This is an Interview by H. L. Stevenson, former UPI vice president and editor-in-chief, with Wallace Carroll, at Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1992:
(Wallace Carroll was a United Press correspondent before and during World War II in London, Paris, Geneva, Madrid and Moscow. He later was with the Office of War Information and joined the New York Times. He went on to become editor and publisher of the Winston-Salem N.C. Journal. This interview was taped by Stevenson, whose widow loaned it to Dick Harnett. He copied the tape and made this transcription).
Stevenson: I'm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, interviewing Wallace Carroll, a former UPI correspondent later with the New York Times and later with the Winston-Salem Journal. He's now retired and we are going to talk this morning about some of his experience with UP and with the Times and with the Winston-Salem Journal. That was a well-known period. I have met and talked to some of the people. Joe Grigg, I think, was there, and Cronkite.
Carroll: I went to Russia in the middle of 1941.
Stevenson: I guess I could start where we usually have to, at the beginning. When did you go to United Press? Where did you first work?
Carroll: Chicago, 1928. I spent a year there in Chicago. Earl Johnson came in the middle of that and picked me to go to Europe, to London in 1929, the summer of 1929. I spent two years in London. I can give you some background on that.
Stevenson: I would appreciate it. I am going to let you talk a while.
Carroll: The bureau manager was Clifford L. Day, who was known as "Day and Night" because he came in at eight and stayed until 12. He was a bookkeeper, not an editor. He kept great accounts on the cable tolls and that sort of thing. He thought news came on tickers. He didn't know that people had to go out and use their legs to get it.
One of my first experiences with him was when I read in the papers that there were going to be hunger marches coming to London from the north and so on in the summer of 1929 or fall of 1929, and they were going to converge on Tower Hill and try to get to, what do we call it, the lord mayor's mansion there. I said to him, "We ought to cover this. Can I go down and do it?" He was doing his bookkeeping. He said, "All right." So I went down. I was the only reporter there. These poor people came in from the north and they were in terrible shape, men and women. The London police were drawn up, some on horseback. When the demonstrators tried to break through and reach the mansion house the police beat them unmercifully. The mounted police came on. I saw the people go down under the horses’ hooves. One of the papers next morning carried the Scotland Yard version, that no batons were drawn. But I had seen it. I was the only reporter. I had a story and got that out. That was my first reporting. Then I was transferred to Paris in 1931. There Ralph Heinzen was the bureau chief. And he was something. The London office was under Webb Miller.
Stevenson: Miller was a great name in that period.
Carroll: Very conservative, very cautious. You had to have everything right. Heinzen was a notorious faker. He was wild as could be.
The best thing I did in Paris was the *Stravinski riots February 6, 1934. The day before, I sat down with Heinzen and we figured out how all these people were protesting the corruption in the radical socialist government then in power, and we figured out that the fascist, the *Quadrifu, would be coming from the Arc de Triumph down the Champs Elysees through the Place de la Concord. The communists would be coming in from the red belt to the east and the south to the Place de la Concord. The monarchists would be coming from the west. These were mostly students, and they would all converge there. So I said I want to be in the Place de la Concord. I went up there, got there about 12:30, and the crowd was beginning to gather. I was in the square from 12:30 until one in the morning. The crowd began to get pretty rough. They stopped two city buses and made all the passengers get out and set fire to them. The police were trying to shoo them away. The police were with the people of Paris. They liked them, so they weren't rough. But then the mobile guards were called in from the provinces. These were tough guys, really tough guys.
About 3:30 in the afternoon the president’s guard, what do you call it, were brought in, and these were cavalry with beautiful horses. They had helmets and breastplates and everything. They swept the square around and around. I never knew how fast a horse could run until I tried to run with one. But when the guy on the horse had his sabre pointed at my kidneys I did some great broken field running. About four o'clock in the afternoon or thereabouts I was in the middle of the square, in a great crowd of angry people.
The mobile guards were converging on them. An American named *Fleischman, who had been hired by the foreign office, the French foreign office, to help them with their foreign relations, help them with American public opinion, came along and said, "Come on, get out of here. You'll only get in trouble." He said, "Let's go over to the Hotel Creole and have a drink." I said, "I can't have a drink, but I'll walk with you." I had walked about 20 yards when I heard shots behind me. I turned around. The mobile guard had fired into the crowd right where I had been. Two fellows came out trying to carry a guy who had apparently been shot. I ran over. He had been shot right around the heart, and the blood was pouring out and his hand was dragging. So I took over and lifted him up. The three of us carried him towards the American embassy. When we got there a man who appeared to be a doctor came and took his pulse. I said, "Is he dead?" He said, "He sure is dead." I turned around and ran like hell for a telephone and phoned in a bulletin to Heinzen that the mobile guards had fired on the crowd at 4:10 or whatever the time was and at least one man was killed. I didn't know more than that. As a matter of fact the official number at the end of the day was I think 28 killed. We called the morgues and the hospitals and the total was really 76. It was rough that day.
Stevenson: Was it just you, and Heinzen in the office? You in the square and he in the office?
Carroll: I told him I'd come in to do an eyewitness story.He said, "Get back. I've done your eyewitness story." He couldn't wait.
Stevenson: You mentioned that he, I think you used the word faker. He was known to do some writing off the wall using his imagination? UP had a reputation sometimes like that.
