The Secret War Report of the OSS

Title:                      The Secret War Report of the OSS

Author:                 Anthony Cave Brown

Cave Brown, Anthony (1976) ed. The Secret War Report of The OSS. New York: Berkley

LCCN:    76382294

D810.S7 S37

Subjects

Date Updated:  February 17, 2017

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

This is a reprint of the declassified official history of the U.S. Department of War’s War Report of the OSS, rearranged, edited, and abridged by Cave Brown. He has also added certain material and deleted the Far East segment, thus confining it to European and North African operations. The commentaries of Cave Brown add to the understanding of a number of events and identify a number of individuals involved. The latter change is particularly helpful since the official history made it a rule to exclude most names of OSS personnel. Thus he identifies Malcolm Muggeridge, Frank Wisner, and many others; there are also some observations like the one that this history reveals for the first time ever the financial organization and methods of a secret service.

All the same, the reader and researcher must be on the lookout for a number of errors and controversial statements in these commentaries. There is the old rejected story of Scapa Flow and Albert Oertel; Cave Brown confuses some of James Angleton’s biographical details with those of his father; he credits Menzies and MI6 for organizing the Yugoslav coup in 1941; he tries to make General Donovan a tool of Cardinal Spellman, Catholic interests, and Kermit Roosevelt; he is not aware that David Bruce did rush ashore in Normandy as did Donovan in Sicily; he maintains the French resistance nets around Paris in 1943 were used as pawns in a deception scheme, or that small European resistance movements were used “ruthlessly” for strategic deception; he also claims that the Anglo-American intelligence alliance against the Soviets and their allies was “super-successful”; his version of why Foot’s SOE in France[2] was released takes no account of British criticisms of SOE performance in France; he says Tom Karamassines was in SI when he really was in X-2; he says General Donovan demanded that OSS recruit only monarchists among Italians, when it actually recruited Italians of all political persuasions; many veterans of OSS do not recall or have trouble confirming the accuracy of his story of the American OSS agent who infiltrated Albania toward the end of the war and vanished; OSS may have been parsimonious in some sections, as he says, but was generous in others since separation pay was usually determined by each commanding officer; EAM (the communist-dominated resistance organization) and its army ELAS in Greece were under the control of the Greek communists from the start. There are undoubtedly others that experts would be able to spot.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[3]

The war report of the Office of Strategic Services was prepared under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt, war-time member of the OSS, during the period 1946-48. The report was retained at a secret security information level within the files of the CIA until its declassification in 1976. Anthony Cave Brawn, author of Bodyguard of Lies[4], edited the report and added additional material, made comments, and provided explanations and names where names were omitted in the report. The first two chapters of the book describe in detail the origins of the 0SS and its organization and structure. The remaining nineteen chapters describe the operations of the OSS in various parts of the world. The last chapter describes the activities of 0SS in past-war Europe and thus provides an indirect insight into some of the initial movements of the CIA which built on OSS contacts. The introduction includes valuable comments on the OSS-British intelligence relationships during 1941-45, and on some of the best intelligence and counterintelligence literature of the period.

Some comments by Roy Berkeley:[5]

At Taunton Place and Gloucester Place is the modest apartment building known as Ivor Court, Gloucester Place. According to my friend Bob Iveson-Watt (a brave American who served with the British Expeditionary Force until he lost a leg at Dunkirk), OSS lodged its field operatives here while they awaited transportation into occupied Europe.

Contrary to the romantic stereotype, not all agents parachuted into Europe. Many did. But some went in on small airplanes (typically Lysanders), touching down on isolated landing strips and being greeted by welcoming committees composed usually (but not always) of resistance workers. And some went in on small boats; not all agents were in condition for parachuting.

Some further comments by Roy Berkeley:[6]

At Taunton Place is the modest apartment building known as Ivor Court, Gloucester Place. According to my friend Bob Iveson-Watt (a brave American who served with the British Expeditionary Force until he lost a leg at Dunkirk), OSS lodged its field operatives here while they awaited transportation into occupied Europe.

Contrary to the romantic stereotype, not all agents parachuted into Europe. Many did. But some went in on small airplanes (typically Lysanders), touching down on isolated landing strips and being greeted by welcoming committees composed usually (but not always) of resistance workers. And some went in on small boats; not all agents were in condition for parachuting.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 114-115

[2] Foot, M.R.D. (1966). SOE In France: An Account of The Work of British Special Operations Executive in France 1940-1944. London:H.M. Stationery Off

[3] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 204

[4] Cave Brown, Anthony (1976). Bodyguard of Lies. London: W. H. Allen

[5] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 153-154

[6] See Berkeley, Roy (1994). A Spy’s London. London: Leo Cooper, pp. 154-155

 

 

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8 Responses to The Secret War Report of the OSS

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