Bond creator Ian Fleming made good use of his own memories of service with the British Royal Navy, and naval references featured at various points in the James Bond books.
Now 007 actor Daniel Craig has something directly in common with the fictional James Bond of both the books and EON films: they share the military rank of commander.
There was major media interest in the news that the current James Bond star has been given a special honour by Britain’s Royal Navy (RN): it was announced that Daniel has been made an honorary Commander, the same rank attained by James Bond.
The news came just days before the premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London of the latest and eagerly-anticipated 007 adventure No Time To Die, which will be Craig’s final adventure as Britain’s favourite spy.
Referring to his new real-life ranking, Craig told the UK’s press: ‘I am truly privileged and honoured to be appointed the rank of honorary commander in the senior service’. The Bond star is especially keen to support the families of RN service personnel.
From Daniel With Love
The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, presented Craig with the honour and said: ‘I am delighted to welcome honorary commander Daniel Craig to the Royal Navy. Our honorary officers act as ambassadors and advocates for the service, sharing their time and expertise to spread the message about what our global, modern and ready Royal Navy is doing around the world’. Admiral Radakin added: ‘Daniel is well known for being Commander Bond – a naval officer who keeps Britain safe through missions across the globe. That’s what the real Royal Navy does every day, using technology and skill the same way as Bond himslef. I look forward to him getting to see more of our sailors and marines over the coming months and years’.
The news came as details emerged about the extent to which the RN gave support to the filmmakers during production of the new Bond movie, which includes an appearance by the British warship HMS Dragon. The production also received help from both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British Army. The RAF allowed the base RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire (doubling for a NATO base in Norway) to be used as a backdrop for a sequence where James Bond boards a C-17 Globemaster plane, while the Army supplied troops from the Household Cavalry when some sequences were shot in Whitehall in central London.
Commander Bond, RN
As 007 aficionados know, Bond author Ian Fleming, of course, was made a Lieutenamt Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) in 1939, and served as an assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, in Whitehall during World War Two. Godfrey was said to be the model for ‘M’, who was given a Naval background in the James Bond books. Similarly, Fleming gave his fictional creation James Bond the rank of lieutenant in the Special Branch of the RNVR and, according to 007’s obituary, Bond had ended the war with the rank of Commander.
The producers of the James Bond movies have made good use of this Naval background over the years. A number of the 007 movies have had sequences where Bond is referred to as ‘Commander Bond’ (such as in Sean Connery’s Diamonds Are Forever) or is seen in Naval uniform (Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice, Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me, and Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies). Moreover, the Bond productions have been given close cooperation by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), such as with the naval sequences in Tomorrow Never Dies and in the latest production, No Time To Die. Craig’s movie Skyfall was also given permission by the MOD to use some MOD-owned land in Surrey, located next to some MOD firing ranges. And let’s not forget that when Craig was first introduced to the world’s media as the new James Bond, he was escorted up the River Thames to his first press conference by members of the Royal Marines.
From a View to a Thrill
Interestingly, Ian Fleming’s wartime service as a Naval Intelligence officer will be featured in Operation Mincemeat, a new movie directed by John Madden, and due for release in January, 2022. It is based on the non-fiction book penned by the historian and Bond expert Ben Macintyre, which told the story of Fleming’s involvement in the creation of a wartime deception operation designed to fool the Germans into thinking that the Allies were planning to invade Greece and Sardinia in 1943, instead of their real target of Sicily.
This deception operation, which in many ways was the brainchild of Commander Fleming, proved highly successful in diverting German troops away from Sicily, and thus saving numerous Allied lives. Commander Fleming in the new movie will be played by Johnny Flyn. As an assistant to Admiral Godfrey, Fleming developed a reputation for thinking up imaginative deception and other secret operations, and was also instrumental in setting up 30AU, a special naval assault unit. Some Bond historians have speculated that one or two members of 30AU may have influenced Fleming’s later creation of James Bond in the early 1950s.
No Time To Die is premiered at the Royal Albert Hall on 28th September, 2021, and goes on general release in the UK on 30th September. There has been heavy booking and purchase of advance cinema tickets for the new film, which will be music to the ears of cinema owners.