We all know that Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels, really did work in intelligence before he turned to writing. But did you know that he really worked with a gadget-obsessed Q?
Ian Fleming worked with Charles Fraser-Smith, who had one of the stranger careers in the spy business. He started out his life as a missionary, but through a gradual process of proving himself both handy and inventive, eventually became a spy-supplier during the war. He came up with obviously practical inventions – like compasses concealed in buttons that escaped POWs could use to navigate their way through occupied territory and miniature cameras. He worked with invisible ink and garrotes that were concealed in shoe laces. And then, occasionally, he took the train to crazy town and invented something there. Most notoriously, he wanted to give agents who were parachuting into occupied France the perfect cover, and so invented garlic-flavored chocolate so they would drop out of the sky smelling like natives.
His most Bond-ish moment was when he collaborated on a scheme said to be inspired by Fleming himself. British intelligence was going to drop a corpse dressed as an officer off the coast of Spain, with forged intelligence papers. The Germans were meant to read the papers and follow the false intelligence. Fraser-Smith was the one to come up with a corpse can, a water-tight transport container that would keep the dead body looking fresh until it could be placed somewhere where it would wash ashore.
If only there were a lusty femme fatale, it would be a Bond movie in real life.
[Via Operation Mincemeat]