GOLDENEYE JAMAICA – 1952
THE THEFT OF JAMES BOND’S IDENTITY
“Bloody Morgan the pirate was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Jamaica Garrison from 1674 to 1688…This is certainly part of Morgan’s treasure.”
“M paused to fill his pipe and light it,…looking at the ceiling and back at Bond. ‘I know where the treasure is….It’s in Jamaica, and it’s Bloody Morgan’s. And I guess it’s one of the most valuable treasure troves in history.”
“’Good Lord,’ said Bond. ‘How,…Where do we come into it?” – Dr. No
“Goldeneye” is the name of a small beach house situated on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea along Jamaica’s north shore. The property was bought by Ian Fleming, sight unseen, and the single story cottage built to his specifications, a secluded place he could spend two months a year when not working in London.
Both Ian Fleming and James Bond were bachelors for most of their lives. The year before James Bond married Mary Wickham, Ian Fleming was to forego the life of a bachelor. Both Bond and Fleming married late in life. Bond, born in 1900, was 53 when he married for the first time, while for Fleming, it was a profound change for a 43 year old, previously dedicated bachelor.
To offset the shock, he said, he would write a novel. Fleming found himself at his Jamaican beach house when the day finally came for him to begin what he had earlier promised to would be “the spy story to end all spy stories.”
Beginning a ritual he would continue for the rest of his life, Fleming sat down to breakfast at Goldeneye, and picked up a copy of James Bond’s book Birds of the West Indies, which he considered his “bible” and kept next to his breakfast table.
Near the sleepy fishing village of Orcabessa, Goldeneye was situated on a cliff overlooking the sea along Jamaica’s north shore, which was a seasonal resort for British aristocrats before it became a tourist haven. Most of the rich Englishmen owned large, family owned plantation homes, called Great Houses. Fleming’s home however, was a smaller, one story cottage, built to his own specifications.
Jamaica had maintained a very English flavor since Henry Morgan, the pirate, used it as a base to plunder Spanish treasure ships. For his efforts Morgan was knighted Sir Henry Morgan, and appointed the island’s first English Governor-General. Besides the favorable weather conditions, the fact that the natives spoke the English language made it a comfortable locale for such notables as Sir William Stephenson, Ivor Bryce and Noel Coward.
Sir William Stephenson, the Canadian industrialist who Winston Churchill had dubbed “INTREPID” on his cables, owned the Tryall Great house, a private club that was also a world class golf course, country club and resort. Famed British play write Noel Coward had a home he called “Firefly,” not far from Fleming’s Goldeneye. Ivor Bryce owned a Great House known as Bellview.
Stephenson, Coward, Bryce and Fleming were all good friends and World War II cohorts. Stephenson was the director of British Secret Intelligence Service in the United States during the war, while Coward served as an entertainer, Bryce as an officer in the United States Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Fleming as the assistant to the director of British Naval Intelligence.
It was during the war, in 1944, when Fleming first went to Jamaica with Bryce for a conference on U-Boat warfare in the Caribbean. Bryce and Fleming took time off from their official duties to visit Bryce’s estate. Despite the dismal rainy season and dilapidated, unkempt wartime condition of Bellview, Fleming liked Jamaica. He liked Jamaica a lot, and asked Bryce to arrange for him to buy some land.
“I’ll want about fifteen acres,” Fleming requested, “with cliffs of some sort and a secret bay and no roads between the house and the shore. When you’ve fixed it for me I’ll build a house there and write and live there.” And that’s just what he did.
Site unseen, Fleming purchased the secluded beachfront property and built a house he christened “Goldeneye.” Some say the name came from a Carson McCuller’s novel, “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” while others say that it refers to a Spanish tomb in the nearby garden that has a golden head. Fleming’s military friends said that “Goldeneye” was the code name for the plan Fleming devised for the British defense of Gibraltar during the war.
In any case, Fleming said that he was, “determined that one day Goldeneye would be better known than any of the Great Houses that had been there for so long and achieved nothing.” Perhaps he intentionally shrouded the origin of the home’s name on purpose, much like the mystery of his life and work as a journalist, naval officer and spy.
In the 1930’s Fleming went to Moscow to cover an espionage trial as a journalist for the London Sunday Times. During World War II, after serving as assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Chief of British Naval Intelligence, Fleming organized an elite team of British Naval commandos who participated in behind the lines operations.
