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Meet Martha Gellhorn: The First Female Journalist to Report On D-Day

Meet Martha Gellhorn: The First Female Journalist to Report On D-Day

Whether we realize it or not, stories of women in war, though more common today than they once were, have frequently been left untold.

With Congress's recent approval of burials for female World War II pilots at Arlington National Cemetery, progress has definitely been made, however, women were not always allowed near the battlefield, let alone on it.

The Battle of Normandy in World War II was no exception — female reporters were allowed to report on the war, but with strict restrictions. They "could not enter the frontlines, have access to press camp or Jeeps, and they were to report on the activities of female military personnel."

On June 5, 1944, however, journalist Martha Gellhorn hid herself in the bathroom of the hospital ship — just one of the 5,000 vessels set to sail across the English Channel with some of the estimated 150 to 160 thousand men and 30 thousand vehicles headed to Normandy.

"Where I want to be, boy, is where it is all blowing up," Gellhorn wrote in a letter, determined to break through the barriers and forge her own path.

By dawn on June 6, better known as D-Day (exactly 72 years ago today), the hospital vessel landed on the beach of France, shortly before the invasions began.

Gellhorn, "disguised as a stretcher bearer," emerged from the bathroom where she had locked herself, and become the first woman to report on the invasion — arriving even before her husband, Ernest Hemingway.

Though Gellhorn was the first woman to report on D-Day, she was certainly not the last. Throughout her career, she continued to fight for women to be given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

"I have too frequently received the impression that women war correspondents were an irritating nuisance," Gellhorn penned in a letter, adding,"I wish to point out that none of us would have our jobs unless we knew how to do them and this curious condescending treatment is as ridiculous as it is undignified."

NEXT: Get to know Clarissa Ward »

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