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Microform: OSS/London: Special Operations Branch and Secret Intelligence Branch War Diaries

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA MF 204-211
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Microform: OSS/London: Special Operations Branch and Secret Intelligence Branch War Diaries
Date(s): 1942-1945, 1985
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 8 reels
Name of creator(s): Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Special Operations Branch, London, and Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Secret Intelligence Branch, London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the approximate US counterpart of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and Special Operations Executive (SOE), with which it co-operated throughout World War Two and its immediate aftermath. The OSS was created by Presidential Military Order on 13 Jun 1942 and it functioned as the principal US intelligence organisation in all operational theatres. Its primary function was to obtain information about enemy nations and to sabotage their war potential and morale. From 1940-1942, the US had no central intelligence agency responsible for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information bearing on national security, these services having been dispersed amongst the armed services and regional desks in the US State Department. In Jul 1941 Maj Gen William Joseph Donovan was appointed by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the civilian post of Co-ordinator of Information (COI) and was instructed to consolidate a regular channel of global strategic information. Under Donovan's leadership, the COI claimed the functions of information gathering, propaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning. The overt propaganda functions of the COI were eventually severed and the COI was re-organised as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1942. The OSS was instructed by the President to collect and analyse such strategic information as might be required to plan and operate special military services in theatres of operation directed by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The headquarters of the OSS were in Washington, but is also maintained overseas outposts which engaged in information gathering and liaison operations with Allied intelligence services, most notably Special Operations Executive (SOE). Chief among the overseas units was the London Outpost, established at the end of 1941 to facilitate co-operation between the Allied intelligence services, and to serve as a base of operations for Allied intelligence, espionage and operational activities in Europe. The Special Operations (SO) Branch, OSS, London, was charged with conducting sabotage operations, support and supply of resistance groups, and guerrilla warfare in enemy-occupied territories. The 'London Group' of SOE was its British counterpart. On 10 Jan 1944, the SO Branch and the London Group were integrated into Special Forces Headquarters, under which they were charged with carrying on their operations. Thus, from Jan-Sep 1944, 93 Jedburgh teams, consisting of one British SOE soldier, one American OSS soldier, and one officer native to the country in which the team would operate, were parachuted into occupied Western Europe to supply resistance movements and co-ordinate operations. The purpose of the Secret Intelligence (SI) Branch, OSS, London, was to collect and analyse strategic intelligence as was required by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. The OSS was terminated by Executive Order 9620 on 20 Sep 1945, its functions later assumed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).


Scope and content/abstract:

OSS/London: Special Operations Branch and Secret Intelligence Branch War Diaries is a themed microfilm collection relating to US Office of Strategic Services (OSS)intelligence analyses and special operations in Western Europe, Jun 1942-Jun 1945. The collection includes Special Operations Branch organisation charts and directives, orders and summaries, Jun 1942-Jul 1944; Special Operations (SO) Branch and OSS training schedules; papers relating to Special Operations Branch liaison with Scandinavian Special Operations Executive (SOE) Section; reports on military and strategic objectives relating to Operation OVERLORD, the Allied invasion of France, Jan-Sep 1944; estimates of Special Operations personnel strength, Apr-Jun 1944; reports on resistance movements in Norway, Denmark, and Poland; summaries of Secret Intelligence Branch Operations, Apr-Sep 1944; list of decorations, commendations, and payments to families of the Special Operations and Secret Intelligence Branch casualties; biographies of Secret Intelligence personnel; reports from Secret Intelligence Branch operations in the Netherlands, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia; Germany; Secret Intelligence Branch liaison with the OSS; photographs of American and British Special Operations Branch officers; photographs of Maquis, French resistance, operatives; report from the Special Mission on German Methods of Demolition and Sabotage, Sep-Dec 1944; reports on Polish resistance fighters in France, 1944; lists of code names and code words used by the Special Operations Branch; reports from military, demolition, intelligence gathering, and espionage missions in Western Europe, 1944; after action summaries from the OSS Reports and Registry Division, London, and the OSS Reports Board, Paris, France, 1 Jan-15 Jun 1945.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged into sections according to operation and geographical area.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to University Publications of America, Inc, 4520 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 20814, USA

Finding aids:

Summary guide available on-line at, and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room, Paul Kesaris and Dale Reynolds (ed.), OSS/London: Special Operations Branch and Secret Intelligence Branch War Diaries (University Publications of America, Inc, Bethesda, MD, 1985).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, USA

Allied Materials

Related material:

Further microfilmed papers created by the OSS may be found at LHCMA MF 516-522.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Date of compilation: Sep 1999

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