Evening newspaper placards in London announce the news of Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939.
© IWM (HU 5517)

Clare Hollingworth (1911-2017) was the first journalist to report the outbreak of the Second World War.
She was in her first week of working for the Daily Telegraph in Poland when she broke the story of Germany’s invasion in 1939. She borrowed a car from the British Consul-General in Katowice, John Anthony Thwaites, in order to make a fact-finding trip into Germany and was surprised to come across ‘scores, if not hundreds of tanks lined up ready to go into Poland’.

‘I got in touch with my boss at the Telegraph, Hugh Carlton-Greene, in Warsaw and told him, and it was on the front page' she told IWM. 'In those days there were no by-lines so it was credited to “Our Own Correspondent.” I was later paid, but I repeat, there were no by-lines.'

Over the course of her career she covered conflicts in Vietnam, Algeria, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, as well as the Cultural Revolution in China.

During a long series of interviews recorded with IWM in 2001, she spoke of travelling with her ‘TNT kit’ which was a typewriter and toothbrush – all she needed to do her job from whichever far-flung location she found herself in.  

She celebrated her 105th birthday in October 2016 with family and friends at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. Her death was announced by her family on 10 January 2017.

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Audio: Hollingworth, Clare © IWM (21130)

British civilian war correspondent for Daily Telegraph in Europe and Middle East, 1939-1945. Correspondent for Guardian and Daily Telegraph in Vietnam and China, 1960s-1980s.

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