LONDON – Veteran British war correspondent Clare Hollingworth, who broke the news that the Second World War had started, died in Hong Kong on Tuesday aged 105.
Hollingworth later reported from many of the 20th century’s troublespots, witnessing the horrors of war in Vietnam, Algeria, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, as well as the Cultural Revolution in China.
But she is best remembered for her scoop on World War II in 1939 when she was just a rookie reporter.
Aged 27 she broke the story of Germany’s invasion of Poland during her first week working as a journalist for The Daily Telegraph, covering the worsening security situation in Europe.
Using a borrowed car from a British diplomat to drive across the Poland-Germany border, she spotted hundreds of German tanks, armoured cars and field guns, all facing Poland and ready for action, with a hessian screen blocking the view blew to one side.
Three days later, on September 1, Hollingworth called the British Embassy in Warsaw to tell officials that the war had started after she was awoken by the roar of Nazi aircraft and tanks in Katowice, a Polish city near the German border.
When they did not believe her, she said she held the telephone out of her bedroom window to capture the sounds of German forces.
“If there is a war, and if the world wants, I would like to cover it,” the journalist, still proud of her scoop, told AFP in a 2009 interview.
Hollingworth also unearthed British double agent Kim Philby’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1963.
“I enjoy action, I enjoy being in a plane that’s bombing something, or being on the ground in the desert when they’re advancing,” Hollingworth once said.
In 1946 Hollingworth and her late husband Geoffrey Hoare narrowly escaped death when terrorists blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem, where they were staying, killing 91 people.-APP