Friday, December 14, 2012

Ivor Bryce on the Men and the Myth

Ivar Bryce, You Only Live Once (1975)

Pages 27-28

In the meantime Ian became a stockbroker. He joined the old and distinguished firm of Rowe and Pitman. The senior Pitman, already a friend, and his wife became two of his nearest and dearest throughout adult life. Whether he learnt much of value in the management of money is another question. In my opinion he never would have made his mark as a businessman. But then I myself am so lacking in the necessary qualities for achieving the peaks of the business world that my opinion is of little or no value.

It was in the spring of 1939 that Ian's journalistic experience in Russia and his linguistic attainments first put the idea in some sage and influential heads - among "establishment" circles, Whitehall, the City - that here was a young man who should be made use of in the troubled times which they could so clearly see ahead. No doubt his name was mentioned in quiet conversations in hallowed clubs, and jotted down in little notebooks by small gold pencils belonging to people who count. The Governor of the Bank of England was consulted - Robert Fleming and Co. is after all a most reputable merchant bank - and Ian was invited to lunch at the Carlton Hotel. Admiral John Godfrey was the new Director of Naval Intelligence, and Ian liked him enormously from this first meeting, a liking which, perhaps fortunately for the British Navy, was immediately returned. Ian knew he had fallen on his feet when he was invited to become the Admiral's personal assistant. He breathed in great lung-fulls of the precise, professional atmosphere of his new surroundings, like some powerful ozone. All through the summer months he was meeting new people and absorbing new skills. Secret persons approached him, and helped him acquire these secret skills necessary to establish him in the key situation that awaited him. If those who foresaw as inevitable a death struggle between the ideologies that split the western world in two proved to be right, he could become of value to his country. For Ian the die was cast. His feet were firmly planted on the path for which his natural talents equipped him perfectly.

Pages 49-53

Ian Fleming, of course, I saw in London . He was in the blue serge uniform of the wavy navy. Busy, but secretive, he seemed happy and very electrically alive. We had wartime lunches together in haunts of his that were handy to the Admiralty, and he asked a million questions about my recent life, activities and friends.

He advised me to go back to New York and Washington , where I had some influential friends, especially in the newspaper business, ranging from Walter Lippman to Walter Winchell. "You will be more use there," he said. "Stick around."He also intimated that his Admiral might be visiting America quite soon, and that he, Ian, would no doubt accompany the party.

He got me on a flight back. It was the first of many wartime transatlantic air crossings, with their noisy, freezing, crowded bucket seats, oxygen at all altitudes above 10,000 feet, and roaring take-offs from Prestwick, Reykjavik , Goose Bay , Stephensville, to Dorval Field, the airport at Montreal .

Reading the papers, listening to the radio and digesting the gloomy news reports occupied my time, until one day the telephone rang and I was requested to call on the British Passport Control Officer, 630 Fifth Avenue , at my convenience. I was taken to a back office where, at the desk, sat an acquaintance of mine. We exchanged some platitudes and Pat, evidently a busy man, stood up and thanked me for my prompt visit. "Go to the Westbury Hotel", he added, "room 320, at three o'clock this afternoon. Someone there would like to see you."

On time I rang the bell of room 320, and the door immediately opened on a pink-faced, bright-blue-eyed old gentleman, who waved me in, sat me down, and told me all about myself. "With your languages and your experience of South America you could be of use to HMG," he said. "If you are willing to follow any orders, and accept whatever happens to you, and on no account ever to reveal the smallest detail concerning your work, just sign this document here at the bottom, and I will explain to you." The Official Secrets Act - a terrifying document if you read it through. I did not.

I did not want to give this cherubic sixty-year-old, with his fiery complexion and bald pate encircled by white hair, one second in which to change his mind. I had read a thousand thrillers (what are now described as "suspense stories") and could recognize a spy-master when I saw one.

I swore total and blind and everlasting obedience, and was ushered out of room 320 with instructions to report at 9.00 am the following day at an office on the thirty-sixth floor of the Rockefeller Center, New York.

For some months, my office job of nine to six, or any other hours that were requested, was just an office job. Dickie Colt, the irrascible, impatient, unpredictable, intelligent and, above all, loyal gentleman who had just recruited me, turned out to be my immediate superior in what, for all I could tell, was a particularly boring sub-department of the Consular Service, dealing in commercial and cultural matters in Latin American and other countries.

Mr Colt, known as Coitus interruptus by his staff, was a man who expected every question answered before it was asked. He was both amazed and displeased if I did not know the name of the secretary of the Venezuelan manager of Eno's Fruit Salts. The staff of our office, far more numerous than I had expected, comprised a fascinating mixture of backgrounds and achievements. There were playwrights, engineers, university professors, military men, tycoons and just plain boffins among us, and they all knew a great deal more than I did about everything. Also, though ready at any time for a visit to a bar or nightclub, they seemed unable to discuss our business, or to clarify any of the numerous enigmas that puzzled me. There were also great travellers: here today and gone, sometimes for ever, tomorrow. There were many sections and, though mine was concerned with Latin America, I did discover that several new friends of mine, who worked for an elderly white Russian, Mr Halpern, once a member of the Duma, the czarist parliament before 1917, seemed closely enmeshed with minority groups and refugees from many lands, not only in South America but in the great USA as well.

