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'We were all kings for the day'

"This is Matthew Halton of the CBC." So began Halton's war broadcasts. His reports were at times tender and sad and other times shocking and explosive. Halton was an unabashed sentimentalist who covered the war as a crusade, for which he was sometimes criticized but more often loved. Covering the major milestones of his generation – from the war trenches to the coronation of the Queen, Halton became Canada's most famous foreign correspondent. A thoughtful philosopher and determined idealist, Matthew Halton was an everyman poet who wore his heart boldly on his sleeve.

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Paris is liberated from Germany and the streets are wild with celebration. Tanks bearing the flag of France roll down the avenues, soldiers scream "Vive la France" until hoarse, and girls surround the parading jeeps to kiss the troops. "Can you blame me if I call this fantastic?" Halton asks in his radio report on the liberation.

Halton is only the second Canadian to enter the city, behind Captain Colin McDougall. As they drive through the city streets, Halton's friends introduce him to cheering strangers along the procession route, saying "Il est Canadien." He salutes the crowd jubilantly with both hands. "We were all kings for the day," Halton says again and again in his report.
• "We strain our eyes through our field glasses, staring into the August haze for the first sight of Paris. We stare at villages and towns, we stare across one of the loveliest countrysides on earth. We stare for Paris. Paris is a symbol. Paris is victory. Paris is freedom. Paris is democracy. All the things we've fought for are in the word 'Paris.'" - Matthew Halton broadcast on his way into Paris.

• The Nazi forces had occupied Paris for more than four years. The French 2nd Armored Division and the American 4th Infantry Division led the liberation on Aug. 24, 1944.
• As the celebrations were taking place, military combat was still breaking out throughout the city. The Allies lost over 600 men and the Germans lost approximately 3,000 in the fighting. More than 10,000 Germans were taken prisoner.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Aug. 25, 1944
Reporter: Matthew Halton
Duration: 8:55
Photo: National Archives of Canada PA-130252, Frank L. Dubervill

Last updated: August 28, 2014

Page consulted on August 28, 2014

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