Had Spanish dictator Francisco Franco decided to abandon Spain’s neutral stance, or had the Axis taken Gibraltar in 1940, World War II might have ended very differently. That it didn’t was partly down to the dedication of Allied diplomats and intelligence agents. There were a number of Allied operations and schemes instigated to keep Spain and Portugal out of the war, which included the widespread bribery of high-ranking Spanish officials. On the other side of the there were German attempts to entice Franco the Spanish dictator to abandon his neutral stanch, thought they were hamstrung by the duplicity of their “Spanish Expert” the wily Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr.
The fascinating story begins with the recruitment of Ian Fleming, later creator of the ultimate agent James Bond, into Naval Intelligence by Admiral Godfrey. Fleming was one of the ideas men behind Operation Golden Eye, which had two sub schemes, Sconce if the Spanish cooperated with the Germans, and Sprinkler to assist the Spanish if they resisted.
This was the nearest Ian Fleming ever got to being a real secret agent was when he visited the Iberian Peninsula and Tangiers several times during World War II. And it was from this the 007 novels had their roots firmly anchored in Fleming’s experiences and the array of colourful characters he met during World War II.
Mark Simmons Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye: Keeping Spain out of World War II. Publisher Casemate 2018 hardback 192 pages new.