My first specific assignment was explained to me eventually. Much of Western Europe was now Nazi-occupied and two necessities for the survival, let alone the eventual emancipation, of our friends were to secure intelligence (news) from the conquered territories, and also to provide intelligence, propaganda, materials for sabotage, and, in the ultimate, weapons for our friends to create an underground network and help to win the war. People, `bodies', must be found who could undertake the terrible risks of infiltrating the occupied lands. They must, of course, speak the language not only perfectly but with up-to-date slang, if their mission involved contact with anyone at all. They must also be trained in a number of the black arts to have any hope of being successful `agents'. To find and train such men was the work of my service, SOE, for Special Operations Executive. And to find them in Latin America was to be my special responsibility. I had to find daring, patriotic, intelligent and reliable men as candidates for these jobs; and I had to be certain that they were trustworthy - heart and soul against the enemy. One wrong decision, one traitor among our faithful could cause disaster to many brave men. When the Gestapo were acting on `information received', the victim did not just get away with death. He was tortured, and any friend who could be identified by any scrap of knowledge in his brain was run down and tortured too.

The dreadful responsibility of selecting a secret agent was, naturally, not all mine. Many experts, many cross-references, and long, long training were the order of the day. I recruited twenty such volunteers. About half never made it and for one reason or another were rejected, or even imprisoned to prevent any possible dangerous contact. Several succeeded and returned safely after completing their hair-raising missions. One, Jan van Schrelle, a young Dutch friend of mine from Brazil , was parachuted into Holland after his underground group was blown. He landed among a reception committee composed of Gestapo, and was never seen again. His life in Brazil had been useful and happy, and it was I who suggested to him what he might exchange it for.

Sometime before Pearl Harbor , it occurred to Franklin Roosevelt that the proud American boast that they had no need for a secret service was no longer true. The United States could not afford to lag behind its potential enemies, nor even its allies, in the intelligence available to the government and the armed forces, nor in secret methods to protect its citizens. General (from the First World War) "Wild Bill" Donovan, a holder of the Congressional Medal of Honour, and now the senior partner in a distinguished law firm, was most wisely chosen by the President to initiate and create a secret service worthy of a super-power. Donovan was a personal friend of the far-seeing Canadian pilot, William Stephenson, who by now was in charge of all British para-military organizations in the Western hemisphere. Before accepting this new American responsibility, Big Bill consulted his friend Little Bill (as they came to be called) in search of methods and constructions for the formation of such an organization.
Little Bill gave wise advice and the offer of an expert, to be selected by the British, to formulate the table of organization required to set up an American service. The expert, immediately flown to Washington from Whitehall , was the personal aide of Admiral Sir John Godfrey, the Director of British Naval Intelligence. He was a comparatively young but exceptionally able officer, Lieutenant-Commander Ian Lancaster Fleming R N V R.

Page 64-67

An infinitelv more important event was on the cards this fateful autumn of 1941. While it became obvious to increasing millions of Americans that their President was right in his belief that the United States must eventually enter the war, a powerful propaganda was hammering the pacifist doctrines of `America first' into the minds of timid and wishful-thinking citizens. Numerous influential papers, radio stations and opinion-swaying groups were fighting against entry. The Middle West , despite its largely Germanic background and German and Italian organizations, open and secret, contributed little to these causes. The British were forced to advocate the opposite view, and our representatives were prepared to go to greater lengths than they would have been willing to admit to their American colleagues. The battle was between life and death, after all.

The enemy's strength in South America and the Nazi intentions for that continent had Hitler decided to attack to the west rather than to the east were wetl known. But they were difficult to prove to those who did not wish to believe. I knew that whole populations would have been eradicated, national borders changed, and Nazi-oriented governments supported if Hitler had eventually got his way. The whole continent would have been forced to bow to Nazification, and freedom, enjoyed by Latin Americans for more than a century, would have been forever banished from their homelands. Sketching out trial maps of the possible changes on my blotter, I came up with one showing the probable reallocation of territories that would appeal to Berlin . It was very convincing: the more I studied it the more sense it made. The obvious aggrandizement of Paraguay , the land-locked and poverty-stricken but immensely militaristic kingdom of the German dictator Stroessner, would of course be enlarged: a great corridor to the Pacific, at the expense of Chile , Paraguay 's old enemy. The abolition of Uruguay , the Switzerland of South America, then a happy, peaceful, law-abiding and democratic little country, was obvious. And so on. It made me feel the heady power of king-makers, and I drew most carefully a detailed extension of the idea, as it would appeal to Hitler, for submission to the powers that be, to wit Bill Stephenson.

Were a genuine German map of this kind to be discovered or captured from enemy hands and publicized among the good neighbours themselves, and above all among the `America firsters' with their belief that America could get along with Hitler, what a commotion would be caused. The idea appealed to the Chief, and a method immediately occurred to him.

Intelligence had just reached him that a certain house on Cuba 's southern coast was in use by German agents for radio communication with the U-boats in their area. This intelligence had deadly results for the helpless shipping supplying West Indian islands with food: news of sailings and itineraries was radioed to the nearest submarine, and so the death sentence was carried out. Stephenson was about to inform the FBI, whose territory of action included Cuba . An unpublicized raid would be made at night, the transceiver apparatus removed and the operators captured, and the ships would be saved. Among the finds that the FBI would make in this enemy outpost, when the raid was carried out, would be papers, orders, records or the like emanating originally from the German High Command. It was always so. On this occasion Stephenson decided the FBI were going to fall upon a monster prize, something of transcendental importance that the Nazi agents would have no time to destroy. My map was quickly turned over to the expert forgers - a department of scientists whose knowledge of papers, inks, types, colours, watermarks and similar minutiae was total. In forty-eight hours they produced a map, slightly travel-stained with use, but one which the Reich's chief mapmakers for the German High Command would be prepared to swear was made by them. An authentic German map from the highest, most top secret archives....

After Pearl Harbor, and with America 's entry into the war, the British and American counterparts, those men in BSC (British Security Co-ordination) and the members of OSS (Office of Strategic Sciences), were, so to speak, officially introduced to each other. As `each other' were in many cases colleagues and friends who had been cooperating in secret for months, and who had grown into a mutual respect and friendship, this was a relief to all. Henceforth it was not finally the British or American Chiefs of Staff who were our ultimate masters, but the Combined Chiefs of Staff, sitting in Washington and responsible only to their Chiefs of State.

Pages 91-94

As for my American life, New York is a city impossible for a man to inhabit in idleness. New York life does not particularly appeal to me, either for play or work; but that is only one person's taste and I am at heart always a countrv boy, with no wish to live permanently in London , Paris or any other city. If obliged to abide in New York , it is better to work, and if obliged to work, it is better to be occupied with matters that are by nature of interest.

Late in the war, a most interesting figure had entered my life, and now he came to the fore once again. Ernest Cuneo is my contemporary, give or take a few months, and I should become intolerably conceited if I had a fraction of his attainments. The Cuneos (whose name means "wedge" in Italian) come from Chiavari and one Michael Cuneo of Savona in fact sailed with Columbus . Following the Risorgimento, in which the Cuneos backed Garibaldi, there was a grand exodus of the clan: one branch (Ernie's) went to New York, where they founded a ship repair/marine hardware business and eventually invested in real estate; another branch to Chicago, where they started the now substantial Cuneo Press; and yet another branch went to San Francisco, where they became co-founders of the Bank of America. Ernie's parents, however, arrived in the United States as infants and, because he only heard English at home, Ernie does not speak a word of Italian and is an American par excellence. He grew up in schools typical of the comfortable Wall Street commuter belt, a strong and brilliant boy who could, when he wanted, acquire knowledge at high speed and recall it instantly years later. He is what is known in American athletics jargon as a "suare-rigger" - 5'9" and 195 lbs. As a young man, he excelled at football, playing for Columbia University , of which he is a proud alumnus, and, finally, he achieved the tremendous distinction of becoming an All-American footballer.

In his early twenties, like Ian and me, he `found out about girls' and later advised us of the New York rule of thumb: "to play the field of the international demi-mondaines, the cost is simple to calculate - 50% more than your income".

He took up the law "to raise hell" and over the years his career flourished. His encyclopaedic wisdom, his fine sense of humour and his kindness to all around him contributed to making him a special New York personality of titanic proportions. While his specialities were nominally international and constitutional law, he acted as counsel to many famous and prestigious American and foreign corporations and businessmen. On the rare occasions when he did not immediately know the answer, he would bury himself in his large library, churn around the shelves and emerge at last with the solution to some knotty problem.

Over the years, as a lawyer, Ernie raised hell against Mussolini, Franco, Hitler and Stalin, with a group putting into effect the policies of the President, by acting as counsel to the Republic of Poland on the brink of war, and by running with the famous columnist Walter Winchell the propaganda campaign against Hitler, before the United States entered the Second World War. It is now also part of the public record that a line of intelligence information between Churchill and Roosevelt was established during the war using the OSS and BSC, outside official communications channels. This consisted of a chain of five men, of whom the third was Ernie.

He is the repository of innumerable secrets; is on intimate terms with the denizens of the corridors of power; and his advice, as can easily be imagined, is widely sought by the famous. So is his company. It is not surprising that this eminence grise of Washington and New York became a most useful as well as a most dear friend to Sir William Stephenson. Ernie was of great help to us in the war and when I met him and became a friend of his I considered myself lucky indeed. He is a wonderful companion, to whom I am indebted for countless happy and laughter-filled hours, and the enormous bulk of wisdom I have not learnt from him is due entirely to my limited ability to learn enough of that which he has the unlimited ability to teach.

With Cuneo , the erudite attorney, it became possible to control and direct a business concerned with news - always fascinating to me. NANA, standing for North American Newspaper Alliance, was a reputable (if modest compared with the giants of AP, UP, Reuters) wire service and syndicator of features. It had been formed originally to enable a group of important regional American newspapers to club together and thus afford to secure the occasional and expensive journalistic treasure. Churchill's memoirs are a prime example. No one paper could afford, alone, to buy the world rights of such a work. NANA could bring them together.

NANA also provided a wire service to hundreds of subscribers from the New York 'limes to unknown local journals in the back-of-beyond, generally of lesser news stories for the inside pages. It fed the American press with the syndicated columns of pundits revered by the public, comic strips with their vast multitude of addicts, cartoons, horoscopes and crossword puzzles. There was always something going on and interesting people to be met: lovable old newsmen living on a shoestring, their reward and all they asked the by-line (their names printed at the foot of any contribution of theirs which received publication) ; celebrities of stage and screen who needed the friendship of the press; callers with original ideas; eccentrics. All kinds of people. It was an interesting life, although nearly impossible to make a profit in such a violently competitive field; but it supplied us with an exaggerated feeling of importance - a feeling shared by no one but ourselves.

Pages 97-98

"Look at the top," he said, pointing at a small handbook entitled Birds of the West Indies which we often needed to consult. "Look - the name." Birds of the West Indies by James Bond.

It was James Bond, the ornithologist, whose homely English name was destined to be known to a hundred million human beings. A letter from Ian at Goldeneye, dated simply "Wednesday", I think, in 1964, says, "James Bond appeared here the other day in person with Mrs B. and we duly stuffed him into the middle of a forty-minute television interview by Canadian Broadcasting ($1000!). A charming couple who are amused by the whole joke. He duly identified our swallows as cave swallows, had lunch and departed. Some scoop for CBC!"

"Yes, that would make a pretty good name," I agreed. From that year on "the books" were annually brought to birth.

Over the years Ian evolved a formula for writing which enabled him to produce his intended novel a year. His "commonplace book", in which he recorded detail and incidents which might someday prove useful, was never far from him. Like all writers, I suppose, he viewed every incident of life with an appraising eye, judging what would be of use in the next book, or the next but one. He took immense trouble with names and plots, although the names sometimes came before the plots. He enjoyed using the names of his friends, or even those whom he knew only slightly. It certainly amused me to discover that Mr and Mrs Bryce signed the visitors' book in Dr No, as well as travelling incognito by train together in Live and Let Die. But it was the names alone which he used, for in most cases the characters bore no resemblance to their real-life originals. Honeychile, the beach girl in Dr No, comes from Honeychile Wilder, Princess Hohenlohe, American-born in Kentucky and a celebrated wit and beauty. Leiter - Tommy rather than Felix - was the scion of the Chicago Leiters, a gentle, friendly millionaire. Fox-Strangways, Bond's station commander in Jamaica , was the Hon. John Fox-Strangways, a great friend of ours at Eton . Ernie Cuneo surfaces as a New York taxi driver. For some of his characters he took both name and background. May Maxwell, our indispensable housekeeper at 74th Street , appears in the same role for James Bond, while Albert Whiting, the golf professional at the Royal Sandwich course, whom Ian knew well, becomes the quick-thinking Albert Blacking in Goldfinger.

In the storehouse of Ian's mind nothing was ever forgotten. One dav while we were all staving at the Farm in Vermont , Ian and Ernie Cuneo decided to visit the famous mud baths at Saratoga Springs . Some miles out of Saratoga they saw a battered sign to the mud baths down a side road. They arrived at ramshackle huts deep in the woods, which proclaimed themselves the mud baths. Hesitating only for a moment they went in and received the full treatment. Only when it was too late did they discover that the vastly luxurious mud baths for which they had set out were in Saratoga itself; they had blundered into what was very much a back-street establishment, filled with all the low life which is attracted to a great gambling centre. That was how the famous mud-bath incident in Diamonds are Forever was born.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

JFK & Ian Fleming


While John F. Kennedy was still a senator, shortly after being nominated as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, he entertained Ian Fleming at his Georgetown home as a dinner guest with a number of other people.

While Fleming was in Washington, visiting his friends John and “Oatsie” Leiter, Fleming was driving around Washington with Mrs. Leiter when they came across Kennedy and his wife walking down P Street not far from their home.

In an interview with his friend William Polmer Ian Fleming recounted:

“Well, it was rather interesting. About a year before Mr. Kennedy became President, I was staying in Washington with a friend of mine and she was driving me through, it was a Sunday morning, and she was driving me through Washington down to Georgetown and there were two people walking along the street and she said, ‘Oh, there are my friends Jack and Jackie,’ and they were indeed very close friends of hers, and she stopped and they talked. And she said, ‘Do you know Ian Fleming?’ And Jack Kennedy said, ‘Not the Ian Fleming?’ Of course that was a very exciting thing for him to say and it turned out that they were both great fans of my books, as indeed is Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, and they invited me to dinner that night with my friend, and we had great fun discussing the books and from then on I’ve always sent copies of them direct and personally to him before they’re published over here.”

“I think that was an historic encounter,” Plomer noted.

Although Fleming discretely avoided her name, the friend was Marion ‘Oatsie’ Leiter. Apparently Mrs. Leiter had been invited to the Kennedy home for dinner that night, and they drove over to Kennedy’s Georgetown to inquire whether Fleming could accompany her to dinner, but Kennedy and his wife had stepped out for a stroll. So when they came upon the couple walking down the street they stopped and Mrs. Leiter introduced Fleming, who Kennedy recognized by saying, “James Bond?”

As for joining them for dinner, “By all means,” Kennedy said. 

Just as Fleming had taken the name James Bond from the American ornithologist and author of the book Birds of the West Indies, he had also appropriated the surname for 007’s CIA sidekick Felix Leiter from John Leiter, Kennedy and Fleming’s mutual friend and Kennedy’s Georgetown neighbor.

Other guests reported to be at dinner that night included William Walton, a painter and longtime friend of Kennedy, journalist and CIA asset Joseph Alsop and John Bross, who was said to be “from the CIA,” and indeed had served with distinction in Cold War Germany.

In recounting the dinner that night Fleming’s official biographer John Pearson wrote:
“During the dinner the talk largely concerned itself with the more arcane aspects of American politics and Fleming was attentive but subdued. But with coffee and the entrance of Castro into the conversation he intervened in his most engaging style. Cuba was already high on the headache list of Washington politicians, and another of those what’s to-be-done conversations got underway. Fleming laughed ironically and began to develop the theme that the United States was making altogether too much fuss about Castro – they were building him into a world figure, inflating him instead of deflating him. It would be perfectly simple to apply one or two ideas which would take all the steam out of the Cuban.”

“Kennedy studied the handsome Englishman, rather as puzzled admirals used to study him in the days of Room 39. Was he an oddball or something more? What ideas had mister Fleming in mind?”

What would James Bond do about Castro? In the best form of British sarcasm, Fleming replied, “Ridicule, chiefly,” and as Pearson related, “…with immense seriousness and confidence he developed a spoof proposal for giving Castro the James Bond treatment…” 

According to one account, “Fleming … in their conversation, …. told Kennedy that he had a way to get rid of Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba. This piqued Kennedy's interest, since Castro had been a thorn in the side of Kennedy. Fleming said that Castro's beard was the key. Without the beard, Castro would look like anyone else. It was his trademark. So, Fleming said that the U.S. should announce that they found that beards attract radioactivity. Any person wearing a beard could become radioactive himself as well as sterile! Castro would immediately shave off his beard and would soon fall from power, when the people saw him as an ordinary person. Kennedy had a good laugh about this bizarre suggestion.”

Bill Koenig visited the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where the Fleming papers are kept. He reported: “The Fleming-related material is hardly the oldest or rarest of what's here. But for a fan of 007, it is a treasure trove. Not only are most of Fleming's original Bond manuscripts here but a huge collection of people writing to Fleming and receiving correspondence from him. The letters are, indeed, of a different time, when people took the time to type out a letter and drop it in the mail, not just bang out a few lines of e-mail and forget it. The library has two collections of note. The first is comprised of fifteen Fleming manuscripts, purchased from Fleming's widow in 1970. (The library also acquired rare books collected by Fleming in his lifetime.) The other is a collection of letters gathered by Leonard Russell, the late literary editor of The Sunday Times of London and by John Pearson, Fleming's biographer.”

“Other letters show Fleming's relationship with more casual acquaintances -- except his casual friendships were with CIA directors or U.S. attorneys general. Allen Dulles, the one-time CIA chief, didn't know Fleming's address when he wrote a letter on April 24, 1963. "I have received and finished reading your latest ‘On Her Majesty's Secret Service.’ I hope you have not really destroyed my old friend and colleague James Bond, but I fear his bride has gone." More than a year later, in June 1964, Dulles writes again. "I see that ‘From Russia With Love’ is now a movie and although I rarely see them I plan to take this one in."

“By the time of the Dulles correspondence, James Bond was becoming big in the United States -- mainly thanks to President John F. Kennedy including From Russia With Love on the list of his 10 favorite books. Fleming acknowledges that fact in a 1962 letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. ‘I am delighted to take this opportunity to thank Kennedys everywhere for the electric effect their commendation has had on my sales in America.’”

Portraits of James Bond

Portrait of James Bond as a boy 

James Bond (right) and his brother as young boys
James Bond and his brother and mother
James Bond in Philadelphia while a student at Cambridge in the 1920s

James preparing a bird specimen 

James and Mary Wickham Bond "in the field"

James Bond with specimen trays at Philadephia Academy of Natural Sciences

Ian Fleming signed a copy of his latest book to Bond on the day they met - Feb. 5, 1964 
"A great day!" 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ian Fleming and Kim Philby

Ian Fleming and Kim Philby

All of the official biographies of Ian Fleming acknowledge that he took the name for his fictional 007 hero from James Bond, the author of the book Birds of the West Indies, but they also all falsely claim that Bond enjoyed the celebrity status Fleming gave him and took it as a joke, when in fact Bond was quite annoyed and deeply resented the “theft of his identity.”

So I also began to question the validity of the frequently repeated statement that Fleming began to write the 007 novels on a lark, to take his mind off his impending marriage, and considered the possibility that there was a more significant “operational” motive behind the literature. They could have been written either to boost the morale of the British Secret Service which was severely damaged by the betrayal of Kim Philby and the Cambridge spy ring or to salvage some of the operations they may have exposed.

This thought occurred to me when I read Jim Houghan (in Secret Agenda – Watergate, Deep Throat & the CIA, Random House, 1984, p. 5-6) where he notes that:

“When (E. Howard) Hunt first approached Colson for work in the White House, he was still a part of the CIA. His retirement from the agency would not occur until April 30, 1970, and, considering his record, the possibility of his retirement was bogus is quite real. Indeed, this was the third time that Hunt had left the Central Intelligence Agency. The first occasion was in 1960, when he was issued fraudulent retirement papers to facilitate his liaison with anti-Castro exiles. When that invasion was launched, only to founder, Hunt returned to the agency’s staff – having never actually left its payroll. Five years later, in 1965, Hunt quit for a second time. The author of more than four dozen pulp thrillers and novels of the occult, Hunt left the agency in furtherance of a counterintelligence scheme that revolved around his literary efforts. The purpose of the scheme, according to government sources familiar with Hunt’s curriculum vitae at the agency, was to draw the KGB’s attention to books that Hunt was writing under the pseudonym David St. John. These spy novels alluded to actual CIA operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, and contained barely disguised portraits of political figures as diverse as Prince Norodom Sihanouk and the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. It was the CIA’s intention that the KGB be led to believe that the books contained security breaches, and toward that end the agency created a phony ‘flap’ that was capped by Hunt’s supposedly ‘forced retirement.’ In his memoir of his years as a spy, Hunt does not mention the counterintelligence aspects of the David St. John novels, but writes, ‘I resigned from the CIA [this second time], and was at once rehired as a contract agent, responsible only to [the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans, Thomas Karamessines.’”

Since it has also been acknowledged that E. Howard Hunt obtained official permission to write his spy-fiction novels in light of the success of Ian Fleming’s 007 books, perhaps there is something to the idea that Fleming began to write his novels as a counter-intelligence project as well.

Fleming began to write his first 007 novel within a year of the defection of Burgess and Maclean.

In January 1952, when Fleming sat down at his typewriter to begin his first 007 novel, “Casino Royale,” it was no longer a matter of speculation as to whether the British Secret Service had been betrayed by its own long standing members, it was only a matter of determining the severity of the damage and what could be done to rectify it.

When Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean disappeared the previous May, 1951, shortly before MacLean was to be confronted with the evidence he was a Soviet spy and interrogated, the speculation centered on the identity of the “third man” who had tipped them off and allowed them to flee. Since these secrets were tightly held by only a few men in the counter-intelligence field, the “third man” was certainly positioned in a high place within the Secret Service, and a major effort was made to identify him.

