Monday, August 12, 2013

A Look Back At Ian Fleming's 1964 Memorial Service

As Ian Fleming died on this day in 1964, I was pleased to come across Fleming's good friend William Plomer's address at Fleming's memorial service.

Thanks to the web site Spyvibe, one can read what Plomer said about Ian Fleming at the service:

Only since his death has it begun to be more generally understood that he had done well in several different careers, and that he was a character of some complexity. But those who were at school with him, or who used to work with him in the City, or in Reuters, or in the Admiralty, or in the newspaper world, who had watched him creating his original and important library, or who saw him enjoying life in Jamaica, or who at any time travelled or played cards or golf with him, can confirm that he was a man who touched life at many points. And how many men can one say of him, not only that he had much to give but gave all he had got? One is reminded of James Bond's saying: "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

... from 1939, seven years of his life were absorbed by his work in the Naval Intelligence Division. Just before the War, Admiral Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, who had long shown a more elastic understanding of the world and of his own profession than was likely to be discernible in more conventional sailors, recruited Ian from the City. This was on the recommendation of no lesser persons than Sir Edward Peacock and Sir Montague Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England.

It wasn't only his quick and resourceful brain that Ian brought to the service of his country, but administrative ability. He was an unfailing source of brilliant and constructive ideas, and he had the faculty of knowing how to apply them in a practical way. Also, in a service traditionally silent, and sometimes tongue-tied, he was notably articulate both in conversation and on paper; and, like most capable officers, he felt that there were times when the risk of giving offense was nothing compared with the importance of being, if necessary, blunt. He was never ready to defer to pomposity, incompetence and red tape. As right-hand man to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Ian was inevitably tied down to the Admiralty, but he did make a number of necessary sorties, with or without his chief.  No doubt it was his anxiety to take his own share in active service (though his own kind of service could hardly be called inactive) that caused Admiral Godfrey to send him to sea as an observer during the assault on Dieppe, with strict instructions to take care that he didn't get lost in France. 

I wish to emphasize, because it may not be fully understood even among many who knew him, or thought they knew him, that long before he began to write his first book, Ian was one of those whose services to his country, during those menacing years, made it possible for us to survive and to be here together indulging in reminiscence today. That may seem to you too obvious a remark, a kind of memorial cliche, but it isn't. When I was lately talking over with Admiral Godfrey the nature of Ian's wartime services, he summed it all up in a most memorable phrase, better I think than any laurel wreath or shining medal. "Ian," he said, "was a war-winner."

You can read the rest of the address via the below link:   

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