Did Welsh spy inspire 007? Grandson discovers his relative was WWII secret agent called James Bond

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A family have discovered their army veteran grandfather – called James Bond – was a real-life spy who worked for 007 author Ian Fleming during World War Two.

James Charles Bond, from Swansea, South Wales, was a member of the elite Special Operations Executive, and never told his loved ones about his secret past.

Now the striking coincidence has led to suggestions the writer could have named his famous fictional hero after his old colleague – who was a part time lollipop man and happens to be a dead ringer for actor and Bond star Sean Connery.

Mr Bond’s grandson Stephen Phillips unearthed his late grandfather’s ‘On her Majesty’s secret service’ past after going through World War Two documents previously guarded under the Official Secrets Act.

The papers showed former metal worker Mr Bond was a member of the elite Special Operations Executive where he worked on missions under Fleming before he became an author.

Greengrocer Mr Phillips, 52, always suspected his late grandfather was hiding a secret from his army past.

He said: ‘There has always been a nagging curiosity within me and other members of my family about his name and possible links with Ian Fleming.

‘As grandchildren we were always told never to ask about the army and what granddad did in the war or where he served. We never really knew why.

‘It is only since the relaxing of Official Secrets Acts information in 2014 that grandad’s past in the military has been looked at.

‘I have managed to retrieve files from archives in relation to my grandfather who served the whole duration of World War Two and for six years later.’

Mr Bond died in 1995, aged 89, without ever revealing his spy past to his family.

Author Fleming worked for the head of British Naval Intelligence during the war, and saw first had all of the secrets of the British military.

He once trained with the SEO and later coordinated covert missions, like those that would have been undertaken by Mr Bond.  

Mr Phillips said: ‘One of the files I discovered was the Official Secrets Acts signed by my grandfather James Bond on June 3, 1944, three days before the D-Day landings.

‘I can only assume that he was behind enemy lines during that time.

‘My granddad was an Special Operations Executive subject’s intelligence officer. 

‘Learning my grandfather was a spy and his name was James Bond did not take much of a nudge to get me motivated.

‘Granddad was a spy working behind enemy lines and in 1942 Ian Fleming put an elite team of SOEs together for a mission details of which have not been disclosed.

‘My granddad was one of that team of six. It makes my chest pump with pride. Those guys were heroes.’

Fleming, who died in 1964, had claimed James Bond was named after an American ornithologist – saying he wanted a ‘plain, simple name’ for his super-spy.

But Mr Phillips suspects it was a ‘classic red herring’ by Fleming to protect his granddad’s true identity under the Official Secrets Act.

He said: ‘There were 100-million soldiers from 30 countries and only 13,000 SOEs. Only one SOE was called James Bond.

‘Granddad was protected by Ian Fleming himself I believe.

‘Under the Official Secrets Acts Granddad signed he was sworn to ‘not divulge any information gained by me as a result of my employment either in the press or in book form.’

‘I am also conscious that the Official Secrets Act was signed for the necessary purpose of national security, protection for his family and the need for buttoned lips when he left the army.

‘Because of the limited information that has been released to me it is clear that some details of my granddad’s past are still covered by the Act and will remain buried.

‘Grandfather took my cousin Jenny when she was a teenager by the hand one day saying: ‘Believe me when I tell you, I am the real James Bond.’ Nothing more was said and no questions were asked.’

Mr Phillips said his grandfather was in the army for about 11 years – but finished his working career in a steelworks and in retirement he took a part-time job as a lollipop man at Loughor, near Swansea.    

He said: ‘I accept it is a long shot but it why I want to put my story out there. It would be great to learn where my grandfather was and who he met in the secret services.

‘In my searches I have found a picture of granddad in a suit.

‘He really looked like he could have played James Bond. The photograph taken in 1937 is of a strong, swarthy, handsome guy who I am so proud to say was my grandfather. He could have played Bond but didn’t have to. He was James Bond.’      

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