The investigation quickly focused on Kim Philby, a former Cambridge classmate of Burgess and Mclean, who at the time was serving in Washington D.C. as liaison to the CIA and FBI.

Both Burgess and Maclean had been posted to America and associated with Philby, and Burgess drew suspicion on himself and Philby by his outrageous behavior, having William Harvey being one of the first to question whether Philby and Burgess were Soviet agents. But James Angleton, chief of the CIA’s counterintelligence branch, discounted any such notions, especially after many three-martini lunches with Philby.

When President Kennedy, already familiar with the 007 novels, and having entertained Fleming at dinner at his home, requested to meet the “American James Bond,” he was presented with William Harvey, who insisted that Philby and Burgess were Soviet spies.

While Burgess’ treachery was confirmed by his disappearance, Philby weathered the storm and though relieved from his position as liaison to the American services, was eventually rehired by MI6 – the British foreign intelligence service.

President Kennedy then nominated Michael Straight to be the director of the National Endowment for the Arts, a move that unraveled a whole new line of inquiry that revitalized the spy hunt for the elusive “third man.”

At first Straight accepted the prestigious position, but when he realized that he would have to undergo a vigorous background check, he declined because he too was one of those recruited by the Soviets while a student at Cambridge. When he explained his dilemma to a friend he was advised to go to the FBI and tell them everything, which he did.

After writing the first 007 novel Casino Royale, Fleming and his wife returned to England for the birth of their son Casper. After dropping her off at the hospital, Fleming visited an old friend from their school days, the American born Whitney Straight, then chairman of BOAC airlines. Both Whitney Straight and his younger brother Michael had attended Cambridge and were personal friends with Guy Burgess, and according to Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett, the case of the Missing Diplomats is what they discussed.

Michael Straight was preceded at Cambridge by his older brother Whitney, a playboy race car driver who introduced Michael to the Pitt Club, which has been described as a “hunting and drinking” club, where he first met Guy Burgess, who Straight dismissed as “an alcoholic adventurer, a name dropper and gypsy.”

While most of the Cambridge spy ring were members of the Apostles, Michael Straight, Guy Burgess and James Bond himself, from some years earlier, were members of the Pitt Club, and continued their affiliation with the club years after they left Cambridge.

Among those who attended Cambridge, James Bond and Michael Straight, while years apart, stood out conspicuously as American “Yanks,” though they too were products of the British prep school system, Bond having attended St. Paul’s school in New Hampshire and then Harrow in England, while Michael and his older brother Whitney attended Dartington Hall in South Devon.

A month after his arrival at Cambridge Michael Straight was reluctantly recruited into the Cambridge Communist cell by Anthony Blunt, who would go on to become a member of the Secret Service as well as the surveyor of the Queen’s extensive art collection. Although he declined Blunt’s invitation to join them, Straight never betrayed his friends and assisted them in other ways.

Straight’s reluctance to willingly serve the Soviets did not prevent them from obtaining valuable use of him, especially when he returned to America and became editor and publisher of the New Republic, which published some of Philby’s commentaries.

J. E. Hover had ordered a complete investigation of all the American students who attended Cambridge in the 1930s to see if there were any more similar communist moles who had burrowed into the heart of the American government bureaucracy, the Straight brothers among them, but James Bond himself apparently avoided that dragnet since he had attended in the 1920s, even though the communist recruiters were busy at work there at that time too.

According to John Costello [Mask of Treachery – Spies, Lies and Betrayal, Warner Books, 1988], Straight “…was given a list of eighty-five Americans who attended Cambridge University between the years 1930 and 1934, from which he picked out one American who he knew casually at he Department of State. He then named two more Americans with whom he had studied at Cambridge between 1936 and 1937 and whom he knew to have been Trinity cell members and/or Communist sympathizers…The FBI representative in the U.S. Embassy in London recommended a full review of all Americans who had studied at either Oxford or Cambridge before the war.” [Costello would die suspiciously while engaged in his investigation of the Cambridge spy ring.]

Although J. E. Hover allegedly balked at “the political repercussions of an investigation of over 500 American citizens with no basis for such inquiry in fact,” the CIA reportedly changed his mind and “as a result, the records of nearly six hundred Americans who had attended Oxford or Cambridge before World War II were carefully compiled, examined and scrutinized.”

If James Bond was among those scrutinized, it wasn’t the first time he came to the attention of the counter-intelligence, counter-spies, as Bond had called attention to himself by providing information to the FBI about some German activity in the Caribbean during World War II.

According to Mrs. Mary W. Bond, in her book To James Bond With Love [Sutter House, 1980], while on a bird hunting expedition in Haiti, Bond met a reclusive and suspicious German on Morne La Selle mountain. When he returned home Bond “told his friend Brandon Barringer about the encounter with the German, and Brandon took it up with the authorities in Washington. Jim (Bond) was promptly visited at the Academy of Natural Sciences by Army, and then Navy intelligence officers.”

As Mrs. Bond related, “Fleming would have been intrigued with the final twist to the story. The intelligence people asked a lot of foolish questions and seemed far more suspicious about Jim’s reason for climbing Morne La Selle than about the German’s activities.”

Whether by intent or coincidence, James Bond’s Cambridge ties add credence to the theory that Ian Fleming wrote the 007 novels as part of a concerted psychological warfare operation rather than on a ‘lark,’ and the James Bond stories have more to do with actual covert operations than has been acknowledged.

One biographer, Andrew Lycett, [in The Man Behind James Bond, Turner, 1995] while mocking Fleming’s actual intentions and motives, acknowledges how Fleming’s first novel was at least inspired by the betrayals of the Cambridge spies when he wrote: “What raised Casino Royale out of the usual run of thrillers was Ian’s attempt to reflect the disturbing moral ambiguity of a post-war world that could produce such traitors like Burgess and Maclean. Although Bond is presented like Bulldog Drummond with all the trappings of a traditional fictional secret agent,…in fact he needs ‘Marshall Aid’ from Leiter (CIA) to enable him to continue his baccarat game with Le Chiffre. Bond is rescued from his kidnappers not by the British or the Americans but by the Russians, who complete the job he should of done by eliminating Le Chiffre. Bond does not even get the girl: [ Vesper ] she has been duplicitous throughout, betraying not only him personally but all Western Intelligence’s anti-Soviet operations. No wonder, feeling let down and abandoned, he fails to conceal his bitterness at the end and spits out, ‘The bitch is dead now.’”

Casino Royale was Ian Fleming’s response to the betrayal of the Cambridge spy ring, portraying the women who loved James Bond as the sexy snake who actually worked for the opposition, much like the sexual ambiguity and background of the Cambridge spies.

Although his official biographies hardly mention their names, Ian Fleming had many close associations with all three traitors – Philby, Burgess and Maclean.

The career paths of Ian Fleming and Kim Philby crossed more than once, but most certainly during World War II when Philby was responsible for MI-6 counter-intelligence for the Iberian peninsula – Spain and Portugal, which includes Gibralta, for which Fleming was given the responsibility of planning the defense of for the Admirality, a plan he codenamed “Goldeneye,” also the name of his Jamaican estate.

In his fictional obituary of 007, Fleming notes that his James Bond attended Eton, as did many of those involved in these intrigues beginning with “C,” Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of the British Secret Service and on whose watch the Cambridge moles were recruited into it. Other former Eton students include Ian Fleming and Guy Burgess, and Eton headmaster Charles Elliot was the father of Fleming’s chief MI6 contact Nicholas Elliot. The old Eton ties facilitated recruitment into the British Secret Service when Menzies served as its head.

The day before Burgess embarked on his sudden journey to Moscow with Maclean, he returned to Cambridge where he visited a former history professor to explain a moral dilemma concerning his authorship of a biography of the Earl of Sandwich authorized by the family.

At the same time Maclean was in London where he met and had lunch with Fleming’s close associate Cyril Connolly, who after the defection, was assigned to write about the missing diplomats by Fleming’s Sunday Times.

According to Douglas Sutherland [in The Fourth Man – The Story of Blunt, Philby, Burgess and McLean, Arrow Books, 1980], “The late Cyril Connolly, the well-known Sunday Times book critic, was a close friend of Maclean’s and lunched with him the day before he left on 25 May, 1951.”

Sutherland quoted Connolly as saying: “I was very interested to read your remarks about Mclean and Burgess…because I knew them both and actually lunched with Maclean the day before he disappeared. The point I want to mention to you was that on that day I am sure he had no intention of leaving the way he did. He spoke to me so normally as to his private affairs…this makes me feel that, subsequent to meeting me on May 24th, he received some warning that he was under suspicion, and immediately left the country with Burgess. It may be, therefore, that someone in the Foreign Office told him on May 25th that you had authorized him to be questioned. Of course it was not until the Foreign Office knew that the security office knew as well.” Now we know that person was Kim Philby.

Cyril Connolly’s book on the affair was to have been published by Queen Anne’s Press, on his board of directors Ian Fleming served. The publishing company’s name did not disguise the nature of their interests, as Queen Anne’s Gate was where the offices of the British Secret Service were located.

Most intriguing among the connections between Fleming and the Cambridge moles is the sequence of events that resulted in Burgess and Maclean publicly surfacing in Moscow. While most people suspected they were in the Soviet Union, it wasn’t known for sure until Fleming’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Hughes urged the Russians to produce the two defectors before a major British-Soviet summit conference. At Fleming’s suggestion Hughes made an effort to contact the “missing diplomats,” succeeded in meeting the two in a Moscow hotel and obtained a formal statement from them. Hughes did so by making an official inquiry, suggesting that the scheduled summit conference would not be successful unless the matter of the missing diplomats was first explained.

Then after Burgess and Maclean publicly surfaced, the British-Soviet summit conference was disrupted by a botched covert operation, much like the Gary Powers-U2 incident wrecked the USA-Soviet summit in 1959. British frogman Buster Crabb disappeared while investigating the hull of Kruschev’s ship in Portsmouth harbour, his body discovered a few days later. Fleming even wrote about the incident, which was a joint venture between MI6 and British Naval Intelligence, and reportedly directed by Fleming’s chief contact in MI6, Nicholas Elliot, and eventually led to the resignation of the director of MI6.

The resurfacing of Burgess and Maclean also called unwanted attention to Kim Philby, who somehow had reclaimed his job with MI6 and was working in Beruit, Lebanon with the cover job as a correspondent for two British publications.

When Philby arrived in Beruit the MI6 station chief there was his long time friend and faithful supporter, Nicholas Elliot, Fleming’s contact who was reportedly responsible for the botched Buster Crabb operation that led not only to the resignation of the head of MI6 but also brought about a change in the political party in power. That November, shortly before relinquishing power, outgoing Prime Minister Anthony Eden and his wife took a vacation to Jamaica, where they stayed at Fleming’s Goldeneye.

With the change in government, the Buster Crabb incident also forced a change in the leadership of both MI6, responsible for foreign intelligence, and MI5, counter-intelligence, with the director of MI5 Dick White assuming the position of director of MI6, the first time anyone had served both positions. White was astonished when he learned that Philby, after all the fuss over the “Third Man,” was still working for MI6 in Beruit.

