Clare Hollingworth, Journalist Who Broke WWII Dies Aged 105

Published on by Emily Williamson (writer), Darcey Haynes (author)

Clare Hollingworth, the veteran British war correspondent who broke the news that World War Two had begun, has died in Hong Kong at the age of 105.


The former Daily Telegraph correspondent was just three days into her new journalism job, travelling from Poland to Germany, when she spotted Nazi tanks being mobilized, crossing the Polish border in August 1939.

At the age of just 27, she broke the news with the headline “1,000 tanks massed on Polish border. Ten divisions reported ready for swift strike”.

Hollingworth was a major influence on the way war and conflict is reported today, especially for current and aspiring war journalists.

Dr Evans, Digital Media lecturer and scholarly author, discussed the importance of Hollingworth’s reporting, saying “it was iconic because she was the one on the scene at the beginning. It became more difficult after the war begun to put British people into the areas where Nazi Germany was invading, it was an important moment.”

In later years, Hollingworth followed her suspicions and gained a post-war exclusive while working in Beirut for The Guardian in 1963, about the British spy Kim Philby.

Kim Philby was the so-called “third man’ in the Cambridge spy ring alongside Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. She wrote that Philby, who working for the Observer in the same city, was missing and suspected of defecting to Russia.

The piece was delayed from being printed for over three months, but when it was finally published, other newspapers picked it up and it became a huge story, forcing the government to admit that their suspicions of Philby fleeing to Russia.

The Leicester-born journalist received the James Cameron award for journalism in 1994 and a lifetime achievement award at the What the Papers Say awards in 1999.

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