Carroll: UP was still trying live down the false armistice.
Stevenson: Roy Howard?
Carroll: Webb Miller and Day were very conservative, and very cautious. Heinzen would always pull something which would save his neck. He had a scoop on Lindbergh's arrival. He was out there at the aerodrome. AP had a special wire from the runway into whatever the building was, an air corps building, a telephone there. Heinzen didn't have anything, so he cut the AP's wire and they were out on the runway trying to get through with something. He was in the building phoning He had something like a six-minute beat, which was terrific for afternoon papers.
Stevenson: It was.
Carroll: He had a scoop on the death of Clemenceau. These were big stories, and the death of Foch. He was a very slick French reporter.
Stevenson: He must have been there in Paris some time?
Carroll: Oh, yes. He was there a long time.
Stevenson: I know that name. Alex Morris mentions him.
Carroll: Ralph Heinzen. Yes. He couldn't wait. His mother came to Paris and fell ill. He sent a cable to his brother in Ohio: "Mother dying. Where should I ship body?" His mother recovered. He wanted a scoop on his own mother's death.
Stevenson: There were quite colorful people all over Europe. As a matter of fact, Latin America had some colorful people. There were some in Washington and elsewhere.
StevensonHow old were you then?
Carroll: I went over in 1929, I was 22 then. So I was about 25 in Paris. I can tell you another one about Heinzen.
Stevenson: I 'd love to hear that.
Carroll: Well, President *Dumier of France was assassinated by a Bulgarian terrorist named *Gorguloff, g-o-r-g-u-l-o-f-f I think it was. He was tried and sentenced to be guillotined. Women were not allowed to see an execution. Mary Knight was our little girl from Atlanta in the bureau.
Stevenson: We had a woman working there?
Carroll: Oh yes. They always had a woman working in the bureau. Mary talked loosely about going to see the execution but just as a matter of conversation. She came in the next morning and Heinzen says, "Where have you been? I need your story. Did you see any blood?" He faked it that she had disguised herself as a man. UP wanted to promote it. They wanted pictures of Mary in the man’s clothing in which she witnessed the execution of Gorguloff. So she went out and got some clothes. She was the most improbable looking man I ever saw, long baggy pants and funny beret.
Stevenson: I guess women were always in the bureau because of the Paris fashion shows and the royalty?
Carroll: An Egyptian princess, Ali *Phasil, who had a great oriental mind for intrigue. She fell afoul of Heinzen somehow and was let out, and they got Hemingway's wife before she became Hemingway's wife, his second wife I think.
Stevenson: That's something I never heard.
Carroll: She was an able woman. That was before I got there and when I got there they had Mary Knight, 31 to 34.
Carroll: The Stravinski Riots were historic.
Stevenson: Yes they were. I am basically aware of that.
Carroll: I was the only reporter in the square for 12 hours. I came in at one o'clock in the morning. The next day the riots continued on a minor scale, nothing like day before.
Stevenson: There were American journalists based in Paris, the Herald Tribune and Time.
Carroll: Oh yes. They covered it. The AP was very unscrupulous in those days. They had a story about spies, African troops, spies, and put them in the square. There weren't any within 50 miles. They said the front of the American embassy had been spattered by bullets. Nothing of the kind happened, so I don't know where their man was.
Stevenson: The European editor in London was still Cliff Day, I guess.
Carroll: Yes. the London bureau.
Stevenson: Oh, Webb Miller was the London news editor.
Carroll: Webb ruled with a very light hand but he was greatly respected.
Stevenson: There are a lot of stories about him. He later had an unfortunate death.
Carroll: I'll come to that.
Stevenson: OK, we'll get to that.
Carroll: Anyway, I was transferred to Geneva. This may be of current interest. My first story was in June. The League council met. I had never seen a League council. The first thing that came up was a complaint from Yugoslavia that Hungary was having a camp at a place called Janka Puzsta. I think it's j-a-n-k-a p-u-z-s-t-a, at which they were training Croatian terrorists. They were teaching them to use revolvers for assassination, throwing bombs and that sort of thing. Yugoslavia was backed by its two partners in a little entente, Czechoslovakia and Rumania. Hungary's one friend in the world was Italy, fascist Italy. In fact Italy was involved in the assassination remotely. They didn't dare openly defend Hungary, but there was a little entente for Hungary that really gave them hell at the League. One of the interesting things...Anthony Eden was presiding for the British. He was then Lord Privy Seal. He wasn't foreign minister yet. The French foreign minister, Louis Barthou b- a-r-t-h-o-u, was sitting next to him during the argument of the Yugoslavs and Hungarians and so on. He was cracking jokes to Eden, who wasn't terribly amused. Barthou seemed to think it was a very funny situation. Well, the council ordered Hungary to investigate and report back in January. In the meantime, in December, *Jaimie Alexander of Yugoslavia, a Serb, came to Marseille on a state visit. He came by ship to Marseille. Louis Barthou, the foreign minister, was there to greet him. They got into an open carriage and drove through the streets. As they did, three guys came out of the crowd with pistols and shot both of them dead, the Serbian king and Louis Barthou. It could have set the whole damn world afire.
