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O S S

O P E R A T I O N

B L A C K M A I L

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O S S

O P E R A T I O N

B L A C K M A I L

ONE WOMANS COVERT WAR AGAINST

T H E I M P E R I A L J A P A N E S E A R M Y

ANN TODD

N AVA L I N S T I T U T E P R E S S
A N N A P O L I S, M A R Y L A N D

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This book has been brought to publication with the generous
assistance of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest.

Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road
Annapolis, MD 21402

2017 by Ann Todd


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying
and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Names: Todd, Ann, author.
Title: OSS Operation Black Mail : one womans covert war against the Imperial
Japanese Army / Ann Todd.
Description: Annapolis, Maryland : Naval Institute Press, [2017] | Includes
bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017013058 (print) |
LCCN 2017013937 (ebook) | ISBN 9781682471517 (ePDF) |
ISBN 9781682471517 (epub) | ISBN 9781682471517 (mobi) |
ISBN 9781682471500 | ISBN 9781682471500 (hardcover : alk. paper) |
ISBN 9781682471517 (eBook)
Subjects: LCSH: McIntosh, Elizabeth P., 19152015. | Women spiesUnited
StatesBiography. | United States. Office of Strategic ServicesBiography. |
World War, 19391945Secret serviceUnited States. | World War,
19391945CampaignsAsia. | World War, 19391945Psychological aspects.
Classification: LCC D810.S8 (ebook) | LCC D810.S8 M368 2017 (print) |
DDC 940.54/8673092 [B] dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017013058

Map created by Chris Robinson.

Print editions meet the requirements of ANSI/NISO z39.48-1992


(Permanence of Paper). Printed in the United States of America.

25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First printing

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Publicity Manager: Jacqline Barnes; jbarnes@usni.org, 410-295-1028
R The men and women of the OSS
fought a different, often invisible war,
Q
one for which few medals were given.
This book is an homage to them,
all of them, on every front.

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CONTENTS

List of Illustrations. .................................................. ix


Preface................................................................ xi
Acknowledgments................................................... xv
Cast of Characters. ................................................. xvii

Introduction. ........................................................ 1
1 Voyage before the Storm........................................... 7
2 War. ................................................................. 17
3 Recruitment. ....................................................... 35
4 Learning to Lie. .................................................... 47
5 In Theater. .......................................................... 63
6 Operation Black Mail. ............................................ 77
7 Rumors and Threats............................................... 87
8 Laying Down the Sword. ......................................... 95
9 A Woman in Charge............................................. 107
10 On to Calcutta .. ................................................. 117
11 China.............................................................. 129
12 The Last Summer. ............................................... 143
13 A Great Catastrophe............................................. 157
14 Mercy Missions................................................... 165
15 Operation Iceberg. . .............................................. 173
16 Going Home..................................................... 185
17 Home.............................................................. 193
Epilogue. .......................................................... 203

Notes. .............................................................. 213


Bibliography....................................................... 235
Index. .............................................................. 243

vii

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PREFACE

F or eighty-six-year-old Elizabeth Betty McIntosh, the morning of Sep-


tember 11, 2001, was very much like one sixty years before. On December
7, 1941, the sparkling blue sky over Bettys little house on Oahu filled
with waves of Japanese bombers. The roiling smoke and flames erupting from
the Twin Towers on 9/11 looked identical to the smoke and flames that had
emanated from the ruined white ships in Pearl Harbor. Shaking off the memory,
Betty snatched up the phone, muting the volume on her television but continu-
ing to watch the horrific scene unfolding. As an Office of Strategic Services
(OSS) living legend and a retired case officer, she had no problem reaching the
Central Intelligence Agencys Directorate of Operations and was put through to
her old department, the Special Activities Division.
Put me back to work, she said.
P
Before CIA there was OSS. Colorful histories of OSS abound. First and fore-
most on the bookshelf is scholarship on the luminous founder of OSS, William
J. Donovan. There are also thrilling accounts of Jedburgh teams training and
fighting with the French Resistance, frogmen pioneering underwater special
warfare, and the daring exploits of Operation Norso in Norway. And then there
are the biographies and autobiographies of those who went on to become CIA
directors: Allen Dulles, William Colby, Richard Helms, William J. Casey. The
overwhelming majority of these treatments center on World War II as it unfolded

