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Historically Speaking

Historically Speaking: The Man who would be Bond

By Tom Morrow

Born May 28, 1908, Ian Lancaster Fleming was a famed English author, journalist and British Naval Intelligence officer, who lived many of the actual experiences he wrote about in his James Bond series of spy novels.

While working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, Fleming was involved in planning “Operation Golden Eye” and in the planning and oversight of two commando intelligence units. His wartime service and his career as a journalist provided much of the background, detail and depth of his spy novels.

Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, “Casino Royale,” in 1952. It was such a success there were three press runs to meet the demand. Between 1953 and 1966, there were 11 Bond novels as well as two short-story collections. The novels revolved around James Bond, an officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond’s character is also known by his code number, 007, and was a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve.

The Bond stories rank among the best-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Fleming also wrote the children’s story “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang” and two works of non-fiction.

One of Fleming’s numerous memos, called “Trout,” compared the deception of an enemy in wartime to fly fishing. One of Fleming’s many schemes to be considered for use against the Axis powers to lure U-boats and German surface ships towards minefields.

His 28th proposal on a memo list was an idea to plant misleading papers on a corpse that would be found by the Nazis. Another similar suggestion was made by a Royal Air Force planner. Whose idea was actually used is up for speculation. Author Basil Thomson wrote about the operation, which fooled the Nazis into thinking the Allies were going to invade Greece instead of Sicily. Thompson penned “The Man Who Never Was,” which later was made into a movie.

Fleming also worked with U.S. Brig. Gen. “Wild Bill” Donovan, who was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s special envoy between London and Washington. Fleming assisted in writing the blueprint to form the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA.

Fleming did not fight in the field with the commando units he formed, but selected and directed targets operations from the rear. On the formation the first unit it was only 30 men strong, but it grew to five times that size. The unit was filled with men from other commando units, and trained in unarmed combat, safe-cracking and lock-picking.

Before the Normandy landings, most of Fleming’s commando operations were in the Mediterranean, although it secretly participated in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid to capture an Enigma crypto machine. Because of its successes in Sicily and Italy, the unit became greatly trusted by British and American naval intelligence services.

In March 1944, Fleming oversaw the distribution of intelligence to Royal Navy units in preparation for Operation Overlord (D-Day) and followed the commando unit into Germany after it located the Tambach Castle, the repository for German naval archives since 1870. Fleming suspected files pertaining to the Nazi’s nuclear weapon development was being held at that site.

Fleming died April 12, 1964, at the age of 56, suffering from respiratory and heart failure. Details of his life, both military and romantic affairs during World War II, reads as good as his novels. His creation of James Bond is the alter-ego of Ian Fleming, one of the unsung heroes of the War.

My novels may not be quite as good as Fleming’s, but you be the judge. Go to: www.tomorrowsnovels.com

E-mail Tom Morrow at: quotetaker1939@gmail.com