On June 5, 1942, A. H. Robinson and Jim Barnes met me at the National Airport, Washington, D.C. The National Airport was the newest, most efficient and the most beautifully designed airport in the world. The long landing strip was surrounded by farms. Today the airport is smothered in a sprawling tangle of the megalopolis.

The next day we reported to the Office of Strategic Services at 23rd and E Streets, N.W.

The OSS was the first total intelligence service in the history of the country. The Director was Colonel William Donovan (Wild Bill), who had been with General Pershing in the First World War. Bill Donovan was a New York lawyer and a good friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt when Roosevelt was Governor of New York. As President, Roosevelt had sent him on several missions around the world before we were involved in actual combat.

They both agreed that a coordinated intelligence organization was of highest priority and Donovan was given the assignment. The model for this agency was the British SOE. Donovan had been in London in 1941 studying the British Special Operation Executive. As a result, the OSS was closely modeled after that British organization. As early as September, 1942, the OSS had integrated its operations with those of the SOE and much of the initial training of American personnel was given by the British.

As Director of OSS, Wild Bill presided over an odd and brilliant assortment of Wall Street bankers, acrobats, college professors, movie stars, counterfeiters (on loan) and scientists. This group was responsible for espionage, sabotage, intelligence and propaganda. The OSS was the most unorthodox, intelligent, and intense gang ever assembled in American history, and Wild Bill was the number one character in the show.

A.H. Robinnson, age 28, was Chief of the Cartography Section as well as being my brother-in-law. The reason he had engaged in this bit of nepotism was because we had spent the past two years discussing, arguing and scrapping about ideas which had to do with making maps more visually digestible. He had hired me as a map designer for the OSS.

Our major job was to produce specialty maps for reports and studies prepared by the scholars of the Research and Analysis Division of the OSS.

Fortunately, I was neither a geographer nor a cartographer, so I was available for short assignments of all types of activities. I took over the print shop. I organized and trained the draftsmen, I helped Robbie with the control system, I was liaison with the model shop. My most important job, it turned out, was as the immediate contact with the Joint War Plans Committee which was located just four blocks down on Constitution Avenue.


Table of Contents:

Introduction To Five Small Pieces Of History

The First Quebec Conference (quadrant, August 14-24, 1943)

The Cairo-Teheran Conference

London January 6 - November 15, 1944

United Service Organizations (USO)

The Map Division At The Wilson Dress Shoppe

Bahia De Los Cochinos April 17, 1961


Robert Morris Coffin Biography

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