WWII Reporter Spots Invading German Tanks in 1939

Clare Hollingworth was in her mid-twenties when she became a WWII reporter. Her first assignment took her to the border between Germany and Poland, where she caught the trail of a big story that would help to solidify her name at the Daily Telegraph. She was in a limousine, traveling on the autobahn. Suddenly, more than five dozen motorcycles swiftly passed the vehicle in which she was riding. That was when the WWII reporter found her story.

Looking out the window after the numerous motorcycles passed by, Hollingworth saw what many would consider to be an incredible sight. In the valley beneath the roadway, she saw German tanks and armored cars by the hundreds. This turned out the be the infamous Panzer Corps, and the young WWII reporter would soon discover that she was witnessing the very beginning of the Second World War. As approximately one thousand tanks amassed in the valley, it was clear that Germany was preparing to begin its invasion of Poland. Hollingworth’s first story was to make the headlines as front page news.

Although the war was just beginning when Hollingworth broke her story in 1939, she was no stranger to the Third Reich. She spent the previous year in Warsaw, helping citizens to escape from Nazi occupation. This was in fact what led to her position as a WWII reporter, as she was already familiar with Hitler’s regime and some of the land that he had occupied. There are no precise figures regarding how many refugees Hollingworth had saved in Warsaw, but the number is estimated to reach well into the thousands.

She first landed in Warsaw after being hired by the Telegraph, but it was not long before she was sent to the border. A few days after she broke the story about the tanks, the young WWII reporter witnessed a more proper beginning to the war. Tanks rolled into Katowice, the town in which she was staying. From all around, she could hear planes and gunfire. Although she evacuated to Crakow, the young journalist returned to Katowice as soon as possible. She then travelled all over Poland as she followed the outbreak of war, The Telegraph reports.

Clare Hollingworth caught a number of stories early during her time as a WWII reporter. It would not be the last war of her career, as she would later travel to Vietnam among other countries. She now lives in Hong Kong, having been assigned to Beijing in 1973. Her career has taken her around the world, but it all began with her very first story as a WWII reporter.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE