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Ian Fleming's Commandos : The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII
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Ian Fleming's Commandos : The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII

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Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fleming was personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence - the dynamic figure behind James Bond's fictional chief, 'M'. Here, Fleming had a brilliant idea: why not set up a unit of authorised looters, men who would go in hard with the front-line troops and steal enemy intelligence?

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By Nicholas Rankin 

In 1942, Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fleming was personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence - the dynamic figure behind James Bond's fictional chief, 'M'. Here, Fleming had a brilliant idea: why not set up a unit of authorised looters, men who would go in hard with the front-line troops and steal enemy intelligence?

Known as '30 Assault Unit', they took part in the major campaigns of the Second World War, landing on the Normandy beaches and helping to liberate Paris. 30AU's final amazing coup was to seize the entire archives of the German Navy - thirty tons of documents.

Ian Fleming flew out in person to get the loot back to Britain, where it was combed for evidence to use in the Nuremburg trials. In this gripping and highly enjoyable book, Nicholas Rankin, author of the best-selling Churchill's Wizards, puts 30 Assault Unit's fascinating story in a strategic and intelligence context. He also argues that Ian Fleming's Second World War service was one of the most significant periods of his life - without this, the most popular spy fiction of the twentieth century would not have been written.

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