Spotting Captain Norman Nash

While at the station in Trieste, James Bond spots a man on the platform who stands out to him.

It crossed Bond’s mind that he was an Englishman. Perhaps it was the familiar shape of the dark green Kangol cap, or the beige, rather well-used mackintosh, that badge of the English tourist, or it may have been the grey-flannelled legs, or the scuffed brown shoes. But Bond’s eyes were drawn to him, as if it was someone he knew, as the man approached up the platform.

The man was carrying a battered Revelation suitcase and, under the other arm, a thick book and some newspapers.

As you can see from the description, the man may well have been running across the station carrying a “I’M AN ENGLISHMAN” sign. (which, as we find out later, is rather the point.)

Bond approaches him, and after an exchange of recognition signals, the man identifies himself as Captain Norman Nash, and that he’s been sent by M to assist Bond.

Let’s look at a few of the details which allowed Bond to so easily spot this man. First, the Kangol cap. In the 1920’s, Jacques Spreiregen began making beret hats, naming his company KANGOL in 1938. (The most widely believed theory is that the founder combined the K from knitting, the ANG from angora, and the OL from wool.)

During WWII, Kangol provided berets for the British army, and by 1954 had a virtual monopoly on the market.

kangol

Carricap by Kangol.
Carricap by Kangol.

The Mackintosh, “the badge of the English tourist” is of course the waterproof raincoat. A genuine Mackintosh would be made from rubberized or rubber laminated material, but the term has also become a reference to any raincoat.

mackintosh-coat

Grey-Flannelled trousers and scuffed brown shoes complete the very-English wardrobe. The Revelation suitcase may have looked something like this.

revelation-case

revelation-luggage
1955 Ad.

After the recognition code, Nash sheds his coat, revealing underneath:

He was wearing an old reddish-brown tweed coat with his flannel trousers, a pale yellow Viyella summer shirt and the dark blue and red zig-zagged tie of the Royal Engineers. It was tied with a Windsor knot.

Viyella is a U.K. clothing manufacturer with history dating back to 1784.

1956 Viyella Advertisement.
1956 Viyella Advertisement.

The distinctive tie of the Royal Engineers (tied with a Windsor knot, which Bond distrusts) completes the outfit.

royal-engineers-tie-lrg
Confession – I don’t know if this is a Windsor knot.

While this man certainly has all the appearance of a Englishman, Bond senses something amiss, but fails to take action. Captain Norman Nash soon reveals his true identity…

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Trieste Centrale station, Italy

After Poggioreale, the Orient Express is fully into Italy, and James Bond is feeling a bit better about things.

We’ve made it, thought Bond. I really think we’ve made it. He thrust the memory of the last three days away from him. Tatiana saw the tense lines in his face relax. She reached over and took his hand. He moved and sat close to her. They looked out at the gay villas on the Corniche* and at the sailing boats and the people water-skiing.

The train clanged across some points and slid quietly into the gleaming station of Trieste.

The station in Trieste opened in 1857, and was in its centennial year when the events of From Russia With Love took place. In the post-WWII years, Trieste was something of a political hotbed, with both Italy and Yugoslavia claiming territorial rights. from 1947-1954 the city was under UN protection, in two zones, one for each nation.

In Bond’s view, things may be looking up, but that will quickly change with the arrival of an unannounced agent.

trieste
Fleming notes that “The sun shone through the tall clean windows of the station in golden shafts.”

*A “Corniche” is a cliff-side road, many times overlooking a body of water.

Poggioreale Station, Italy

An interesting passage in From Russia With Love is as the Orient Express leaves the station of Sežana and heads into Italy.

Then Yugoslavia was gone and Poggioreale came and the first smell of the soft like with the happy jabbering of the Italian officials and the carefree upturned faces of the station crowd. The new diesel-electric engine game a slap-happy whistle, the meadow of brown hands fluttered, and they were loping easily down into Venezia, toward the distant sparkle of Trieste and the gay blue of the Adriatic.

When looking at the geography of the area, there is no city of Poggioreale in the area of Trieste. John Griswold makes the following comment in his outstanding book:

NOTE3: The city of Poggioreale, Italy, was mentioned as one of the cities that the Simplon-Orient Express traveled through on its way to Trieste. When researching the path of the Simplon-Orient Express, only two locations in Italy could be found for Poggioreale. One was located on the Italian island of Sicily and the other was in Naples. Neither of these is on the route of the Simplon-Orient Express going to Trieste, Italy.

I was prepared to accept that, and just write it off as creative license being exercised by Fleming, or perhaps even a mistake. But as I studied the route of the Orient Express, there was a station between when they left Yugoslavia in Sežana and before they arrived in Trieste. Nothing I could find however, attached the name of Poggioreale to it.

Then I stumbled across a 1950 article from the Chicago Tribune, in which the writer chronicled his efforts to travel from Rome to Belgrade, mostly via train.

He wrote:

The next afternoon, I rode the stub train 18 miles from Trieste to Poggioreale Campagna, on the border of the free zone.

