Born on the 28th May 1908, Ian was son to Valentine and Evelyn St. Croix Fleming, and grandson to wealthy Scottish banker Robert Fleming - one of the 'fathers of modern capitalism'. Eventually one of four brothers, his parentage ensured that he was born to the kind of privilege and standing that money alone cannot buy in England.
Valentine was killed during the Great War when Ian was aged just eight. He died a hero in battle and none other than Winston Churchill wrote his obituary for the Times. His death cast a long shadow over the Fleming family; - the boys had an impossibly distant, daring and heroic father figure to live up to, whilst the terms of his will ensured that to be entitled to her share of his fortune, Evelyn could never remarry - the result of which was for her to channel all her hopes and expectations into her children.
Fleming 'enjoyed' an undistinguished education at Eton and then Sandhurst, ever in the shadow of his father and overachieving elder brother, Peter; leaving both in the wake of 'incidents' that exasperated his Mother. He left Sandhurst without receiving an officer's commission, and appears to have found the idea of life as a soldier in a 'mechanised army' distinctly unromantic. He continued his education in the small Austrian town of Kitzbuhel, where away from the competition Peter represented and the memory of his father, he developed a sense of his own identity and ambition. It was also here that he began to write - although he would not pursue the occupation seriously yet for many years. He then studied for periods at the Universities of Munich and Geneva, as his tutors at Kitzbuhel had noticed his aptitude for languages. He also spent one summer working for the League of Nations in Geneva. Having seen him fail to make the grade as a soldier, his Mother had hopes that Fleming would join the Foreign Service as a diplomat, salvaging some face in the process.
It was for this reason that on his return to Britain, Fleming took the Foreign Service exam. Although he passed, the Foreign Service only took on the top three candidates - Fleming had ranked twenty-fifth. Instead, he joined Reuters as a journalist. For the most part, his responsibilities were limited to translating foreign news feeds and re-writing obituaries, but he did manage to scoop one or two important stories - in particular the Metropolitan-Vickers spy trials in Moscow, 1933. He spent several short periods in Moscow and Berlin on assignment, where he also attempted to interest local Foreign Office and SIS representatives in 'intelligence reports' he had written. It seems, however, that no one was particularly impressed by them. Fleming by and large enjoyed his time with the news agency, but once again he was in the shadow of brother Peter, who had already established himself as a travel writer of some note. The poor pay he received also led to dissatisfaction with his job, as he had conspicuously expensive tastes. Eventually, he resigned.
Fleming went to work as a stockbroker at a top London banking firm, trading on his family name to secure a high-profile position. He did not enjoy his time spent working in the City, and was disliked by many of his peers because he expressed an obvious disinterest in his work. He did, however, enjoy the life of a wealthy man about town, and finally moved out of the family home, purchasing a converted temple in Belgravia to serve as his apartments.
In May 1939, Fleming was appointed Personal Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, after being recommended to him by the Governor of the Bank of England (Montagu Norman - who had in turn been lobbied by Fleming's Mother). Godfrey quickly formed a high opinion of Fleming and his abilities. In September he was promoted to the rank of Commander, and assumed a range of responsibilities usually well beyond the remit of a personal assistant. Fleming became NID's liaison with the other intelligence services, including MI5, SIS, SOE, and eventually the London OSS office. He also assumed overall responsibility for intelligence planning.
He was in France for the fall of Paris, where he oversaw the evacuation of SIS personnel and their families, as well as supervising the destruction of secret documents. Escaping to Lisbon, he stopped off in Madrid on his way home in order to try and thrash out a strategy for keeping Spain neutral with the local SIS chief. Fleming was not encouraged by their progress, and so conceived GOLDEN EYE - an elaborate plan for conducting resistance against the axis should Spain enter the war and Gibraltar fall.
Fleming was one of the 'ideas men' of the famous 'Room 39' (of the Admiralty). This was Admiral Godfrey's intelligence 'think-tank' - quite intentionally a melting pot of diverse personalities and backgrounds in the tradition of Admiral 'Blinker' Hall's Room 40 team from the First World War. Between them, the staff of Room 39 tossed out countless offbeat ideas and unconventional strategies; although many were unworkable or impractical, there were also undoubtedly several 'war-winners' amongst them. Fleming fit in with this regime perfectly.
When the Political warfare Executive (PWE) was formed, Fleming was responsible for creating the I7Z team - a black propaganda unit specifically targeting Atlantic U-boat crews through two counterfeit 'German' radio stations. He broadcast many 'bulletins' personally.
Fleming also had a tendency to refer to his more outrageous ideas as 'plots' rather than operations. It was one such 'plot' that brought Fleming into contact with the Paranormal Intelligence Section for Counter-Intelligence, Espionage and Sabotage (PISCES).
