The “real James Bond” was only 5ft 6ins tall but his exploits included stealing an Enigma decoding machine and smuggling himself into communist Russia dressed in his old school uniform, according to a new book.
The smoking room tales of Wilfred “Biffy” Dunderdale are said to be one of the sources Ian Fleming used for James Bond.
The spy was aged 19 and serving in the Royal Navy after the First World War when he volunteered for the mission.
Dunderdale, who was brought up in the Black Sea port of Odessa, was apparently put ashore there wearing his old school uniform where he made for his former housemaster’s house and was let in by the teacher’s surprised wife.
“Your Latin was always behind the class, Dunderdale, so you can work up there to improve it!” his former teacher allegedly told him.
The answer was returned the next day but Dunderdale had to spend a week in the attic wearing his uniform and studying Latin, until he was picked up, according to the story. He won an MBE for his bravery.
The book, “Boodle’s Apocrypha, a story of men and their club in London” also provides a much fuller picture of Dunderdale, describing how, as MI6 station chief in Paris between 1926 and 1940, he drove around the city in an immaculate bullet-proof Rolls Royce – Bond drove a Bentley – with a brief to “establish and enhance contact in future occupied countries, prepare for guerilla warfare, foment insurrections and develop destructive devices.”
Dunderdale, who was independently wealthy, wore solid gold Cartier cufflinks and sported a long black ebony cigarette-holder with Balkan cigarettes – the same type favoured by the fictional Bond. He kept MI6’s funds in a safe at the Rolls Royce office in Paris and his own car was usually parked at lunchtime outside Maxim’s in the Rue Royale.
In July 1939, the Poles, fearing invasion, invited Dunderdale and his French contact Gustave Bertrand of the French military intelligence agency the Duxieme Bureau, known to the British as “Bertie”, to collect two Enigma machines they had copied.
They smuggled them back to France where Dunderdale put them in his safe, apparently giving the key to Bertrand.
However the safe had a second door in the back, accessed from a staff service staircase in the hotel and Dunderdale removed the machines and sent them back to Britain in the diplomatic bag where cypher experts at Bletchley Park were able to get to work on them.
Dunderdale was awarded the CBE, Legion d’Honneur and US Legion of Merit for his work but the machines did not provide all the answers because the Germans added more rotors, making it more difficult to decode messages.
Back in Britain after the fall of France, Dunderdale found himself his own offices near to the MI6 offices in Broadway in St James’s, which he turned into a Turkish room with portraits of the Tsar, exotic drapes, incense, a model of a Russian 1912 destroyer and his bullet-proof Rolls Royce parked outside. From there he ran agents into France, at one stage making his own mission to Madrid using the false name John Green.
He died “without issue” in New York in 1990 where he had moved with his third wife and Mr Smith said: “He was undoubtedly another hero incorporated into the myth of James Bond, embracing espionage, underwater activities and sheer style, with his mission duly accomplished by whatever it took.”
For Bond’s physical appearance, Fleming probably drew on Michael Mason, another British spy who was was 6ft 2ins tall and an Army boxing champion, and the name came from the author of a Guide to the Birds of the West Indies.
Original Post: Telegraph.co.uk