Ian Fleming & James Bond exhibition at IWM Lambeth North

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Brush_Dust_Shake, May 22, 2008.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. I first heard of this upcoming exhibition a few weeks ago in another Arrse forum, & thought it would be well worth a visit. Yesterday Mrs BDS & I made the trip, & we weren't disappointed by what we saw! Mrs BDS is a big James Bond fan, so I knew she'd be keen when I suggested it.
    Here's a brief synopsis:
    Entry to the exhibit costs £7 for adults (free for IWM Friends), & photography of any kind including phone cameras is not allowed; there are more museum staff on duty than is normal for an exhibit of this size to enforce this ruling.
    First part of the exhibit deals with Fleming's early life, his family & wartime experiences. His father was an MP & TA officer, killed in action in WW1; he served in the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars & Winston Churchill was a personal friend, they served together in the same Sqn. Fleming's early life followed a conventional pattern for someone of his background. Eton was followed by admission to Sandhurst in 1926, where he excelled at sports, but he was removed from the Academy by his mother for catching the clap from a prostitute!
    After this he became a stockbroker & journalist, but it was the outbreak of WW2 which enabled him to find the career at which he excelled. He applied for a job in Naval Intelligence & was commissioned into the RNVR. Fleming was a planner of special operations; he was involved in planning the Dieppe Raid (he observed the landings & slaughter from a destroyer out at sea), "The Man Who Never Was" (where a dead tramp's body was dressed in an RM officer's uniform, given a briefcase full of fake invasion plans & launched from a submarine off the coast of Spain, in the knowledge that in the area where the body would wash up a known German agent was active. This was successful, & the Abwehr were convinced for a long time that the invasion of Italy would take place in a different location from its true one), & ops by 30 Assault Unit in NW Europe. 30 AU was a specialist Commando unit whose job was to seize items of int value, important prisoners & details of Nazi secret weapons. They were particularly interested in the V-Weapon sites discovered in France, Belgium & Holland, & quite a few references to these appear in documents in the exhibit.
    Fleming appears to have taken part in int analysis of Operation "Greif", where English-speaking Waffen-SS commandos in US uniform were sent behind US lines during the Ardennes Offensive, to spread alarm & disrupt US lines of communication. The subject fascinated Fleming, because he later returned to this theme in one of the Bond novels, Moonraker. The villain in the book, Sir Hugo Drax, is described as being of mixed German & English parentage & as having taken part in Op Greif as a commando.
    Next part of the exhibit deals with Fleming's postwar career as a writer. He developed the idea for Bond whilst serving in Naval Int, & was seconded to Washington as a liaison officer with the OSS & its later offshoot, the CIA. He made lots of contacts & some of the later characters in the Bond novels were based on people he met during this time. He wrote the first one, Casino Royale, in 2 weeks during a holiday at his bungalow in Jamaica, Goldeneye. The first novel to be filmed, as we know, was Dr. No, but this was not Fleming's choice. He wanted Thunderball to be Bond's first film outing, but a dispute over film rights meant it had to be Dr. No instead. Fleming's choice of actor to play Bond was David Niven, but contract issues meant the role went to Sean Connery instead. Ironically Niven only played Bond in the 1966 spoof version of Casino Royale, which the filmmakers have never acknowledged as being a genuine Bond film (basically because it was a giant p1sstake). In the exhibit there are many artefacts from the films on display, including costumes, props (Rosa Klebb's poison-tipped knife shoe from "From Russia With Love", Little Nellie the autogyro from "You Only Live Twice" & a naval uniform worn by Pierce Brosnan as Bond in "The World Is Not Enough", crombie worn by Connery in "Dr. No", among many others). Most fascinating parts of this section for me were the original posters for the Bond films, & Ken Adam's sketches as production designer for the sets in the 1960s films, like Dr. No's control room & the rocket launch site inside a volcano from You Only Live Twice.
    All in all, a great day out, very interesting exhibition & well worth the admission fee. Any Arssers who feel inclined to visit won't be disappointed, because there's something for everyone there. Enjoy!
  2. Much of Flemings' wartime experiences creep into the Bond books. For example the exploding briefcase in From Russia with Love was based on a real SOE incendiary briefcase designed to incinerate sensitive documents if the case was opened incorrectly.

    Fleming whilst in Naval Intelligence ran Operation Goldeneye, which, IIRC, had something to do with helping to prevent a German invasion of Spain.

    He was also involved in Black Propaganda and had a hand in the now famous clandestine radio stations Gustav Siegfried Eins and Soldatensender Calais.

    Wearing my tin foil hat, I've often wondered if the Bond books deliberately contained some deception and misinformation for the Russkies' benefit?