One year of World War II on Deadline

On March 29, 2020, the first post from World War II on Deadline went live. That inaugural entry, the story of Newsweek correspondent Kenneth Crawford’s experience at Utah Beach on D-Day, was the product of research I’d done a few years earlier but hadn’t had an opportunity to publish anywhere.

What better time than a pandemic that might keep us inside for a few weeks — heck, maybe even a few months! — than to find an outlet for those stories I’d been accumulating?

A year later, this site and its email newsletter and Facebook page have featured about two hundred stories from the war, from an examination of how historic events were covered in the moment to biographical sketches of the men and women who did that reporting and photography decades ago.

Though there is no original addition to that collection today, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge a few key correspondents with March 29 birthdays: AP correspondent Charles McMurtry (1905), who suffered severe burns in a kamikaze attack while covering the Pacific war; the Scotsman Norman Clark (1910), who covered the war in North Africa, France, Germany and beyond for the London-based News Chronicle; and legendary Stars and Stripes editor and Andy Rooney running mate Oram “Bud” Hutton (1913).

Perhaps next year on day I’ll go a bit more in-depth on one of them, but in the meantime I thought I’d look back and see which posts on the various platforms have been read the most over the past year. The top five on each are all different. If you’re among those who has read them — thank you! If not, perhaps you might want to check out something you’ve missed:

Most-read website posts

  1. Dick Winters: Before Band of Brothers — The backstory on the now-famous Easy Company leader, who didn’t generate many headlines at the time
  2. Greyhound in real life: Covering the convoys — A look back at correspondents who wrote about the Atlantic crossing, inspired by the Tom Hanks film
  3. J.R. Krantz dangles from a B-29, miles over Japan — The story behind one of the more remarkable photos of the war
  4. An interview with Adolf Hitler — Karl H. von Wiegand’s nearly 20 years covering the ascendant German leader culminated in a rare sitdown
  5. D-Day: George Hicks brings the sound of battle into your living room — The NBC correspondent’s play-by-play of an antiaircraft battle off the coast of Normandy as June 6 turned to June 7 remains a classic
George Hicks of NBC in June 1944 (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Most-read email newsletters

  1. Joe Rosenthal and the flag on Iwo Jima — The story behind the defining photo of the American World War II experience
  2. End of the line for Lord Haw Haw — The capture and execution of perhaps Britain’s most notorious wartime traitor
  3. R. Ernest Dupuy delivered the D-Day news — The SHAEF press operations chief made the first official announcement of the Normandy landings
  4. Eyewitness to the Tokyo firebombing — Martin Sheridan of the Boston Globe and other correspondents cover one of the deadliest nights of the war
  5. Hal Boyle told mothers about their sons on the front lines — The AP reporter and columnist may have been the most widely read U.S. correspondent during the war

Facebook posts with the most engagement

  1. John Basilone killed on Iwo Jima
  2. Life magazine publishes first images of dead U.S. servicemen
  3. Gen. Erwin Rommel’s suicide
  4. Margaret Bourke-White’s birthday
  5. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. dies after heart attack

If you’re seeing this post, it probably isn’t your first time here. Thank you for reading, whether you’ve been there since the beginning or just discovered the project. I certainly had no readership expectations when I started this, but it’s gratifying to know people might be learning something new or seeing something from a different angle.

My schedule is getting busier for a variety of reasons, so posts might not come as frequently as they have over the past year, but I still have plenty of stories I want to tell and I hope you’ll still find them to be worth your time.

Again, thank you for reading. Come back soon.

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