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War, Journalism and History

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

Edited By 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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Jenny Macleod Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, War Correspondence and the First World War


Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett was the main British war correspondent during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. Aged thirty-four at the time, his pass- port described him as 5 foot 10 inches tall, slim, with green eyes, an oval face, a high forehead and a small chin.1 He was already highly experienced having witnessed at least ten dif ferent theatres of war dating back to the Greco–Turkish War in 1898. Then, as a seventeen-year-old guest of the Sultan, he had been taken prisoner by the Greeks. From that time until his death in 1931, as his obituary notes, ‘he tasted everything in the way of excitement that an unstable world could of fer. There seems never to have been a war or an earthquake or a massacre in any corner of the world but Ashmead-Bartlett was on hand’.2 His first assignment as a war correspond- ent saw him covering the siege of Port Arthur during the Russo–Japanese War in 1904. He died in Lisbon whilst covering the Spanish Revolution. Perhaps his most famous exploit came when he attempted to circumvent the censorship arrangements at Gallipoli by smuggling his highly critical assessment of the campaign back to the Prime Minister and, it has been argued, thereby precipitating the demise of General Sir Ian Hamilton as Commander-in-Chief. War corresponding is often a dif ficult and dangerous job that requires resourcefulness and courage. Ashmead-Bartlett typified the restless and, perhaps, reckless spirit that is common to many war correspondents. Yet the First World War saw...

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