Wednesday September 1, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Clare Hollingworth

On this Day:

In 1939,  in the “Scoop of the Century,” Telegraph journalist Clare Hollingworth became the first to report the outbreak of World War II.

Clare Hollingworth, OBE (10 October 1911 – 10 January 2017) was an English journalist and author. She was the first war correspondent to report the outbreak of World War II, described as “the scoop of the century”. As a rookie reporter for The Daily Telegraph in 1939, while travelling from Poland to Germany, she spotted and reported German forces massed on the Polish border; The Daily Telegraph headline read: “1,000 tanks massed on Polish border”; three days later she was the first to report the German invasion of Poland.

Hollingworth was appointed OBE by Elizabeth II for “services to journalism” in 1982. She died on 10 January 2017 at the age of 105.

Hollingworth was born in 1911 in Knighton, a southern suburb of Leicester, the daughter of Daisy and Albert Hollingworth. During World War I, her father took over the running of his father’s footwear factory, and the family moved to a farm near Shepshed. She showed an early interest in becoming a writer, against opposition from her mother, and her interest in warfare was stimulated by visits to historical battlefield sites in Britain and France with her father. After leaving school, she attended a domestic science college in Leicester, which she did not enjoy.

Hollingworth became engaged to the son of a local family known to her own, but instead of marriage, went to work as secretary to the League of Nations Union (LNU) Worcestershire organiser. She then won a scholarship to the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London, and later, a place at Zagreb University to study Croatian.

Hollingworth started to write articles on a freelance basis for the New Statesman. In June 1939, she was selected to fight the parliamentary seat of Melton for the Labour Party in the general election that was due to take place by the end of 1940, but the outbreak of war led to the suspension of elections and by the 1945 election a different Labour candidate had been chosen.

Following the 1938 Munich Agreement, when the German speaking Sudetenland was incorporated into Germany, she went to Warsaw, working with Czech refugees. Between March and July 1939 she helped rescue thousands of people from Hitler’s forces by arranging British visas. The experience also led to her being hired by Arthur Watson, the editor of The Daily Telegraph, in August 1939.

Hollingworth had been working as a Telegraph journalist for less than a week when she was sent to Poland to report on worsening tensions in Europe. She persuaded the British Consul-General in Katowice, John Anthony Thwaites, to lend her his chauffeured car for a fact-finding mission into Germany. While driving along the German–Polish border on 28 August, Hollingworth observed a massive build-up of German troops, tanks and armoured cars facing Poland, after the camouflage screens concealing them were disturbed by wind. Her report was the main story on The Daily Telegraph’s front page on the following day. Her report was headlined in the Daily Telegraph: “1,000 Tanks Massed on Polish Frontier; 10 Divisions Reported Ready For Swift Stroke; From Our Own Correspondent.”

On 1 September, Hollingworth called the British Embassy in Warsaw to report the German invasion of Poland. To convince doubtful Embassy officials, she held a telephone out of the window of her room to capture the sounds of German forces. Hollingworth’s eyewitness account was the first report the British Foreign Office received about the invasion of Poland.

She continued to report on the situation in Poland, and in 1940, by then working for the Daily Express, went to Bucharest, where she reported on King Carol II’s forced abdication and the ensuing unrest. Her telephoned reports ignored censorship rules and she is reported to have once avoided arrest by stripping naked. In 1941 she went to Egypt, and subsequently reported from Turkey, Greece and Cairo. Her efforts were hampered because women war correspondents did not receive formal accreditation. After General Bernard Montgomery took Tripoli in 1943, she was ordered to return to Cairo. Wishing to remain at the front lines, she went on to cover General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s forces in Algiers, writing for the Chicago Daily News. She subsequently reported from Palestine, Iraq and Persia. During this time she became the first to interview the Shah of Iran.

During the post-war decades, Hollingworth reported on conflicts in Palestine, Algeria, China, Aden and Vietnam. The BBC stated that although she was not the earliest woman war correspondent, “her depth of technical, tactical and strategic insight set her apart.” The New York Times described her as “the undisputed doyenne of war correspondents”. She amassed considerable expertise in military technology and – after pilot training during the 1940s – was particularly knowledgeable about aircraft.

Immediately after the war, she began working for The Economist and The Observer. In 1946, she and her husband Geoffrey Hoare were at the scene of the King David Hotel bombing in Jerusalem, which killed 91 people. She later was said to have refused to shake the hand of the Irgun leader Menachem Begin, who many years later became the Prime Minister of Israel, because of his role in ordering the event. By 1950, she had moved from her base in Cairo to Paris, working for The Guardian. She started to visit Algeria and developed contacts with the Algerian National Liberation Front. She reported on the Algerian War in the early 1960s.

