"1,000 tanks massed on Polish frontier."
That was the headline on a story that appeared in Britain’s The Daily Telegraph on Aug. 28, 1939. There was no byline, but the writer was a young woman named Clare Hollingworth, who died this week in Hong Kong at 105.
Just before World War II, Hollingworth traveled to Poland and helped thousands of refugees escape Europe ahead of the hostilities. The Telegraph hired her as a correspondent after she wrote of their plight in several small publications.
Three days into her new job, Hollingworth borrowed an official car from the British consul in Katowice, Poland, and drove across the border into Germany to see what was going on. On her drive back, she spotted Nazi troops and tanks assembled for the invasion of Poland and filed her story.
Three days after her story appeared, she also became the first correspondent to report the onset of hostilities when she spotted German planes over Katowice.
Hollingworth went on to become a career war correspondent, though she never again broke a story as momentous as the outbreak of World War II.
She first married in 1936, but her husband divorced her for desertion 15 years later. As she told another British newspaper, The Guardian, in 2004, "when I’m on a story, I’m on a story – to hell with husband, family, anyone else."