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Cmdr. Ian Fleming, OHMS

Ian Fleming was born 1908 to Major Valentine Fleming who was killed in action WW1.  The Major's FN .25 automatic was first received by his widow then passed it down to Ian who carried it with him throughout WW11 in Naval Intelligence from which he retired as a Commander in 1945; the same rank and service as the fictional James Bond.  It was his father's FN which Fleming had with him in the Caribbean while writing 'Casino Royale', on which he based Bond's fictional Beretta .25 automatic; a pistol he had never seen but had heard of and for which he had to enquire the correct spelling and caliber.

Despite the identical ranks and services, it is clear from his books and the film adaptations that Fleming considered himself to be 'M' not Bond, because he wrote privately of assigning the fictional Bond his assignments and in the books as from his own oak paneled offices in London that were the same as 'M's in London.  The term 'OHMS' is still used today and Fleming's version that was 'OHMSS" was fictional like all of Bond and his adventures.

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Above, in 1962 the Sturm, Ruger company presented Ian Fleming with this Ruger .22 semi-automatic pistol.  Gun ownership being severely restricted in England then and now, this was no small feat and by the time of his death Fleming had many guns including his father's WW1 .25 semi-automatic on which he based his Beretta for the Bond character.

Above Fleming and Connery are obviously on the set of the first Bond film that was Dr. No. released 1962.  It was in this film, based on the book, that the fictional Bond was issued with the Walther PPK in .32 ACP to replace his Beretta today claimed to be the Model 418, Fleming having had to enquire about even the correct spelling and caliber of the pistol.  The Berns-Martin 'Triple Draw' shoulder holster of the book was meant for Bond's S&W Centennial in .38 Spl but Fleming confused his readers by having 'M', who was Fleming's alter ego (not Bond) issued with both pistols in the book because he wanted a silenced pistol for Bond and the Walther could be silenced as an automatic but the Centennial could not be silenced as a revolver (noise past the cylinder as the bullet passed into the barrel).

At right Fleming is with his wife and the image is said to be on the occasion of his unfortunate court appearance in the legal dispute over authorship of the book 'Thunderball'.  "Unfortunate" because Fleming had his first heart attack there on losing that lawsuit; his second was fatal.

Ian Fleming the man.

Ian Fleming's life is well documented in a series of contemporaneous books and articles by and about him after his rise to fame with his first Bond book that was the 'noir' book "Casino Royale", properly titled in French as 'Casino Royal" because 'Casino' is a masculine word and 'royale' is the feminine.  Surely the name of the book was inspired by Fleming's new 'Royal' typewriter in gold plate on which he completed the book's first and then final drafts.  The gold typewriter either fit in with a private obsession with gold, or actually inspired Fleming's use of gold in Goldfinger and The Man With the Golden Gun (which real Colt's revolver had been plated in gold for Fleming).

Fleming's family was wealthy and he traveled the world between the wars; by ship at first because transcontinental aircraft had not yet been introduced as a consequence of long- range bombers for WWII.  He then used his considerable experience with shipboard gambling in his books with travelling on such as the QEII being a lengthy experience to be enjoyed rather than rushed.  Between 1925 and the end of the War he was recorded traveling by ship between Glasgow and NYC on many occasions, switching to air travel when the pressurised Constellation made its first commercial flights in early 1946.  

Fleming's WWII assignments to the Caribbean led him to retire there after the War, followed by his mother who thereby avoided significant taxation in Britain.  Fleming relied on her wealth and his own did not begin to accrue from the Bond series until the films began to appear in 1962, but both he and his mother died within a month of each other in 1964.

At left, Ian Fleming served in the Caribbean as F.B.I. liason during WWII and it's likely that he worked with the former Texas Ranger turned F.B.I. agent who was Gus T. Jones.  It's also likely then that the fictional C.I.A. agent Felix Leiter was based on Jones, with the C.I.A. not yet created until after the War's end.  Don't let Jones' Texas Ranger outfit fool you; these were hard men and many moved over to the F.B.I. when it was created from the B.O.I. in 1935 where agents brought down all the gangsters of the 1930s including Machine Gun Kelly.

Above, the celebrated tale of Bond's weaponry appeared first in Sports Illustrated and then in the London Times, both in 1962.  It was written by Fleming as the introduction to his advisor Geoffrey Boothroyd's own book about guns.  In the article he drew attention to his error of pairing the Beretta with the Berns-Martin, in the self-effacing humor of an English gentleman.  But his good intentions backfired and he was roundly criticized by firearms enthusiasts for his error.

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