Out of many exploits that Fleming knew of, this one stuck in his mind as simply `mission Impossible`
Using Reilly’s combination of flamboyance with business acumen….. In 1905 an Australian mining-engineer, William D’Arcy, discovered vast oil resources in the Persian basin. Huge finances were needed to exploit them, and D’Arcy entered negotiations with the French Rothschilds on their yacht at Cannes. Acting on behalf of the British Secret Service, Reilly disguised himself as a priest, gate- crashed the discussions on board the Rothschild yacht on the pretext of collecting for a religious charity and persuaded D’Arcy that the British could give him a better financial deal.
Out of that flowed immense benefits for the British and an eventual Government majority holding in British Petroleum. BP. So as we fill up with petrol, just remember who was the author of that mega British company… ?? It could have been French Petroleum… Hmmm. ?
In the book `The Man Behind James Bond`, Sidney Reilly is researched and claimed the inspiration for Ian Fleming writing the James Bond Series of novels. The source came from Reilly friends co-spy and conspirator in Russia, Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart. Lockhart was also a close friend of Fleming over many years and often recounted to the agape Fleming many of Reilly`s espionage adventures. Lockhart had worked with Reilly in the UK and Russia during 1917 and 1918. The most audacious move both were to undertake was engaging with Russian opponents to Lenin with a plot to overthrow the fledgling government and have the leaders Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin shot.
The endeavor was backed by `C` Cummings the head of MI6 operations. The plot failed and Reilly’s audacious aspirations of becoming the leader of the new Russian parliament came to a shuddering stop.
Eventually he was lured back to Russia in 1925, captured and murdered.
Shortly after, his name became a household buzzword as the British Press exalted him as the Superspy he was, recounting in detail all his exploits.
Fleming had therefore been aware for a long time of Reilly’s mythical and outrageous exploits, avidly listening to his friend Lockhart’s accounts in detail. This was the basis many years later upon which Fleming created James Bond. Using the stylized multifaceted personality and ubiquitous `daring do` adventurers therefore was the strong grounding and basis of The Bond International spy. Without Reilly it is very arguable that there would not have been a James Bond…in the guise we know of today.
The series `Reilly Ace of Spies` clearly demonstrates the serious and successful Bond of today playing on the international spy circuit which removes any doubt who the real James Bond is.
It would be a wonderful truism and accolade if any future Bond movies were to pay tribute to our first and only real superspy in a similar way that was spoken by Ian Fleming and the British Press.
- Ian Fleming confessed that “James Bond wasn’t in the same league with him.” (Reilly)
- One British newspaper in the 1920’s dubbed him ”the greatest spy in history.”
- Another called him ”The Scarlet Pimpernel of Red Russia.”
Sam Neill summed it up in the exposition of Reilly (in my opinion) in the 12 part series `Reilly Ace of Spies`, could not have been bettered by any of the Bond players since Connery…perhaps with the exception of Daniel Craig who got the closest to Sam Neill.