Early in 1963, still working for The Guardian, she was in Beirut and began to investigate Kim Philby, a correspondent for The Observer, discovering that he had departed for Odessa on a Soviet ship. The Guardian’s editor, Alastair Hetherington, fearing legal action, held up the story of Philby’s defection for three months, before publishing her detailed account on 27 April 1963. His defection was subsequently confirmed by the government. She was appointed The Guardian’s defence correspondent in 1963, the first woman in the role.

In 1967, she left The Guardian and began contributing to The Daily Telegraph again. Her ambition to work in warzones rather than cover government foreign policy encouraged the move. She was sent to Vietnam in 1967 to cover the Vietnam War. She was one of the earliest commentators to predict that the war would end in stalemate and her reports were also distinguished by her attention to the opinions of Vietnamese civilians.

In 1973, she was sent to China and became The Daily Telegraph’s China correspondent, the first since the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. She met Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong’s wife Jiang Qing. She was the last person to interview the Shah of Iran; the journalist John Simpson commented that “She was the only person he wanted to speak to”. Hollingworth stayed in China for three years and moved to Hong Kong in the 1980s. In 1981 she retired and moved to British Hong Kong, also spending time in Britain, France and China. She observed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 from a hotel balcony (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Did you hear about the journalist whose girlfriend wanted him to choose between her and his career?  He had some late breaking news for her…

Second, a Song:

Donald Hugh Henley (born July 22, 1947) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and a founding member of the rock band Eagles. He was the drummer and co-lead vocalist for the Eagles from 1971 until the band broke up in 1980, and has reprised those duties for the group’s reunions since 1994. Henley sang the lead vocals on Eagles hits such as “Witchy Woman”, “Desperado”, “Best of My Love”, “One of These Nights”, “Hotel California”, “Life in the Fast Lane”, “The Long Run” and “Get Over It”.

After the Eagles broke up in 1980, Henley pursued a solo career and released his debut album I Can’t Stand Still, in 1982. He has released five studio albums, two compilation albums, and one live DVD. His solo hits include “Dirty Laundry”, “The Boys of Summer”, “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”, “The Heart of the Matter”, “The Last Worthless Evening”, “Sunset Grill”, “Not Enough Love in the World”, and “The End of the Innocence”.

The Eagles have sold over 150 million albums worldwide, won six Grammy Awards, had five number-one singles, 17 top-40 singles, and six number-one albums. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and are the highest-selling American band in history. As a solo artist, Henley has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, had eight top-40 singles, won two Grammy Awards and five MTV Video Music Awards. Combined with the Eagles and as a solo artist, Henley has released 25 top-40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. He has also released seven studio albums with the Eagles and five as a solo artist. In 2008, he was ranked as the 87th-greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Henley has also played a founding role in several environmental and political causes, most notably the Walden Woods Project. From 1994 to 2016, he divided his musical activities between the Eagles and his solo career.

“Dirty Laundry” is a song written by Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, from Henley’s debut solo album I Can’t Stand Still, released in 1982. The song hit number 1 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart in October 1982, prior to being issued as a 45 rpm single. Lyrically, the song describes mass media sensationalism.

The song is about the callousness of TV news reporting as well as the tabloidization of all news. Henley sings from the standpoint of a news anchorman who “could have been an actor, but I wound up here”, and thus is not a real journalist. The song’s theme is that TV news coverage focuses too much on negative and sensationalist news; in particular, deaths, disasters, and scandals, with little regard to the consequences or for what is important (“We all know that crap is king”). The song was inspired by the intrusive press coverage surrounding the deaths of John Belushi and Natalie Wood, and Henley’s own arrest in 1980 when he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of marijuana, cocaine, and Quaaludes after paramedics treated a 16-year-old female who was subsequently suffering from drug intoxication at his Los Angeles home.

Among the musicians on the record were Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh, two of Henley’s bandmates of the Eagles. Walsh performs the first guitar solo, followed by Steve Lukather of the band Toto; the guitar basic tracks are played by Danny Kortchmar who also helped Henley compose this song. The sleeve notes also mention musicians George Gruel, Roger Linn and Steve Porcaro.

During the 1994 reformation of Eagles, Glenn Frey suggested that the entire band perform this and other solo hits of Henley’s, stating that he liked them and despite differences the band had had over the years, they admired Henley’s solo work. During the performances of Frey and Henley’s solo songs, Eagles’ touring drummer Scott F. Crago handles most of the drumming duties.

Released as the second single from I Can’t Stand Still, it spent three weeks at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in March 1983, representing sales of over one million in the United States (per Wikipedia).

Here is a parody music video created in 1985 for a friendly contest between competing broadcasters. When Global TV in Toronto entered this version of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” – starring “The News Brothers” – it was an instant smash hit. To many, this video sums up a whole decade of wonderful memories (from I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“I would say that the war correspondent gets more drinks, more girls, better pay, and greater freedom than the soldier, but at this stage of the game, having the freedom to choose his spot and being allowed to be a coward and not be executed for it is his torture.” – Robert Capa

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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