Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Russia, With Fleming

'Bond glanced down at his watch. It was 11.30. Bond thought with pleasure of the in-tray piled with Top Secret dockets he had gladly abandoned when the red telephone had summoned him an hour before. He felt fairly confident that now he wouldn't have to deal with them. 'I guess it's a job,' the Chief of Staff had said in answer to Bond's inquiry. 'The Chief says he won't take any more calls before lunch and he's made an appointment for you at the Yard for two o'clock. Step on it.' And Bond had reached for his coat and had gone into the outer office where he was pleased to see his secretary registering in another bulky file with a Most Immediate tab.

'M,' said Bond as she looked up. 'And Bill says it looks like a job. So don't think you're going to have the pleasure of shovelling that lot into my in-tray. You can post it off to the Daily Express for all I care.' He grinned at her. 'Isn't that chap Sefton Delmer a boy friend of yours, Lil? Just the stuff for him, I expect.'
From Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

There's an interesting piece in The Times today on the auctioning of a letter between Adolf Hitler and Sefton Delmer, pictured. The name Sefton Delmer has always struck me as being straight out of a Graham Greene novel, and indeed he would have fitted into some of those stories very well: he was one of Britain's great wartime practitioners of the dark art of propaganda: counterfeit newspapers articles, pamphlets, even entire radio stations were all in a day's work for Delmer. He was rather a good networker, too, and was in contact with the likes of Dennis Wheatley, Peter Fleming and, as can be divined from the quoted passage above, Peter's brother Ian, all of whom were also engaged in deception operations of one sort or another during the war.

Both Viking and Secker & Warburg published volumes of Delmer's memoirs in the Sixties, and you can buy them fairly easily online (I generally use Bookfinder, which seems to dig up things no other sites do). But you can also read a substantial amount of his memoirs for free online, courtesy of this curious website, which I seem to remember from previous research is run by a member of his family. Perhaps start with this wonderful article on his trip to Moscow with Ian Fleming in 1939.

1 comment:

  1. The Ring got bigger. Ian Fleming, Peter Fleming, Dennis Wheatley and now add Sefton Delmer to the list. What a group. Shame that the website of Sefton Delmer is down, and I thought I got to it before Jeremy! Your decades ahead. That train ride with Fleming was wonderful reading. Great title to your article Jeremy, I hope you get time to write more about Delmer.