The sassy soldier

My friend Leanne and I were seated beside an elderly woman at the elementary school’s volunteer tea. Leanne chatted her up, and soon we were both holding copies of her book.

Doris Gregory is 94. She’d just returned from a book fair in Victoria, where she’d met the lieutenant governor.


Leanne flipped through her book, and pointed to a photo of Doris and a young soldier.

“Was this your boyfriend?” she teased.

“One of them,” Doris said. “There were a hundred of us dropped into a camp of more than a thousand men. We got plenty of attention.”

So of course we bought her books. As a young student journalist, Doris raged against gender-segregated English classes at UBC. As a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, she crossed the U-boat-patrolled Atlantic, survived air raids, and worked in various war offices. Her stories, as she takes on everything from war bureaucracy to unwanted pregnancy, are smart, witty, and insightful.

Doris eventually returned home to finish her degree, pursue a fellowship, and become a psychologist.

Her book is called How I Won the War for the Allies: One Sassy Canadian Soldier’s Story. I dislike the word “sassy” in the title; I feel as if it lessens Doris’s accomplishments. But she’s a wonderful writer, and I loved every other word in the book.


If Doris is sassy, I can only hope to be so when I’m 94.