My father was inspiration for James Bond

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The centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming is being celebrated today with the publication of a new James Bond novel – written by an author, Sebastian Faulks who says he grew up with the James Bond legend. LINDA SUMMERHAYES meets an Edinburgh hotelier and former war hero who perhaps more than anyone else alive can rightly claim to have grown up with 007.

IT was a huge risk for a young officer to take. It meant putting not only his military career on the line, but also his life.

Yet Sub-Lieutenant Patrick Dalzel-Job knew what had to be done, and he knew he was the only man who could do it.

It was 1940 and the Nazis were closing in on the harbour town of Narvik in northern Norway.

Operation Alphabet, the evacuation of Allied troops, had been successfully completed, but the fate of the 5000 civilians left behind bothered him.

The 27-year-old's commanding officer had no doubts – the task was too complex and the risks too great. None of his troops could risk their life on such a reckless mission.

But Dalzel-Job was equally certain, and it was his yachting skills and knowledge of Norwegian waters that led to his assignment there in the first place.

Using his language skills, he mobilised a fleet of 200 local fishing boats, and commanded the extraordinary rescue of 5000 people. It saved their lives – the next day, a Luftwaffe bombing raid destroyed the town.

As if that daring and strong-minded action was not enough to conjure up images of James Bond, then Dalzel-Job's coup de grace was pure 007.

"He made sure he took the major of Narvik back with him," adds Iain with a wry smile. "He got the Norwegian King, who was based in London then, to present him with a medal, so he really couldn't be court marshalled after that."

While the comparison may be unmistakable now – Dalzel-Job could even apparently ski backwards like the world's most famous secret agent – as he was growing up his son Iain had no clue his father was such a dashing hero.

Iain, the president of the Scots Guards Association Club who is currently engaged in renovating the Guards Hotel on Clifton Terrace, would go on to service his country with distinction himself, most notably in the Falklands War.

But as a boy he remembers his father never spoke of his wartime experiences, although his unmistakable sense of adventure was always apparent.

When Iain was just an infant, the family went to Canada where they spent a year travelling across the vast country, often sleeping in the car.

When they eventually settled, the family's time was devoted to renovating a log cabin.

"He was a great stickler for discipline," says Iain, who returned to Scotland with his family in the 1960s.

It was many years later that he discovered more of the details of his father's colourful past, although he admits he still hasn't read all of Dalzel-Job senior's memoirs.

Sitting reminiscing in his city centre hotel, he is disarmingly matter-of-fact about his heroic heritage.

His pride in his father's achievements is evident though in the way he cherishes mementoes of his career, including official reports which recognise the fact he "knew no fear".

Working for Ian Fleming as part of his legendary top secret wartime intelligence unit 30 Assault Unit, Iain's rebellious and courageous father is now widely recognised as a key real-life inspiration for the fictitious James Bond .

"My father was one of the troop commanders who worked for Ian Fleming and I think what happened was that he took many of the people he worked with during the war – took all their characteristics – and moulded them into one," says Iain.

But while many people would be vocal about having their name connected with the charismatic spy – Fleming never publicly confirmed the connection before his death at the age of 56 in 1964 – Patrick's son recalls that his dad was more bemused than anything by the link.

Iain, 61, who lives with his scientist wife Jody in Rosyth, says his father's practised response was that, unlike Bond, he had personally "only ever loved one woman" and was "not a drinking man".

The Falklands veteran is amused by some of the more extravagant stories that have attached themselves to his father. He is reputed, for example, to have excelled at skiing backwards, as Bond did in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

"He was a very good skier," chuckles Iain, "but I don't know whether he could ski backwards."

What is certain is that Patrick was also an accomplished ski-jumper, parachutist, a diver and a safe-blower,

who, after his exploits in Norway, was seconded to work for Fleming.

His orders – often marked "most secret" – were to sabotage the German war effort by collecting enemy intelligence before it could be destroyed by the retreating army.

In reports carefully kept by Iain, one commander described Patrick as "an unusual officer who possesses no fear of danger", and adds "When the work appeals to him, he is a first-class officer with considerable energy and enthusiasm." Another reads: "His courage (is) beyond question."

A keen photographer, Patrick captured many moments at the frontline. His immaculately kept albums also show the moment when German troops surrendered the French city of Cherbourg, the discovery of submarine bases in Norway and secret rocket launch sites in France.

Doubtless, Patrick's sense of adventure was fostered at an early age as his own father was killed on the Somme.

That adventurous spirit ran in the family – Major Iain Dalzel-Job made his name in military service after commanding his G Company of the Scots Guards at the Battle of Mount Tumbledown in the Falklands conflict, while Iain's own son, Malcolm, 25, has just returned from duty in Afghanistan.

By the time he died in 2003, aged 90, Lieutenant Commander Dalzel-Job was more open about his 007 link.

At one time, he was reported to have said: "I was Bond, it's true. I worked with Ian Fleming and we led Marines through enemy lines to obtain vital intelligence. He told me he had used me as a model for the heroic Mr Bond."

007'S LINKS WITH CITY STRETCH BACK YEARS

THE character of spy James Bond has long been synonymous with Scotland, even before Edinburgh-born acting legend Sean Connery made the sophisticated role his own.

Indeed, before he became the dashing spy code named 007, James Bond followed in his father's footsteps by attending Fettes School in Edinburgh in the spring of 1941.

His Fettes connection is mentioned in the novel You Only Live Twice, in which Ian Fleming describes the education Bond received as Calvinistic and "rigorous".

As part of the Ian Fleming centenary celebrations, the Capital is to host a major exhibition of art work from the covers of Fleming's 007 novels, the first of which was published in 1953.

The exhibition, called Bond Bound: Ian Fleming & The Art of Cover Design will run at the City Art Centre in from 5 July until 14 September.