Donovan, William Joseph, 1883-1959

‘Wild Bill’ Donovan was a US lawyer who was head of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the forerunner of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). In 1940 Donovan was the unofficial observer for the Secretary of the Navy, KNOX, in Great Britain. Knox was very pleased with his reports and he was sent on several missions by President ROOSEVELT to southeast Europe and the Middle East to observe resistance movements. On his return he was made coordinator of intelligence and on 13 June 1942 became director of the newly created OSS. The OSS had three branches—intelligence, operations and research—and had many influential people working for it. It was said to have employed 13,000 Americans but it also recruited agents in North Africa, Burma and Europe for its clandestine operations. On 1 October 1945 the OSS was terminated by an executive order and its functions were distributed to the Department of State and War Department. Donovan found a new post working as an aide to Judge Jackson at the Nuremberg trials.

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