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War, Journalism and History

War Correspondents in the Two World Wars- With a foreword by Phillip Knightley

Yvonne McEwen and Fiona A. Fisken

War, Journalism and History is the first published work to examine an eclectic mix of correspondents during the two world wars who were prepared, often at great personal cost, to inform the public about the obscenity of warfare. Throughout both world wars the lack of credible information being dispatched from fighting fronts to the home front led to the creation of an information vacuum. The void was filled by war correspondents: the heroes, sometimes anti-heroes, of news reporting. This edited volume examines the lives and works of maverick war correspondents such as Richard Dimbleby, Vasilii Grossman, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, Albert Londres, Vera Brittain, and others who, whether through the use of pen or camera, typewriter or radio, tried to secure the integrity of wartime reporting and accurately record history in the making.

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Yvonne McEwen Introduction

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News and gossip are sometimes indistinguishable. Particularly at times of national crisis, what the press does not provide, the rumour mill will read- ily invent. This was evidenced in the early days of news gathering when, during the American Civil War, the Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Wilbur Storey, instructed one of his correspondents to ‘Telegraph fully all news you can get and when there is no news send rumors’. Oiling the wheels of the rumour mill is not just a wartime practice. However, as history demon- strates, the lack of credible information being dispatched from the fighting front to the home front inevitably lead to the creation of an information vacuum. Standing at the ready to fill the void were the war correspondents, the heroes, sometimes anti-heroes, of news reporting. Arguably, it was the dispatches from the war in the Crimea by The Times correspondents, Thomas Chenery and William Howard Russell, that saw the beginning of an organized ef fort to report the activities on the fighting front to the home front. The correspondents wrote about the pitiful condition of the troops, the inadequacies of army leadership, and the appalling lack of medical and nursing care for the casualties. Writing during the Battle of the Alma, Chenery cynically observed the consequences of sending aged war veterans to care for the sick and wounded. At the commencement of this war a plan was invented, and carried out, by which a number of Chelsea pensioners were sent out as ambulance corps...

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