Diana de Rosso was an Anglo-Italian opera singer and a courier for the Allied Forces in Europe.
Having grown up in the south of France with a Welsh mother, she went to London when war broke out. After singing roles in Dublin she was recruited in London over tea at the Waldorf Hotel by Claude Dansey, assistant chief of British MI6. He asked if she would like to exchange the possibility of developing her operatic career in return for an intelligence role. Having been politically conscious early in life and wanting to help the war effort, she said yes. However, in order to move freely she would need a neutral passport. It was arranged that she marry a Spaniard who wished to relocate to England. They were wed and went their separate ways — each to benefit from the arrangement. However, her husband was imprisoned in Spain until the war was over – no doubt organised by the Allies to ensure her undercover work was not discovered. Like Ayla’s story in IW Episode 4, her undercover name was associated with a prisoner — someone who could not be interrogated by others.
Diana de Rosso became part of the Allied Forces Private Collection of spies from 1942 to 1945 which was run parallel to other intelligence groups such as the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). These agents operated in plain sight, took commercial transportation and didn’t have to hide documents in secret pouches like Celine in IW Episode 7. In addition, there were rules of engagement that the militaristic undercover divisions had to comply with which the private collection operators did not. Diana de Rosso became a valuable asset; not only did she courier deep state Allied secrets throughout Europe, she was excellent at obtaining military-related information at high society social events. She reported directly to senior officers in Allied intelligence.
She was recruited not only because she was an opera singer and could move easily between major cities without suspicion but also because she was politically astute, cautious, reserved, watchful and had a phenomenal memory. Diana de Rosso was couriering Allied troop movements and sabotage strategies in her musical scores. Before a tour, she would receive a package containing her encoded musical scores and in various cities and contacts she would exchange these and receive others. In this way crucial intelligence information moved through Europe and into the hands of Allied senior intelligence officers on the ground. It was a fruitful plan and Diana de Rosso was so brilliant at intelligence work that after the war she was invited to continue behind the iron curtain.