WORLD WAR II
Edward R. Murrow was sent by CBS to set up a network of
correspondents to report on the gathering storm in Europe. He
assembled a group of young reporters whose names soon became
household words in wartime America, among whom were William Shirer,
Charles Collingwood, Bill Shael, and Howard K. Smith. The group,
which came to be known collectively as "Murrow's Boys,"
reported the whole of World War II from the front lines with a
courage and loyalty inspired by Murrow's own fearlessness. During
the war Murrow flew in more than twenty bombing missions over
Berlin, and along with Bill Shadel was the first Allied
correspondent to report the horrors from the Nazi death camps.
Here is an excerpt from a radio interview with author Bob
Edwards, who describes Murrow's innovative plan to allow American
listeners to hear
bombs dropping on London:
"Murrow wanted to get up to
the rooftops in 1940, so you could hear the Blitz. This was 1940.
People had heard play war and heard dramatic programs imitating
war. I don't think too many people had heard an actual war unless
they had been in one themselves. There were some live broadcasts
from the Spanish Civil War battlefields in the late '30s. But most
people had not heard a war. And Murrow took you up to the rooftops
of London and opened the microphone, and you heard bombs dropping,
you heard the antiaircraft fire, you heard the police sirens and
the whistles of the air wardens. Pretty dramatic stuff in 1940.
That had to make a real impression.
And that was another important
function of Murrow. The British government was going to deny him
access to the rooftops, because they thought the German planes
could hone in on that radio signal and make the broadcasting
house, the BBC in London, make that a target.
Churchill understood that having
Murrow do live broadcasts of the Blitz for an American
audience—America, remember, was neutral—Churchill desperately
needed American help. He realized this was the best propaganda he
could possibly have, to have Murrow broadcasting to the United
States and having Americans realize what their British brothers
and sisters were going through.
And that's exactly what happened.
Churchill cleared the way for Murrow to go to the rooftops, and he
later credited those broadcasts with the Lend-Lease, the act by
which America broke its neutrality. Roosevelt started helping
Britain with old ships and other material, all of this of course
prior to the United States entering the war in 1941 after Pearl
rooftop during the blitz - 9/20/40
Trafalgar Square during an air raid
(audio files above courtesy of "Old Time Radio")
Raid on Berlin 12/3/43 (Transcript
reports live atop a deliberately undisclosed building on
events around and over London as enemy planes fly overhead. (source)
live reporting from Piccadilly Circus in London amidst a crowd
of jubilant Britains celebrating the end of the war.
Read: Edward R.
Murrow's “Orchestrated Hell”: A
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