Reporting JFK's assassination: A BBC correspondent's notes

  • 18 November 2013
  • From the section Magazine
Man holding gun; Lee Harvey Oswald; newspapers announcing Kennedy's death; JFK's Lincoln moments after the shooting; JFK
Peter Watson

The BBC's Peter Watson was reporting from the UN in New York when the news broke of President John F Kennedy's assassination. Within hours he was broadcasting from Dallas. His reports capture the atmosphere of a city in shock, and Texas's shame - and the gloom that descended on the country. He typed this summary a few days later, on 29 November 1963. Peter Watson died last week.

For an accessible text version of Peter Watson's diary, click here.

page 1 part 1
JFK's limousine just after the shooting
Page 1 part 2
Telex of first report agency wire
page 1 part 3
Page 2 part 1
Love Field
The president and first lady arrive at Love Field, Dallas, on 22 November 1963
Page 2 part 2
Dallas Police HQ
Jesse Curry of the Dallas police department briefs reporters
Page 2 part 2
page 3 part 1
Cinema where Oswald was caught
The cinema where Lee Harvey Oswald was caught
page 3 part 2
page 4 part 1
Lee Harvey Oswald under arrest
Page 4 part 2

Peter Watson's despatch: 'Dallas the day after' (23 November 1963)

Page 5 part 1
hearse leaves Parkland
The president's body leaves Parkland Hospital in Dallas
Page 5 part 2
The shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald is shot by Jack Ruby, 24 November 1963
Page 6 part 1
Crowds mourn outside the book depository
Dallas mourners gather at the scene of JFK's murder
Page 6 part 2

Peter Watson was born in Essex in 1925. He joined the BBC in 1950 or 1951, after serving in India during WWII and studying PPE at Oxford. He worked as a newsroom sub-editor before assignments in Algeria, Paris, Cyprus, Beirut and the US. Later he presented From Our Own Correspondent and edited Yesterday in Parliament. When he left the BBC in 1975, his reports from Dallas, and on the civil rights Freedom March, were described as "outstanding". David Witherow, then Editor of External Services News, wrote: "We shall miss his knowledge and professional ability, and also his pleasant companionship."

Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook