William Stephenson - The Real James Bond

kaylar By kaylar, 8th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

A real life spy much of whose personality Ian Fleming Used to Create James Bond

Put the Gadgets and Hype one side

There was a man, a contemporary of Ian Fleming, a spy, but lost to history. This was a Canadian named William Stephenson.

You've never heard of him.

Perhaps, that is the proof he was as good at masking his existence and identity as an espionage agent is expected to do.

Early Life

He was born William Samuel Clouston Stanger in 1897, in Point Douglas, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

His mother came from Iceland, his father from the Orkney Islands.

His parents couldn't care for him, so he was adopted by an Icelandic family and took the name of his foster family; Stephenson.

He was working as a telegrapher when in January 1916, he volunteered for service in the 101st Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and left for England.

In June 1917 he was "on command" to the Cadet Wing of the Royal Flying Corps at Denham Barracks, Buckinghamshire.

He was sent into action after only five hours of flight instruction. Despite this, he was credited with shooting down 26 enemy planes (and won Britain's Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.)

Stephenson himself was shot down and imprisoned. Before he escaped prison camp he came across an ingenious can-opener that had been patented only in Germany.

After the war he adapted it, obtained patents worldwide and became a millionaire.

Becoming a Spy

Stephenson was a business man after WWI, and manufactured a number of items, radios, phonographs, automobiles and airplanes.

He invented the first device for sending photographs by radio.

When Hitler was preparing for World War II, William Stephenson was doing business in Germany.

Being alert, he gathered intelligence on Nazi steel, arms, and munitions production. He sent information to an unofficial intelligence network that reported to Churchill, who was actually out of office but would would soon become First Sea Lord and then Prime Minister.

In 1940 Churchill sent Stephenson, whose code name was "Intrepid" to New York City with the title of British Passports Control Officer.

After the United States entered the war William Stephenson became British Security Coordinator for the Western Hemisphere; that is the top British Spy in America.

Early Work

William Stephenson urged the American Government to establish a “coordinator” to oversee US intelligence collection and analysis.

Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan was picked to run that organization.

Stephenson alerted Donovan that Germany was going to declare war on the US.

He soon became the central liaison officer between the intelligence services of America and England.

As William Stephenson was the senior representative of British intelligence in the western hemisphere, he was one of the few persons authorized to view raw Ultra transcripts of German Enigma ciphers that had been decrypted at Britain's Bletchley Park facility.

He was trusted by Churchill to decide what Ultra information to pass along to various branches of the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Later Work

Stephenson, directly influenced U.S. media (including newspaper columns by Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson),in pro-British and anti-Axis views.

Once the U.S. entered the war in Dec. 1941, U.S. propagandists were trained in Canada and went on to directly affect wartime developments in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, the Central American countries, Bermuda, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Stephenson hired hundreds of people, mostly Canadian women, to staff his organization and covered much of the expense out of his own pocket.

His employees included secretive communications genius Benjamin deForest "Pat" Bayly and Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, codenamed CYNTHIA, to seduce Vichy French officials into giving up Enigma ciphers and secrets from their Washington embassy.

Stephenson set up of Camp X in Whitby, Ontario, the first training school in Canada and North America for clandestine operations. Over 2,000 British, Canadian and American covert operators were trained from 1941 to 1945.

These trainees included personnel from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, United States Navy and Military Intelligence, and the United States Office of War Information. Five future directors of what would become the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency were trained at Camp X

Ian Fleming trained there.

It has been said that the fictional Goldfinger's raid on Fort Knox was inspired by a Stephenson plan to steal $2,883,000,000 in Vichy French gold reserve

Mr. Fleming once said, when asked, that he did base James Bond on William Stephenson.


Enigma, Fighter Pilot, Ian Fleming, Intrepid, Spy, Winston Churchill, World War Ii

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I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
9th Oct 2015 (#)

Awesome post!

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author avatar kaylar
9th Oct 2015 (#)

thank you. Imagine, this person, we never heard of, really existed

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author avatar Retired
16th Oct 2015 (#)

As a Canadian, I was always proud of the fact that William Stephenson existed. The book, "A Man Called Intrepid" was one that I read when young. So, yes, I have heard of him...

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author avatar kaylar
17th Oct 2015 (#)

Most people don't even know he is real.

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