FIFTY YEARS ago this week, the nation observed its first World War II Fourth of July. Martin Gilbert, in his recent history of the war, tells this sad story:
"On that day, for the first time, American aircraft -- six in all -- joined a British bomber formation in a raid on German airfields in Holland. But in the inner circles of British and American war policy, July 4 saw the beginning of one of the most serious setbacks of the war, the scattering that night of the merchant ships of Convoy PQ 17, on its way to Russia with precious war cargoes. . .
"On the morning of July 4, as the first phase of a long-planned German attack, code-named Operation Knight's Move, four merchant ships had been sunk from the air by the torpedoes of a Heinkel torpedo-bomber. Fearing the arrival of four German warships. . . the convoy was told to scatter.