Linn Farrish

Linn Farrish
USA Rugby Eagle Profile
Eagle No.60
BornJanuary 1, 1988
HometownWoodland, CA
PositionNumber 8
College Stanford University

He was born on October 3, 1901 to George Adam Farrish and Ella May (nee Collins) in Rumsey, California . His grandfather Anthony Linn Farrish 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.

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

Before the USA entered World War II, Linn served with the Canadian Army, with the Royal Engineers in Persia, and then transferring to a British commando group. While undergoing paratroop training, Farrish 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. Farrish 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 Farrish 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". Farrish 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.

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

Farrish'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.

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

Special thanks to the Rugby History Society for this bio.

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