After the war, at the request of Alan Dulles, Fleming helped draft an outline for the charter, goals, tasks and organizational structure of what would become the Central Intelligence Agency – CIA.
During the height of the Cold War Fleming worked as the European editor for both the Sunday Times and the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA). At the time, NANA was owned by Fleming’s wartime associates Ivor Bryce and Ernest Cuneo Both had served under William “Wild Bill” Donovan in America’s wartime spy agency, the Office of Strategic Services – OSS. During the Cold War, Bryce, Cuneo and Fleming used NANA as a front for joint British-American espionage operations.
But despite Fleming’s official resume, he will be best remembered for creating the legend of 007 – James Bond, the world’s most famous spy.
The myth of British Secret Agent ‘Double-Oh-Seven” began at Goldeneye, Jamaica on the second Tuesday of January, 1952. Fleming, then 43 years old, awoke and went for a nude swim inside the reef of his private lagoon.
He then sat down at breakfast, prepared by Violet, his faithful housekeeper. Then he retired to his nearby workroom while his fiancé Anne Rothermere painted on the veranda. Closing the wood, window jalousies, Fleming sat down at his desk, took a drag from a cigarette, and began typing what would become the manuscript of “CASINO ROYALE.”.
“THE SECRET AGENT” he titled the first chapter. “The scent and smoke and swat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – become unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.”
“James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired. He always knew when his body or his mind had had enough and he always acted on the knowledge. This helped him to avoid the staleness and the sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes.”
Fleming later acknowledged that he appropriated the name for his hero from the author of the book “Birds of the West Indies,” which he kept on his breakfast table at Goldeneye.
Fleming said the name James Bond sounded appropriately “dull” and unassuming; perfect what was suppose to be his anonymous secret agent.
As the spy novel stories, surreal characters and bizarre plots developed over the years, with Fleming churning out a book a year, writing them every January and February while vacationing at Goldeneye in Jamaica, it became apparent that he took the themes for his plots form his personal experiences, and the names and identities for his fictional characters from people he knew.
It later also became apparent that the selection of James Bond as the name for his secret super hero was yet another mysterious slice out of the lives of Fleming’s friends and acquaintances.
When 007’s adventures take him to Las Vegas in “Diamonds Are Forever,” the fictional Bond is assisted by a cab driver, Ernest Cureo, a pun on his WWII and NANA associate Ernest Cuneo.
The name of 007’s London housekeeper is appropriated from the maid Ivor Bryce employed at his New York City apartment. And Fleming’s arch-villain Ernest Blowfield shares various character traits with Canadian industrialist L.M. Bloomfield.
In many of 007’s fictional exploits, the fictional James Bond is assisted by his CIA sidekick Felix Leiter, whose name is taken from American millionaire who would introduce Fleming to President Kennedy, and whose profile closely parallels that of another Philadelphia, journalist Henry Pleasants.
When James Bond and Felix Leiter go to a black jazz nightclub in Harlem in “Live & Let Die,” Leiter is quoted as saying, “I wrote a few pieces on Dixieland jazz for the Amsterdam News….Did a series for the NANA on the negro theater about the same time Orson Wells put on his MacBeth with an all-negro cast at the Lafayette. I knew my way around Harlem pretty well….It’s the Mecca of jazz and jive.”
Years later, in their book “The Invisible Government,” David Wise and Thomas Ross wrote that, “Henry Pleasants, widely known as the CIA mission chief in Bonn, Germany….was once the chief music critic of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and contributor to the music pages of the New York Times….(He) also probably had the distinction of being the only top U.S. spy to become the center of a literary storm. He had continued to write books after joining the CIA and in 1955 his “Agony of Modern Music” (Simon & Schuster) caused considerable controversy for its attack on all contemporary music except jazz.”
“It could have been a coincidence that Fleming borrowed the name of a prominent Philadelphia ornithologist for his 007 hero, and used the well-known background of former Philadelphian Henry Pleasants in developing the character of 007’s CIA sidekick, as a serious music critic as well as a spy. But Fleming also created a villain, Milton Krest, who closely resembles yet another Philadelphian, James Bond’s 1948 yachting companion Cummins Catherwood.
In the short story, “The Hildebrand Rarity,” the last of Ian Fleming’s five stories published in the 1959 anthology titled “For Your Eyes Only,” the featured mastermind is Milton Krest. In the story, Krest sits on the deck of his yacht explaining to James Bond and others that, “Ya see fellers….in the states we have this Foundation system for lucky guys that got plenty of dough and don’t happen to want to pay it to Uncle Sam’s Treasury. You make a Foundation like this one, the Krest Foundation, for charitable purposes….and since I happen to like yachting and seeing the world, I built this yacht….and told the Smithsonian that I would go anywhere in the world to collect specimens for them. So that makes me a scientific expedition….”
Catherwood, like Fleming’s fictional Milton Krest, had established the Catherwood Foundation, ostensibly for tax purposes. But another hidden asset of the Catherwood Foundation covertly assisted the CIA in its clandestine operations. Although the Catherwood Foundation’s CIA ties were not revealed publicly until the 1970s, the Soviet Russians knew of the relationship from the very beginning, thanks to the treachery of British-Russian double-agent Kim Philby.
As a high ranking British intelligence officer, Philby had served as the chief liaison between the British MI6 and the CIA when the American spy agency was first established in 1947. Philby was suspected of being the “Third Man” in on the spy scandal of the century when his two friends and fellow double-agents Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean escaped to Moscow shortly before they were to be arrested.
Philby was suspected of being a mole by American William Harvey, was publicly accused of being the double-agent in 1961, and he disappeared from Beirut, Lebanon in 1963. He eventually surfaced in Moscow, alongside his friends and former Cambridge University classmates Burgess and Maclean. Although it is generally acknowledged that Philby had been telling the Russians everything he knew since the time of his Cambridge student days, the full extent of his disclosures have never been revealed to this day.
In his memoirs however, published as “My Silent War” (Grove Press), Philby elaborated on his means, motives and beliefs, and explains how he worked closely with CIA director Allen Dulles and his assistant Frank Wisner, chief of covert operations.
Philby wrote that at one meeting, “Wisner expounded on one of his favorite themes: the need to camouflage CIA payments by funneling them through apparently respectable bodies in which there was a secret interest.”
Philby quotes Wisner as saying, “….it is essential to secure the cooperation of people with conspicuous access to wealth in their own right.”
Cummins Catherwood was one of those people “with conspicuous access to wealth in their own right,” and the Catherwood Foundation was one of those “apparently respectable bodies in which there was a secret interest.”
In 1964, in the wake of the disclosures that the CIA funded the domestically based National Student Association, President Lyndon Johnson publicly ordered the CIA to stop using private foundations as cover for covert operations, but the practice continued.
Although the Russians, through Philby, knew of the cooperation between the American philanthropic foundations and the CIA from the beginning, the general pubic didn’t find out about it until David Wise and Thomas Ross exposed it in their book, “The Invisible Government.” Among their other disclosures, they wrote, “Conduites for CIA money included the Catherwood Foundation.”
So not only did Ian Fleming base three of his characters, James Bond, Felix Leiter and Milton Krest on three real individuals, who all happen to be from Philadelphia, two of them – Henry Pleasants and Cummins Catherwood actually worked for the CIA. And James Bond, it turns out, could have been a real spy as well.
After completing the official, authorized biography, “The Life of Ian Fleming,” John Pearson, a Fleming protégé, also wrote a novel, labeled “fiction,” called the “Authorized Biography of 007.” In this book, Pearson claims that the real James Bond had been a spy whose cover was blown. Fleming, Pearson explained, wrote the fictional 007 spy thrillers about James Bond to throw the opposition off. Fleming’s idea was to make Bond such a renowned comic book superhero that the Russians, and everyone else, would believe that he really didn’t exist.
The fictional exploits of the British Secret Service agent-hero would also boost the moral of the once vaulted service that was shattered by the betrayal of Philby and his friends, and would salvage what they could of the espionage networks that had been betrayed. One of those networks was funded by Cummins Catherwood, and included his West Indies shipmate, James Bond.
While Bond’s mythical line may distinguish the birds of the West Indies and South America, Ian Fleming, sitting down at his typewriter at Goldeneye, never drew a discernable line to distinguish what were the facts of life and history and what he wrote as fiction in his spy novels.