Some people still believe that James Bond books and films are fiction. How naive.
I have just read Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre, the true story of a British operation during World War II, in which a dead body was equipped with forged papers and washed ashore in Spain. The idea was that the Spanish would pass on the paperwork to Germany who would find (false) plans of an invasion of Sardinia, Corsica and Greece, thus deviating their attention from Sicily where the actual invasion would take place.
The plan worked.
The man tasked with building the canister in which the dead (and rotting) body was smuggled to Spain on a submarine was Charles Fraser-Smith of “Q-Branch”.
His job was to furnish secret agents, saboteurs and prisoners of war with an array of wartime gizmos, such as miniature cameras, invisible ink, hidden weaponry and concealed compasses.
This is my favourite invention of all:
He invented garlic-flavoured chocolate to be consumed by agents parachuting into France in order that their breath should smell appropriately Gallic as soon as they landed.
Nice to have someone at the office who thinks of every little detail.
If Fraser-Smith reminds you of the Q you know from the James Bond films, that’s no coincidence. Ian Fleming, the author of the underlying novels, was an officer in British Naval Intelligence during World War II.