While considering the early years of journalism, it is hard to pin point who was the first war correspondent in the world. There have been many names like Henry Crabb Robinson and Charles Lewis Gruneison of the London Morning Post, but the best candidate for this honor is London Oracle reporter John Bell.
Bell, in 1794 reported on the Duke of York’s European campaign. He owned the newspaper and embarked for Flanders in April of that year to report on the British expeditionary forces that had based in the Netherlands to cooperate with the Allies against the French revolutionary.
Without paying much heed to his own safety, Bell preferred to report directly amidst the cannonade of war on May 17-18, 1794 during the Battle of Courtrai. His detailed account of the battle, written on the field itself, described vividly the repercussions of war on both the winning and losing side.
Bell became a prominent name during that era his name was seen embellished above his battle reports and often towards the end of the articles as well. By the end of the year, Bell was forced to sell the Oracle to settle the debts he had accumulated while covering the war.