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back to article Inside the real-world Double-O section of Her Majesty's Secret Service

Thanks to the books and films we all know a lot about James Bond 007. We also know a little about the group he supposedly belongs to, the "Double-O agents" of "Her Majesty's Secret Service" - the only British secret agents with a licence to kill. But just how realistic is the idea? Does anything like the Double-O section really …

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Good stuff!

Excellent article, keep them coming!

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Megaphone

All lies!

Spooks was a documentary. James Bond was/is a minor exaggeration.

Now stop ruining my day :(

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Coat

Re: All lies!

Ummm....I wrote that after reading most of the first page. Turns out the rest of the artivle was very interesting and pretty cool, and completely stopped ruining my day.

Sorry about the shouting. As you were.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All lies!

Actually, Yes Minister was the documentary.

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Pint

Next time our American colleagues attempt a higher than thou stance when it come to intelligence agencies just point out that without Ian Fleming there would be no CIA. That would be the proper CIA...not the political tool after the the USAF/CIA pig fight...where the CIA disputed the number of Sov bombers when the USAF was looking at presenting a new budget. A few years later the CIA learned its lesson and played the game in the "missile gap" controversy.

Pint coz it makes it easier to digest bollocks politics.

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Re: Bondnote 3

I can't remember whether it was one of the books or the films but I recall one of Bond's friends saying that his Walther PPK was a "girl's gun".

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Re: Bondnote 3

The Walther also features in The Wire as Brother Mouzone's preffered gun, though Omar is a tad dismissive of it. Spoiler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20G17K_0ghU

I had a carpenter friend work a high end cabinet makers, and one Kuwaiti client wanted a desk with a secret, sprung loaded drawer, perfectly tuned to the weight of a Waltham PPK. The company had to arrange for a PPK to be bought to their premises for this fine adjustment. I guess the client was a very rich James Bond fan!

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Re: Bondnote 3

the PPK was given to him by Q to replace his previous weapon of choice, a .25 Beretta automatic, which he dismissed as a 'lady's gun'.

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Happy

Re: Bondnote 3

The PPK is fairly weak, as far as handguns go, even the 9mm that you see on TV as deadly (unless you've got plot armour) is fairly weak.

The PPK is best used up close when you've got no other choice, and against the skin in a vital spot, essentially an assassins weapon. The way Bond uses it in the movie (torso shots at 10-30 meters) is very unlikely do anything more then knock people down, unless you hit someone in a vital spot (e.g the neck), and against body armour it will do jackshit.

Also Bond would need to be an Olympic level (better actually) shooter to make half the shots you see in the movies. Pistols just aren't that accurate.

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Re: Bondnote 3

It was Ian Flemming himself who described the Walther PPK as a girls gun, I think (I can't remember) Bond used mainly a Browning in his books.

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Holmes

Re: Bondnote 3

Waltham PPK. Lost for words.

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Happy

@tkioz Re:"unlikely do anything more then knock people down"

That would depend on what type of ammo you were using. I am sure we can both think of "munitions" (supplied by Q perhaps?) that would have given even his original Baretta a kick like a mule!

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@ tkioz: "The PPK is fairly weak, as far as handguns go,"

Very true.

Several years ago I switched from 90 gr 380s to 95 gr, and the first shot jammed my PPK.

Now I use 88 gr and aim for the belly from up close, just like you said.

A hollow point in his belly will slow Goldfinger down enough for you to get the hell out of there.

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Reboot note number 7.

I can't imagine why Flemming chose it originally but for the plots the character was in, it was an handy weapon. It just turned out that in a book, you don't put such a charcter up against the laws of chance and AK 47s.

One thing about small calibre weapons is that they are easy to get used to packing. It is much too tempting to leave your .50 in the drawer half the time. And when you next see a modern hero reloading one of them, take a look at the scene just before he unloaded it to see where he might be wearing half a dozen clips of spare ammo at a pound a time.

BTW; does a Walther PPK only work on ladies or can you kill men with them too?

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Re: Bondnote 3

Waltham PPK, isn't that a front for the Essex Liberation Army.

