Real life James Bond’s in the Second World War: Patrick Dalzel-Job

The previous post detailed how Forest Yeo-Thomas, one of the most famous agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), may have inspired Ian Fleming when he came to create his fictional hero James Bond. In this post I am going to explore another individual who influenced the creation of Bond as a man of action Patrick Dalzel-Job. In the Second World War he served in 30 Assault Unit (30AU) from 1944 until the end of the war. 30 AU was a special NID intelligence commando unit tasked with gathering naval intelligence and for much of the war was over seen by Fleming himself. Consequently, the creator of James Bond had personal knowledge of Dalzel-Job who was described as being ‘one of the most enterprising, plucky and resourceful’ special operators who worked for the British secret services in the war. [1] He was a qualified parachute jumper, marksman, skier and deep-water diver, and was fluent in Norwegian, and well versed in French and German. In 1944 Dalzel-Job was recruited into 30 AU and in the months leading up to Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Dalzel-Job and other 30 AU commando were being trained in preparation for the coming offensive. [2] Dalzel-Job landed in Normandy at Utah Beach four days after the initial invasion. Throughout June and into July 1944 he secretly operated forward of the frontlines during the pitched battle for Normandy. Coming face to face with the enemy on numerous occasions and witnessing the horrors of the ‘bocage’ in Normandy Dalzel-Job continued to carry out his duties with sturdy professionalism. [3] At great personal risk Dalzel-Job and his men penetrated enemy lines in attempts to collect valuable intelligence. One such coup was the locating and capturing of a launch site used by V-1 rockets and the collecting of German documents which were stated to be ‘of local security value’. [4] Dalzel-Job remained on the front line of the Allied advance across Western Europe often working well in front of the Allied armies to secure valuable intelligence. In Cologne in March 1945 he gained access to a wealth of research papers on German rocket, missile and jet research programmes. [5] While a month later in April, again working ahead of the Allied advance, he led a recognisance unit into the German city of Bremen and personally accepted the surrender of the city. He also secured a German destroyer which was docked at the port of Bremerhaven before it could be scuttled by its crew. [6] In his memoir Dalzel-Job did comment that Fleming scrutinised his reports with great detail, and after the war he was aware that his exploits were a possible inspiration for Bond. He recorded that ‘someone said that I gave him the germ of the idea of James Bond’ and later he did admit that Fleming had informed him that Bond was to an extent modelled on himself. [7]


1 Macintyre, For your eyes only, p. 53.
2 Cabell, Ian Fleming’s secret war, p. 74‒5.
3 Bocage referred to thick hedgerows which separated fields and roads in the Normandy countryside. These high hedgerows were almost impassable to anything but heavy armour and were a natural defence used by the Germans. Beevor, D-Day, pp 151, 252‒7.
4 Dalzel-Job, Artic snow to dust of Normandy, pp 125‒6; History of 30 AU, 21 April 1948 (ADM 223/214, The National Archives).
5 Rankin, Ian Fleming’s commandos, pp 277‒8.
6 History of 30 Assault Unit, 21 April 1948 (ADM 223/214, The National Archives).
7 Macintyre, For your eyes only, p. 54.


Members of 30 AU on a training exercise

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Jonathan Best

I historian of modern British history. In particular my research has focused on the activities of British secret services during the twentieth century, particularly during the two world wars and the early decades of the Cold War. In addition to this my current research has also examined the history of British spy fiction with a particular focus on the British spy novel between the late Victorian era and the 1960s. This interest is fueled by my personal passion for the secret world of espionage, intelligence, clandestine operations both fictional and factual.

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