Clare Hollingworth can be seen at the FCC – The Foreign Correspondent Club in Lower Albert Road – where a table is always reserved for her. She will turn 103 on Friday 10 October 2014 and she can be considered a living treasure of Hong Kong. Clare was born on the same day that Sun Yat-Sen with other Chinese revolutionaries overthrew the Qing dynasty in China!
She has always been a journalist and a writer, throughout her life never wanting to retire and when she sits for lunch at the FCC she always ask for the earphones to listen to the latest news broadcasted by the BBC.
The greatest scoop in her life was a phone call she made after watching Stuka planes bombing units of the Polish army and her newspaper The Daily Telegraph came out with the title announcing ‘WWII HAS BEGUN!’ That day was the 29 August 1939 and Clare Hollingworth had been employed by just one week by The Daily Telegraph and dispatched to Poland to report on the worsening situation in Europe.
Clare borrowed a car from the British Consul in Katowice to depart on a fact-finding mission in Germany and while driving along the border she saw a massive build-up of Nazi troops and tanks facing Poland. The following morning she called the British Embassy in Warsaw to tell them that the German invasion of Poland was on the way. To convince the incredulous embassy’s staffs, she held the telephone out of her room’s windows to capture the sounds of German bombs exploding.
“The frontier is still closed to local traffic. Everywhere I saw signs of the most intense military activity. In the two miles between Hindenburg and Gleiwitz I was passed by 65 military despatch riders on motorcycles. The only cars to be seen were those belonging to the military.”
Clare has remained a war reporter for all her life, showing a great mettle and uncommon courage. She reported from Palestine, Algeria, China, Aden and Vietnam. In 1946 she was a survivor of the King David Hotel bombing in Jerusalem, where 91 people were killed. She was married twice, with Vandeleur Robinson in 1936 but they divorced in 1951 and with Geoffrey Hoare in 1951 but he died in 1965. She has been living in Hong Kong since the early 1980s.
Clare is the author of five books:
Poland’s Three Weeks’ War (1940);
There’s a German Right Behind Me (1945);
The Arabs and the West (1950);
Mao and the Men against Him (1984);
Front Line – Memoirs – (1990, updated with Neri Tenorio in 2005.)
Clare Hollingworth’s 103rd Birthday Party will be held at the FCC on Thursday, October 9, 2014, in the Bunker of the FCC, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Happy Birthday, Clare!