Clare Hollingworth, a British war correspondent who broke the news of World War II and helped 3500 political and Jewish refugees to escape the Nazis died in Hong Kong on Tuesday. She was 105.
Hollingworth’s death was announced in a statement released by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, calling her a beloved member with a remarkable career including “the scoop of the century”.
Her death was confirmed on Tuesday on the Facebook page Celebrate Clare Hollingworth: “We are sad to announce that after an illustrious career spanning a century of news, celebrated war correspondent Clare Hollingworth died this evening in Hong Kong.”
Hollingworth was born on October 10th, 1911, in Knighton, a southern suburb of Leicester to Daisy and Albert Hollingworth who ran a boot factory founded by Clare’s grandfather. She grew up during World War I, in a period when most girls were educated only so they could become “lady housewives”. However, even from her young years, she was determined to become a writer.
But before becoming a writer she had a more important thing to do. Just a few months before she joined the Telegraph she earned the nickname the “Scarlet Pimpernel” by helping 3500 political and Jewish refugees to get visas to come from Katowice, Poland to Britain and escape the Nazis.
She went back to Britain and managed to convince Arthur Wilson, the editor of The Daily Telegraph, to sent her back to Poland as a stringer. She returned to southern Poland and learned that the border was closed to anyone except diplomatic vehicles, so she borrowed a diplomat’s car and drove into a German-occupied territory, where she was able to see hundreds of tanks, artillery, and armored cars.
On September 1st, 1939, at 5 a.m. the Nazis launched their invasion and Hollingworth, who was awoken by the sound of tanks, immediately called the secretary of the British Embassy in Warsaw and as reported by The Telegraph she said: “The war has begun“.
“Are you sure, old girl?”- he asked.
“Listen!”- she commanded, holding the receiver outside the window. “Can’t you hear it?”
After Germany invaded Poland, Hollingworth moved to Bucharest, Romania, covering the Romanian Revolution for the Daily Express.
In 1942 General Bernard Law Montgomery imposed a ban on British female correspondents on the front lines in Egypt in 1942, so she went on to cover General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s forces in Algiers.
The Guardian reported that Hollingworth later covered the Middle East for The Economist and The Observer, then moved to Paris for The Guardian, and from there to Beirut. She returned to the Daily Telegraph in 1967 and was posted to China in 1973, remaining in Asia for the rest of her days.
She nearly escaped death herself in 1946 when King David Hotel in Jerusalem was destroyed by a bomb, killing nearly 100 people. She was just 300 yards away.
Hollingworth was the author of five books: The Three Weeks’War in Poland (1940), There’s a German Right Behind Me (1945), The Arabs and the West (1950), Mao (1985), and her memoirs, Front Line (1990).
She retired in 1981 and moved to Hong Kong where she lived her last four decades.
In 1994 Hollingworth received the James Cameron Award for journalism and a lifetime achievement award from the UK television program What the Papers Say in 1999.