London, April 7 : More than a decade before he created James Bond, author Ian Fleming planned to outwit the Nazis during World War II, when he was a naval intelligence officer.
Fleming's plan was revealed at a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London, For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, which honours this year's centenary of his birth, and examines the novelist and James Bond in their historical contexts.
Operation Ruthless was a daring scheme to seize a German codebook.
Fleming's design was to stage a fake crash to attract one of the German rescue boats picking up airmen who had gone down in the English Channel, to overpower the crew, and to make off with their codebook that would be helpful in deciphering messages sent by the German navy.
The plan was eventually abandoned because of the lack of rescue boats operating at night, and also due to concerns about the safety of the crew.
James Taylor, the curator of the museum, said that Fleming discovered a sense of purpose only in 1939 after careers as a journalist and "the world's worst stockbroker".
"The war was the first time that he found a role in life. The old-school-tie network got him a job as assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, but he excelled because of his intellect, inventiveness and great charm," Times Online quoted him as saying.
Peter Smithers, a colleague in naval intelligence, said: "Ian constantly longed to be engaged in the excitement. He was of an essentially aggressive nature. It was the repression of all these desires by authority, quite rightly, which in my opinion fired the imagination engaged in his books."
After the war Fleming became a journalist again and then a writer, dashing off Casino Royale in 1952 and 11 further Bond novels before his death in 1964 at the age of 56.
The exhibition runs from April 17 to March 1 next year.