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OSS - Office of Strategic Services

OSS - Office of Strategic Services - World War II forerunner of the CIA.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: SOE, German Special Forces, U.S. Army Rangers, Female Spies, Gestapo, RSHA, MI5.

OSS agent George Vujnovich who led WWII rescue of 500 US airmen shot down by Nazis dies
George Vujnovich, the intelligence agent who organized a WW2 mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia, has died at his home in New York aged 96. Vujnovich is credited with leading the so-called Halyard Mission in what was then Yugoslavia. It was the largest air rescue of Americans behind enemy lines in any war. The Serbian-American and Pittsburgh native was an officer of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) when 500 pilots and other airmen were downed over Serbia in the summer of 1944 while on bombing runs targeting Hitler`s oil fields in Romania.
(washingtonpost.com)

Operation Cornflakes: How OSS got the Nazi postal service to deliver Allied propoganda
Propaganda was a favorite tool of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War, but the usual method of distributing it, airdropped leaflets, had major drawbacks, like the huge numbers of leaflets needed. Eventually, the OSS came up with the idea of using the German postal service itself as a distribution system. They`d make their materials look like legitimate German mail, leave it around bombed trains, and let the enemy collect and deliver it. In addition, the plan strained the already overworked German communications and transportation sectors.
(businessinsider.com)

Two WWII spy girls who worked for the OSS united in retirement
They can still keep their mouths shut, these two women who were among the females working in the spying Office of Strategic Services, The OSS, in World War Two. Ask what they did after the war, and 96-year-old Elizabeth, "Betty" McIntosh and 88-year-old Doris Bohrer will say they worked for the CIA, but that`s about it.

"So, I went down to the station and waited around and some Chinese came up and nodded to me and held his hand out and I gave him this piece of coal. It had dynamite in it and the Chinese took it to a place where Japanese troops were going across a large lake, and there were a couple of hundred of them on this boat ... which exploded with all of the soldiers in it in the middle of the lake."
(wusa9.com)

Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage by Douglas Waller
William Joseph "Wild Bill" Donovan first saw combat in the first world war, leading the 1st battalion of the 165th Regiment of the 42nd Division (the "Fighting 69th") and earning the Medal of Honor for his feats. During the second world war he carried out completely different warfare as he lead The Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI), which was created to overcome the lack of coordination between the existing U.S. intelligence agencies. In 1942 COI was split into two new agencies: the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency), and the Office of War Information (a predecessor of the United States Information Agency).

"Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster," with its 480 pages, provides a realistic yet very readable biography of the man who had to fight British spy bosses and the other American intelligence agencies to fight the Nazis and the Japanese.
(latimes.com)

OSS officer Christian Lambertsen created early scuba device and worked with WWII underwater operations
Christian J. Lambertsen, who in 1939 invented an underwater breathing system called "Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit" (LARU) and who later helped coin the acronym "scuba", has passed away at 93. Astonishingly the U.S. Navy initially rejected his device, but the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the predecessor of the CIA) realized its value. After joining OSS, Lambertsen set up the first units of U.S. military operational combat swimmers and worked with OSS units on underwater espionage missions in Burma.

For photographs of Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit visit this website.
(washingtonpost.com)

Martin S. Quigley was the chief American spy in Ireland during the Second World War
Martin S. Quigley, an American film representative and WWII spy, has passed away at 93. In 1943 he was sent to Ireland as an agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to gather intelligence about Ireland`s official neutrality and the local views about the Allied and Axis powers. Quigley reported to the OSS director Major General William "Wild Bill" Donovan that in spite of their conflicts with the English, the Irish supported eventual Allied victory, because of their strong economic connections with England.

The period of wartime neutrality is known in Ireland as "the Emergency", because of the wording of the constitutional article used to suspend normal government of the country. The wartime Prime Minister Eamon de Valera famously - and disreputably - signed the book of condolence on Hitler`s death, on May 2, 1945.
(irishcentral.com)

Herringbone Cloak - GI Dagger: Marines of the OSS -- Entire book online in HTML format
Herringbone Cloak - GI Dagger: Marines of the OSS by Major Robert E. Mattingly -- a WWII book exploring the role Marines had in the Office of Strategic Services -- is now available online in HTML format.
(ibiblio.org)

Art Jibilian was on the team that rescued 513 American pilots in Operation Halyard   (Article no longer available from the original source)
World War II hero Art "Jibby" Jibilian volunteered with two other operatives to parachute into Nazi-occupied Serbia to set up the air rescue of 513 downed U.S. pilots. Jibilian was trained as a U.S. Navy radioman and volunteered as a secret operative with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA. "They thought they were going over to rescue 50 airmen. Then it was 250, 350, and then 513," explained Brian McMahon. The mass rescue of pilots has drawn publicity with the 2007 book, The Forgotten 500, which details the mission, called the biggest rescue of the war.
(toledoblade.com)

