Posted: June 5th, 2014
From ROY GREENSLADE’S blog in The Guardian: The Daily Mirror remembers its own D-Day casualty on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the invasion. The paper tells the story of its reporter Ian Fyfe, the only British journalist to die on 6 June 1944.
Fyfe was 25 when he volunteered for a perilous mission to join men from the 9th parachute battalion who were flying into Normandy by glider the night before troops stormed up the beaches. But the glider never made it. It was probably shot down by a German battery on the coast. No wreckage was recovered and, like so many of the fallen, Fyfe’s body was never found.
In his final report before the glider took off he told of joining the soldiers in prayer. He wrote: “The service of dedication was strange, moving – the last before the men parachuted down into enemy territory.
“The padre himself… was jumping with them, taking part in an operation that will make them known to the entire world, an operation on which everything depends.
“As you read this, the men of this airborne unit are already in France. For a week I have been living with these men in a sealed camp… waiting to go into France… despite the narrow boundaries of their tented world, morale has never been higher.”
The Scots-born Fyfe joined the Mirror in 1938 as a 19-year-old trainee and became friendly with another cub reporter, Donald Zec, who went to become Britain’s most famous showbusiness interviewer.
Zec, now 95, recalls Fyfe as “a very good reporter, a very bright chap… I admired him – he had a lot of guts. His death was a great tragedy but he would have enjoyed the adventure and been very enthusiastic.
“He would have had a great career in Fleet Street if he had lived.”
Fyfe, then living in Croydon, had been married for only a year. His wife, Betty, later remarried and died in the 1990s.
Mirror feature writer Tom Parry honoured Fyfe’s memory by placing a wreath at the Bayeux Monument in Normandy, which carries his name and describes him as “war correspondent”. (pictured)
The paper also reminds readers that Bernard Gray, a reporter with the Sunday Pictorial (later renamed the Sunday Mirror) died in a British submarine in May 1942 when it was bombed in the Mediterranean.
*In January 2010, the Sunday Mirror’s defence correspondent, Rupert Hamer, was killed in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was travelling in with US marine corps troops was hit by an improvised explosive device.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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