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Barbara Wace, 95; Battlefield Reporter for AP in World War II

January 26, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Barbara Wace, 95, a former Associated Press reporter who was one of the few female journalists to cover World War II from the European battlefields, died Jan. 16 in London.

Wace went to France in July 1944, a month after the D-day landings -- a time when news organizations rarely assigned women to war reporting.

In August 1944, her editor sent her to the port of Brest, where a German garrison of 38,000 -- cornered in the town and hiding in concrete submarine bunkers -- was holding off 80,000 U.S. troops.

"I was relieved at Brest just before it was taken -- by a man. His name went on the story," Wace recalled in 1995.

But she did have the final word when German forces holding the submarine base surrendered after a 46-day siege. Wace, who had lost the bedroll containing her clothes, sent a telegram to the AP bureau in London: "Skirt Lost. Brest Fallen."

Wace was born in England in 1907, the daughter of a senior army officer. She worked at the British Embassy in prewar Germany and, beginning in 1940, at British missions in Washington, New York and San Francisco.

She returned to Britain in 1942, initially intending to help the war effort by working in a factory. Instead, she became an AP reporter, covering the war.

Leaving the wire service after the war, Wace was a freelance writer and photographer until her 80s, traveling the world from Oman to Mongolia.

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