This is where Eden came in. He got the partners in the entente to restrain the Serbs in Yugoslavia, who wanted to march on Hungary. He told the Italians to keep their necks down. The French didn't want war. They behaved, and so they had a special meeting at which the three people in the little entente just ganged up on Hungary. There had never been anything like it. They browbeat the hell out of the Hungarians. All this, of course, was reported back to Belgrade and made the Serbs feel that they were getting some justice. The council then ordered Hungary to dismantle this place at Janka Puzta and clean the whole damn thing up.
Three days after the assassination I got a tip -- I don't know where -- that the three assassins had been caught at Annenass, *a-n-n-e-n-a-s-s, which was a little railroad town just across the French frontier from Geneva. You could go over there in a streetcar from Geneva. I went in a streetcar, walked across the border and found out from the border guards that something was happening in the railroad station. I went to the railroad station. In due course the Yugoslav delegate of the League, a man named Fotich f-o-t-i-c-h came out. He was mad as hell. He said these three men are the men of Janka Puzsta, they were trained at Janka Puzsta. "We warned the League and they allowed this thing to happen, to kill our king." The three assassins. were Croats. The Croat-Serb rivalry is in the news today.
Stevenson: A long standing thing.
Carroll: I'll go into some detail, because of the present.
Stevenson: It is a parallel, long hostility in that region, and it's still a bitter place. I don't know when they'll ever get it settled.
Carroll: Does this interest you?
Stevenson: Yes, it does. I want to lead on up to some other things. You mentioned Heinzen, quite a character he was, and we could talk about Webb Miller, who was quite well known. It was still before the war. We are still in the mid-30s. You were in Geneva.
Carroll: I was in Geneva four years. Everything came there at the time, including the Americans because of the disarmament conference based there. Secretary Stinson and other Americans came there. In the summer of 1938, when things were dull here, Harry Flory, who had been brought in from the INS and who really managed things in London, asked me to go to Spain, the Spanish civil war, and do some feature stuff. I went there in August 1939. Nothing much came of it.
I did get to Barcelona. They had just completed an elaborate system of air raid shelters. The very first night I was there the Germans came over in their bombers, Heinkel bombers. They came out of the west, over the mountain, in a formation of eight. Searchlights picked them up and the anti-aircraft fired away and never touched them. They never deviated. They stayed in the V-8 formation. They went up the coast and tried to hit the power stations up to the north of Barcelona. I sat on the porch of our house and could watch this whole thing going on. It was my first experience of bombing by the Germans, who had been training for the big war. Then another formation came. The anti-aircraft fire didn't stop them. I wanted to get to Madrid, which was right in the front line, you know. The fascist nationalists had come down the coast and cut the roads.
There was no direct access between Barcelona and Madrid. The foreign secretary, *Courio Alviros Del Vayo, was a journalist who knew me. He said, "I'll get you into Madrid." He called me after I had been there a few days and said, "Get out to the airport, I've got a plane going to Alva Sacheye. It will fly over Franco's lines and then I'll get the civil governor to put you on a car going up to Madrid." I said, "My passport is in the Foreign Office. I had to turn it in." He said, "I'll send it to you in Madrid." I got out to the airport. I didn't even have a driver's license. I got out to the airport and could hear Russians speaking in the darkness. We got on an overloaded DC3. It took three tries to get started, quivered it was so overloaded. We finally got off the ground. There was a full moon. We got way up, went over the Franco territory and got to the city of Alva Sacheye, where there was a truckload of conscripts going up to the front line near Madrid. The governor put me on that. We rode all day and I spent the night in a haystack. I drank some well-water and ate some fruit, and when I got to Madrid finally I had a helluva case of dysentery.
Stevenson: Oh boy!
Carroll: I was in bad shape. Of course we were right in the front lines between Madrid and the university city. The Republican defenses were just 16 yards from Franco's Moorish troops. You could hear the Moorish troops talking over there. There was not much going on. There was a lot of mortar fire, but it was nothing much. I got out to the Goadamarer front, the southern front, in spite of my -- I was so damn weak. I finally got a doctor to come and look at me. He looked at me and said, "Have you got a thermometer?" I said, "No." He said, "Well, I can give you a prescription but they won't be able to fill it." I said, "All right, give me the prescription. Where do I go." He said, "There’s a drug store on the other side of the Puerto del Sol, a pharmacy." Puerto del Sol is in the center of Madrid, the point from which all distances are measured. So I got out with the prescription, walking, reeling along the walls. I'd sit down on a doorstep and wait, just weak as a kitten. I finally got to the drugstore. The fellow in the drugstore says, "I haven't got this. I can't fill the prescription. I can give you some bitter medicine that may help you." I said, "Let me have it." I took the medicine and was going back, reeling against the walls, feeling my way, and the captain of the S-I- M, the military intelligence service, which was run by communists, stopped me and asked for my credentials. I didn't have a damn thing. My Spanish was bad. I said, "I'm an American journalist and am trying to get back to the Hotel Victoria." There was bus there. He said, "Get in."
