Posted on August 20th, 2016 by:

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Doris Arlene Sharrar became an employee of the Office of Strategic Services when she was just 20 years old. Starting out as a typist, she eventually spied on the Nazis in Italy and North Africa. Her intelligence helped in the planning of the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy.


Doris Sharrar Bohrer (Photo: OSS Society)

Initially, the OSS hired her in 1942 to type intelligence reports but she was promoted and was assigned to Bari, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, where she studied aerial photographs from bombing and reconnaissance missions from which she created relief maps of places the Allies might fight.

Doris had originally wanted to fly airplanes for the military, but that was a difficult assignment for women to get. For Doris, aerial photographs were “an interesting way to look at the world. It was almost as good as flying”. Her work allowed her to look right into the heart of enemy territory and learn what was going on. “That’s how we knew where the concentration camps were located, but we were too late,” she said speaking of her work “We kept wondering where all the trains were going. The Germans were also building rocket and electronics factories. We watched what went in, what went out.”


Doris among ruins. (Photo: Doris Sharrar Bohrer)

Most OSS women worked as typists or on a clerical level and were looked down upon by the men. Sharrar recalled in North Africa and Italy where she was doing the same work as men, males were addressed as “major,” “captain” or “lieutenant.” while women were called only “the girls.” When one of her OSS superiors denied her request to carry grenades, she asked an engineer friend to make her a disabled grenade. She took it into the mess hall and slammed it on the table during lunch. “When I reached for the handle, the boys went out the windows. They just disappeared. And I sat there and ate my salad.”

After WWII, Sharrar worked for the CIA in Germany doing espionage on the Soviet Union. She interviewed German scientists who had been captured, held and interrogated by the Russians, trying to gain insights into Soviet strengths and weaknesses.

She retired in 1979 as deputy chief of counterintelligence, training agents on foreign espionage operatives. She served 27 years as an intelligence operative and married Charles A. Bohrer, who retired as director of the CIA medical office in 1980.

Doris Bohrer (Sharrar) died Aug. 8 at a care center in Greensboro, N.C. At 93.

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