History of War


SHAEF assumed a larger role in the intelligence war from early 1944, with General Eisenhower taking control of all D-Day-related intelligence activities on 23 March. The consolidation was similar to what happened in Algiers. The French undertook a merger of their Resistance forces into the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) under General Pierre Koenig. In addition the Committee for National Liberation named delegates to the various Resistance zones. The alliance remained shaky because the French sides viewed each other warily, while, on the ground, the communists and some other independent French networks did not join the FFI.

Meanwhile, Joe Haskell of SO/London, plus the SOE, formed a Special Forces Headquarters (SFHQ) about five weeks before D-Day. SFHQ took control of all operations out of England and maintained a War Room dedicated to clandestine activities. On 20 May the overlords of the secret war met at SFHQ to make their final invasion arrangements.

Air delivery – of operatives, agents, teams, commandos – made it all possible. It made sense to have air units focused on secret operations, but the Eighth Air Force, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) strategic bomber command in Europe, resisted diverting aircraft to this effort, as it saw them as secondary tasks. Having lost 60 of its 337 bombers (a loss rate of 18 per cent) in the 17 August 1943 raids on Schweinfurt and Regensburg, Eighth felt it needed every plane. For example, reassigning just two squadrons (36 aircraft) to secret operations at that moment would have diverted eight per cent of the Eighth Air Force’s total capacity.

However aircraft production in the US was increasing and secret war requirements had to be met. Haskell produced a paper on October 12 outlining how an air bridge would aid the Resistance. Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, then the senior American officer in England, approved a two-squadron commitment. USAAF had some B-24s that had been flying antisubmarine missions and lacked oxygen systems and other equipment for strategic bombing. Using these planes for the secret war seemed feasible. Colonel Clifford J. Heflin and his deputy, Major Robert W. Fish, met Haskell and other OSS officers at the base RAF Bovington on 24 October. From a list of approved codenames the airmen chose “Carpetbaggers”.

Heflin and some of his 12th Anti-Submarine Squadron pilots moved to RAF Tempsford to tag along on British

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