It was like a scene out of Goya. Everybody was praying, praying to every saint and the virgin and all that. And I realized this was the bus that took fifth columnists, suspected fifth columnists, out to be shot in the evening. Now I was so damn weak, and these guys were all on the floor praying. It was chaotic and frightening. Just then the only guy I knew in the Spanish Foreign Office in Madrid (most of them had gone to Barcelona) a guy named Gomez, whom Del Vayo had asked to watch after me, came by. He didn't like me. I didn't like him. He didn't want any work to do and he had been assigned to help me. I didn't get on with him very well, but I managed to pull my way up to the front of the bus and stuck my head out the door and yelled, "Gomez!" He turned around and did a kind of a double take. He probably thought, "Shall I get this guy out, or shall I let him go?" Then he walked over to the captain who had arrested me and said something to him, I suppose identifying me, and the captain reluctantly waived me out.
Carroll: I got back to the hotel and took the medicine, which didn't help much. A couple of days later a nice American consul who was really stationed in *Amakaze, down the coast but was in Madrid, a guy named Woodie Wallner, I think, w-a-l-l-n-e-r, was driving back to the coast, to his office. He took me. I got down there and I arranged to get an Air France plane out to *Oran in North Africa. The plane came in from Marseille to Avakanze and then it went on to Oran in the south. I got out to the airport all right, carrying my bags. Out there was an air raid alarm. The Italians came over and bombed the place. We went down into a deep air raid shelter. A lot of the guys panicked. Those of us on the bottom were all piled up but we managed to get out. Eventually, the Air France plane came in and I got out to Oran and by ship went to Marseille and got back to Geneva. I didn’t get much out of that in the way of news. I was so damn weak.
Stevenson: One bus you'd rather not see again.
Carroll: I did get a damn good story on the bombing.
Stevenson: This was middle of 1938?
Carroll: The Republicans collapsed the next spring, the spring of 1939.
Carroll: I did get a real good story. Earl (Johnson) sent me a message congratulating me on the story of the bombing, which I suppose was the first bombing of a big European city. The nationalists had bombed other places, smaller places, terror bombing, remember Guernico*? Remember those names?
Stevenson: I remember, yes.
Carroll: They had bombed that before, but this was the first big metropolitan area that was bombed.
Stevenson: Based in Geneva, were you beginning to get a sense of the German buildup.
Carroll: The Germans went into the Rhineland. The British and the French didn't want to fight then. This was 1936. The League council moved to London. I covered that when Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, came, and the British and French tried to get everything calmed down and do nothing about it. I moved around quite a bit.
Stevenson: I have to guess you were single.
Carroll: I got married in 1938, to an American girl who came over with the first American members of the staff of the International Labor Organization. Roosevelt took us into that.
Stevenson: Oh yes.
Carroll: Then I went back to London at the end of 1938, first as diplomatic correspondent. Earl Johnson came over and decided something had to be done about Day. I don’t know what title he gave him, European controller or something like that, and I was made London bureau manager.
Stevenson: Thirty-eight, thirty-nine?
Carroll: End of thirty-eight. I then tried to get the bureau ready for war. I covered the Foreign Office as much as I could and the French Embassy as much as I could. I had good sources there. But I was in the office a good deal of the time, sometimes I'd be working the desk. On big days in Parliament, when Chamberlain and Churchill would be debating and so on, I would handle that story inside. It came over the ticker.
Stevenson: Is this before the days, Joe Grigg came in later? I'm just trying to think of who some of the people who were there. Webb Miller was around.
Carroll: Harry Flory was there. A fellow named Dan Campbell, who had been with the UP in Brazil, came in as a reporter, a guy named Brydon Taves, who had been in Argentina, was picked up and came in.
Stevenson: A name I've heard.
Carroll: He was killed out in the Pacific. We had three or four, a number of British people. Sid Williams, who handled the overnight desk, Harry Percy, who was killed in the Middle East later. He went out with a British warship and was killed. Bob Towson, a London cockney who was a very amusing guy, and several more Americans.
Oh, Freddie Kuh. He had escaped from Berlin because the Nazis were threatening. He was a Jew. He felt threatened and came to London replacing me as the diplomatic correspondent when I moved to bureau chief. Freddie was a helluva reporter. He spoke German, Russian, French fairly well. He picked up sources very well. Freddie was the guy who worked the embassies. Most of the American reporters in London just went to the Foreign Office for the noon briefing and for the afternoon briefing. They got all their diplomatic news from the Foreign Office. But Freddie worked the embassies. He had sources in the Russian Embassy. He spoke Russian. He had worked in Moscow at one time before he was bureau chief in Berlin. He had good sources in Parliament. I let him have my Parliament pass. He went up there and really worked the MPs who had information. He was the best reporter on that sort of thing in London.
Stevenson: You spell it Kuh?
Carroll: Kuh, k-u-h. He was the Berlin bureau chief and a good one until the Nazis scared him out. He had damn good reason to leave because they were making threatening noises. Then the UP brought in Frederick Oechsner 0-e-c-h-s-n-e-r.
Stevenson: That's a name I've heard.
Carroll: He was not brilliant, but absolutely honest and fearless. He never let the Nazis intimidate him. And he played it straight. It was difficult because he was up against Willie Lochner of AP who was in bed with the Nazis. Louis Lochner won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage there and it was tainted as hell.
Stevenson: They were in Berlin?
Carroll: Yes. I was told that when the German military or whoever it was that organized the parties of correspondents to go to the front, before we got into the war, Lochner would be up in the front car with the briefer, and Oechsner would be confined to the car in the rear. But he managed to do a damn good job in spite of that. I was branching off. Well, the war came along. Let me tell you one more story which may be of some interest to you.
