Henry B. Hyde, 81, who engineered one of the greatest espionage operations of World War II as head of a network of Allied spies in southern France, died April 5 in New York after a long illness. His official residence was in Washington during the war years.
Mr. Hyde is best remembered for Operation Penny Farthing, which author Joseph Persico's "Piercing the Third Reich" describes as a spy network that greatly assisted the Allies' D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. His agents delayed the arrival of the SS "Das Reich" Panzer Division, whose tanks could have thrown the Allied forces back into the English Channel.
Born in Paris during World War I, Mr. Hyde was the grandson and namesake of the founder of the Equitable Life Insurance Co. He grew up in Versailles. Fluent in French, English and German, Mr. Hyde was educated in England at the Charterhouse School and Cambridge University. He studied history at Cambridge and Bonn University. After receiving a law degree from Harvard Law School, he set up practice in New York.
In 1942, Allen Dulles recruited Mr. Hyde into the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency that Mr. Dulles later would head.
Mr. Hyde was sent to Algiers to help organize the American intelligence penetration of southern France. As chief of the French secret intelligence desk in 1943-44, Mr. Hyde collected all intelligence on enemy forces.
His duties included recruiting, briefing and equipping OSS agents, selecting agent drop points and …