The Rugby History Society


Options
  Home
Return to Articles



 

 

Linn Markley Farrish


 

He was born on 3rd October 1901 to George Adam Farish and Ella May (nee Collins) in Rumsey, Yolo Co., California . His grandfather Anthony Linn Farish was the public administrator of Yolo county, who was elected to the office on the Democratic ticket in 1910. His grandfather was also chief deputy in the United States marshal's office. His father managed a 450 acre ranch in the Capay valley, Yolo county and a 20 acre ranch in the suburbs of Woodland .

Linn was educated at Stanford University where he took a degree in Geology. After graduation he became a top geologist and petroleum consultant.

 

Above Farrish at Stanford University in 1924

 

He married Nora Jenkins

 

Above the 1924 US team with American soprano Luella Melius and mascot.

 

He played once for the USA against France in the 1924 Olympic final at No. 8 and scored two tries.

Above the USA squad training in England before Olympic Games in Paris . Photo taken at Plymouth Rugby Club. Back Row (L-R): Sam Goodman (Manager), Valentine, Cashel, Williams, B, Slater (Cpt), Farish, Clark, Patrick, N. Slater, DeGroot, Charles Austin (Coach) Middle Row: Graff, Turkington, Deveraux, Manelli, Doe, Cunningham, Dixon . Front Row: Rogers, Hyland, Hunter, O'Neill, Cleveland, Muldoon, Scholz.

 

 

Above action from the USA v France final

 

Above action from the USA v France final

 

Above Newspaper article about the behaviour of the French crowd during and after the match

 

 

The 1924 USA v France final was marred by violence from the French crowd and the USA team had to escorted off the pitch by the police.

 

Above a 1924 Olympic Gold Medal

 

Before the USA entered the war Linn served with the Canadian Army, with the Royal Engineers in Persia , and then transferring to a British commando group. While undergoing paratroop training, Farish was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, and commissioned a major. His friend, Colonel Albert Seitz, was an engineer by profession. He had spent some time at West Point and served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They met at a “jump training” camp near Haifa , then received parallel orders to report to Cairo for assignment. Farish learned that he had been selected to serve as OSS representative with the SOE mission to Tito. Seitz, paradoxically, was to head the OSS team to Mihailovic’s camp. At the outset, neither officer had much knowledge of the Tito-Mihailovic conflict. Sitz recalls that they “discussed the reported friction ‘’’ and the matter did not appear insurmountable”

Both Farish and Seitz would have the important task of determining whether the two competing resistance groups were deserving of American aid.

While acting as the OSS liaison officer to Josip Tito's Yugoslav Partisans he was also allegedly serving Soviet intelligence.

Linn mapped out the area and located many areas which, although dangerous, could be used as landing strips. He then flew in and out of Yugoslavia , rescuing hundreds of fliers who had bailed out of crippled planes in the Balkans. He spent three 90-day periods in Yugoslavia , each time parachuting in, and then surveying the area by plane, looking for appropriate landing strips. He was given the Distinguished Service Cross and the government’s code of secrecy towards the actions of secret agents was broken, so that his name could be released as a military hero.

Fitzroy Maclean (Winston Churchill's special envoy to the Yugoslav leader Josip Tito in 1943-45) jocularly referred to him in his memoir Eastern Approaches as "my American chief of staff". Farish was known to his OSS compatriots as “Lawrence of Yugoslavia”

On the third of his reconnaissance trips in the Balkan Mountains his aircraft crashed and he was killed on 11th September 1944. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery , Virginia Section 2 Site 3435-F.

On 21st September 1944 The Oakland Tribune said

 

