War reporter 

Ray Moseley: Native Texan. Naturalized Arkansan. Reporter, world traveler, confidant of Queen Elizabeth II.

Well, that last is not exactly the truth, except in the Trumpian sense. The queen a few years ago did award Moseley an honorary MBE (Member of the British Empire) for transatlantic good works, but I doubt that she invites him to tea every week.

His most recent good work is "Reporting War: How Foreign Correspondents Risked Capture, Torture and Death to Cover World War II," published by the Yale University Press this spring. Moseley himself has covered plenty of wars, revolutions and political thugs of all persuasions, and he knows a good war story when he sees it. He was 12 years old when WWII ended, but he was already a fan. He read the papers and listened to the radio.

His book is dotted with names that still resonate today. People like Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Ernie Pyle and Martha Gellhorn adorn the pages. Gellhorn was famous for her war reporting before she met Ernest Hemingway, her on-again, off-again, roving-eye husband. And she was a far better war reporter than he was, legend to the contrary notwithstanding.

Delicious as the gossip is in this terrifically researched book, it is a minor part of Moseley's story. The reporting he addresses covers every theater of war in that justly named conflict. The reporters wake up in the northern Africa desert with sand in their eyes, mouths and hair. They are targeted by gunfire and bombs right across Europe and Asia. Many were heroes. A few were cowards and cheats. Some died in the war and others survived to become peacetime reporters back home.

The Allied invasion of Normandy, in June 1944, brought out the best in the reporters who drew the assignment. One of them was Doan Campbell, 24, a Reuters correspondent who had been turned down for military service because he had been born with no left forearm. He went ashore with the Royal Marine commandos.

"It is a miracle that I'm alive to write this dispatch — that I've survived 24 hours on this beachhead bag of tricks," he wrote. "Much of my 24 hours have been spent flat on my face burrowing into sand or earth ... . The front is fluid, so fluid that I crouched for two hours in a ditch before realizing that I was a good 100 yards ahead of the forward troops."

Hemingway had his moments. He watched some of the D-Day action from the battleship Texas. He could see the infantry working their way up the bluff behind Omaha Beach, "moving slowly ... like a tired pack train at the end of the day."

The villains in Moseley's book appear on almost every page. They were the censors. These were, for the most part, servicemen who had no background in journalism and no appreciation of the value of the information entrusted to them. Their jobs were important — keeping out of print any information that might compromise a military operation and endanger soldiers' lives. But far too many of the censors got lost in their zeal and ruined many a story out of pure pig-headedness.

Moseley retired in London after many years as the chief European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He flew to Little Rock last year to deliver a lecture commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes.

The Arkansas Gazette won two in 1957. One went to the executive editor, Harry Ashmore, for his editorials opposing Gov. Orval E. Faubus' intervention against the integration of Central High School. The other went to the paper for its overall coverage of that event. Moseley was one of the main reporters who spent days in the streets around the school being verbally abused by white citizens who thought their rights to white supremacy were being trampled by the federal courts.

He got through several weeks of such abuse; then, a week before he left for a larger paper elsewhere, he was assaulted by an angry editor in the newsroom. He spent time in the hospital but recovered well enough to prosper in a variety of newsrooms at home and abroad. As a foreign and diplomatic correspondent for United Press International and the Chicago Tribune, he worked in Moscow, London, Berlin, Cairo, Nairobi, Rome and Belgrade. He was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1981.

He is the author of two books inspired by his fascination with the role of the Italians during World War II: "Mussolini: The Last 600 Days of Il Duce," and "Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano," about Mussolini's son-in-law. He also has written a journalistic memoir, "In Foreign Fields." He is at work on a book about black soldiers in World War II.

Roy Reed was a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and The New York Times. He's the author of "Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent's Adventures with the New York Times."


From the ArkTimes store


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Vote no on school tax

    I have never voted against a school tax in my life, but I will be voting against the debt service millage extension for the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • Intracity tourism

    The issues that tug at my heartstrings are neighborhood stigma and neighborhood segregation, which are so prevalent in Little Rock. In my opinion, the solution to those problems is "intracity tourism."
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • The first commandment directly contradicts the first amendment.

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Arkyguy, try Numbers 31:17-18.


    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote: "Sounds like maybe some of those descriptors hit a little close to…

    • on July 21, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation