Transcription of a document in the British National Archives, ADM 223/463
For Your Eyes Only.
12 September 1940.
To: Director Naval Intelligence
From: Ian Fleming
I suggest we obtain the loot by the following means:
1. Obtain from Air Ministry an air-worthy German bomber.
2. Pick a tough crew of five, including a pilot, W/T operator and word-perfect German speaker.
Dress them in German Air Force Uniform, add blood and bandages to suit.
3. Crash Plane in the Channel after making SOS to rescue service.
4. Once aboard rescue boat, shoot German crew, dump overboard, bring rescue boat back to English port.
In order to increase the chances of capturing an R or M [Räumboot – a small minesweeper; Minensuchboot – a large minesweeper] with its richer booty, the crash might be staged in mid-Channel. The Germans would presumably employ one of this type for the longer and more hazardous journey.
NB. Since attackers will be wearing enemy uniform, they will be liable to be shot as franc-tireurs if captured, and incident might be fruitful field for propaganda. Attackers’ story will therefore be that it was done for a lark by a group of young hot-heads who thought the war was too tame and wanted to have a go at the Germans. They had stolen the plane and equipment and had expected to get into trouble when they got back. This will prevent suspicions that party was after more valuable booty than a rescue boat.
This memo is authentic.
What follows is largely fictional.
1940: Tuesday 22nd October London
It should have been a short journey – less than four miles Saul reckoned. Even in the blackout the cabbie had promised no more than thirty minutes but then he hadn't expected to hit an elephant on the Harrow Road. The elephant's keeper was out of breath following her chase, as was the cabbie after his tirade at her stupidity. Saul intervened. He'd grown up in South Africa – he understood elephants. Only, because of its small ears, I thought this one was Indian and probably didn't comprehend Afrikaans so I shoved him into the taxi before he upset the pachyderm.
This delayed us further and, after squealing to a halt outside the Soviet Embassy at 13A Kensington Palace Gardens, the cabbie was shouting again – at us this time. He wanted the five-pound note that Saul had waved at him at the beginning of the trip as an incentive to drive during the blackout. It was probably too early for the Luftwaffe to make its nightly visit so the capital was still and waiting in quiet anticipation. Without the wail of sirens and the thunderous explosions of bombs there was little to disguise the vocal irritation of the poor cabbie and this drew the attention of the two policemen protecting the embassy from unwelcome visitors.
'Now then — we'll have less of that noise.' There was still sufficient ambient light to make out the expression on the sergeant's sour face as he leant on the taxi's roof. 'What's the problem?'
'This bloody shyster,' howled the cabbie stabbing his finger at Saul's head. 'He promised a fiver for this fare and now he's welching on it!'
'A fiver? I don't earn that in a week. How far have you come, for God's sake?'
'Canfield Gardens,' Saul responded.
The sergeant shook his head. 'That's nonsense; it's not worth—'
'But he promised, and just look at my bumper – it's his fault. I told him that—'
'You can't blame me for your driving into that elephant, you stupid kaffir!'
I grabbed Saul's arm. 'Give me the fiver.'
He opened his wallet and extracted a crisp white note.
I hadn't seen many of these and, even with the extra pay for special duties, it would take me a month to earn that much.
I approached the cabbie. 'Here, you know where he lives. We'll need transport back there when this bash is over.' I tore the note in half and offered one to him. 'Wait here for a couple of hours and I'll give you the other bit after you drive us home.'
'Well eff, you and your effing elephant. If you think I'm going to effing wait for you to finish your effing party in that effing place you've got another effing fink coming. Stuff your effing money up your effing arse and keep the effing change!'
'That's enough. Give me both halves.' The sergeant held out his hand and I surrendered the two bits of paper. He reached into the cab and removed the key. 'Now, you rude little man, do as the gentlemen suggest and wait like a good person until they finish their business then you can drive them back and earn this money which is far more than you deserve in a month of Sundays. And if you offer any more abuse I will take your taxi and shove it up a part of your anatomy where it will fester and itch for some time. Do we understand each other?'
The cabbie opened and closed his mouth a few times then nodded silently.
I sensed Saul about to open his and start the argument again so pushed him towards the gates.
'Just a moment, young gentlemen.' The sergeant rounded on us. 'You can't just waltz into the Soviet Embassy without an invitation. I'd like to see yours.'
'We don't have invitations. I'm meeting my boss in there. He'll vouch for us.'
'And who might that be?'
'I can't reveal information like that. Here, check this.' Saul fished in his pocket and held out his ID.
The policeman switched on his hooded torch and examined the card. 'Sub-Lieutenant Marcks, RNVR. Wavy Navy, eh? What about your mate or is he your batman?'
'Renouf, 5514027, Hampshire Regiment,' I answered
He shook his head. 'No. You need an invitation or your names on the list.' He looked at the other policeman. These on your list, constable?'
'No, sarge, 'fraid not.'
'That's it then. Best get back in your taxi and find some more stray animals to play dodgems with.'
Saul fiddled in his pocket again and brought out another card which he held out to the sergeant who examined it then sucked some air in through his teeth.
'I see — NID, eh? Naval Intelligence Division. So you're a couple more of the "funnies" for the party with the Commies. Well, I won't stand in your way but, if you'll take my advice, I wouldn't show that to Boris and Doris over there.' He pointed to two dark figures staring at us from inside the wrought iron gates. 'They might send you to a different party in the basement to see if you actually have any intelligence.' His acidic expression stretched into a broad smile as he stood back and threw a casual salute in our direction.
Close up, the two Russian guards were even more intimidating and as soon as the larger of the pair, whom I assumed was Boris, closed the gate on us, his partner Doris pulled Saul towards her and frisked him in a less than gentle manner. Rather than start a diplomatic incident I allowed Boris to maul me without retaliation while rehearsing a couple of moves I'd recently learnt which should have brought him to his knees though quite what I would have done after that eluded me. Fortunately, I didn't need to contemplate further action as Saul spoke softly in another of his foreign languages, pulled out his wallet and passed over a couple of ten shilling notes in place of the missing invitation cards. Not for the first time I wondered what he was getting me into.
Doris, who looked as though she could have picked the elephant off the taxi with one hand, opened one of the double doors and ushered us into a gloomy interior. The lobby was deserted but the building echoed to the noise of geese squabbling on the floor above. We were confronted by acres of red carpet and a twin staircase fenced in with oak balustrades. Dim overhead lights revealed two large urns atop the stairs standing guard on either side of a rounded archway which framed an entry to the farmyard of cackling birds above. We took a staircase each and paused to salute each other half way up. I couldn't resist touching the gigantic urn on my side. Perhaps it held Poland's ashes. It seemed appropriate as a massive portrait of Comrade Stalin leered down at us.
We followed the sound into a room which seemed to be furnished in gold – not quite what I expected from the dour Soviets. There was plenty of glitter from the guests who turned out to be human rather than geese. A white coated giant from the same litter as Boris lumbered over with a tray of drinks. There seemed to be a choice between something bubbling in crystal and something deathly still in squat glasses. I never feel the need for alcohol until the first drink and I've become steadily weaker at refusing that so I lifted the former and slurped it so quickly that the bubbles attacked my nose and made me sneeze all over my neatly pressed khaki uniform. Saul selected the alternative which I assumed was vodka and tipped it down his throat in one. It wouldn't matter if he spilled any on his uniform. Even though it was tailored for him and the Royal Navy would always win in the inter-service style stakes, he could ruin any uniform as soon as he shrugged into it. At his best he looked like a sack of spuds and tonight he hadn't even reached the bottom rung of the smartness ladder. With his red hair, freckled face and relaxed figure he looked very much like a Guy Fawkes dummy ready for the bonfire. Casting another glance around the room I realised two things — that I was also on the bottom rung of the rank structure as all those in uniform seemed to be officers and there didn't seem to be any food — caviar or otherwise.
Saul spotted someone, seized my elbow and negotiated us through the throng until we reached a small group that was listening to a tall naval officer, also sporting the wavy rank stripes of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. His were the two and a half rings denoting a lieutenant-commander with additional emerald green stripes inside the gold. Between drags on his cigarette, he was speaking in a lethargic yet compelling manner. His broad forehead promised intelligence and the arched eyebrows suggested wit but his eyes were cold and his lips, while full, seemed cruel when he paused to listen to a question. There was danger in this man and an aura which suggested total confidence beyond the borders of arrogance. If this was Saul's boss, I didn't think I was going to like or impress him very much.
'Ah, Marcks; about bloody time. You really are a shambolic little monkey. Get lost did you?'
'Apologies, sir, we had an unexpected meeting with an elephant.'
The group turned their heads to examine Saul. One of them was a striking looking woman with frizzy hair, a full mouth and warm brown eyes. She was wearing a bright green gown which clung enticingly to her slender figure. She laughed. 'Really, Ian, is this your new secret weapon — the elephant brigade?'