Henry Baldwin Hyde (1915-1997)

Lawyer of New York; Chief of Intelligence in France & Switzerland with O.S.S.

He was born in Paris and named for his grandfather, Henry Baldwin Hyde, President and founder of the Equitable Life Insurance Company. He was educated in England at Charterhouse School; Trinity College, Cambridge; and, the University of Bonn before receiving a law degree from Harvard. He started his own practice in New York and on the outbreak of war was recruited by the O.S.S.

He was head of the French desk at Algiers when General "Wild Bill" Donovan selected him to run Operation Penny Farthing, "one of the most successful skeins woven by American intelligence in the thick of the war". Known as "Monsieur Henri," he was tasked with recruiting, briefing, and equipping agents who were then trained in London before he selected drop off points for them in France co-ordinated through secret radio links with O.S.S. operatives in France. Operation Penny Farthing helped to both plan and execute the landings in the South of France and Normandy. For his role, he was awarded two Bronze Stars, the French Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre. Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that he, "contributed materially to the success, not only of the United States Seventh Army in South France, but also of the Allied Armies in Northern France."

After V.E. Day, he replaced Allen Dulles as the O.S.S. station chief in Switzerland. In 1947, he returned to New York and continued his career as an international lawyer, retiring as a partner with Wormser, Kiely, Galef & Jacobs. He was a founding director of the William J. Donovan Memorial Foundation; a director and Vice-President of the French Institute-Alliance Francaise; and, an honorary trustee of the Hospital for Special Surgery. He lived in Manhattan and summered on Fire Island. His first wife was a grand-daughter of Jessie (Robbins) Belmont and they had two daughters before they divorced. His second wife was the former model Lisa Prokoff Piper, mother of his two step-daughters.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 06/09/2023 and last updated on 06/09/2023.