He was a secret agent, diploment and scholar, but few knew of Sir Peter Smithers’ most exotice role: the likely model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond – reports The Canberra Times. […] He kept in his bathroom a photograph of the Imperial Navy’s Yamato. (Ever the aesthete, he admired the graceful lines of this huge enemy warship sunk off Okinawa in 1945.) But his most important wartime work occured in and around Mexico.
Along the American seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico during the first six months of 1942, German U-boats and mines sank 397 vessels, at the cost of some 5000 Allied lives — more than twice the death tool at Peral Harbor. Historian Gerhard Weinberg has called the episode “The greatest single defeat suffered by American naval power”.
Lieutenant-Commander Smithers was sent herriedly to Mexico City as naval attaché in Mexico, the Central American Republics and Panama charged with charting U-boat refueling operations. His espionage led to expertise in photography — at first enemy shipping and later of flowers.
In Mexico he met and married after a three-week courtship Dojean Sayman, a divorced American heiress of part-Mexican ancestry who owned a gold typewriter. This machine made a cameo appearance in the Bond novel Goldfinger.