Talltales

Prior to the entry of the United States into the Second World War, the government convened a secret group to advise on "extraordinary enemy methods and means". This body was composed of the sort of thinkers and commentators that Roosevelt felt he could trust to rationally address some of the outlandish claims about Nazi Germany being made by European groups and, somewhat more quietly, by "excitable elements" within the US military. Initially convened in April of 1940, it was officially constituted as the Office of Scientific Phenomenological Research (OSPR or "Osprey") in November of that year. As the group coalesced, archaeologist H.W. Jones of the University of Chicago quickly emerged as one of its leaders. Jones was a globe-trotting treasure collector and student of esoterica, and his rational, atheistic investigation of the ancient world made him a recognized expert in the sort of thing the Nazis were going mad over.

Jones handpicked the tight group of scholars and analysts who quickly earned the nickname "The Virtuous Men" bestowed by FDR in a meeting with OSPR's first chief, Dr. Marcus Towland of Harvard Divinity School. Well before America entered the war, OSPR agents had begun operations overseas, in North Africa and the Middle East, Scandinavia and Vichy France. In early 1941, OSPR agents identified a suspect group of Nazi agents operating in New Jersey, although the arrests were conducted by the FBI, and the credit was claimed mostly by Naval Intelligence officers.1 The resulting bad blood between the two groups lead to an edict by the Joint Chiefs of Staff limiting OSPR to overseas operations only, while the Naval Intelligence Special Means Office worked only domestically.

After America's entry into the war, OSPR worked closely with the OSS, coordinating and in some cases combining their operations. However, OSS had a close relationship with British Intelligence (MI-6), while the Laundry was part of the Special Operations Executive, an upstart group specializing in direct action that MI-6 felt endangered proper intelligence gathering on the Continent. The split between their British counterparts meant that OSPR and the Laundry operated with a certain distance between them - while they conducted joint operations, it was with a bit of coolness, and the two groups never fielded the occult equivalent to the Jedburgh teams that typified OSS/SOE operations in the late war. Most significant matters were carefully compartmentalized - all of SPARK, for example. It was only at Churchill's direct insistence that the Laundry shared the Grammar of Thoth (MUSIC) with OSPR in early 1943.

H.W. Jones' death in the Balkans in January 1944 marked a profound change in the Laundry's relationship with OSPR. The new Director, John Lee Eppling, an attorney and businessman educated at Harvard and Miskatonic, favored closer coordination with Naval Intelligence's SMO, and the uses to which the Americans were turning the MUSIC text worried the Laundry leadership. Laundry staff began preparing to run end-game operations in Europe, specifically Operation CHAR, without OSS coordination.

In late 1944, the


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