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est. 2005
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Peter Stursberg


Peter 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 roundabout route.

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.

“We 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.

 --Grin Reaper

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