At the start of World War II he joined the British Army. As a sergeant in the Gloucestershire Regiment, he was captured in the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940, later being awarded the Military Medal for bravery during this campaign.
During his four years as a prisoner of war, he made no fewer than ten escape attempts. He was able to escape from a German POW camp in Silesia and stealthily made his way to Hungary. After being captured there, he made another daring escape, this time making his way to Romania. There he was imprisoned once again, but when Romania capitulated in 1944, he was freed and returned to Britain, serving in combat with British forces in northwest Europe during the war's final months.
The exact nature of his exploits while a POW have not been without controversy, however, with some questioning the veracity of his numerous escapes from Nazi-controlled prisons.
Collins emigrated to Canada in 1952 and worked for several decades as a reporter or columnist for several Western Canadian newspapers including the Calgary Herald, Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province.
In November, 1953, Collins, while working for the Calgary Herald, exposed George Dupre's claims of being a war-time spy as a hoax. The disclosure came soon after publication of The Man Who Wouldn't Talk, a book about Dupre by American journalist, Quentin Reynolds.
The following spring, in 1954, Collins testified on behalf of Westbrook Pegler in the case of Reynolds v. Pegler, a defamation case arising from comments written in 1949 by Pegler against Reynolds. Collins gave evidence as to Reynolds's reputation as a writer, arising from Reynolds's book about Dupre. Reynolds's counsel, Louis Nizer, attacked Collins's credibility during cross-examination for his failure to give credit to other sources of evidence that exposed Dupre. Another witness from Calgary felt compelled to testify on behalf of Reynolds to counter Collins's testimony.
In 1960, eight trade unions sued Collins for libel when he was the Vancouver Sun's labour reporter. The same year, the newspaper's managing editor, Erwin Swangard, fired Collins for his outside freelance work. Collins successfully sued for wrongful dismissal. He was reinstated and returned to work after four months. He collected his back pay, walked into the editor's office and quit and then went to personnel to demand holiday pay. In 1963, he sued Reader's Digest for libel and won.
Collins returned to the Vancouver Sun in the 1970s. He quit for the last time when then-publisher Clark Davey tried to restrict his freelancing.
In 1980, during Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope, Collins wrote a story falsely claiming that, rather than running a daily marathon, he had actually been driven in a car across Quebec. The story was retracted.
Since last leaving the Vancouver Sun, Collins also worked for the Vancouver Courier, the Columbian (a newspaper formerly published in New Westminster, B.C.), and CKVU-TV. Between 1983 and 1997, Collins wrote a column for the North Shore News, a small weekly community paper in North Vancouver, B.C.
Collins was the recipient of two awards for journalism. He received the National Newspaper Award (1953) for his report on Dupre. He received the MacMillan Bloedel Award (1975) for reports on alleged corruption at UBC.
In 1993 he was awarded the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, given to approximately 42,000 Canadians "who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their community, or to Canada."
The party leader, Preston Manning, had vowed not to sign Collins's nomination papers unless he first agreed to sign a pledge that he supported the party's position against racism. Collins refused to sign the pledge. Manning rejected Collin's nomination papers, saying he was concerned Collins's candidacy might have a negative effect on the party's fortunes in other ridings.
Accusations of racism and antisemitismEdit
During his 14-year association with the North Shore News, Collins wrote regular columns against immigration and ethnic minorities in Canada. His writings became increasingly controversial and led to accusations of racism and antisemitism. In 1997, a complaint against him was brought before the British Columbia Human Rights Commission for a column in which Collins questioned the Holocaust and denounced Schindler's List, which he derided as "Swindler's List," as propaganda. The case was dismissed.
A further complaint was laid in 1999 citing four of his columns, including the column raised in the previous complaint. This one was upheld, and Collins and his publisher were ordered to pay $2,000 in damages. The complaint was upheld upon appeal.
Collins' first book, P.O.W., published in 1968, was his account of his experiences as a prisoner of war during World War II. It included a foreword by Douglas Bader.
Beginning in 1979, he wrote several more books, primarily dealing with his views on immigration, culture and society, and later on his fight over the human rights complaint against him.
- The best and worst of Doug Collins, Whitecap Books, 1987
- Here we go again!, Colpress, 1998
- Immigration: the destruction of English Canada, BMG Pub., 1979
- Immigration: Parliament versus the people, Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, 1987, c1984
- P.O.W.: A Soldier's Story of His Ten Escapes from Nazi Prison Camps, Simon & Schuster of Canada, 1969, c1968
- Atkins, Stephen E. (30 April 2009). "10: Canadian Holocaust Deniers". Holocaust Denial As an International Movement. ABC-CLIO. p. 203. ISBN 9780313345388. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
An influential Canadian Holocaust denier was Doug Collins.
- London Gazette 25 September 1947
- Ex-columnist Doug Collins dead at 81, North Shore News, 3 Oct 2001 Archived 4 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Explain War Exploits, North Shore News, 12 May 1997 Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Robert Fulford column, National Post, 3 November 2001
- The Man Who Talked, Time magazine, 23 Nov. 1953
- Mitgang, H.; Quiet Hero; The Man Who Wouldn't Talk; New York Times, 1 Nov. 1953
- Nizer, L., My Life in Court, New York, Doubleday & Co., 1961, pp. 104 - 110
- Boyd, D., Doug Collins's hide up for grabs again, so what else is new? Vancouver Sun, 27 May 1992, pg. B.1
- Vancouver Broadcasters, Doug Collins Archived 22 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Perrone, Julie. "FOX, TERRANCE STANLEY (Terry Fox) – Volume XXI (1981-1990) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
- Scrivener, Leslie (22 December 2010). Terry Fox: His Story (Revised). McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-1-55199-586-1. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
- Bellett, G., Collins nomination defies Reform Party leader, Vancouver Sun, 19 October 1988. pg. A.1
- Bellett, G., Decision to reject Collins made for party, Reform chief says, Vancouver Sun, 20 Oct. 1988, pg. A1
- Abrams v. North Shore Press and Doug Collins, BC Human Rights Commission Reasons for Decision
- Doug Collins' final case Dead writer is still the subject of a human rights decision, 21 December 2002, Jewish Independent Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Collins loses human rights case, Canadian Jewish News, 11 February 1999 Archived 4 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine
- Human Rights and Discriminatory Publications Index by the Canadian Jewish Congress, compilation of resource materials on the Collins case.