Mary Bancroft’s Lover

By her own admission, Mary Bancroft felt emotional attachment for only two men in her life, neither of which was one of her two husbands.

Early in December 1942, Mary began working for Allen Dulles, head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the American spy agency, out of Zürich. Allen Dulles was a Princeton graduate, a Republican, and the son of a Presbyterian clergyman from upstate New York. He and his brother, John Foster, were partners in the prestigious Wall Street law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell. He had held various positions in the State Department but was now considered America’s spy master.

In no time, the two became lovers, at the same time working in intelligence and keeping an eye on Hitler and Germany. Dulles chuckled that he was sure that he and Mary would be able to do some good work together. Lighting his pipe in signature style, he said, “It should work out very well! We can let the work cover the romance — and the romance cover the work!”

There was never any hope for marriage, and Mary knew that. Both of them were married. Although Mary would divorce her Swiss husband at War’s end, Allen Dulles never contemplated divorce. Nevertheless, Mary never really got over him, and, in her later years, often wrote about him in glowing terms.

I write about Mary Bancroft, her life and experience as a spy in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”.

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