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|Ian Fleming was the creator of James
Bond - he wrote twelve James Bond novels between 1952 and
1964. The movies have been produced since 1962. Bond's
world was based on Fleming's own experiences in World War
Fleming was plucked out of newspaper work to join British Naval Intelligence in 1939, when Churchill was still the First Lord of the Admiralty in Chamberlain's government. He became an aide to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, and was known as "17F". He was trained at Intrepid's "Camp X", on Lake Ontario in Canada, where he became practised at underwater demolition. He rose to the rank of Commander. With Godfrey, he met J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, in 1941, and had some influence in the establishment of the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. Read more about Intrepid on The Gremlins page on this site.
Fleming was typical of the intelligence agents of his time, and thus archetypical of Bond, his creation. He came from a family of class, independent wealth, and a history of service. He attended the right schools, but did not excel. As his access to the family wealth was somewhat restricted, and he felt unable to live in this shadow, he struck out to develop his own fortunes. He travelled and read widely, and enjoyed the good life, working in journalism and banking. Intrepid did not select daredevils as his agents. He found that "Some of the best agents are those who in peacetime make good bankers, physicians, or creative artists" - someone with great energy, but full self-control.
One of the more unusual operations that Fleming directed was Operation Mincemeat, later known by the book title The Man Who Never Was. At the conclusion of the Allied takeover of North Africa, the next obvious point of attack was Sicily. It became imperative to find a way of convincing Germany that the strike would be elsewhere. Fleming devised a scheme to disguise a body as a naval officer, complete with totally convincing "secret" papers showing a different plan of attack. The body, appearing to be a casualty from a shot-down plane, would then be floated ashore in Spain, where local German spies would find it.
Fleming's task was to make the body totally convincing. The book covers the minute attention paid to detail, which included placing theatre tickets and love letters in "Major Martin's" pockets. The operation was overwhelmingly successful. The love letters were in fact written by Paddy Bennett, Fleming's secretary (later known as Lady Victoire Ridsdale). Bennett was later the inspiration for Mrs. Moneypenny, although she has insisted that she was never in love with Fleming.
Fleming drew many of his ideas for the Bond stories from Intrepid's operations and his own experience. When Intrepid read the first Bond book, Casino Royale, he told Fleming that it wouldn't sell - "Truth is always less believable..." Goldfinger's raid on Fort Knox was inspired by Intrepid's plan to steal Vichy French gold from Martinique. This plan was never put into action, but the threat was sufficient to effectively blackmail the still-neutral US Government into extending additional loans to Britain.
Exotic locales featured in both the fiction and the fact. When an additional base was needed in 1941, Bermuda was chosen for a number of strategic reasons; Intrepid also later retired there. In 1974, it was claimed that there had been a real "James Bond", based in Intrepid's hotel room in the Hamilton Princess in Bermuda. (Fleming actually copied the name of Bond from a real ornithologist and author of a book called Birds of the West Indies.) The Gazebo Bar at the Hamilton Princess featured an aquarium, reminiscent of Dr. No's shark tanks. Fleming wrote the Bond books in the house he designed himself, Goldeneye, in Jamaica, where he later retired.
Other celebrities that are said to have worked for Intrepid in various capacities included Greta Garbo and NoŽl Coward. Coward was fluent in Spanish, and collected intelligence while touring Latin America, where Germany was preparing its US propaganda campaigns. Roald Dahl also enters the story again much later - he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice, filmed in 1967, three years after Fleming's death.
"Mrs. Moneypenny" gained some notoriety as recently as 1997, when at the age of 75 she beat off two would-be thieves in London. One of the men attempted to grab her wedding ring as she got out of her car. "That was just too much for me ... I kicked him in the groin and he doubled up in pain." The two men fled.
Based on an article that originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 1998 edition of TableAus.
James Urquhart, of Armidale, New South Wales, wrote in 1999 that his grandfather has one of Ian Fleming's Cars:
The Man Who Never Was
Major Martin's identity was kept secret for many years, and there is now some controversy over who he really was - a number of Web sites cover the current theories. It was reported in 1997 that he was Glyndwr Michael, a Welsh vagrant who died of pneumonia after attempting suicide by drinking rat poison. However, a TV documentary screened in the UK in early 2003 claimed that he was Tom Martin, a sailor killed when the aircraft carrier Dasher sank off the Scottish coast. This was based on research into clues apparently left by Ewen Montagu, the author of the book and senior officer in charge of the operation. Major Martin - whoever he really was - is buried in Huelva, Spain.
See more at John Michael's site The Man Who Never Was - The True Story of Glyndwr Michael.
One of the reasons that Mincemeat was so successful was the continual battle between competing intelligence organisations in Germany. The intelligence carried by Martin was used as a pawn in this battle, to great effect. The interception of German Enigma traffic by British intelligence confirmed within days that the Abwehr accepted the information as genuine.
More Fleming Information
There are heaps of Bond sites out there - a search on Google for "James Bond" gives about a million matches. One of the top entries is the official MGM site at jamesbond.com. A good reference for the movies is IMDb - The Internet Movie Database.
Like to live in the tropics like a retired spy? Why not stay at Goldeneneye? The property is now owned by Island Outpost, the company set up in Jamaica by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, and son of Fleming's Jamaican muse, Blanche Blackwell. It was Blanche that first sold the property to Fleming; she also arranged a nearby property for NoŽl Coward - Firefly. Among the large cast of celebrities entertained by Coward in Jamica were Sean Connery and Winston Churchill...
Read about Camp X at Lynn-Philip Hodgson's Camp X site. You can buy the book Inside - Camp X here.
You can also read about another book - The True Intrepid - at Bill Macdonald's site, which is using this site to help publicise the book.
|Updated: 19 Sep 2004||To Top|
content Copyright © Keith De La Rue 1998-2004.