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Clare Hollingworth

Discussion in 'WWII Obituaries' started by The_Historian, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Journalist and author who was the first to report the outbreak of the second world war dies in Hong Kong
    Clare Hollingworth, the British foreign correspondent who has died aged 105, was just three days into her first journalism job when she landed the biggest scoop of her career.

    Aged 27 and newly-hired by the Daily Telegraph, she was dispatched to Poland in August 1939 where she witnessed Nazi tanks gathering in their hundreds at the German-Polish border.

    Her front page report, which ran without a byline, was headlined “1,000 tanks massed on Polish border. Ten divisions reported ready for swift strike” and broke the news of the outbreak of the second world war. It also heralded the start of an extraordinary career that saw Hollingworth report on many of the biggest stories of the 20th century.

    Her death was confirmed on Tuesday in a short family statement on the Facebook page Celebrate Clare Hollingworth. It read: “We are sad to announce that after an illustrious career spanning a century of news, celebrated war correspondent Clare Hollingworth died this evening in Hong Kong.”

    Hong Kong had been Hollingworth’s home since the 1980s, following a globe-trotting career for many newspapers including the Guardian, during which she bore witness to horrors in Vietnam, Algeria, the Middle East, India and Pakistan. She also reported on the cultural revolution in China, and was credited with the first and last interviews with the shah of Iran.

    Her impressive postwar scoops included the fact that Kim Philby was the so-called “third man’ in the Cambridge spy ring alongside Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. In 1963, while working in Beirut for the Guardian, she wrote that Philby, who working for the Observer in the same city, was missing and suspected of defecting to Russia.

    She was bitterly disappointed when the Guardian, fearing a libel suit, put the story on hold for three months. When it was published, other papers picked it up. Shortly afterwards the government admitted it believed Philby had indeed fled to Russia.

    Born in Leicester in 1911 and raised on a farm, Hollingworth attended domestic science college at her father’s insistence before going to work as secretary to the League of Nations organiser in Worcester. She won a scholarship to the School of Slavonic Studies at London University, and then attended Zagreb university to study Croatian.

    As a young political activist she began working for a charity in Europe that helped save thousands of refugees from the Nazis. She booked a Christmas holiday to Kitzbuhel in Austria in 1938, but instead carried out reconnaissance in the ski resort, acquiring a Nazi-approved visa that would allow her to work for the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia.

    Sent to Katowice, she led an operation to help refugees get visas to come to Britain. Archives suggest she helped between 2,000 and 3,000 people get to the UK, but her work was shut down in July 1939, with letters from MI5 suggesting there were complaints from those in the corridors of power that “undesirables” such as Germans, Jews and communists were arriving in Britain with visas she had signed.

    Back in London, she “ran into” the editor of the Daily Telegraph and convinced him to sent her back to Poland as a stringer. Once there, she borrowed a diplomat’s car and drove into German-held territory, where she saw tanks, artillery and armoured cars.

    She would later say that the British embassy in Warsaw was so disbelieving of her account that she was forced to hold her telephone receiver out of her hotel window in Katowice for the diplomat to hear the Wehrmacht for himself.

    Of her scoop, she told the Telegraph in 2009: “I broke the story when I was very, very young. I went there to look after the refugees, the blind, the deaf and the dumb. While I was there, the war suddenly came into being”."

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