beryl Joan Young, Hamilton South; Anthony Cowley, Broadmeadow; Patrick Craddock, Waratah; Neville Gray Goman, Fassifern; Neville Gray, Newcastle; John Thomson, Belmont.
Sapper Michael John Hancock, Newcastle, POW; Gunner Fredrick Charles Francis, East Maitland, POW; Private John Hayden, Greta.