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Re: @tkioz unlikely do anything more then knock people down"

Mmmmm, better hit the target first time then, you won't get a chance to re-aim, or do the well known double tap to the chest.

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Ian's Brother was probably the "real" spy

Peter Fleming's books are less numerous and more intriguing for what they don't say.

News From Tartary

The Bond books are "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"* for adults, escapism and not meant to be realistic at all.

(* Yes Ian Fleming was responsible. At least there wasn't a dreadful fake Cockney accent, I think it's possibly better than the Bond Books. I think Leslie Charteris then and Clive Cussler now are better authors of "Bond" type books. The success of the film franchise can't be denied. Sean Connery is my favourite Film Bond.).

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Facepalm

Re: Ian's Brother was probably the "real" spy

"The Bond books are "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"* for adults, escapism and not meant to be realistic at all."

You mean they're fiction?? Say it ain't so!

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Coat

Re: Ian's Brother was probably the "real" spy

Clive Cussler's earlier books are descent. His, and his son's, more recent books are more along the lines of The Hardy Boys. I'll admit to having read all of them (Hardy Boys) in 9th grade study hall. I've read most of Cussler's books since receiving a box of books from a not-quite very special female friend....and I don't respect her any less for it.

I, too, agree about Connery, and if you can get past the socks, Finding Forrester is acceptable as well (especially the Mr. Scotland photograph on the wall.)

It's a trenchcoat, all spies wear trenchcoats, but I wear one in Atlanta in July because I can.

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Unhappy

Re: Ian's Brother was probably the "real" spy

"Clive Cussler's earlier books are descent."

Agreed. But then they started doing "Clive Cussler with [author you've never heard of]" and I've read 3 of those and they were all without exception atrocious. They were obviously written by the unknown authors and no doubt what actually happens is that Cussler phones in some rough storyline, the unknown author writes the entire book and cussler turns up 5 mins before printing to rubber stamp it and collect his money. Avoid them like the plague.

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For some reason, grown men with special forces fantasies always reminds me of this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRunloaOHoA

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You were in the SAS? What's that, Saturdays and Sundays?!

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Black Helicopters

SAS

There is actually SAS TA Reservists, so you can - technically - be weekend warrior SAS. They're not there for show either :)

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Coffee/keyboard

My name is BOND

Baslidon Bond - I've got my silver letter opening and I know how to use it.

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Pint

Perfect Friday reading..

Great article, very interesting :)

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Meh

Re: Perfect Friday reading..

Indeed, although when it comes down to it, and article that states that SIS is not at all interesting. Mind you, paid up cynics will recognise this as propoganda to try and persuade people to join SIS.

"Come on in, it's warm, you don't have to do much, and the pension's lovely" probably makes a better recruitment message than "It's very dangerous, and if Johnny Foreigner doesn't get you, then we might decide to fold you up and stuff you into a holdall"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perfect Friday reading..

"Come on in, it's warm, you don't have to do much, and the pension's lovely"

It would appear that SIS have a lot in common with the electricity industry.

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Great article

A lot of Fleming's work was inspired by his own experiences during the Second World War. There are a lot of stories that have never been revealed for one reason or another; the activities of SOE are examples of this.

The truth can often be stranger than fiction.

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Boffin

Re: Great article

And let's also remember that his archetypal villain, Blofeld, was named after the Blofeld family that includes the cricket commentator with a liking for cake.

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Re: Great article

Fleming was fond of naming characters for real people. Auric Goldfinger was named after the architect Ernő Goldfinger (designer of, inter alia, London's Trellick Tower) and Bond himself after the author of the definitive Birds of the West Indies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great article

Yes, and Ernst Stavro Blofeld was named after Thomas Blofeld, the father of Henry Blofeld the well known cricket commentator,

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Re: Great article

...and a branch of the Scaramanga family, after whom the triple-nipple eponymous villain is named, still live near Bath. One of them had, until recently, a firm selling Quality Cars of the type that Bond might have fancied.

