When you think of World War II correspondents, I bet you think of Ernie Pyle, or Walter Cronkite, or possibly Margaret Bourke-White. But the one who scooped them all? Clare Hollingworth.
Clare was born in 1911, in Great Britain. She wanted to be a writer from a young age, but her mother disapproved. Her father took her to battlefields in France.
After a plan to get married that she didn’t follow through with and studying domestic science (which she hated), she studied Eastern Europe at UCL and later at the University of Zagreb.
After the Munich Agreement in 1938, she went to Warsaw, where she assisted Czech refugees and also helped thousands of people arrange for British visas to flee continental Europe altogether. As a result of her work there, she was offered a position as a reporter for the Daily Telegraph.
In late August 1938 she was famously crossing the German/Polish border near Gleiwitz, Germany (now Gliwice, Poland) when a tarp blew aside and she saw German armor lined up ready to cross the border. She called and the story was printed in Britain on August 29, 1938.
If you think you recognize the name of Gleiwitz, you do. This was where Himmler staged the Polish “attack” on the radio station, using the bodies of concentration camp inmates. This was one of the false flag operations that was used to justify the invasion of Poland, which he had NOT AT ALL been preparing to do. Except that Ms. Hollingworth saw the preparations.
She went on to a storied career. She continued to cover the war, reporting from Eastern Europe, North Africa, and later, Vietnam, the British mandate, Greece, Algeria, and China. She was seen climbing a light post in Tianenmen Square in 1989 to get a better view!
At the time of her death at the age of 105, she lived in Hong Kong. Her eyesight had failed and she was retired, but she still occasionally slept on the floor to keep from going soft. Her nephew published a biography in 2015 in which it was revealed that she had stopped drinking beer for breakfast but still kept her shoes beside the bed in case she had to leave in a hurry.
I wonder if beer for breakfast is what kept her alive so long?
Anyway, I’m giving some good links to stories about her. May we all get old and be tough old ladies.