Saturday, June 8, 2024

Revealed: Ian Fleming’s Orders To D-Day Spies

Jack Blackburn at The Times in London offer a piece that reveals the orders issued to the WWII British intelligence group 30 Assault Unit for the D- Day invasion by Royal Navy Commander Ian Fleming, the future creator of James Bond (seen in the above photo at Royal Naval Intelligence HQ). 

You can read the piece via the below link or the below text:

Revealed: Ian Fleming’s orders to D-Day spies ( 

When troops landed on D-Day, some had an ulterior mission. Most were aimed at liberating nearby settlements but GCHQ has uncovered orders issued by the creator of 007 to a covert commando.

The listening service’s historians have found and released the orders that Ian Fleming — who would go on to write the James Bond thrillers — signed and issued to 30 Assault Unit, the covert unit he established to conduct intelligence operations during the Second World War.

In a highly detailed briefing, Fleming directed the men to go to various locations in France and elsewhere to find “items of immediate operational importance in the prosecution of the war against Germany”. These items included material relating to the Enigma code.

There was also a note about “new weapons or devices” that the Germans might have been developing. The desired intelligence items are listed as sufficiently important that they justified special operations and casualties.

The documents are testament to the thoroughness of British intelligence-gathering. At some points, the men are directed to individual rooms or even objects where the sensitive material was expected to be found.

For instance, one document tells the men: “It is reported that the secret books are kept in a light metal chest in an office in the [U-boat] pens: the door is marked only with the name ‘Oberschreibersmaat Fritz Frank’ without reference to his employment.”

In the Second World War, the role of 30AU (or Number 30 Commando) was to go ahead of the Allied forces and then behind enemy lines. Throughout the conflict, they performed vital work in different theatres of war in securing Nazi codebooks, ciphers and battle orders.

On D-Day, they landed on Juno and Utah beaches and proceeded inland; five were killed and 20 were wounded near Sainte-Mère-Église. It had been known that one of their targets was a radar station at Douvres-la-Délivrande, which held out for 11 days. The commandos were also charged with examining suspected V1 rocket sites. However, it now appears that they may have had many more targets.

The documents, marked “Top Secret” and “Bigot” (British invasion of German occupied territories), say that the men are to gather “All code books, cyphers and documents relating to signals, radar and communications: the ‘spools’ [wheels], junction boxes and indications of settings used in connection with the German ‘ENIGMA’ cyphering machines.”

The targets are listed in numerous French sea and river ports, such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Boulogne and Dunkirk, as well as targets in other countries along the north European coast.  How far they got with this list is not clear. It is known that they took part in the liberation of Cherbourg in June before racing toward the ports at Rennes and Brest in August. They then executed a series of operations in Le Havre and Dieppe. All those places appear on the list, and perhaps yielded vital intelligence for later in the war.

Whether the intelligence was as pinpoint accurate as it appeared remains to be seen, and it seems that Fleming and his colleagues had their doubts. They said the intelligence should be graded no higher than C, making it fairly reliable. The report is dated April 15, 1944, but there was a hope that corroboration would occur during the invasion

“Interrogation of prisoners in the field and up-to-date aerial photographs will probably be the only reliable cross-checks,” it said. 

Note: You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Ian Fleming and the 30 Assault Unit via the below link: 

Paul Davis On Crime: My Piece On The 30 Assault Unit, The British WWII Commando Group Created By Ian Fleming, The Creator Of James Bond

And you can read my Washington Times On Crime column on the new Ian Fleming biography via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: Ian Fleming: The Complete Man: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Nicholas Shakespeare, The Author Of The New Biography Of The Creator Of James Bond 

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