xi

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xii Preface

in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. OSS Operation Black Mail is a
different, less prosaic narrative of OSSthe story of a remarkable woman who
fought on a different front, in a remote and often overlooked theater of war.
Elizabeth P. McIntosh was a trailblazer in the art of psychological warfare,
which she waged against the Japanese in the China-Burma-India theater of
operations (CBI), a place at the time often referred to as Confused Beyond
Imagination. Her craft was black propaganda, and her mission was to demoral-
ize the enemy through prevarication and deceit and, ultimately, to convince him
to surrender. Donovan himself believed fervently in the efficacy of psychologi-
cal warfare, and in 1943 he added a branch, Morale Operations (MO), to his
growing organization. The people recruited for this latecomer were of a differ-
ent ilk from those drawn out of the ranks of Yale, Harvard, and other esteemed
faculties who populated Donovans Research and Analysis (R&A) Branch. They
were not elite soldiers poached from the regular armed forces or movie stars who
flocked to OSS in search of adventure and the chance to make a difference. MO
brought in a wave of artists, journalists, and people who were deeply familiar
with the languages and cultures of far-flung parts of the globe. Creative types.
Professionals, many too old to enlist but eager to join the war, preferably over
there. The scholars, writers, and artists destined for Asia had, through their own
careers and interests, sought to understand the cultures of that part of the world
as an end in itself. Now that understanding would be used to find weaknesses in
a culture, to attack the unity of that culture, or, as one scholar put it, to crack the
enemys culture up, not just crack it open.1
The deceptive part of black propaganda is and was point of origin. A news-
paper was made to look as if it came off the presses in Berlin or Tokyo when
actually it was painstakingly replicated, cut, pasted, and printed in Washington
or Calcutta. A radio program purported to be broadcast from Tokyo when really
it was being beamed from a tiny hand-cranked generator in Chittagong.
P
Betty McIntosh once said, Never again would I feel so alive, so completely
engaged in something I knew would never come around again. She served a
total of eighteen life-changing months in India and China before she eventually
entered service in the CIA, from which she retired in 1973. During those eigh-
teen months, she met and worked with people as diverse as Allen Dulles, Julia
Child, and Ho Chi Minh. She ordered the killing of a Japanese courier in the
jungles of Burma to plant a false surrender order in his mailbag. She obtained

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Preface xiii

the complete cooperation of a surly enemy prisoner of war (POW) to craft that
order, copies of which were clutched in the hands of Japanese soldiers walking
out of the jungle in 1945. The title of this book, OSS Operation Black Mail, refers
to the many and various ways Betty and her crew obtained and altered personal
correspondence between Japanese soldiers and their families on the home islands
of Japan. By the time Betty was transferred to China, she had been made Acting
Head of MO for CBI. Although more than forty-five hundred women served in
OSS, to be made acting head of an operational branch over an entire theater was
a stunning achievement.2 She was extremely good at demoralizing and deceiv-
ing the Japanese simply because she admired them and had spent a great deal
of time immersed in their culture. She targeted not merely the Japanese soldier
but the man within: the son, the husband, the father. She knew her work could
ultimately save lives but never lost sight of the fact that her propaganda was a
weapon, and her intended recipients the enemy.
In the spring of 1943 a harrowing flight over the Hump with her good
friend Julia McWilliams (later Child) landed McIntosh behind enemy lines in
the city of Kunming, where she worked to provide materials to distant MO field
teams. Her memories of China, like those of Delhi and Calcutta, remained vivid
and give this wartime narrative an exotic dimension. Along with artist William
Smith and Chinese coworkers Ma and Ting, Betty explored hilltop monaster-
ies. She exchanged cross words with John Birch and quaffed beer with Claire
Chennaults Flying Tigers. While staying on after the Japanese surrender to
write an official station history for Donovan, she dodged bullets flying between
Chinese Nationalists and Communists, with local warlords in the mix. Her adven-
tures in OSS were made all the richer by the people with whom she served, a
small group of brilliant artists, writers, and social scientists. This story is as much
theirs as it is hers, which is what she wanted.
I met Betty McIntosh in 2010, after reading her book Sisterhood of Spies. I
was casting about for a doctoral dissertation topic and knew of the recent declas-
sification of OSS documents in the National Archives. After one interview, I
asked Bettys permission to make her the subject of not only my dissertation but
a published book.
Why would you want to do that? she asked.
This was not false modesty. Like many of her generation, she viewed her
years of service to her country as a privilege. Five years later, after hundreds of
hours of interviews and careful examination of Bettys personal papers and wartime