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Lewis

Articles like this are extremely interesting and this one was also well written, with none of your usual deliberately inflammatory remarks. Apply the same knowledgable and methodical approach to your other articles and your readership will most definitely rise as will your credibility, especially with your climate and nuclear articles. More of this please :)

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Re: Lewis

Lewis was in the military so in this instance he knows what he's talking about. Climate science on the other hand he has zero qualifications for and boy does it show.

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Re: Lewis

You should consider the possibility that Lewis DOES bring his knowledgable and methodical approach to AWG and that it is your own prejudices/religious beliefs which are offended. And yes, he did include a few deliberately inflammatory remarks (which I will let slide unless pressed) because it was, like his climate articles, a fun and informative read.

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FAIL

Re: Lewis

"knowledgable and methodical approach to AWG "

Knowledgable in what? Climate science? Any science? What exactly are his scientific qualifications? I'm sorry, but spending a few years on a ship watching the sea doesn't cut it.

"your own prejudices/religious beliefs which are offended."

Oh right, so going along with the science is a RELIGIOUS belief is it , whereas no doubt your AGW stance going against the science is perfectly rational, right? Hello pot, meet kettle.

"like his climate articles, a fun and informative read"

If I want fun I'll go to The Onion, if I want baseless drivel I'll read a tabloid. But I come to the Register for - hopefully - informed comment from its journalists. Unfortunaly you don't generally get that with Lewis.

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Re: Lewis

"I come to the Register for - hopefully - informed comment from its journalists. Unfortunaly you don't generally get that with Lewis"

Well, don't stay round here then. You won't be missed.

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Devil

Re: Lewis

"with none of your usual deliberately inflammatory remarks".

I happen to like those.

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Re: Lewis @Tom13

I happen to agree with virtually all of the points that Lewis makes in his climate articles, be he presents those articles in such a poor way that he just opens himself up for abuse and the valid points are lost/written off as a result.

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I really liked tomlinsons book,..

not so much for the bravado of the special forces stuff, but for the inner politics and nastiness of the public service. Other parts of the civil service are just like this to!

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Re: I really liked tomlinsons book,..

Ditto, and it did explain why growing up near Portsmouth I'd been approached by slightly odd people in and around Pompey who seemed interested in getting personal details. (MI6 trainee's on "Perfect Stranger" training)

Tomlinson's book is very interesting and whilst I'd say he shot himself in the foot to a small degree, a lot of it was service bollox and bitchiness, the same as you get in civvie street.

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On the other hand...

...the "slightly odd people in and around Pompey" may just have been lonely hairy-arsed matelots looking for some companionship on a weekend pass.

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Boffin

Similar sort of subject...

..but was sent this via ISN the other day.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-CIA-Burglar-Who-Went-Rogue-169800816.html

Interesting read about the internals of the CIA. I don't know how much of it is truth or not, bearing in mind the source of the material, but even so.

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Ok so this is all about Bond...

...but I'm surprised you don't mention Le Carré, as his books gave a much closer representation of the real SIS (although still with a lot of artistic licence).

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Go

Re: Ok so this is all about Bond...

I think that should have read 'whole lot of artistic license', but the ones I've read have been very well written, in places.

Quite off the subject, all books should be like Stephen King's "Insomnia". I read that one cover-to-cover, realized it was 6am, and then went to work.

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Re: Ok so this is all about Bond...

That is an EXCELLENT book!

A gem that slipped under the radar, imo. :-)

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Happy

Lucky for you.

"every serviceman is not just licenced but required to kill people if his or her mission demands it."

I was in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and luckily for my fellow squaddies I was NOT required to kill anyone in the performance of my duties. Quite the opposite in fact.

We were issued with a sub-machine gun but it was doubtful who was in more danger whilst we were shooting them us or the supposed enemy!

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Anonymous Coward

Best Lewis Page article ever

Interesting. Didn't bash the UK hard. A great read. I was waiting for the bit where we should outsource the Secret Services operations to the CIA / NSA and shut down our own because, you know, the US is better and cheaper for everything but it just wasn't there. Loved it.

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Linux

"However a few female operatives, physically too small to easily handle a full size 9mm pistol" -- and yet an African child can carry and operate an AK-74!!

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