Here’s a question for all y’all (or in our native New England turkey-herdish, for youse guys). Answer after the jump:
The 2671st Reconnaissance was a cover used by the OSS Operational Groups, the principal forerunner of today’s Special Forces ODA.
The OGs were an effort of OSS Special Operations division (OSS-SO), along with the perhaps better known Jedburghs, which were three-man multinational teams. The OGs were larger, with about thirty-two men, able to split into two 15-man teams and a HQ element. The individual teams had two officers and 13 NCOs in a balance of specialties — weapons, engineering, communications, medical and logistics — and provided a prototype for the Operational Detachment Alpha that would be created when SF stood up in 1952.
The OGs operated in several denied areas in World War II, including France, Italy, Greece, and Yugoslavia in the European Theater of Operations, and China, Burma, and Malaya in the China, Burma, India Theater of Operations. (Macarthur was able to exclude OSS operations, including the OGs, from the Pacific Theater). Some of these operations were quite large, with a total of 356 men being landed behind German lines in France as part of the French OG effort.
The OGs always operated in uniform, hoping to claim the protection of the laws of land warfare if captured. As it happens, the Germans flouted the law under Hitler’s notorious Kommandobefehl, and customarily murdered captured OG members. The Japanese also generally mistreated prisoners, but in their case an argument could be made that the cause was incompetence, not organized barbarism; it wasn’t centrally-established and generally-followed policy to murder captives.
In addition to these SO Branch operational elements, the OSS SI — Secret Intelligence — Branch operated successfully in some of the same countries as the Jeds and OGs, and also right into Germany, deploying singleton espionage agents and small networks, generally known by their SOE term “circuits” or the French reseaux. These agents were spies, and if captured, they got the spy’s treatment (and the officers and men that executed them were not pursued for war crimes).
For more information on the OGs, try:
1. The OG manual, 25 April 1944, main Internet Archive page…
…and .pdf version
Sample of the common sense within:
Since OG personnel operate in uniform they must rely on concealment and secrecy to safeguard their operations. Concealment,is of particular important to OG’s because- they are small in number and can be severely weakened by the loss of even a few men. Prior to their entry, OG’s should be issued camouflage clothing appropriate to the season and terrain. OG’s will be obliged in most cases to avoid cities and towns where the enemy or his agents may be encountered. Semi permanent concealment in mountainous or forested areas may be available, and native sympathizers will be induced to provide hiding-places in their homes and barns when this is feasible. In some areas enemy con trols may be so rigid as to compel OG’s to keep on the move, changing bivouac sites frequently.
2. CGSC paper by MAJ John W, Shaver III, USA, 1993: Office of the Strategic Services: Operational Groups in France During World War II, July-October 1944.
3. Greek/American OG Memoirs of WWII:
This last one is really interesting! The Greeks were Company C of the 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, which brings the discussion full circle.