The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) grew out of humble beginnings and Washington’s political infighting to be a huge part of the American effort in World War II. OSS agents provided important intelligence, furnished operatives who worked behind the lines, and helped resistance and guerrilla movements against occupying German, Japanese, and Italian forces. One of the most successful operations of OSS was the capture of Sardinia, where four American operators convinced more than 270,000 Italian troops to surrender.
The Glorious Bastards
General William Donovan and his band of “PhDs who can win a bar fight” had developed a stellar reputation among the senior Allied leaders. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, credited the American OSS and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) with the exemplary manner in which the resistance forces were organized, supplied, and directed. After the war, Eisenhower said,
“In no previous war and in no other theater during this war, have Resistance forces been so closely harnessed to the main military effort…I consider that the disruption of enemy rail communications, the harassing of German road moves, and the continual and increasing strain placed on the German war economy and internal security services throughout occupied Europe by the organized forces of Resistance, played a very considerable part in our complete and final victory.”