“Orchestrated Hell!”

Listen to a small portion of Mr. Murrow’s Broadcast of December 3, 1943.

By 1943, the war was in full force. On the northern European continent it was still essentially an English war. The United States, along with the English, had invaded Africa and were moving into Italy, but the English were doing most of the fighting and bombing in France, Germany and other northern countries.

Lancaster bomber

Ed Murrow and his “boys” were reporting regularly to the United States via CBS News feeds. While many of Murrow’s reporters were in the countries where the main fighting was going on, CBS specifically directed Murrow to manage the whole news organi­zation from the relative safety of London. Though he had come through much of the London blitz, Murrow was growing restless wanting to “get into the war” as reporter too.

In 1943, the English had begun regular bombing runs into Germany giving back the Nazis a taste of what the Nazis had given to them. And it was effective. Berlin was experiencing regular bombings with much destruction. The planes were the English four-engine Lancaster bombers. Though there were many that never returned, having been shot down, many got through dropping their bombs and incendiaries and returning to English soil.

Murrow, wanting some way of getting a look at the war front, begged a ride on one bombing run on the night of December 2, 1943. The next day he broadcast back to America his experiences on the run. The piece became well-known as “Orchestrated Hell,” and was a marvelous piece on the brave men who regularly faced death to achieve victory.

After the run, CBS explicitly forbid its star newsman to ever place himself in harm’s way again. Murrow was too valuable to the organization.

Edward R. Murrow