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Publicity Manager: Jacqline Barnes; jbarnes@usni.org, 410-295-1028
xiv Preface

correspondence, I had not only the product of my labors but one of the richest
friendships of my life.
Immediately after the war, before such accounts were precluded by the pro-
cess of classification, Betty set down her own wartime narrative in Undercover
Girl. Copies of this manuscript have become scarce and closely held by those
lucky enough to find one. OSS Operation Black Mail builds on Bettys narrative
and is additionally underpinned by all the primary source material demanded
for the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. Bettys personal quo-
tations and dialogue re-creations, derived from interviews, reside somewhere
between history and memory and should be understood as such.
During her lengthy and rich life, Betty enjoyed three happy marriages,
which means she was Elizabeth MacDonald during the war, Elizabeth Heppner
in the years after, and Elizabeth McIntosh thereafter. To avoid confusion on
the part of the reader, I have elected to use the last name McIntosh throughout
the narrative.
Not long before her death, Betty was brought to Langley to speak to covert
influence officers. The room filled to capacity as she was helped to her seat fac-
ing the crowd. When she began to speak, she leaned toward the officers and, as
one woman described it, went totally operational. The years fell away as she
described her experiences in black propaganda; some of her experiments had
been effective and some had not. She had ideas for operations targeting Vladimir
Putin and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), among other characters and
global hotspots. Although she did not even have an e-mail account, she had con-
cocted a scheme for weaponizing Facebook. Her visit to the CIA that day was
nothing short of transformative for those who heard her.
On her hundredth birthday, March 1, 2015, Elizabeth P. McIntosh was
feted in the Directors Dining Room of CIA Headquarters and received scores
of adoring agency employees who lined up to have their pictures taken with
her next to the statue of William J. Donovan. On June 8 of the same year, she
slipped away from us, and we lost a national treasure.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

W riting a book is a solitary and daunting undertaking. Although I have


never scaled the peaks of Everest or K2, I imagine the experience is
similar: exhilarating, tortuous, full of hidden pitfalls and switchbacks.
Difficult and delightful terrain. Sometimes it is hard to breathe. I did not reach
the summitthe completion of this projectalone. First to thank is Robert H.
Abzug, teacher, mentor, and dear friend. Bob, you changed my life. Professor
Betty Miller Unterberger was unrelenting in her belief in me as a scholar. H. W.
Brands, Don Carleton, Roger Beaumont, and Gail Minault all gave generously
of their time and guidance. Such people make me proud to call myself a historian.
Reference librarians and archivists are the great unsung heroes of history
writing, and I am grateful to those manning the stacks of the National Archives
at College Park, Maryland; the Library of Congress; the Smithsonian Archives;
and the Schlessinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute. The CIA Museum and
its team of dedicated museum professionals were generous to a fault in sharing
their expertise with an outsider. James D. Hornfischer, Bill Harlow, and the
editorial staff of the Naval Institute Press helped me turn a dissertation into a
manageable manuscript. David Priess offered both timely advice and the gift of
his friendship.
I wrote this book while serving as a camp host in a national park. My time
there was an adventure, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to shake
things loose in his or her life. The numerous challenges associated with living

