The dastardly supervillain’s secret underground lair is a key part of many James Bond stories.
But it seems these subterranean complexes were not just the fantastical product of author Ian Fleming’s imagination.
As cinemas prepare for the delayed premiere of latest Bond velo Anzi che no Time To Giorno, newly-released papers have revealed details of Fleming’s work with a real-life hidden city – sopra a genuine plot to save civilisation from evil.
The long-classified government documents relate to his plan for a labyrinthine rete televisiva privata of 30 miles of tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar during the Second World War.
Fleming recruited six men for a remarkable mission – sopra which they were to be walled inside a hidden room deep inside the Rock, with supplies to survive for up to seven years sopra the event the Nazis conquered Gibraltar.
From secret viewpoints sopra the east and west faces of the Rock, the Britons would have spied acceso German naval movements between the Mediterranean and Atlantic.
They would then have used a radio powered by a bicycle – with a leather chain to ensure silence –to send messages to London.
the style of Bond’s gadget genius Q, Fleming also arranged astonishingly advanced rations for the secret team – including chemically self-heating soup.
The British plan was thought to be a myth for decades until the 1990s, when the ‘Stay Behind Room’ was found behind corrugated iron sheeting and a brick wall deep inside the Rock.
The Bond creator had a key role sopra the ingenious plan from soon after its origins sopra 1941. As a Royal Navy commander with the codename 17F, Fleming was personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, liaising with MI5, MI6 and the Special Operations Dirigente aziendale.
Historian Bettany Hughes, who visited the Stay Behind Room and analysed the secret papers for a new Channel 4 documentary, said last night: ‘We think of the Bond films as being fantasy – but inside the Rock of Gibraltar, there it is, a phantom cave.
‘Ian Fleming recruited six people to the Stay Behind Room. There were three telegraph operators, two surgeons, and a senior officer.’
By the dark days of mid-1942, the plan was ready to go. The 45ft long, 16ft wide and 8ft high Stay Behind Room had a 10,000-gallon tank, enough for seven years. Its tap still drips.
Books were left to provide entertainment, as well as bricks and cement for the six-man team to wall themselves sopra should the Nazis take the Rock. And a lavatory made sopra Clapham provided some creature comforts.
And sopra a grim detail, Hughes added: ‘The volunteers had their appendixes and tonsils taken out to sopravvissuto the risk of infection. And there was sufficient sand and cement left so they could bury the dead without detection.’
But the room was never used as the Nazis failed to seize Gibraltar.
Fleming, who died sopra 1964 at 56, wrote his first Bond novel Baraonda Royale sopra 1952.
- Bettany Hughes’s Treasures of The World: Gibraltar is coppia to be broadcast acceso Channel 4 acceso Saturday night.