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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What do Ian Flemming and David Niven have in common?

Writer, Actor, Real World Spies

True David Nivan played the "real James Bond" in the spoof 1966 Peter Sellers' version of "Casino Royale',  but their connection went far deeper than that. Fleming was the man behind the most sucessful slight of hand of World War II, convincing Germany that the Allies first fore into German occupied Europe in 1943. David Nivan (Pink Panther) was the MI6 officer who trained the "fake" General Montgomery to fool the Germans into believing, for the second time, that the Allies would invade southern France from North Africa, taking German attention away form the real invasion from England on D-Day in 1944.
Both men were spies involved in major spy victories of the Second World War.

The story of James Bond creator Flemmings part involves Operation Mincemeat (see Weekend Edition below).

Nivan in a still classified North Africa "invasion force" . A professional impersonator Meyrick Clifton James was put under Nivan's tutelage (Nivan already successful as a film and stage actor in Endland, the US and Mexico, but that's a different story) for the fake army and later yet another diversion. 

Nivan was member of the Phantom Signals Unit, which located and reported enemy positions, keeping read commanders up to date changing battle lines.

Wikipedia has these two intersting Nivan stories: "About to lead his men into action, Niven eased their nervousness by telling them, "Look, you chaps only have to do this once. But I'll have to do it all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn!" Asked by suspicious American sentries during the Battle of the Bulge who had won the World Series in 1943, he answered "Haven't the foggiest idea . . . But I did co-star with Ginger Rogers in Bachelor Mother!"

As a side note, Alfred Hitchcock served MI6, encouraged to move to America to make films partially at their request, to report back to British Intelligence on Hollywood and known Nazi and Japanese sympathies by those in high levels of the industry. He filed bries on a regular basis in the interest of British patriotism.
Early in 1943, Allied forces were massing along the coast of North Africa, preparing to make a push across the Mediterranean. They’d settled on strategically important Sicily as a target… but they needed to convince the Germans that they were aiming somewhere else.
How did they do it? With a great deal of imagination, and the dead body of an unfortunate Welsh laborer who’d died from eating rat poison.
“The idea, very simply, was to get a dead body, equip the dead body with false papers, and then drop it somewhere the Germans would find it,” historian Ben Macintyre tells NPR’s Guy Raz. Macintyre is the author of the new book, Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory.
“It was probably the most elaborate, certainly one of the oddest, and certainly one of the most successful deception operations ever undertaken,” Macintyre says.

The idea for Operation Mincemeat came originally from Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. Before he devoted his life to Agent 007, Fleming worked as an assistant to the head of British Naval Intelligence. And Fleming admitted freely that he’d lifted the idea of a dead body carrying false papers from a detective novel he’d once read.
To see photographs and listen to the full story click here.

Also spying for Great Britain during the Second World War, but in a much more passive manner, was Alfred Hitchcock who was ordered by the crown to keep tabs on German Axis influence and actions in Holllywood. \

First published 6/17/2010

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