William Stephenson, Roald Dahl, and Ian Flemming: The Birth of James Bond 007
Posted on October 2, 2012 | 4 Comments
With the upcoming release of the twenty-third movie in the James Bond 007 series I thought it was time to finish the true life story of Winnipeg's own William Stephenson the inspiration for the character of James Bond.
For the back story on Stephenson before World War 2 please read the my earlier posts – William Stephenson the quiet man that would inspire 007 and James Bond, Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler – The Canadian Connection.
The morning of May 18, 1940 as recorded by Randolph Churchill: "I went up to my father's bedroom. He was standing in front of his basin and was shaving with his old fashioned Valet razor. He had a tough beard, and was as usual hacking away.
'Sit down, dear boy, and read the papers while I finish shaving .' I did as told. After two or three minutes of hacking away, he half-turned and said: 'I think I see my way through.' He resumed shaving.
I was astounded , and said: 'Do you mean we can avoid defeat (which seemed credible), or beat the bastards (which seemed incredible)?'
He flung his razor into the basin, swung around, and said: 'Of course I mean we can beat them.'
Me: 'Well I'm all for that, but I don't see how you can do it.'
By this time he had dried and sponged his face and turning around to me, said with great intensity: 'I shall drag the United States in.'
The TRUE Intrepid. By Bill Macdonald. Page 69
We pick up the trail on Stephenson at the outbreak of World War 2, Stephenson is installed in New York City by Winston Churchill (newly appointed British Prime Minister) in a covert role to gather information, spread anti-Nazi propaganda, and by any and all means drag the United States into the war with Germany. He is to report to Churchill and his staff directly, circumventing any official channels as the British government and aristocracy are full of Nazi sympathizers. Intrepid is his newly minted code name his code number becomes 48,000. 48 for the number of States at that time, 0 marking him as the head of organization, and 00 being code for highly classified.
Stephenson, by this time a millionaire business tycoon with a rapidly obfuscated past, and funds to expedite the enterprise himself is perfect for the job. He will avoid leaving a paper trail that leads back to Churchill.
Working under the guise of British Passport Control officer in the United States Stephenson sets up shop on the 36th floor of Rockefeller Center. He begins to assemble his closest allies predominantly fellow Canadians that he knows are loyal to the Crown. Tommy Drew-Brook, Ben de Forest (Pat) Bayly and Australian Charles (Dick) Ellis are among the first to come on board with Stephenson.
Communications expert Pat Bayly was tasked to develop a secure means of transmitting data without relying on British or American channels; as both were thought to be compromised at the time. The result was twofold the cypher machine known as the Rockex machine. Named slyly after the Rockettes dancers who practiced on the roof of Radio City Music hall next door to Rockefeller Center. The other development was the establishment of a breakthrough in global communications known as Hydra at Camp X, more on that later.
Please go the the Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond blog to read the entire post.