She was in the right place, not once, but several times:
Clare Hollingworth, the veteran British war correspondent who broke the news of the Nazi invasion of Poland, has died in Hong Kong at the age of 105.
Hollingworth, who was born in Leicester in 1911, was the first to report on the invasion that triggered the outbreak of World War Two. She went on to report from Vietnam, Algeria and the Middle East.
A pretty full life for a newsperson.
Hollingworth was a rookie reporter for the Daily Telegraph when she fell upon “the scoop of the century”.
It was she who spotted German forces amassed on the Polish border while travelling from Poland to Germany in 1939.
The Daily Telegraph headline read: “1,000 tanks massed on Polish border. Ten divisions reported ready for swift strike” — but it did not carry her byline, a common practice for newspapers at the time.
She scored another scoop when the Nazis launched their invasion three days later.
A later exclusive, about the British spy Kim Philby, was spiked by The Guardian in 1963.
That figures. How did that happen, exactly?
In 1963 Hollingworth was working for the Guardian in Beirut when Kim Philby, a correspondent for the Observer, disappeared.
She was convinced that he was the fabled “third man” in a British spy ring that already included Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.
After some detective work, she discovered that Philby had left on a Soviet ship bound for Odessa and filed copy to that effect with the Guardian.
But this second huge scoop was spiked by the paper’s editor, Alastair Hetherington, who feared a libel suit.
Three months later, the Guardian ran the story, tucked away on an inside page. The following day the Daily Express splashed it on the front page, prompting the government to admit that Philby had, indeed, defected to the Soviet Union.
Philby died in 1988 and was buried with honors in Moscow; nothing was said about Stalin’s suspicions that Philby was actually a triple agent, spying for MI6 while spying for the Soviets while working for MI6.
Hollingworth retired to Hong Kong at seventy, and was a regular at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.