HONG KONG—Veteran British war correspondent Clare Hollingworth, who broke the story that the Second World War had started, turned 100 in Hong Kong on Monday as a memoir of her is near completion.
The centenarian was set to celebrate the occasion with journalists and friends at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), where she has been a regular in the past three decades since moving to the city in 1981.
“She is very respected and admired by all of us,” club president Anna Healy Fenton said of Hollingworth, one of two goodwill ambassadors of the FCC.
The veteran journalist, who witnessed the horrors of war in Vietnam, Algeria, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, is best remembered for her scoop on World War II in 1939 when she was just a rookie reporter.
She broke the story of Germany’s invasion of Poland during her first week working as a journalist in Poland after she was dispatched there by The Daily Telegraph to cover the worsening security situation in Europe.
On September 1, Hollingworth called the British Embassy in Warsaw to tell the officials that the war had started, after she had been woken by the roar of Nazi aircraft and tanks.
Hollingworth has said she had to hold the telephone out of her bedroom window to capture the sounds of German forces to convince the embassy her story was true.
“If there is a war, and if the world wants, I would like to cover it,” the bespectacled woman, still proud of her scoop, told AFP in a 2009 interview.
Today, Hollingworth lives with two helpers in Hong Kong. Her memory has deteriorated badly after a suspected stroke in 2009, said her great nephew Patrick Garrett, who is authoring Hollingworth’s memoir.
“But though she looks frail, physically she is surprisingly strong,” Garrett wrote in a recent FCC magazine, saying the memoir is nearing completion.