F. Tillman Durdin

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Frank Tillman Durdin (March 30, 1907 – July 7, 1998) was a longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times. During his career, Durdin reported on the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), the collapse of European colonial rule in Indo-China, and the emergence of the People's Republic of China. He was the first American journalist granted a visa to reenter China in 1971.[1]


Durdin was born in Elkhart, Texas. He attended Texas Christian University. After graduation, he was a reporter for newspapers in Texas and California and then worked as a reporter and editor of English-language newspapers in China from 1930 to 1937.[2]

Durdin joined the staff of The New York Times in 1937 and served as a foreign correspondent in Asia, Africa and Europe until 1961, covering the Chinese Civil War, combat during World War II in the Pacific,[3] post-war China, and the French-Indochina War. He then spent three years as a member of The Times's editorial board. From 1964 to 1967, Durdin was a correspondent in Australia and the southwestern Pacific area, wrote about the unrest in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), then became the paper's Hong Kong bureau chief, based there until his retirement in 1974.[2]

Reports about the Nanking massacre[edit]

Durdin was in Nanking in 1937 when it fell to the Imperial Japanese Army. He left Nanking on the USS Oahu on December 15, 1937. Durdin's report was one of the first printed accounts of the Nanking Massacre. Although Durdin is often credited as being the first to inform the non-Japanese world about events in occupied Nanking, it was actually Archibald Steele of the Chicago Daily News who broke the news, bribing a crew member of the Oahu to send his story in. In what David Askew characterizes as "one of the best journalistic accounts of the fall of Nanking", Durdin reported all the major issues of the Nanking incident: the murder of civilians, the execution of Chinese soldiers, conscription, looting and rape.[4]

Reports about the February 28th massacre[edit]

Together with his wife Peggy, Durdin was one of the few Western reporters to write about the February 28th massacre in Taiwan in 1947. Tillman Durdin's account in The New York Times and Peggy Durdin's articles in The Nation provided a gripping account of the events of what came to be known as the "February 28th incident", the start of 40 years of martial law in Taiwan.[5]


  • Durdin, Tillman (1971). The New York Times report from Red China. Quadrangle Books. ISBN 0-8129-0342-0. 
  • Durdin, Tillman (1953). China and the world. Foreign Policy Association. 
  • Durdin, Tillman (1965). Southeast Asia. Atheneum. 


External links[edit]