xv

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xvi Acknowledgments

for three years in a small RV with three not-small dogs were mitigated by
the Rangers, maintenance staff, administrators, and colorful campers of Prince
William Forest Park. I am particularly grateful to Tracy Ballesteros, Christopher
Ballesteros, Ralph Marrantino, Stephanie Poole, Ken Valenti, Brian McIntosh,
and Park Superintendent Vidal Martinez. Thanks especially to Tall Paul for
keeping my road plowed in the winter, Doug Davidson for tending to every
plumbing issue imaginable, and Chuck Ayers for always making me feel part of
the National Park Service family.
I will never forget the encouragement shown me by Nick Reynolds,
Rebecca Reynolds, Sam Cooper-Wall, Art Reinhardt, Sarah Dalke, Scott Dalke,
Troy Sacquety, Charles Grow, Lin Ezell, Robert Sullivan, Susan Tennenbaum,
Hayden Peake, Clayton Laurie, and Jim Olson. The friendship of Patrick
Greenwade, Glenn Reynolds, Mark Mitchell, Brent McCauley, Sarah Crumley,
Cade Crumley, Will Binford, Bailey Tipps, Cindy Anne Duncan, Jodi Jones,
Cassandra Hindsley, and Mary Hindsley has continued to sustain me over many
years. Will McCauley will always, always, make me laugh, which is sometimes
the greatest gift of all. Toni and Dave Hiley made me the charter member of
their Take in a Cold and Hungry Doctoral Student Program and are now stuck
with me forever. Jan Bailey McCauley has been and will always be my sea anchor
through the storms and intermittent doldrums of my life. Thank you, pal.
My last thanks go to my family. Never a day passes without their undivided
attention and total adoration, so long as the treats keep coming. To Rufus, Patsy,
and Bear: keep those tails wagging.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS
( L I S T E D A L P H A B E T I C A L LY A F T E R B E T T Y)

Betty McIntosh
Recruited into OSS for her familiarity with Japanese language and culture.
Assigned to a relatively new branch of OSS, Morale Operations, she was trained
in the art of black propaganda and sent to the China-Burma-India theater of
operations.

Gregory Bateson
Anthropologist, husband to famous fellow anthropologist Margaret Mead. Hired
for linguistic and cultural expertise in Malay. Sent to CBI in 1944.

Paul Child
Painter, photographer, mapmaker, art and French teacher, lumberjack, furni-
ture maker, and holder of a black belt in judo. Created maps, charts, and three-
dimensional layouts in the OSS branch of Field Photographic. Sent to CBI early
in 1944.

Jane Foster
An internationally recognized artist who was hired by OSS for her expertise
in the languages and culture of the Netherlands East Indies, later known as
Indonesia. She was deployed to CBI in 1944.

xvii

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xviii Cast of Characters

Rosamunde Frame
Fluent in eleven Chinese dialects and sent to CBI in 1944 to work in OSS Secret
Intelligence, she was tasked with monitoring a growing number of Chinese func-
tionaries coming into India and being on the lookout for agents employed by
the Japanese.

Richard Heppner
A junior partner in William J. Donovans law firm called to active duty in the U.S.
Army in June 1941. Brought into OSS, where he directed sabotage efforts in
Operation Torch in North Africa and was then sent to CBI to initiate an OSS pres-
ence in that theater. Eventually posted as commanding officer, OSS Detachment
202, China. Heppner became Bettys second husband.

Alexander MacDonald
A fellow journalist who met Betty while he was working the police beat at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin and who eventually married her. As a reserve officer in
the U.S. Navy, Alex was activated on December 7, 1941. He followed his wife
into OSS Morale Operations in 1944, joined her in Washington, and then fol-
lowed her to CBI, where he operated black radio stations and conducted opera-
tions in Burma and Thailand.

Julia McWilliams
First hired by OSS in the Emergency Rescue Equipment (ERE) Division, later
promoted to senior clerk and administrative assistant. Sent to CBI in 1944. Later
known as celebrity chef Julia Child.

Dillon Ripley
A dedicated ornithologist brought on board OSS for his extensive knowledge of
the Netherlands East Indies and fluency in Malay. Sent to CBI in 1944, he worked
both in Morale Operations and Secret Intelligence Operations in Thailand.

Marjorie Severyns
Graduated from the University of Washington, where she studied political sci-
ence, international law, and history. Traveled to Japan, China, and Korea as an
exchange student. Was working for the Board of Economic Warfare when she
was lured into OSS, where she joined Morale Operations.

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