Tom Bower [in The Perfect English Spy – a biography of Sir Dick White] wrote, “Even thirteen years later when he met Burgess in Washington, he (Michael Straight) volunteered that he had never betrayed his friends. But in 1963 Straight was offered a government post and, apparently fearful of exposure, he had spent June closeted with FBI officers, including Bill Sullivan, detailing Blunt’s futile attempt at recruitment. In January, 1964, Straight repeated the story to Arthur Martin. By any measure, the confession was a major breakthrough. Not surprisingly, the MI5 officer returned to Britain excited about the disclosure. The molehunt had been legitimized.”

While the earlier evidence was inconclusive, with the addition of Michael Straight’s confession and a number of Soviet defectors who had identified Philby as a Russian spy, the evidence was overwhelming, his longtime friend Nicholas Elliot was ordered to confront him. Elliot did extract a confession of sorts from Philby, he did not get him to return to England, and instead Philby disappeared, resurfacing in Moscow with his Cambridge mates, Burgess and Maclean.

How he got there, while a mystery for some time, had something to do with his Armenian friends, a connection he shared with Fleming.

Of their life in Beirut, Philby’s wife Eleanor wrote: “People are constantly asking me how it was possible that I, who shared his daily life, could have remained so unaware of his secret work for Russia. Perhaps the answer is that I just was not looking for clues. Looking back over our life together in Beirut, I can see some significance in one or two odd incidents which I thought nothing of at the time. There was, for example, the occasion when Kim, after a few drinks too many, decided late in the evening to take me and a friend out to dinner. We took a taxi and Kim directed the driver outside the city to an Armenian shanty town which sprawls across the malodorous Beirut river. In one of the mean streets, we stopped outside a first-floor restaurant full of shabby people. The food was good, but Kim, fuddled with alcohol, seemed hardly aware of his surroundings. Some weeks later I suggested we return to the Armenian restaurant. ‘What Armenian restaurant?’ Kim asked, giving a sharp look. He strongly denied that we had ever been to any such place.” [p. 48 Kim Philby-The Spy I Married, Eleanor Philby, Ballentine, 1968]

In “The Third Man – The Full Story of Kim Philby [by E. H. Cookridge, Berkley Medllion, 1968] the mystery deepens further into the Armenian mist. Cookridge wrote: “On one occasion, however, Philby was almost caught red-handed. He was observed on night on the terrace of his apartment waving a dark object to and fro in the air. The observer was a security agent of the Lebanese secret police, the head of which was Colonel Tewfik Jalbout, a trusted ally of the American CIA, whom he had rendered many services in the past…To find out who was at the receiving end, Colonel Jalbout sent out a posse of agents, but Philby’s house stood on a hill overlooking a fairly large part of the city. The receiver of the signals could be one of several hundred people, looking from any window. However, the search was narrowed down to two or three suspects, one of them an Armenian, believed to be a Soviet agent….On another occasion one of Jalbout’s detectives reported that he had seen Philby twice changing taxicabs and eventually arriving at a small sweetshop belonging to an Armenian in the old city. Soon after, the Soviet assistant military attaché entered the shop. The detective did not dare stop the two men, as he was afraid to cause a diplomatic incident. The fact that both Philby and a Soviet officer had gone to a dirty little sweet shop, whose regular customers were Arab children, was significant, particularly if considered in conjunction with the other incidents observed.”

Then in the Philby Conspiracy [by Bruce Page, Daid Leitch and Philip Knightley (Times Newspaper-Signet, 1968)] it is revealed: “How did Philby get to Moscow? We are able to reveal for the first time, that Philby arrived on Russian soil four days after he left Beirut, i.e. on January 27, 1963…He made his way across Syria into Turkey. From there on,m using his knowledge of the country gained during his earlier periods there and his contacts with Armenians which he had built up in Cyprus, he walked into Soviet Armenia. Then, feeling safe for the first time in thirty years, he ‘went home’ to Moscow.”

Before Philby fled however, Ian Fleming himself visited Beirut, arriving in November 1960 on his way to Kuwait, where he had been commissioned to write the official history of the Gulf emirate by the Kuwait Oil Company. In Beirut he me up with his friend and MI6 contact Nichoals Elliot. According to Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett, “…Elliot was delighted to see him. Their conversation ranged over a variety of intelligence-related topics, including Kim Philby, a key participant in the Missing Diplomats affair, who had been working in Beirut as a newspaperman since 1956. Ian told Elliot that he had his own minor freelance intelligence assignment to perform: the then NID chief Vice Admiral Sir Norman Denning had asked him for information about the Iraq port of Basra…Ian did not delay…at 10:30 sharp he asked to leave, saying he had a rendezvous with an Armenian in the Place de Canons in the center of town.”

“Perhaps,” speculated Lycett, “Ian was meeting Philby, whom he had certainly met during the war. But Elliot had the distinct impression his dinner guest had arranged to see a pornographic film in full color and sound.”

As we see, even though Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean are not mentioned in the first two official biographies of Fleming and dismissed by Lycett, they played a major role in his life and work, as well as his fiction.

“Casino Royale,” Fleming’s first 007 book, concerns the betrayal of a fellow agent named Vesper, the snake, and John Pearson, who wrote The Life of Ian Fleming, the first official biography, also wrote a companion book, A Biography of James Bond, an ostensibly fictional work in which he acknowledges discovering the real James Bond while researching and writing Fleming’s biography.

According to this account, Fleming wrote the 007 books in order to make James Bond such a famous and outrageous super hero, the Soviets would not believe that he really existed. And it worked.