OSS female operative Barbara Podoski set up one of the most successful psychological campaigns of WWII
Czechoslovakian-born Barbara Lauwers Podoski, who set up one of the most successful psychological operations of World War II, which caused the surrender of over 600 Czechoslovakians fighting for the Germans, has passed away at 95. One of the few female operatives in the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of CIA) she found creative ways to sabotage German morale. Much of her work remained secret until 2008, when her OSS records were declassified. In 1944 a Nazi sergeant she interrogated mentioned that Czechs and Slovaks were used to do the Germans` "dirty work." Lauwers realized there was a chance to flip the loyalties of her former countrymen.
(washingtonpost.com)

Book claims: diaries of a highly decorated OSS agent reveal a plot to kill Patton
The diaries of an OSS assassin reveal that US spy chiefs wanted General Patton dead because he wanted to expose allied agreement with the Russians that cost American lives. The death of Patton in Dec 1945, is one of the great WWII mysteries. Although he had suffered injuries in a car crash, he was recovering and on the verge of flying home. But Robert Wilcox claims in Target Patton that OSS head "Wild Bill" Donovan ordered Douglas Bazata (4 purple hearts, a DSC and 3 French Croix de Guerres) to silence Patton. Diaries reveal how he set up the car crash by getting a troop truck to run into Patton`s car and then shot the general with a low-velocity projectile.
(telegraph.co.uk)

The National Archives released list of 24,000 spies who formed the OSS
Famed chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg all had a secret - They served in a spy ring ran by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II. All of the names and classified files (750,000 pages) naming almost 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the US were released by the National Archives. They were soldiers, historians, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several war years, they were known simply as the OSS. They analysed military plans, created propaganda and infiltrated enemy ranks.
(nytimes.com)

"You`re Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger" author Roger Hall passes away aged 89
Roger Hall`s memoir "You`re Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger" (1957) - a memoir about WWII spycraft - became a cult classic. It was based on his time in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA. Hayden Peake called the book "one of the best OSS memoirs," written by "someone who could perform dangerous work but was a kind of a free spirit." One OSS story involved a colleague sent to Nazi occupied France to destroy a German tank at a key crossroads. The OSS man, fluent in German and dressed like a French peasant, walked up to the tank and shouted "Mail!" The lid opened, and in went two grenades.
(montereyherald.com)

In the Name of the Luftwaffe - A true story by OSS Intelligence Officer Jim Hudson
OSS Officer Captain Jim Hudson arrested German aviatrix Hanna Reitsch, after VE Day, May 8, 1945. "Hanna Reitsch has done it all. She was called the greatest woman flyer of the world, and she had just come from the underground bunker of Adolf Hitler where he had holed up for his final stand. He wanted Hanna to fly Colonel General Ritter von Greim... around Europe to command the last Luftwaffe attack to save Germany... For Germans to fly anyone, anywhere in the summer of 1945, was virtually impossible, for the Allied planes had total air supremacy. Could it be a clue that her insistent passionate cry was that she did it in the Name of the Luftwaffe."
(primenewswire)

Carpetbaggers - Dropping spies and ammunition to resistance fighters   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Hewitt Gomez couldn`t reveal where he was placed during World War II, all his friends knew he was with the Army Air Corps. He was a navigator on black-painted B-24 bombers that made cloak-and-dagger flights to drop spies and ammo to resistance fighters. The group was known as the Carpetbaggers, serving as the air arm of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and anything they did was secret. I ran into a classmate, and told I flew B-24s in the First Division. He said there are no B-24s in the First Division. "That`s because we were secretly based." The Carpetbaggers dropped 536 agents and 4511 tons of supplies, losing 208 crewmen in 3000 missions.
(theadvertiser)

I Was Trained To Be A Spy - As An Intelligence Agent During WWII
Helias Doundoulakis saw Nazi Germany`s invasion of Greece during the World War II, joined the Greek Resistance, then went on to become a spy in the OSS. Now, for the first time he discloses his experiences with book "I Was Trained To Be A Spy". He joined a resistance group and supplied information to the SOE, the arm of the English Intelligence Service. This group, however, is exposed, causing their evacuation to Cairo. There, Doundoulakis and his brother were enlisted into the U.S. Army and attached to the OSS, where the author was trained for intelligence as well as other combat skills. His book brings to life the daily routines and mentality of a real spy.
(cebucity.olx.com.ph)

Maj. Gen. John Singlaub tells of OSS days - Office of Strategic Services   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Fayetteville: The theater at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum was almost full as soldiers turned out to listen to Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub. Speaking about his book "Hazardous Duty," he focused on the early days of the Office of Strategic Services. OSS derives from Franklin Roosevelt’s WWII request for the creation of an information unit. Incited by military intelligence that showed Hitler was unstoppable, Roosevelt wanted an organization that could put an end to the propaganda being circulated about the war. The first director of OSS was General Bill Donovan, who - according to Singlaub - told Roosevelt that Wehrmacht was taking over North Africa.
(fayobserver)