Carroll: It came to August, 1939. The Germans had already taken the Rhineland and Austria. They had broken down Czechoslovakia with the help of Chamberlain and Daladier, and they had taken over Czechoslovakia, and now Hitler was determined to get Poland. Negotiations were going on at that time. Chamberlain and company were getting scared and appeasing. They were going to send mission to Moscow to see if they could get an alliance. The sticking point was Poland. The sticking point was that Chamberlain and Co. wanted the Germans to turn east. They didn’t really want an alliance with the Russians.In August, 1939, Stalin and the Germans and Soviets suddenly announced that they had made an agreement. They were bitter enemies up to that point. They had made an agreement. They didn't announce it, but the agreement was to divide up Eastern Europe between them. The Russians agreed to let Hitler have Western Poland so Hitler could go ahead and attack Poland, which he was itching to do. This was the next thing on his program. When that happened, the British and French got scared. They had been double- crossed by the Russians. They made an alliance with Poland, which was folly because they couldn't help the Poles, there was no way they could help. Hitler lined up his troops and on the first of September he invaded Poland. Am I right on that? It was late in August he invaded Poland.
Stevenson: Yes, it was right at the end of August 1939.
Carroll: My job was to find out how the British were going to face up to this now. Are they going to appease Hitler again? My best source was a guy in the French Embassy, Roland Demargerie, the first secretary and a great guy. He told me, "This time the British are not going to fold." Every time I questioned him he said they were not going to fold. On, it must have been, the last Thursday in August, there was a British cabinet meeting on this treaty. I went over to Ten Downing Street and waited outside. I remembered what the Frenchman had told me. The diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Telegraph was there, nobody else, Victor Gordon Lennox, who had great sources. After a while the minister of health, Walter Elliott, came out. He was in a daze. He was in euphoria. I asked him what happened. He said, "We are going to deliver an ultimatum. If Hitler doesn’t get out of Poland we are going to enter the war. We are going to declare war on Sunday, which was September 3. Nobody else was around. I got to telephone and called in that the British had decided to face up to it.
Stevenson: You were the only reporter around?
Carroll: The only American. reporter. Maddox (may be "Lennox") of the Daily Telegraph, which was no competition. I got the story and New York put it out under Webb Miller's byline.
Stevenson: Oh, my. I've heard those stories. Yes.
Carroll: The Chicago Daily News that day ran with my story with Webb's byline saying the British were going to go to war on Sunday. Side by side was a dispatch from Louis Lochner in Berlin, an AP story, saying the British were going to appease Hitler again.
Stevenson: That's remarkable. That was such a good story, about the period leading up to the war.
Carroll: Then we had the phony war, which went on until the spring. There wasn't much they could do about Hitler. Hitler took Norway and Denmark.
Carroll: Then he struck west, overran neutral Belgium and Holland and went into France. By that time the British had an expeditionary force in France, a small one. And he knocked France out of the war. France surrendered and the British at Dunkirk brought back 300,000 troops, saved the army but lost all their equipment. We came to the Battle of Britain in December 1940. This was one of the decisive battles of the world because if Hitler had won . . . all.
Stevenson: He would have been unstoppable.
Carroll: Anyway, when Hitler was lining up his forces on the channel, landing barges and so on, I would take several correspondents along and hire a car and driver to go down south to the aerdromes and so on see what was going on the south coast and see what the British were doing. They had damn little. They had damn little. We went to a base, the headquarters of the Third Division. It must have been in June. They were assigned to hold a vital section of the coast around Brighton. It was almost certain that if the Germans came across they would come in there as well as further to the east around Dover. The first thing we were shown, we were shown deliberately -- the British wanted to get help from America so they wanted to let America know they were making great use of whatever they got --some French 75s from World War I and so on. Well, they lined up a platoon of infantry, 16 men with tommyguns from America, 16 men with Thompson submachine guns. When I got back to London that night I called the American military attaché to check out something, General Raymond Lee, to check out some other things we saw, and I mentioned that, and he said, "Man, you saw the only 16 tommyguns in the British isles."
Stevenson: Oh, my!
Carroll: They had some of their own submachine guns. They had left almost everything in France. They didn't have much. They had 16 American tommyguns. Well, we had lunch with the commanding general. His division had been run off the continent with other British troops but he brought them back in good order but he was prickly as hell. He just didn't want American reporters nosing around. No matter what we asked him he said the same damn thing over and over. "We took no nonsense from the German. If he came into our lines we put him out." On our way back that night, there were four of us, we compared notes and we thought, "My god, this is the best British general" with the concept of war that you put them out of your lines? We said if this is the best they’ve got for their vital sector they are worse condition than we thought. The general's name was Bernard Montgomery.
