Stursberg was a prominent Canadian war correspondent during the Second World
War. A radio reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he claimed to be the first Allied correspondent to
broadcast for a home audience the wartime love song “Lili Marlene.” British and
German troops alike in North Africa listened to the tune, which was used to
close a day’s broadcasts on Radio Belgrade. On landing with Canadian forces in
Sicily, Stursberg was surprised to hear peasants singing the tune in the
fields. A local orchestra, including an operatic tenor, was hired, and he
recorded their version of a sentimental song about a soldier’s unfulfilled
promise to meet a lover under a lamppost.
It was in Sicily, too, where he recorded the
ringing of church bells and the Seaforth Highlanders playing a victory salute
at Agira, the first sounds of liberation in the Italian campaign.
Canadian technicians and engineers cobbled together
a mobile broadcasting studio inside an army truck dubbed Big Betsy. Disks were
then dispatched from the war zone to London and on to Canada, a difficult and
Mr. Stursberg’s eyewitness accounts brought an
immediacy to war reporting. He drove through liberated Holland in a chauffeured
jeep. It was quickly mobbed by jubilant civilians.
were greeted wildly,” he said. “All kinds of Dutch girls got into our jeep. We
were covered in girls as we drove through Holland.”
He finally got to Berlin on July 1,
1945, six weeks after the end of the war, making his way to Hitler's
underground bunker, where he scavenged two pieces of silverware. The spoon and
fork with which he returned home were embossed with the initials AH
Over the years, he wrote 14 books,
including biographies of Canadian politicians as well as a history of his
family's colonial roots in China, where he had been born on August 31, 1913. He
died on his 101st birthday in West Vancouver, B.C.
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