NID and MI5 had formulated an audacious plan to exact revenge for the Venlo incident - in which two SIS agents were lured to the German border by the SD and then kidnapped - by luring Hitler's number two, Rudolf Hess, to Britain on the pretence that a fascist revolution was imminent. The fact that Hess put a not inconsiderable amount of faith in the predictions of his personal astrologer had not escaped the famous Fleming eye for detail, and he approached the fledgling PISCES (whose reports on Germany's occult interests he had read with keen interest) with a view to 'tapping up' the German mystic. Although the operation was to ultimately prove disastrous for MI-13's pre-war network (German reprisals were especially ruthless), PISCES were able to use Aktion Hess to place three of their agents within the Karotechia. These agents passed critical information back to their controllers until 1943, by which time they had all been eliminated.
Despite the operation's success, Fleming had qualms about the degree of oversight the new organisation was allowed; he realised that if unchecked PISCES could easily grow into the 'ugly, spoilt child' of the Intelligence Community. He was also convinced that 'R' - David Cornwall - was quite likely insane; or at the very least, dangerously obsessive. It was strongly rumoured in intelligence circles for many years after that Fleming used PISCES as inspiration for the SPECTRE organisation featured in the novels he later wrote.
America joining the war was crucial to Britain's long-term survival, and her Intelligence agencies played a critical role in bringing this about. Fleming himself enjoyed a close relationship with both William 'Little Bill' Stephenson (head of BCS in New York), and William 'Big Bill' Donovan (soon to be head of OSS). When Donovan visited Britain to assess the strategic situation at the behest of President Roosevelt in 1940, he spent most of his time with Godfrey and Fleming. Fleming also accompanied him the following year on a tour of Britain's Mediterranean and Middle East possessions. It was during this visit that British Intelligence decided to take Donovan completely into their confidence about the war effort; Fleming took particular delight in briefing him on GOLDEN EYE.
During the formative first month of the Office of Co-ordinator of Information (COI), Fleming was in the US where he liased closely with Donovan and offered his advice on how the new organisation should be developed. Donovan clearly valued Fleming's input, and was to later present him with a police revolver engraved with the thanks 'For Special Services'.
Meanwhile, Fleming continued to churn out innovative strategies and ideas. He conceived of a specially trained commando unit that would work behind enemy lines and seize classified files and intelligence before they could be destroyed by retreating German forces. 30 Assault Unit was quickly formed and given a baptism of fire in the summer of 1942 at Dieppe. They were later utilised to great success during the North African and Mediterranean campaigns. For Fleming it was another feather in his cap.
In late 1942 though, Admiral Godfrey was suddenly and unexpectedly sacked. His replacement, Captain Edmund Rushbrooke (later Rear Admiral) was by comparison, extremely conservative and bureaucratic. Although Fleming was kept on as assistant, it was the end for the 'ideas factory' atmosphere of Room 39.
Fleming continued to supervise the activities of 30 Assault Unit, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to get himself assigned to Moscow as naval attaché. Following OVERLORD, Fleming travelled to Ceylon and Australia in order to conduct a review of NID's activities in the Far East. Despite ambitious plans for a complex and intricate espionage offensive against the Japanese, by the time he returned to Britain the assault on Japan was taking the form of carpet bombing and eventually nuclear weapons. Back in London, Fleming quickly became bored, and by the end of 1945, Fleming was back in civilian clothing having taken a prestigious position with the Kemsley Newspaper Group as 'Foreign Manager'.
Role Playing Notes: Fleming has a knack for cutting across the divides of rank, nationality and class - although obviously upper class himself, he has enough disdain for the stuffiness and conventions of that lifestyle to appeal to most company. He got on particularly well with Americans because of this. Most would likely describe him as likeable but eccentric. He has a notorious reputation as a womaniser and is perhaps something of a misogynist.
Fleming talks in a 'breezy but informative' manner that masks his cold intelligence and fine eye for detail. People who become well acquainted with him eventually realise how disarming he is in conversation - a true charmer.
|References:||Ian Fleming - Andrew Lycett|
|The Life of Ian Fleming - John Pearson|
|Spyclopedia - Richard Deacon|
|Cthulu Live: Delta Green|
|STR: 10||DEX: 14||CON: 11||SIZ: 12||INT: 18|
|APP: 14||POW: 11||EDU: 20||SAN: 55||HP: 12|
Written by Nick Brownlow.
Original content for this page is copyright 2003 Nick Brownlow and may be freely copied, posted on other websites, or used in other media in whole or in part with the following mandatory conditions imposed on usage: (1) any usage must respect and protect copyrights on all material, and specifically must obey restrictions placed on use by Pagan Publishing on its copyrighted material, and (2) regardless of alterations or additions, Nick Brownlow must be credited as author of parts © Nick Brownlow.
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