Carroll: That was our first experience with him. Then we come to the real Battle of Britain. I would go to the RAF aerdromes in the south whenever I could. *Beakon Hill and so on, and see these boys. They were young boys, most of them, see them in the mess, full of fun and so on. Then they'd get the call and go out with their Spitfires or Hurricanes, beautiful little planes. In formation of eight, squadron of eight, they'd go out. We'd wait. The Germans had superiority in numbers at that time. ME109s, which they were using, were probably as good as the Spitfires and Hurricanes, but the Spitfires and Hurricanes were more maneuverable, which helped in the dogfights. We'd see these squadrons going out. In a little while somebody would say, "Here they come." You would see four planes, five, another one, six, would stagger in. We'd wait. Seven and eight wouldn't come in. Those six survivors were being briefed again, replacement pilots were being brought up to the planes and they'd be off again. Those guys were going up there, four, even five times a day. and fighting to the limit of their physical and moral strength. This went on all through July and August. The RAF was losing planes, but strangely enough the British aircraft factories were making them up in spite of German bombardment. Planes weren't a factor. Pilots were. They went into the Battle of Britain with about 16 hundred fighter pilots. By the end of August they were down to 800. The fate of Britain depended on those 800. But the Germans were taking worse punishment. They were losing a lot of planes, including bombers which had three-man crews. When a bomber was shot down they lost three men.
Hitler was getting impatient. He wanted to get ready to clean up Britain and invade Russia in the spring. They were putting the heat on Goering, so Goering decided to shift from trying to destroy the RAF Fighter Command, which had been his objective. I forgot to mention that all the British and American strategist believed that unless they could destroy the British fighter command they couldn’t invade because fighter planes would go out with bombers and blow the hell out of the barges coming over. So very reluctantly Goering felt that he couldn't destroy the RAF. He turned to terror bombing of London and other British cities.
Carroll: Now this occurred starting on September 7, 1940. On that day, ironically, his bombers finally broke through the RAF defenders’ fighter planes and hit London in broad daylight. That night his bombers began the night bombardment, began the blitz, which lasted 57 nights straight. I was right in the middle of both of these developments, the day bombing of London and the night bombing of London. This is rather interesting, I think. Our office was in the News of the World building on Bouverie Street.
Stevenson: Bouverie Street, yes.
Carroll: Just off of Fleet Street. The Thames was about 150 yards down the street. The News of the World building was, I think, only three stories high. But it had a tower, a tall tower that went up another two stories. I went up at the beginning of the war. The tower was vacant. There was a flat roof. I figured this is the place to watch the bombing of London if it ever occurred. You could see all of South London up to the Thames, the House of Parliament, and down past Saint Paul's to the London bridges and to the London docks. And you could see the center of London on the other side. So I had a telephone installed on this tower, with a line going down to our copy desk. I had one of our fellows put on a set of earphones, sit down at a typewriter and take dictation from me up on the roof and type it out and hand it to a cable operator who would tap it out in Morse Code and it would go into the cable office where the censors were. Then, with any luck, it would go across to New York.
Carroll: But for one year nothing had happened. There had been no bombing of London. I put that up there in September, 1939, and nothing happened until that afternoon September 7, 1940, a Saturday afternoon. Sirens sounded and I said to the guy on the desk, "This may be it." I went up to the tower and I waited. It must have been about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon when I saw the German bombers come out of the west, right past the House of Parliament. They came down on the other side of the Thames, not very high, maybe 4,000 feet or so, and they were in perfect formation, eight of them. They hadn't been touched. They’d gotten through the British fighter defenses. The other remarkable thing was that they were dive bombers, which were easily shot down. Germany had to abandon them after a while because they were so vulnerable. Here eight of them had gotten through and they continued right along the Thames, past London Bridge and St. Paul's and down to the docks. Then they went into their dives, one by one peeling off and unloading their bombs at the bottom of their dive and then pulling out again. I'd never been under dive bombing before. Spain had been high level bombing, which is not terrifying because as long as you can hear the bombs you are not going to be hit. But dive bombing can be very frightening the first time you are up against it because those planes when they dive make a helluva roar. They seem to be coming close to you. It gets louder and louder. Then, as they released their bombs. their bombs whistled as they came down. They had added screaming whistles, and it made a helluva terrifying shriek. This had been what panicked the Polish infantry, the French infantry. Those dive bombers were terrible. Everything sounded as though it was coming towards you.
Stevenson: What was their target when they dropped the bombs?
Carroll: Big storage tanks, oil storage tanks down there. There were dozens of them. I watched that and got on the phone and then dictated takes as fast as I could, and an eyewitness description. The fellow down in the office took it and handed it to the operator. By a fluke there wasn't any censorship. Flames fly up in air when they hit the tanks down there. And they hit the docks. I was up there until light began to fail. Then I went down into the office and wrote my night lead. There was an air raid siren. The all clear came, I would say, about 5:30 or 6 in the afternoon. I went down and wrote my night lead. There was nothing more to be done at the office. I couldn't see anything, so I started for home. There were no buses or taxis running when I got on Fleet Street. We had an apartment where my wife was waiting for me, way out on Kensington Eye Street, about five miles. I started to walk. It was pitch dark. I could hear the night bombing had started, the bombers circling around up there. They came one at a time, because they couldn't fly in formation in the dark. I could hear these planes droning around up there. Then there would be a long series of whistles, off in the distance, as bombs were being dropped. I got up through Trafalgar Square and was approaching Buckingham Palace when there were two very sharp "poosh" sounds and I knew what that meant. I belly-flopped because I knew what that meant. They were dropping close. I belly-flopped and covered my head and waited. Nothing happened. I got up and dusted myself off and kept walking. About three weeks later the government announced that during one of the raids on London two bombs had fallen in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace.
