Guardian: War hero who inspired Fleming’s Bond dies at 90

四月 20, 2008

John Ezard
The Guardian, Wednesday October 15 2003

He disapproved of James Bond -“far too dramatic” – stayed faithful to one woman all his life, and would rather watch Pride and Prejudice than secret agent films on TV.

Yet retired Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Patrick Dalzel-Job, whose death at age 90 was announced in Scotland yesterday, came closer than any other candidate to being the true-life original of Ian Fleming’s Bond.

He could ski backwards, navigate a midget submarine, and undertake the riskiest parachute jumps. His second world war exploits are the epitome of derring-do behind enemy lines. And, like Bond, he sometimes defied authority.

Sent to wartime Norway but ordered not to get involved with civilians, Dalzel-Job saved the people of Narvik from a Nazi reprisal bombing raid by evacuating them in fishing boats. He avoided a court martial only by the king of Norway awarding him a Knights Cross of St Olaf First Class.

He commanded one of the teams led by Ian Fleming, who had joined the Royal Navy for the war’s duration, in the undercover 30 Assault Unit that raided occupied Europe.

Rear Admiral Jan Aylen, another commander in the unit, described Dalzel-Job as “one of the most enterprising, plucky and resourceful” people that the war produced.

When he published his memoir, From Arctic Snow to Dust of Normandy, in 1991, the Queen Mother’s private secretary wrote on her behalf to say it was “a fascinating tale” that would have pride of place in her library. A contemporary in Fleming’s unit, Peter Jemmett, told a newspaper that colleagues recognised Dalzel-Job as the Bond prototype immediately the first spy novels appeared in the 1950s. He added: “In contrast to a number of people who have claimed that they were the James Bond, Patrick has never made any fuss about it.”

Dalzel-Job did say in one interview that, after the books’ success, their author had told him he was a role model for the heroic Bond.

“I prefer the quiet life now,” Dalzel-Job went on. “When you have led such an exciting life you don’t need to see a fictional account of it.”

One reason Dalzel-Job was sent to Norway was that he knew its coastline from his 20s, when he sailed up and down it with his mother and a Norwegian schoolgirl named Bjorg as crew. After the war, he traced and married Bjorg; they settled quietly in the West Highlands and he became a teacher. She died of cancer in the 1980s.

“I have only ever loved one woman,” he said afterwards.

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