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miller time @MXS_Nightmare
, 21 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Yesterday, by merest chance, as all great discoveries tend to be made ;) ,

I found a copy of Robert Hayden Alcorn's famous book, "No Bugles for Spies - stories of the OSS.

(Google books even has the foreword saved, so we can have both!)

It's good to know what they stood for.
No bugles for spies

"It seems incredible that thirty thousand people could keep a secret. It is the more unbelievable when one realizes that those thirty thousand persons were scattered throughout the world.

They represented every nationality, every type of individual,
every religion, every political belief, every economic condition. Yet such was the vast complex of the Office of Strategic Services, OSS of the war years, first independent, autonomous and all-encompassing espionage & sabotage agency ever sponsored by the United States government
The very fact that still, after twenty years, little is known of its work or function is a tribute to its competence.

We live in an age of publicity, of public relations and the public image when even our churches have public relations staffs to "tell all".
As a people we consider it important to be known, to let the public in on our activities. It is the more remarkable, therefore, that we as a nation are able to submerge this tendency for exposure long enough to accomplish the clandestine work of the OSS. But that we did
Points up to the high discipline of the people who made up that organization.

Its members withstood and, to some degree, welcomed the snide quips that were considered "bright" cocktail chatter in Washington in the early days of the war. Oh So Social. Oh So Secret. Oh Such Snobs.
The variety was endless but at least it divulged nothing of the real OSS. Then, as the agency grew and began to function actively in the war theaters, there was an amusing confusion that continually appeared. Whenever any passing reference was made to OSS, the non-OSS listener
assumed that the reference was to SOS, the Army's supply services. We were always happy to let the misunderstanding pass uncorrected. It was just one more way of protecting the security of the organization.

There are no bugles for spies. Nor " banners and bands for saboteurs.
They have no morale-bracing buddies to spur them on when the going is the toughest. They have no vast housekeeping mechanism behind them in the field to see that they are properly fed, adequately sheltered and medically attended.

They are alone in every way, alone in their work,
alone in their livelihood, alone especially in their thoughts, dependent on their own resources as they have never been in their lives. They must be wary of every contact, guarded of every word, cautious in every movement.
And as if that were not enough there are problems of everyday living, how they are to eat, where they are to sleep and how they shall work. It is all up to them alone.

Then, when the most terrifying of possibilities becomes reality, the spy is irretrievably, cruelly alone.
Then his very existence is ignored. Those closest to him deny and desert him. The organization for which he works has never heard of him. He lives with tortures, or he dies, alone. And often his death is just a vanishing, his actual passing unknown, his grave unmarked.
All this he knows beforehand and accepts it as he accepts the fact that he is expendable. The mission, the network, all the undercover operation of the silent colossus for which he works must be protected so that it may go on even at the sacrifice of his own life.
Ruthless? Cold-blooded? Sinister? Espionage is all of these things and more. It is also very brave. For it is one thing to go into battle with hundreds of others when all hell has let loose and a kind of hysteria carries you forward.
It is quite another thing to drop silently into the very midst of the enemy with, really, only your wits to save you. Wits and a colossal amount of steel-nerved courage.

The OSS recruited, trained and operated countless individuals of rare courage and resourcefulness.
Many went into enemy territory not once, but several times, and lived to slip quietly back into the everyday world of peace. Some served with high distinction only to end in a twilight zone of insanity. Some never came back.
This then is their story. This is how it was. It cannot be possibly about them all, they were too numerous for that, but it is of them all, for they had one thing in common: the ultimate in courage. Only the details, only locale, only the specific mission would be the variable.
All of these stories are true. They may be incredible, they may be horrible, they may be fantastic or amusing but they are true and they are related as they happened. Only the names and other details pertinent to security have been altered.

There are many that can never be told
and that is, perhaps, just as well. But what has been attempted here is no expose, no "how to" book on espionage. It is quite simply the story of OSS, what it was, how it grew, what it did. Actually how it operated is not here. But the story of some of its people is here.
That is the important thing.

Suffield, Connecticut,.
May 8, 1962
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