Carroll: They didn't give the date on that because if the Germans had plotted it that night they didn't know they were a lot to the north. how they had done. I kept walking and got home. My wife had dinner for me. I kept in touch with the office on the phone. We were in a big apartment building, Stafford Court. There was an Indian army colonel from World War I, wounded in World War I. Now his day of glory was coming. He was going to organize what he called a fire party. We were invited to become members of the fire party. The Germans were dropping a lot of incendiaries.
Stevenson: I see.
Carroll: So my wife and I became members of the fire party and we were assigned two or three nights a week to get up on the roof and put out fire bombs on the big flat roof there. We watched a good deal of the night bombing of London from that roof. We had a bucket of sand and a long-handled shovel. As the bombs fell, the fire bombs were about 20 inches long, incendiary bombs, I would get the bucket of sand, run like hell for it, and she would get the shovel and throw the sand on it. If you didn't get it out fast it would explode and fill you full of the magnesium casing. When people got caught, and they did, it took months for the surgeons to get those little pieces of shrapnel out of them. We succeeded in putting out all the bombs on our roof.
Stevenson: You did have some on the roof?
Carroll: Oh yes.
Stevenson: During your tour of duty with your wife? In other words, you had a job in the daytime to worry about. Of course, this was wartime patriotism.
Carroll: This was before the United States got into the war Well, I'm going along at great length here.
Stevenson: Let's take a look, 11:30, maybe another 10 minutes we'll rap it up. I'm going to be back another time. This story about the tower on the News of the World is fascinating.
Carroll: Unique coverage we had. The bombing went on for 57 days and nights.
Stevenson: This is where we remember Ed Murrow was on some other building.
Carroll: He'd be up on top of the BBC roof broadcasting. Ed had become a national hero, so they gave him great scope.
Carroll: They trusted him not to break the rules of censorship. He wouldn't say exactly where the bombs were landing. Ed had great moral courage and great physical courage. He did all kinds of things.
Stevenson: You and your fellows were providing excellent detail, except ours was in the written word and he was on that new- fangled radio.
Carroll: There was an interruption in November. Then we had the big fire raid on London on December 30, 1940. That was spectacular. That was a weekend, either Saturday or Sunday night. The British for some reason had taken the fire watches off for the weekend. And it was low tide on the Thames, the lowest tide of the year, so that when the fireman ran out of water from the regular supply from the hydrants they couldn't run their hoses far enough out in the Thames to get water. A helluva lot of the city, the old city of London, burned. We watched that from the roof of the Savoy Hotel. Peggy's father, Doctor Sawyer, who was the head of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation, had come over on a mission to check some trouble they were having with yellow fever vaccine developed by the Rockefeller Foundation. This was the only thing that enabled them to move troops, take them on convoy down the west coast of Africa, move them across the yellow fever zone of Africa so they could join the forces in the Middle East. It was very important that this yellow fever vaccine should work. Anyway, he was there, and we watched the bombing of London -- spectacular -- and saw the great fires going, up St. Paul's silhouetting.
Stevenson: I've seen pictures.
Carroll: When the all clear came we got out and got down and walked into the city of London and walked right up to St. Paul's and watched the thing, a spectacular sight. The cops came out and tried to arrest me. I had American dress and they thought I was a German spy. I was taking notes right along. We saw it at first hand, including the destruction of this beautiful Wren church.
Stevenson: Oh yes.
Carroll: Then it tapered off until spring. There was a big raid in April and the last big raid of the war on May 10, 1941. There was a lull after this raid in April, so I thought we deserved a break. Peggy and I went to Stratford on Avon where the Shakespearean plays were still being performed. We were up there about three nights when I got a mysterious telegram from Beatty, who was subbing for me.
Carroll: "Come back immediately." He couldn't telephone me because there had been this big raid on London May 10 which I didn't know about which had knocked out all the telephone lines. He was able to get a telegram through. I got back and found that our London office had been bombed out. It hadn't been hit but there were duds or time bombs all around it. The police had made everyone get out of the building. These had not yet exploded. The staff had moved the office up to the Ministry of Information which gave us a big table and telephone. We had teletype machines and we were able to keep going. I went right up to the Ministry of Information. I got there after dark and I went over the live spike where we had all the messages, live messages. There was one from our stringer in Glasgow saying, "Get packet on train arriving 5:15 Houston Station." He couldn't telephone so he had sent this telegram. I said, "Did we get this packet?" Nobody knew, so I said, "Let's get somebody up there to Houston station." We got it and brought it in and it was fantastic. He said that a German aviator had flown over Scotland and had bailed out of his fighter plane and he had asked for the Duke of Hamilton and he had been taken to see the Duke of Hamilton at his castle. At the time this fellow sent the dispatch he said there was an official of the Foreign Office up there interrogating the German aviator. I had just about read that when the bell rang and a spokesman of the Foreign Office announced that Rudolph Hess had landed in Scotland and was now being interrogated by Ivo Kirkpatrick of the Foreign Office. We missed a scoop, but we wouldn't have known who it was, but there was some background in the packet.
Stevenson: I was going say, some good background.
