Dorothy Lawrence dresses as man to report in WWI

Private Denis Smith went out to the front lines for the British during WWI. Only a handful of people knew that Denis Smith was Dorothy Lawrence, a woman, not yet twenty years old, dressed as a man to report from the front lines.

Dorothy Lawrence
Dorothy Lawrence

Her journey to the battlefield began with a desire to be a journalist and report about the war. Dorothy traveled from England to France, where she befriended two British soldiers in 1915. She asked them to help her get a khaki uniform, which they did. The group, who she would refer to as the “khaki accomplices,” soon became ten men, who taught Dorothy to drill and march and helped transform her look. After a haircut, darkened look, and razored cheeks for a shaving rash appearance, Dorothy felt ready.

Ten days later, feeling ill and worried about being discovered, which would place the men who helped her in danger, Dorothy revealed her identity to the commanding sergeant. She was arrested, questioned as a potential spy, and eventually released.

Dorothy Lawrence dresses as man to report in WWI” sources: Sapper Dorothy Lawrence, the Only English Woman Soldier, Late Royal Engineers, 51st division, 179th Tunnelling Company, B.E.F.