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Ian Fleming Malingering Memorandum

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Towards the end of 1942, the German section of the Political Warfare Executive developed a new black propaganda campaign to undermine the morale of U-boat crews. On the outside the small booklet they produced was a facsimile of a genuine German Navy physical training manual. However, after a few pages the text dropped the sports advice and instead gave step-by-step instruction in the faking of illnesses and disease. This was the first edition of a range of disguised malingering manuals to be clandestinely disseminated inside occupied Europe by the Special Operations Executive and dropped from the air by Royal Air Force free-floating balloons.

Ian Fleming, personal assistance to the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI), recognising the value of such psychological warfare, was eager that this malingering booklet should be quickly in the hands of the German submariners. He wrote the memorandum below to the chief of the Special Operations Executive urging for the organisation's assistance to disseminate the booklets. Fleming also suggests that the Soviet NKVD might also help.





FROM:  Commander I. L. Fleming, R.N.V.R., N.I.D.(17).

TO:    Sir Charles Hambro.
       Copy to Brigadier R.A.D. Brooks.

DATE:  4th December, 1942.


The latest P.W.E. black booklet containing advice on malingering under the guise of a handbook on physical training is of particular interest to the Admiralty, and the D.N.I. would like its distribution stimulated by every possible means.

2. The only Naval channel (apart from N[aval] A[ttache] Madrid who has certain duties in connection with S.O.E.) which might be available is N.A. Stockholm, but we are anxious to avoid having to use him for obvious reasons and also because there should be so many other possible and more effective channels available from Sweden into Germany.

3. It is suggested that an effective channel would be through the N.K.V.D., and we would very much like consideration to be given to the possibility of sending by air mail the necessary matrices of the complete booklet for the Soviet to reproduce and infiltrate through their own channels.

4. We are confident that the excellence of the production will strike them immediately and that they would be willing to co-operate with S.O.E.'s representative in Moscow.

5. A further suggestion is that S.O.E. might use their representatives in Spain for passing the booklet over the Pyrenees to the German troops and thus perhaps to Bordeaux.

6. Naturally the most promising centres of distribution would be the German-controlled French Atlantic ports, and we would join with you in requesting first priority for a consignment to be delivered through N.I.D.(C) if you agree.

7. These are only preliminary suggestions upon which you will doubtless be able to improve, but I am at any rate to request that you will be good enough to give the matter your urgent attention since we regard this particular P.W.E. production as a most effective weapon against U-boat personnel.

8. In the above connection we would, of course, be prepared to make a signal to our relevant Naval Attaches to assist your representatives in any way possible without themselves becoming involved as agents.

[sgd I. L. Fleming]


[Handwritten addition: 9. We could assist from Istanbul. F.]


[Source: TNA FO 898/18 - transcribed by]



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