Carroll: That was the last big raid. On June 22 Hitler invaded Russia and on that day Churchill announced that the British would give aid to Russia. In Washington Sumner Wells announced the United States would give aid under lend-lease. American military intelligence, General Marshall, put out intelligence that the Russians could last six weeks. Almost immediately, I got a cable from Earl Johnson saying, "Can you get to the Russian front?"
Stevenson: Earl Johnson?
Carroll: Earl Johnson. "Can you get to the Russian front?" As you know, Britain was isolated. There was a submarine blockade and there was an air blockade from Norway, an airbase at the north cape of Norway. They also had their commerce raiders and pocket battleships against anything that might come across, anything that might go up from the Arctic. The first thing that happened was that through my good friend, Gil Wyman, the American ambassador, I found they had a Consolidated PBY flying boat which could go from the *Orchinese to Russia, to Archangel or Murmansk on the Arctic circle. I was promised a place on that. It could only fly about 125 miles an hour and was a sitting duck if anybody caught it. But it could fly three thousand miles. I was promised a place, and then I was bumped. I found out later that Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's right hand man, was in Britain finding out from Churchill what they wanted under the lend-lease program. He had received orders from Roosevelt to get to the Soviet Union and see what Stalin wanted. He got my place.
I scouted around and I found out they were going to try to send a convoy by sea to Russia with supplies. It didn't get going until August 11, which was still pretty good. This is all very secret, a lot of deception about it. They had never gone that way before. On August 11 we sailed out of Liverpool harbor at night. I think there were six ships in the convoy, plus one little light destroyer and some converted trawlers for anti-submarine work, dropping depth bombs and so on. I had a good cabin on a ship called the Land Stefen Castle, from the South Africa run, about 11,000 tons. I had a good cabin mate, Vernon Gartlet, a Member of Parliament and correspondent for the BBC. The convoy was carrying two squadrons of Hurricane fighters which had been in the Battle of Britain, with their crews, their ground crews, pilots and so on. And we were carrying some Polish officers who were going back to fight the Nazis, and some Czech officers, and an American Air Force officer, Hubert Zemke, who was going because the British had given the Russians some American Curtis fighters which were not up to European standards but could be used for training. He was going to help the Russians put them together and fly them. We slipped out and got up to we went into Skapa Flow, the great British naval base of the home fleet. We were there three days, not allowed to get off. Then we went up to Rekyavik in Iceland, and took off again from Iceland to Greenland through the Arctic. We had boat drill when we got up there. You know what boat drill is on a ship? You're assigned your place.
Carroll: We had the boat drill. We were told, Vernon and I, to stand in the after deck. The RAF boys were up front and then there were the Poles and the Czechs and the crew. Lifeboats were assigned to the guys who were important, the fighter pilots, then to some of the Poles and Czechs. And the life rafts were assigned to the crew. There was nothing left. Everybody was looking at us, Vernon and me, standing on the deck. There was a consultation among the officers up front. Finally, the deck steward came slowly ambling down and he stopped in front of Vernon and me and saluted smartly and said: "That will be all for today chaps."
Stevenson: That may be a good point to break it off for today. There was a period when you were in Russia after that. We can talk about that later.
Carroll: I got into Russia and I got up to the front.
Stevenson: That would be wonderful. I'm going to try to get back down here in a month or so and pick up from there, maybe even sooner. Somewhere in there you left UP and went to The New York Times in the 40s.
Carroll: Yeah. I went to Russia for 10 weeks and we were run out of Moscow. We couldn't get any news and we couldn't get it out if we did. I went to the Persian Gulf, across India and Burma and the Philippines and Pearl Harbor and was scheduled to get into Pearl Harbor on December 7 on the President Coolidge. Fortunately they re-routed us. I got back to New York. My wife was waiting for me there. At that point the American ambassador, Elmer Davis, descended on me and asked me to go over and run the Office of War Information.
Stevenson: Yes, that was it. That was the transition I had forgotten. I have done a little bit of homework. I'm still a reporter.
Carroll: August 1942.
Stevenson: We can pick up on that and the Russian experience, certainly The New York Times.
Stevenson (taped later): This was a remarkable interview we had today. It was more than an hour and when we finished the interview Carroll reminded me he did spend time with The New York Times and then came to Winston-Salem as editor, then publisher of the paper. He seemed a bit reluctant, or hesitant, unlike his World War II reminiscing to talk about his view of United Press or United Press International in the 1960s and 1970s. He did say he told his editors to use UPI copy generously. He was obviously a supporter but we'll get into that on our next interview. This was to me one of the most enlightening sessions I've had since undertaking this project, And I hope it will be the first of many with Mr. Carroll. You'll note as you listen, he's very alert, has dates, spelling of names, historical significance. On the way out of the building here in the Brookridge Retirement Home at Winston-Salem we talked about a few of the great names that were in the London bureau during World War II. He reminded me that the Rhodes scholar program was halted as Britain entered the war. He told me that three of the Rhodes scholars were hired by United Press. They were Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith. In the words of Mr. Carroll, the third fellow didn't amount to much. He went on to tell me that Edward R. Murrow came to him some time later and said he too was very much in need of manpower, personnel, and wanted to hire Collingwood and Howard K. Smith and said he could pay them a great deal more. Those two fellows made the jump from United Press to CBS and broadcast stature they later obtained as part of the Edward R. Murrow crew of World War II.
* Spelling of proper names of places and persons may be incorrect.