February 20, 2017

1945. War Correspondents Cover the Crossing of the Rhine

Reporters Join the Allied Invasion of Germany
"Ludendorff Bridge and Erpeler Ley tunnel at Erpel (eastern side of the Rhine) – First U.S. Army men and equipment pour across the Remagen Bridge; two knocked out jeeps in foreground" in Germany, March 11 1945 (Photo by Sergeant William Spangle - source)
From Broadcasting magazine, April 2, 1945, p. 17:
Reporters Covered Crossing Of Rhine From Plane Armada

From Piper Cubs, Flying Fortresses and other aircraft forming part of the air support for the Rhine crossings March 23, radio reporters covered one of the major military operations of World War II. While ship-side reports have figured in many of the outstanding broadcasts of the war, radio's coverage of the Rhine was characterized by a "bird's-eye view," although there were plenty of correspondents slugging along with the troops, and sharing their hazards.

500-Mile Armada

One of the former, NBC's John MacVane scored what appears to have been scoop with the first broadcast from the east side of the Rhine March 26, at 9 a.m. "Heroine" of Mr. MacVane's coups was the U.S. Army mobile transmitter "Jig Easy Sugar Queen". JESQ was the first mobile unit used to transmit broadcasts from the Normandy coasts, and has followed Gen. Eisenhower's armies into German soil. From the same transmitter MacVane was heard Saturday, 1:45 p.m. with a description of a tour of the Remagen bridgehead from the west side of the river. NBC's Army Hour on Sunday, March 25 included recording made on a plane, describing airborne troops jumping into Germany.

Herbert Clark, coming in from Paris on the Blue Network at 7:47 a.m. Saturday, March 24 claimed for his network the first broadcast announcement from Europe of an all-out Allied launching across the Rhine, pointing out that CBS was beaten to the gun by 30 seconds. A carefully worded message from Clark had tipped the network off to open at 7 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.

In the lead plane of a 500-mile long air armada Paul Manning, WOR-Mutual, recorded a description of the airborne invasion of Remagen. Disc was flown to Paris and heard on Mutual Saturday, March 24 5-5:15 p.m. Descriptions of the 9th Army crossings recorded in Piper Cub planes by UP's Ray Conger and Chris Cunningham came in on MBS at 10 a.m. and noon respectively the same day.

Dick Hottelet, one of the nine correspondents CBS had on the assignment, was forced to parachute to safety when the Flying Fortress in which he was accompanying the First Airborne Army, burst into flames just east of the Rhine. Hottelet jumped after the plane turned back across the Rhine, flew back to a transmitter to broadcast for CBS. Edward R. Murrow, CBS European chief, rode a British bomber towing a glider. Bill Downs, who came in Saturday 2:48 p.m. from some point in Germany rode "pig-a-back" in an American Thunderbolt fighter up and down the entire Rhine front.

Charles Collingwood, came in from Paris at 7:01 p.m. Friday with news of Third Army crossings and at 7:48 a.m. Saturday March 24 with news of the 9th Army crossings. Winston Burdett, CBS, with First Army, may have been east of the Rhine when he broadcast Tuesday 8-8:15 p.m., reporting "orders to strike east and keep rolling".