To ensure their grandfather James Bond from Gorseinon, Swansea, who died in 1995 Lives Another Day, the family have had his headstone re-engraved recording his 007 status and rightful birth name, James Charles Bond.
The headstone will be replaced in a Swansea cemetery in the next week.
Of more than 13,000 second world war MI6 secret agents known as Special Operations Executive’s, Welshman James Bond from Gorseinon near Swansea was the only one with that famous moniker.
Over the last year Bond’s grandson, Stephen Phillips, Stephen’s brother Paul and cousin Jenny have meticulously researched their grandfather’s secret life that is slowly leaking from the Official Secrets Act after nearly 70 years. They are determined he now gets the recognition he deserves beyond the grave. To date only one file has been released.
James Charles Bond never talked about his explosives and firearms training expertise as an SOE in his life after World War Two or of his wartime association with Ian Fleming in the ‘smoke and mirrors world’ of the Secret Service.
Stephen said his grandfather was involved in many secret operations during the war and “disappeared” at times on missions for six years after the war. Returning home between missions he used to swim daily from Loughor across the fast flowing tidal estuary to the village of Penclawdd on Gower to keep fit.
Speaking to Wales News Online at the monumental masons in Kingsbridge Stephen said:
“Seeing the headstone standing proud recognising granddad’s ‘007’ status and proper birth name has been so important to our family,” said grandson Steve Phillips.
“Granddad lived his lived his life shackled by the Official Secrets Act. He is released from that now more than 24 years after his death as elements of his covert life as a spy feed through from our researches.
“My grandfather took his secret past to his grave but it is now allowed to be public knowledge.
“It is only right that his military honours are listed on his headstone.”
The family recall he would return home from his exotic spy missions with a bunch of bananas – which were quite rare in those days – and a parachute. His wife and grandmother would convert the parachute silks into dresses for the girls and curtains for those in the community. But the exotic places he saw service in or his actions were never discussed.
But they are convinced many of the missions he embarked upon and those of other SOE’s have been adapted and become the heady stuff of the famous Bond films.
It has been a chest thumpingly emotional journey of exploration for the family to understand how their unassuming-in-life grandad, who worked as a Lollipop man at Casllwchwr CP School, Loughor, in his retirement, had a previously undisclosed life that has shaped spy fiction’s most compelling hero James Bond, created by writer Ian Fleming.
In accordance with the Official Secrets Act this anonymity followed James “Boyo” Bond to the grave. He did tell his grand-daughter once: ”One day you will know I was THE James Bond.”
He was buried as Charles James Bond in 1995 although his birth name was James Charles Bond. This “deception” was replicated by Fleming himself who never divulged the true origins of the name James Bond to protect his Welsh colleague’s anonymity. There were more than 13,000 SOEs. Only one was named James Bond. And he was one of only a few dozen who worked under the command of Ian Fleming with MI6.
The family have had the headstone re-engraved with his birth name in time for Easter and more importantly in their eyes his proud and rightful recognition as the original and unique 007
Speaking about the relief of finally giving his grandfather a headstone with his proper birth name engraved in gold Stephen said:
“It is poignant for us as a family that James Bond’s headstone will be raised on Easter Sunday a quarter century after his death. It has been a long and emotional journey and it is still giving me goosebumps.
“When we first went looking for the headstone at Kingsbridge cemetery, Gorseinon, last year we found it had been removed and the name on the stone was not his birth name. It made us realise how controlled in life our family has been under the security blanket of MI6.”
Brother Paul said: “The family have had it re-engraved with his proper name and recognition of his 007 spy status.”
The grandsons and monumental mason staff of G S Williams, Garden Village, Swansea, dressed in their tuxedo’s and bow ties and Bond style lounge suits to pay homage as the final act of sandblasting 007 onto the headstone took place. Stephen was present to witness the whole process, which finally saw the name Bond, James Charles Bond being carved out in gold lettering reminiscent of the opening credits to one of Albert R (Cubby)Broccoli’s films.
The final mission and resting place of the beautifully polished headstone bearing the famous ‘007’ will be above his grave this Easter.
Photos: ©2019, Alan Evans, WalesNewsOnline