United States and American History: Early 1944 & WII

About the history of the United States in 1944, the U.S. in World War II, book makers move to paperbacks, Hitler begins bombing England, Roosevelt picks Truman as vice-president.

1944

--Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber was published. Its generous supply of sex passages helped to sell over one million copies and brought charges of obscenity and indecency from its critics.

--Faced with serious shortages, the book publishers turned to a "new" old idea: soft covers or "paperbacks". There was an overwhelming demand for them.

May 3 An eye bank was established by New York Hospital and 19 other local hospitals followed suit. Corneal transplants were stored to be used to cure certain types of blindness.

June 13 Hitler's assault on English soil using unmanned missiles began. The flying bomb, or "doodle-bug," as it was soon named, flew at about 400 mph, was powered by a loud jet engine, and carried about a ton of high explosive. Its guidance system was primitive. When the propeller had revolved a rotary distance approximately equal to the distance between the launching sites, in the Pas de Calais area of France, and London, the missile's controls were tipped forward. This cut off the engine, making the missile dive and destruct. The cutoff could--and often did--occur prematurely along the general route, and a regular path through Sussex and Kent gained the unwanted reputation of being "Bomb Alley."

The Germans launched some 9,000 missiles. Only about 25% managed to penetrate London's defenses, but these killed over 6,000 people and destroyed 750,000 dwellings. The attacks continued through September 5, when the launching regiment was forced to abandon the launching sites or face capture by advancing Allied soldiers.

On this same date in June, trials on the more advanced V-2 long-range rockets were held at Peenemunde, on the Baltic. British plans to capture an actual rocket for technical evaluation were unexpectedly assisted by the Germans themselves. A German glider-bomb operator, experienced in directing glider bombs against shipping from an aircraft, was brought in to fire a V-2, to see if the new weapon could be adapted for glider-bomb use. In his astonishment at seeing the awesome 12-ton rocket blast off, his hand froze to the control lever, guiding the missile left, and the missile obediently continued to veer left--flying into Sweden. Its remains were quickly recovered for the British.

June 22 The Serviceman's Readjustment Act was signed. The law, known also as "the GI Bill of Rights," provided extensive educational and vocational benefits for the returning veterans.

July 19-21 President Roosevelt was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Ill., to run for a 4th term as President. He dropped left-winger Henry Wallace and chose a haberdasher-turned-senator from Missouri, Harry S (no middle name, no period) Truman.

July 20 The plot to assassinate Hitler in his map room at Rastenburg, East Prussia, failed. (See also: Assassinations, Chap. 9.)

July 25 Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army broke through the German defenses at Saint-Lo, beginning its sweep across France.

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