CRASH KILLS DARING U.S. SECRET AGENT

BARI . Italy . Sept. 21.—AP—Military censorship has relaxed one of its most rigid restrictions so that public recognition may be given Maj. Linn M. Farish of Woodland . Calif., the courageous officer who outfoxed the Germans for 12 months in the Balkans, only to die in a plane crash.
An engineer, Major Farish located and surveyed many secret air fields from which Allied fliers and others have been flown out to freedom. A careful observer, he saw events so clearly and with such perspective that his" reports were sent to the White House. Anonymity cloaked
his identity and activities because he was a secret agent. He was killed in the Balkans on September 11. Farish parachuted into the wild Bosnian hinterland on September 19, 1343, to join the British-American mission to Marshal Tito's Partisan headquarters Immediately after his arrival he went to Tito for assistance in rescuing fliers bailing out of crippled planes over Yugoslavia. The Partisan leader responded by sending this order to every brigade  headquarters: "American fliers must be rescued from enemy elements by force of arms if necessary." From this pledge of co-operation dated the return from captivity of hundreds of Allied airmen. Farish began work by sending in data for "escape maps" and urging
that fliers be kept up to date on free areas held by Tito. He then again searching for suitable landing strips so the men. once they were in safe hands, might be returned to home bases.
He stressed the importance of preparing several strips in each area to permit their use by rotation to confuse the enemy and eliminated the necessity of moving wounded men long distances. From such secondary fields, many men subsequently escaped from the Germans, among them Tito and Farish himself. Farish spent three 90-day periods in the interior of Yugoslavia , entering each time by parachute. He then undertook a series of surveying
trips by plane. He met his death on the third of these journeys. His most exciting cat-and-mouse skirmish with the enemy occurred in April after he had jumped into Macedonia near the Bulgarian border to round up and evacuate a number of fliers, some of whom had been in hiding since the low level bombing attack on Ploesti in August, 1943. First Lieut. Eli Popovitch of South Chicago , accompanied him. They located four airmen safe at parsian headquarters, but before they had lime to look for a landing strip. Bulgarian troops in the vicinity began an offensive. The Americans moved north for six days and five nights with only a few hours sleep. Bulgarian patrols twice fired on them. The Americans passed through the enemy lines three limes. The pair then made a five-day trip on horseback to bring a wounded flier from a small village near a Bulgarian garrison, crossing the enemy lines twice and barely escaping on one occasion by galloping their mounts under machine gun fire. On May 18 they saw a Liberator
bomber shot down over the mountains and went off again for nine days to scour the area for its crew. On the tenth day word reached their camp that three surviving fliers had boon carried away by a Chetnik patrol. Farish and Popovitch searched four more days and on June 3
managed to gel through to a village described as in "dangerous Chetnik territory." They found tile men alive and under treatment. They had no trouble in getting ox carts for their removal.

 

He is the only US rugby player to die in World War II.

 

Farish's code name in Soviet intelligence, and as deciphered in the Venona project was "Attila". The Venona project was a long-running secret collaboration of the US and UK intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union , mostly during World War II.

 

Farish was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously by the President of the United States of America in 1944. It said

 

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Major Linn M. Farish (ASN: 0-884213), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company B, 2677th Regiment, Office of Strategic Services, in action against enemy forces in the Balkans from 18 April 1944 to 16 June 1944. Major Farish's descent by parachute in enemy occupied territory, his leadership, and his resolute conduct in the face of great peril throughout an extended period, in the successful accomplishment of an extremely hazardous and difficult mission, exemplified the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States. In a later hazardous assignment of vital importance to subsequently military operations, Major Farish was killed, when his aircraft crashed during the course of operations. Major Farish's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

 

General Orders: Headquarters , U.S. Army-Mediterranean Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 125 (1944)

Action Date: April 18 - June 16, 1944

Service: Army

Rank: Major

Company: Company B

Regiment: 2677th Regiment

Division: Office of Strategic Services

 

Farish is listed on the The Yolo County Courthouse Memorial. He is part of the Yolo County Veterans Memorial Project.

 

The Yolo County Courthouse with the Veterans Memorial in the foreground.

 

His father. George, born 23rd October 1874, died on 6th September 1952. His mother, Ella, born 20th April 1876, died 12th April 1975. Both his parents are buried at Capay Cemetery , Esparto, Yolo County , California

 

http://sites.google.com/site/caseybooks

http://www.cliftonrfchistory.co.uk

 

References

Books

OSS : The Secret History of America 's First Central Intelligence Agency. Richard Harris Smith. The Lyons Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2005)

 

Shadows on the Mountain: The Allies, The Resistance, and the Rivalries that Doomed WWII Yugoslavia. Marcia Kurapovna. John Wiley & Sons Inc (E) (24 Nov 2009)

 

Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America , John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Yale University Press (1999), pgs. 194, 195.

 

Internet

http://rugby-pioneers.blogs.com/rugby/

 

Rugby @ Olympic Games 1924 - USA b France 17 - 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eck6Xy-pC0E

 

DVD

The Giant Awakens. 60 minute HD sports documentary that explores 130 years of rugby in America . Through the lens of award winning filmmaker Sylvain Doreau

http://www.agiantawakens.com/

 

US TV 2010

The Perilous Fight: America 's World War II in Color - Battlefronts (1942-1944)

http://www.livedash.com/transcript/the_perilous_fight__america%27s_world_war_ii_in_color-%28battlefronts_%281942-1944%29%29/918/KQED/Friday_May_14_2010/214033/

 

  

© Patrick Casey, 2011
For Permission to reproduce this article please CLICK HERE