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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA MF 204-211
OSS/LONDON: Special Operations Branch and Secret Intelligence Branch War Diaries
1942-1945, 1985
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
8 reels and one published guide


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).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, USA

Content & structure

Scope and content

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.

System of arrangement

Arranged into sections according to operation and geographical area, detailed in the accompanying published guide, which also has a subject index

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

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

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids
This summary guide and one published detailed guide.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals
King's College London College Archives
Related units of description

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



Compiled Sep 1999

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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  • Airborne warfare
  • Armed forces
  • Crime
  • Espionage
  • Guerilla warfare
  • Humanitarian law
  • International conflicts
  • International relations
  • Military engineering
  • Military intelligence
  • Military operations
  • Military organizations
  • Occupied territories
  • Operation Overlord (1944)
  • Organizations
  • Photographs
  • Political movements
  • Special forces
  • State security
  • Visual materials
  • War
  • Warfare
  • Wars (events)
  • World War Two (1939-1945)
  • World wars (events)


  • Czechoslovakia, Eastern Europe
  • Denmark, Northern Europe
  • France
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Norway, Northern Europe
  • Poland, Eastern Europe

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