Jump to content
The Education Forum

Ernest Cuneo and Ian Fleming

Recommended Posts

On the outbreak of the Second World War a family friend, the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, arranged for Ian Fleming to join the naval intelligence division as personal assistant to Admiral John Godfrey, the director of naval intelligence. According to the author of Ian Fleming (1996): "With his charm, social contacts, and gift for languages, Fleming proved an excellent appointment. Working from the Admiralty's Room 39, he showed a hitherto unacknowledged talent for administration, and was quickly promoted from lieutenant to commander. He liaised on behalf of the director of naval intelligence with the other secret services. One of few people given access to Ultra intelligence, he was responsible for the navy's input into anti-German black propaganda."

It has been claimed that Fleming was involved in the plot to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain. Richard Deacon, the author of Spyclopaedia: The Comprehensive Handbook of Espionage (1987), has argued: "The truth is that a number of wartime intelligence coups credited to other people were really manipulated by Fleming. It was he who originated the scheme for using astrologers to lure Rudolf Hess to Britain. Fleming's contract in Switzerland succeeded in planting on Hess an astrologer who was also a British agent. To ensure that the theme of the plot was worked into a conventional horoscope the Swiss contract arranged for two horoscopes of Hess to be obtained from astrologers known to Hess personally so that the faked horoscope would not be suspiciously different from those of the others."

In July 1942 President Roosevelt established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) under the leadership of General William Donovan. Roosevelt arranged for Ernest Cuneo to become Donovan's liaison officer with MI6, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of State.

Cuneo met Ian Fleming in New York City in the summer of 1940. Fleming criticised Admiral Ernest King, Chief of US naval operations for not supporting the Russian convoys forcefully enough. Cuneo responded by claiming that Fleming was only a junior officer who was unlikely to know enough about the subject. Fleming commented: "Do you question my bona fides?" Fleming asked angrily. "No, only your patently limited judgement." Despite this exchange the two men soon became close friends.

Cuneo described Fleming as having the appearance of a lightweight boxer. It was not only his broken nose but the way he carried himself: "He did not rest his weight on his left leg; he distributed it, his left foot and his shoulders slightly forward." Cuneo liked Fleming's "steely patriotism" and told General William Donovan that he was a typical English agent: "England was not a country but a religion, and that where England was concerned, every Englishman was a Jesuit who believed the end justified the means."

In May 1941 Fleming accompanied Admiral John Godfrey to America, staying to help write a blueprint for the Office of Co-ordinator of Information (the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency).

After the war Ernest Cuneo joined with Ivar Bryce and a group of investors, including Fleming, to gain control of the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA). Andrew Lycett has pointed out: "With the arrival of television, its star had begun to wane. Advised by Ernie Cuneo, who told him it was a sure way to meet anyone he wanted, Ivar stepped in and bought control. He appointed the shrewd Cuneo to oversee the American end of things... and Fleming was brought on board to offer a professional newspaperman's advice." Fleming was appointed European vice-president, with a salary of £1,500 a year. He persuaded James Gomer Berry, 1st Viscount Kemsley, that The Sunday Times should work closely with NANA. He also organized a deal with The Daily Express, owned by Lord Beaverbrook.

Fleming considered the possibility of writing detective fiction. In December 1950 he travelled to New York City to meet with Ernest Cuneo and William Stephenson. Fleming's biographer points out: "With William Stephenson's and Ernie Cuneo's help - Ian spent a night out on the Upper West Side with a couple of detectives from the local precinct. On previous trips he had enjoyed visiting Harlem dance clubs, where he delighted in their energy as much as their music. Now his eyes had been opened to a seedier reality. He met a local crime boss and witnessed with alarm the hold that drug traffickers were gaining in the neighbourhood." Cuneo took the opportunity to tell Fleming that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was a communist front.

Fleming often visited the United States to be with Cuneo. This included doing research in Las Vegas for a novel he was planning. Cuneo argued that Fleming was "a knight errant searching for the lost Round Table and possibly the Holy Grail, and unable to reconcile himself that Camelot was gone and still less that it had probably never existed." Fleming's novel, Casino Royale, featuring the secret agent James Bond, was published to critical acclaim in April 1953. Later, Fleming admitted that Cuneo provided him with the basic plotlines for Goldfinger (1959) and Thunderball (1961).

Gaeton Fonzi, the author of The Last Investigation (1993), argues that Cuneo employed pro-CIA journalists like Virginia Prewett and Priscilla Johnson. In his book, Oswald and the CIA (1995) John Newman explores Johnson's relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald. The journalist Anthony Summers argues in his book, The Kennedy Conspiracy (1980): "For many years, Prewett wrote for the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), a syndication organization founded by prewett's friend Ernest Cuneo, a veteran of the CIA's forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services... In 1963 NANA was severely criticized in a Senate Committee Report, for syndicating pro-Chiang Kai-shek propaganda written by a paid American lobbyist".

Cuneo was a strong opponent of Fidel Castro and his revolutionary government in Cuba. He joined forces with Henry Luce, Clare Booth Luce Hal Hendrix, Paul Bethel, William Pawley, Virginia Prewett, Dickey Chapelle, Edward Teller, Arleigh Burke, Leo Cherne, Sidney Hook, Hans Morgenthau and Frank Tannenbaum to form the Citizens Committee to Free Cuba (CCFC). On 25th March, 1963, the CCFC issued a statement: "The Committee is nonpartisan. It believes that Cuba is an issue that transcends party differences, and that its solution requires the kind of national unity we have always manifested at moments of great crisis. This belief is reflected in the broad and representative membership of the Committee."



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Tom Scully

There is a photo provided by Cuneo's son, here.:

Desperate Deception

books.google.comThomas E Mahl - 2000 - Preview

On November 30, 1946, Sir William Stephenson received the Medal of Merit ... the FBI, the Treasury, and the OSS. He is shown here with BSC staff member Margaret Watson, who became his wife. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Cuneo.

Cuneo met his wife in 1942, at the BSC office in New York. She was from Wiinnepeg, as was William Stephenson.

Cuneo was executor of Walter Winchell's estate and was Winchell's attorney for 25 years. In 1942, Drew Pearson reported that Cuneo was working for Adolph Berle. Most likely this was deliberate misinformation from a cooperative


Junior Gestapo" Listens In On Army And Navy Telephone Calls...

St. Petersburg Times - Nov 30, 1942 Assistant secretary of State Adolf Berle, once an original Roosevelt brain-trusler, now has a brain trust of his own, headed by busy-ag-abird-dog Ernest Cuneo;

In November, 1963, Dorothy Kilgallen reported that Cuneo was suing the publisher of an Ian Fleming novel for plagiarism in a London Court. Fleming had died earlier in 1963.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...