A new history of the Secret Intelligence Service has revealed that one of James Bond’s most famous scenes was inspired by the wartime exploits of an MI6 spy.
The moment when the fictional spy emerges from the water in a wetsuit and plants explosives before unzipping the suit to reveal a spotless dinner suit really took place during the Second World War.
The scene where Bond, played by Sean Connery, emerges in his wetsuit in the 1964 movie Goldfinger was inspired by the real life exploits of Dutch agent Pieter Tazelaar, according to ‘MI6’ by Keith Jeffery, the first official history of SIS.
Tazelaar was sent in by sea in 1940 to make contact with agents in Holland.
The book recounts that he ‘put ashore at 4.35am on 23 November at Scheveningen near the seafront casino in full evening dress and smelling of alcohol, wearing a specially designed rubber oversuit to keep him dry while landing, reports the Daily Mail.
‘Rather than leaving him somewhere on the dunes, the aim was for him to be able to mingle with the crowd on the front.
‘Having landed on the beach his colleague Erik Hazelhof sprinkled a few drops of Hennessy XO brandy on him, to strengthen his party-goer’s image’.
Professor Keith Jeffery, of Queen’s University, Belfast, was given unrestricted access to the surviving historic files of the Secret Intelligence Service. But his work only covers the period up to 1949 and he was banned from revealing the identities of spies that are not already in the public domain.
The book also confirms that one of the templates for James Bond was another spy with the unpromising name of Wilfred ‘Biffy’ Dunderdale.
‘When head of the SIS Paris station in the 1930s, he had a penchant for pretty women and fast cars and has been proposed as one of the possible models for Bond,’ the book reports.
‘He was a great friend of Ian Fleming and claimed that he found parts of his own stories in the James Bond novels.’
Another model for Bond’s exploits might have been Air Commodore Lionel ‘Lousy’ Payne.
He was described in an SIS report as ‘often well informed, probably due to the fact that information is more readily obtained in bed’.