Cecil Brown (journalist)

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Cecil Brown

Cecil Brown (September 14, 1907 – October 25, 1987) was a war correspondent who worked closely with Edward R. Murrow during World War II. He was the author of the book Suez to Singapore, which describes the sinking of HMS Repulse in December 1941. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to radio.[1]

Background and early career[edit]

Brown was born September 14, 1907 in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1929, Brown left the United States for the Mediterranean and Black Seas where he worked as a seaman. He eventually returned to the United States where he worked as a journalist at several small newspapers. By 1937 he was back in Europe working as a freelancer.

Career at CBS[edit]

CBS hired Brown in 1940 as their correspondent in Rome, where he openly criticized the regime of Benito Mussolini. In 1941 the Italian government cited Brown's "continued hostile attitude" and expelled him from the country. After his expulsion from Italy, CBS sent Brown to Singapore. In December 1941, while Brown was in Singapore, he was invited to join the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Repulse and her consort, the brand-new battleship HMS Prince of Wales as they sailed to counter-attack Japanese invasion forces threatening Malaya, attempting to intercept and destroy convoys. On December 10, 1941 at 03:13 GMT (11:13 SGT) the capital ships of Force Z were subjected to a sustained aerial attack by land based Japanese bomber aircraft. Repulse was sunk at 04:33 GMT (12:33 SGT), followed by the crippled Prince of Wales at 05:13 GMT (13:18 SGT), less than sixty hours after the commencement of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Of 1309 sailors on board Repulse, Brown was one of only 513 survivors.

His experiences in his long journey and dealings with Italian, British, and other censorship authorities led him to write Suez to Singapore which was published in 1942. His criticism of the British in Singapore caused him to have his "war corresponent" credentials revoked and made him a persona non-grata. He narrowly escaped from Singapore before its fall to the Japanese. He was part of a larger group of reporters known as Murrow's Boys.

In September 1943, Brown resigned from CBS after being rebuked by CBS news director Paul White for expressing an editorial opinion during an August 25 news broadcast. Brown had stated that "a good deal of the enthusiasm for this war is evaporating into thin air." Announcing his resignation Brown said that he could not subscribe to what he characterized as CBS' policy of "non-opinionated" news.[2][3]:199–203

Career after CBS[edit]

After leaving CBS Brown covered the rest of the war at home, in the United States, for the Mutual Network. When World War II ended Brown continued to work in broadcast journalism as a correspondent for Mutual, NBC and ABC. He retired from broadcasting in 1967 and went to work as a professor of communication arts at Cal Poly Pomona where he worked until he died in 1987.


Further reading[edit]

Bernstein, Mark, World War II on the air: Edward R Murrow and the broadcasts that riveted a nation (Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc, 2003)


  1. ^ Hollywood Chamber of Commerce: Walk of Fame directory
  2. ^ "Cecil Brown Quits CBS; Resigns After Rebuke on Remark in News Broadcast". The New York Times, September 22, 1943
  3. ^ White, Paul W., News on the Air. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1947
  4. ^ Peabody Award winners list
  5. ^ All duPont–Columbia Award Winners Archived August 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Columbia Journalism School. Retrieved 2013-08-06.