My name is Bond - James Bond
. This simple introduction has become one of the most recognizable lines in cinema history.
I'm sure you all know this fabulous but fictious master spy, already the main character in more than 20 official Bond movies spanning almost 40 years and accurately reflecting the changing times during which they are set.
The creator of this character, the English author Ian Flemming
, had been a soldier and a spy himself in the second world war. He has been quoted as saying "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is …William Stephenson
." What an adventurous life William Stephenson must have lived and who was he?
Born William Samuel Clouston Stanger
, January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to William Hunter Stanger
of Irish/Scottish descent and his wife, Sarah Gudfinna Johnston
, her real name being Guðfinna Jónsdóttir
, actually an Icelandic immigrant to Canada. Unfortunately, little is known about William S.C. Stanger's mother or where she came from in Iceland but having emigrated about 1885 she married William Hunter 1894 in Winnipeg. Shortly after 1901 William S.C. Stanger's father died and his mother then had to take care of three young children alone. To ease her burden the son was taken in foster by the Icelandic couple Vigfús Stefánsson
(Stephenson) and Kristín Guðlaugsdóttir
Stephenson. From then on he was known as William S.C. Stephenson
. William joined the RCE in 1915, went to England in 1916 where he joined the RAF and became a Sergeant in the Canadian Engineer. He was badly wounded during a gas attack but in 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and managed to shoot down 12 planes before he was shot down himself and captured by the Germans on 28 July 1918. Finishing the war at the rank of Captain we has awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Military Cross, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d'Honneur.
Known by the code name Intrepid, Sir William Stephenson started off as a poor Winnipeg hardware salesman and ended up a Second World War spy legend and the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s martini-swilling hero, James Bond.
William Stephenson managed to developed a process to send pictures over radio waves, the first of its kind. An invention that made him a millionaire by the time he was 31 years old with electronic patents and business contacts in many countries. In 1924 he married American tobacco heiress, Mary French Simmons
, of Springfield, Tennessee. The marriage left no children. Business interests took Stephenson to Germany frequently and he soon acquired industrial information proving German re-armament, in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles of June 28 1919, which officially ended World War I. He passed along this information to Winston Churchill
, then still in the political "wilderness." Upon Churchill's appointment as prime minister in May of 1940 Stephenson, "the quiet Canadian
", was made head of the British Security Co-Ordination Service (BSC), effectively in charge of British intelligence
and propaganda efforts in the western hemisphere. It was in this capacity that Stephenson founded Camp X, a super secretive training and communications center near Whitby, Ontario. Among his students there was the above mentioned James Bond creator, Ian Fleming.
Churchill, recommending Stephenson for a knighthood in 1945, wrote: "This one is dear to my heart." Sir William Stephenson
also received the Presidential Medal for Merit from the United States for his counter-intelligence work during World War II, the first non-American to receive this award. Sir William retired to Bermuda where he died, largely forgotten, on January 31st, 1989.
A detailed account of Stephenson's life and exploits can be found in a book titled The true Intrepid
Ref. on Sir William's life: Various Webpages.
mentioned, Sir William's mother, Guðfinna Jónsdóttir
, was an Icelandic immigrant to Canada and very little, if nothing, is known about her Icelandic background, her parents or where she came from.
According to Winnipeg census records, she was born 10 August 1873 but a thorough search in Icelandic birth records does not give any satisfying result so there must be some error regarding the date or year of her birth.
The Icelandic couple
, Vigfús (Stefánsson) Stephenson (1857-1937) and Kristín (Guðlaugsdóttir) Stephenson (1858-1940) who, fostered her son after his father died and gave him their name came to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1883 from the farm Klungurbrekka on Skógarströnd in the county of Snæfellsnes, West Iceland. Emigrating with them was their two year old son, Guðlaugur
, of whom I have no information in Canada. In 1888 they had another son, Guðmundur Kristján
, who in due time married Jónína Lilja Jónsdóttir
, b. 1892 in Argyle, Manitoba, the daughter of Jón Friðfinnsson (1865-1936) a composer in Winnipeg and his wife Anna Sigríður Jónsdóttir (1867-1940). Guðmundur Kristján Stephenson and Jónína Lilja had, to my knowledge, one son in 1924, Gerald Keith
who lived with his wife Edith Joan Darnell in Scarboro, Ontario.
To add some more genealogy to this, Jónína Lilja Jónsdóttir
had at least seven siblings:
1) Friðfinnur J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, b. 1888, married to Stefanía Andrésdóttir Skagfeld (Andrés Jónsson Skagfeld and Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir), b. 1890, they had seven children.
2) William J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, (1890-1941), member of the famous Falcon icehockey team
, married to Guðbjörg Kristín Jónatansdóttir (parents: Jónatan Árnason and Ingibjörg Bjarnadóttir), they had two children.
3) Halldóra J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, b. 1893.
4) Emilía J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, b. 1894, married to Halldór B. Baldwin (parents: Baldvin Benediktsson and Guðný Antoníusdóttir), they had two children.
5) Friðsteinn J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, (1896-1927), married to Clara Sigríður Friðfinnsson.
6) Kristján J. Friðfinnsson
in Winnipeg, (1898-1938), member of the famous Falcon icehockey team
7) Wolfgang J. Friðfinnsson
in Ontario, (1902-1956), married to Doreen McCrae Friðfinnsson. They had two children.
The genealogy from my Database.