Lord Mayor’s Show

The long garage was empty. Under the neon lights the black and gold painted dragon on wheels looked like a float waiting for the Lord Mayor’s Show. It was pointing towards the sliding doors and the hatch of the armoured cabin stood open.

DR. NO Chapter 19

James Bond has just finished Dr. No’s obstacle course and disposed of the Dr, and is now, along with Honeychile Rider looking for a means to get away from the compound, which is in pure chaos at the moment. He spots Dr. No’s “dragon” and it reminds him of a float for the Lord Mayor’s Show.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest annual events in London, being 802 years old as of 2020. In 1215, King John attempted to win over the city of London to his side by appointing a mayor who would be loyal to him. According to the event’s website:

The King added a careful condition: every year the newly elected Mayor must leave the safety of the City, travel upriver to Westminster and swear loyalty to him. The Mayor has now made that journey nearly 700 times, despite plagues and fires and countless wars, and pledged his or her loyalty to 34 kings and queens of England.

https://lordmayorsshow.london/history/origins

As the procession went up to Westminster by river, this is why to this day, vehicles used in processions are referred to as “floats.” In 1757 a magnificent State Coach was commissioned. The coach had “gilded coachwork and painted panels depicting London’s majesty, piety and global reach.” The Black and Gold dragon of Dr No brought the State Coach to Bond’s mind.

Lord Mayor’s Day 1958, during the events of Dr No.

Heavyside Layer

There is a million dollars’ worth of equipment up above us in the rock galleries, Mister Bond, sending fingers up into the Heavyside Layer, waiting for the signals, jamming them, countering beams with other beams.

DR. NO, Chapter 16

Doctor No is continuing to brag to James Bond about his installation on Crab Key, having just named a bunch of armed missiles that he has interfered with on behalf of the Russians.

Fleming tosses in a reference to the Heavyside Layer, referring to the Heaviside layer, sometimes called the Kennelly–Heaviside layer. This is a region of the Earth’s ionosphere, between roughly 90 and 150 km above the ground.

This region was predicted separately and at almost the same time by Arthur E. Kennelly and Oliver Heaviside. At the time the use of radio waves was in its infancy, and scientists didn’t understand why radio waves followed the curve of the earth rather than shooting directly out into space.

Heaviside, a self-taught British engineer, hypothesized in 1902 that there was a layer in the Earth’s atmosphere that forced radio waves to skim around the planet.

This led to great advances in radio technology so that by the time of Doctor No, it was possible not only to guide missiles by radio but also to intercept them.

Doctor No states that “And we track it, as accurately as they are tracking it in the Operations Room on Turks Island.”

The ninth was the top floor of the building. Most of it was occupied by Communications, the hand-picked inter-services team of operators whose only interest was the world of microwaves, sunspots, and the ‘heaviside layer’. Above them, on the flat roof, were the three squat masts of one of the most powerful transmitters in England, explained on the bold bronze list of occupants in the entrance hall of the building by the words ‘Radio Tests Ltd.’

Moonraker, Chapter 2

The term (with the correct spelling) also appears in Moonraker in a description of MI6 headquarters building.

Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base

“Doubtless you know that Turks Island, about three hundred miles from here through the Windward Passage, is the most important centre for testing the guided missiles of the United States?”

DR NO, Chapter 16

Dinner has just been completed between Doctor No, James Bond and Honeychile Rider. They have moved on to their “after-dinner entertainment.” Bond has asked what is next for Doctor No, and the reply is noted above.

The Grand Turk Auxiliary Air Force Base was a missile tracking station built as a joint agreement between the United States and Great Britain which went into operation in 1953. The purpose of the base, and other tracking sites, was to track the long-range missiles launched from the United States as well as the satellites and manned flights launched from Cape Canaveral.

The first missile tracked from the station was in November, 1955 when it tracked a SNARK missile. (more on that later!) The station was an early member of the Atlantic Missile Range and was operated by the Pan American Airways Guided Missile Range Division. It wasn’t quite the most important base, as Doctor No claimed, but it was an important installation during that time period.

1977 stamp commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the station.

Grand Turk, along with several other bases, was used to track all of the space launches from Explore 1 to the last of the Mercury flights and was the first place that John Glenn was taken to on Feb 20, 1962. It continued through the Gemini and Apollo as a “satellite” station of Cape Canaveral. The base was closed in 1984.

The Windward Passage refers to the strait between Cuba and Haiti.

Full set of stamps

Clausewitz’s first principle

Bond had left Scotland Yard with the feeling that he had achieved Clausewitz’s first principle. He had made his base secure.

Moonraker, Chapter 10.

Irritation flickered at the corner of the thin mouth. “Mister Bond, power is sovereignty. Clausewitz’s first principle was to have a secure base. From there one proceeds to freedom of action. 

Dr No, Chapter 15

I. General Principles For Defense

1. To keep our troops covered as long as possible. Since we are always open to attack, except when we ourselves are attacking, we must at every instant be on the defensive and thus should place our forces as much under cover as possible.

Clausewitz, The Principles of War.

General Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist. his works included On War and The Principles of War. He served as field soldier, with combat experience against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France.

His ideas are noteworthy for among other things, the idea that war is a continuation of politics, and his approaches are even taught in business schools today.

Fleming twice using the secure base theory confirms the idea that Bond and his enemies are involved in a strategic war, which requires planning and forethought, which brings to mind another of Clausewitz’s quotes:

“No one starts a war–or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so–without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.” 

It’s a similar thought to making your base secure, in Moonraker Bond makes his base secure by gathering information and having his objectives clear in mind. Dr No, on the other hand has a physical base at his disposal from which he attacks the outside world.