Ian Fleming and Intelligence Ops

Contributed Ideas for Intelligence Ops



In August of 1939, Ian Fleming was hired to be Rear Admiral John Godfrey’s personal assistant in the Naval Intelligence Department, making him a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

As Godfrey’s assistant and trusted right-hand man, Fleming had the opportunity to contribute ideas for NID operations. These included the Trout Memo, Operation Ruthless, and (to no one’s surprise) Operation Golden Eye.

The Trout Memo, signed by Godfrey but believed to have been written by Fleming, compared luring enemies into a false sense of security to trout fishing. It also contained a suggestion for an operation where the NID would fake an airman’s crash using a corpse from the Naval Hospital. The plan was to plant misleading documents on the corpse for German soldiers to find. The plan never went through.

That plan never went through, but Operation Ruthless held to a similar concept. Fleming suggested dressing English soldiers as Reichsheers (German soldiers) to man a stolen German bomber. The crew would then crash into the channel in a location convenient for rescue by a German vessel, ambush their rescuers and commandeer their boat, taking any important documents they had on them, including, they hoped, the elusive Enigma coding machine.

The mission got a lot further in planning, but was also never carried out, to the dismay of the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park.

Fleming established Operation Golden Eye to ensure that, in case Spain was invaded or joined the Axis powers, Britain could continue to communicate with Gibraltar. The operation, which Fleming worked on for a few years, was closed in August 1943 when it was apparent that there would be no Nazi takeover of Spain.

- written by Caroline Liddick