Museum exhibit shows role of OSS - The Office of Strategic Services   (Article no longer available from the original source)
There is adventure aplenty in the "OSS: The Office of Strategic Services" - exhibit at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, but not at all like in the spy novels and James Bond films - this is the real thing. Show takes visitors from 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt created the Office of the Coordinator of Information, through World War II when it was dissolved or fit into intelligence agencies such as the CIA. A photo shows Maj. Gen. "Wild Bill" Donovan, a WWI Medal of Honor recipient, who headed the operation. OSS was not a part of military services, it was a new way for the US to conduct warfare.
(fayobserver)

Office of Strategic Services (OSS) veterans give it one last shot at reunion   (Article no longer available from the original source)
John Breen suffered from airsickness during pilot training and was reassured to hear an OSS recruiter offer a task that only required "one one-way flight." The recruiter neglected to mention it involved parachuting out of the plane. "I was too stupid to ask `Why one way?`” He was among 10 veterans of the Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services holding a reunion on Fort Bragg. Breen found himself parachuting into northern Burma. His airborne training consisted of being fitted for a parachute and being told to bend his knees and roll forward when he landed. He was a radio operator with antennas that made him easy for Japanese snipers to find.
(fayobserver)

US derived no clear benefit by recruiting ex-Nazis as Cold War spies
The U.S. government derived no clear benefit by recruiting ex-Nazis as Cold War spies, but huge gaps remain in the public record of U.S. ties to World War II war criminals. The report to Congress, by an interagency group that examined the United States` use of German and Japanese war criminals, also said the CIA had no set policy for hiring former war criminals to spy on postwar foes including the Soviet Union. The group has released more than 8.5 million pages of classified documents dating back to 1933. The list includes the entire 1.2 million-page operational file of the CIA`s WWII forerunner OSS, the Office of Strategic Services.
(reuters)

WWII spy Tom Stefan - counsel to underground resistance in Albania
Peter Lucas is trying to cast light on a shadowy figure, for Tom Stefan was paid to avoid the spotlight. He worked in the mountains of Albania as an Army officer assigned to the Office of Strategic Services. That agency dispatched Tom Stefan to Albania in 1943. His mission was to provide advice to underground resistance fighters in Albania, as they battled with Nazi and Italian fascist occupiers. The details are contained in a book "The OSS in World War II Albania - Covert Operations and Collaborations with Communist Partisans." Tom Stefan`s picture is on the cover: His face is cast in complete shadow as he stands in uniform, flanked by Partisan leaders.
(unionleader)

An unlikely heroine of World War II - Office of Strategic Services
"Your parents are traitors!" was the taunt that rang in the ears of a little boy in Tokyo while Allied forces were embroiled in bloody engagements against Emperor Hirohito`s Imperial troops. It was 10 years before Makoto Iwamatsu would begin to learn the story of the prison ordeals his anti-militarist parents, their decision to travel to America leaving Mako behind, and their WWII service to the US. -- Mitsu Yashima broadcasted American propaganda to Japanese women. "[I talked] to the women in Japan and urge them to run away from the war effort. Yes, I knew about Tokyo Rose broadcasting Japanese propaganda to American soldiers."
(sfgate)

A member of the elite branch of the OSS -- D-Day hero   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A member of the elite secretive branch of the Office of Strategic Services called the Jedburghs, Lucien E. Lajeunesse parachuted behind enemy lines in 1944 to aid French soldiers in preparation for D-Day. A radio operator who spoke French, his unit carried out attacks on German convoys, destroyed bridges and disrupted communications. In his lifetime, he received numerous awards for his wartime heroics, like France`s highest award to a foreigner, the "Croix de Guerre." In 1994, during the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, he was presented with a rare original map of the Normandy invasion by French President.
(norwichbulletin)

Army Col. Shirly Ray Trumps; Led Commando Units in WWII
Shirly Ray Trumps, a Army colonel who led commando operations behind German lines in support of the Normandy invasion, died. He became part of the Office of Strategic Services mission called Operation Jedburgh. Organized into 3-man teams, the Jedburgh men were from the British, U.S. and French armies and were trained to disrupt and kill German troops. Then-Lt. Trumps was the least experienced of about 86 officers in the program, a group of men that included future CIA Director William Colby, future Maj. Gen. John Singlaub and Col. Aaron Bank, founder of the Army`s Special Forces.
(washingtonpost)

Sisterhood of Spies - Women of the Office of Strategic Services OSS   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A train will be carrying Japanese passengers and it is agents of the Office of Strategic Services` responsibility to convince the Chinese to plant explosive coals before bailing out. It was one of the few experiences former OSS agent Elizabeth McIntosh shared at her book signing for "Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the Office of Strategic Services." Women, she said, played an integral role in the intelligence agency, helping keep records and answer telephones and encode and decode messages. But there were handful that worked behind enemy lines.
(potomacnews)


See also:
SOE
German Special Forces
U.S. Army Rangers
Female Spies
Gestapo, RSHA
MI5.