Board Another Train

At Poggioreale, we left the train and boarded another for Sezana, five miles away, across the boundary in Yugoslavia. At Sezana, we hooked onto the Simplon-Orient Express.

The station that sits five miles across the border from Sezana is Villa Opicina. Further digging ensued. The original name of the town was Opcina – Slavic in origin. During WWII the name was changed to the more Italian Villa Opicina. But then the town was renamed by the Fascists to Poggioreale del Carso.

In 1966, the name was changed back to Villa Opicina. But in 1956 when Fleming was writing From Russia With Love, the town and station name was indeed Poggioreale!

Stazione Poggioreale Campagna was the official name of the train station there which, like the town, is now renamed Villa Opicina.

Original passenger building on left.
Original passenger building on left.

villa-opicina

So once again, even in the small details, Ian Fleming gets it right, even when it doesn’t appear to be the case at first glance.

Sežana Station, Yugoslavia (Slovenia)

The last stop in Yugoslavia for the Orient Express, upon which James Bond and Tatiana Romanova were traveling in From Russia With Love is the border town of Sežana.

He slept until Sezana. The hard-faced Yugoslav plain-clothes men came on board.

The trip from Ljubljana to Sežana takes less than an hour. That’s a pretty short nap, for sure.

The station has been in use since 1857, when Sežana was part of Austria. It became a part of Italy after WWI and then following WWII Yugoslavia took control of the town and station.

As indicated further in the text,  Sežana is the last stop in Yugoslavia for the train. Next up, Italy.

sezana2

Ljubljana Station, Yugoslavia (Slovenia)

After departing Zegreb, the Orient Express carrying James Bond and Tatiana Romanova thundered on.

They hammered into the mountains of Slovenia where the apple trees and the chalets were almost Austrian. The train labored its way through Ljubliana. The girl awoke. They had a breakfast of fried eggs and hard brown bread with coffee that was mostly chicory.

It’s unclear whether they actually stop at the station. They have that breakfast in the restaurant car.

The station was built in 1848 and has served as the principal railway station since.

Postcard_of_Ljubljana_train_station_(3)

 

Zagreb Main Station, Yugoslavia (Croatia)

After passing through Vincovci and Brod, the Orient Express carrying James Bond and Tatiana Romanova came to the ugly sprawl of Zegreb.

zagreb-sprawl

Zagreb Glavni kolodvor (Or Zagreb main station) is the largest station in Croatia. It has been in service since 1892.

04-railstation

zgb

zagreb-view

As they pull through the station:

The train came to a stop between lines of rusting locomotives captured from the Germans and still standing forlornly amongst the grass and weeds on the sidings. Bond read the plate on one of them – BERLINER MASCHINENBAU GMBH – as they slid out through the iron cemetery. Its long black barrel had been raked with machine gun bullets.

BERLINER MASCHINENBAU GMBH as you might imagine, was a German manufacturer of locomotives. (The GmbH basically means “company with limited liability.”)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

zagreb-train

From the information on this picture (again from the Jack Firns LIFE collection) this is apparently one of those captured locomotives sitting at Zagreb station in 1950. (NOTE: See comment below.)You can see the station in the background.

Bond then thinks “nostalgically and unreasonably” about that war compared to the war he is currently fighting.

They then head into the mountains of Slovenia.

Vincovci and Brod Stations, Yugoslavia (Croatia)

After Tempo leaves them at Belgrade, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova are back on the Orient Express. At nine o’clock the train pulls “out on its all-night run down the valley of the Sava.”

Bond examines the passports of the new passengers of the train, and then settles in “for another night with Tatiana’s head on his lap.”

That night, “Vincovci came and Brod and then, against a flaming dawn, the ugly sprawl of Zagreb.”

The stations of Vinkovci (note the “k’) and Brod (Slavonski Brod – which actually translates as “Liverpool”) were pass-throughs on the route of the Orient Express. Any stops during the overnight run would likely have been very brief.

Vinkovci Railway Station, 1950.
Vinkovci Railway Station, 1950.

vinkovci

vinkovci

 Slavonski Brod. 1959
Slavonski Brod. 1959

Brod station. You can see the "Brod" sign on the end wall.

 

Next up, Zagreb.

Idomeni Station, Greece

At this frontier station, James Bond receives the bad news about his friend, Darko Kerim.

From the account, it is difficult to say if they even disembarked from the train at this station, thought the beginning of Chapter 24 would seem to indicate that Kerim was taken off here, and Bond is reflecting and looking out at the crowds as they are at Belgrade – the next stop.

It’s difficult to say exactly. Belgrade is where they meet up with Stefan Trempo, and if Kerim had been taken along across the border to Belgrade it would seem that Trempo would’ve insisted on seeing him, but that is not indicated in the text.

idomeni
The Greek frontier station of Idomeni.

idomeni2

Morris Oxford Saloon

While in Belgrade, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova are taken to the apartment of Stefan Trempo.

All we’re told about the car they ride in:

The man opened the rear door of a shabby Morris Oxford saloon. He got in front and took the wheel.

Morris Motors produced Oxford model cars from 1913 to 1935, and then again from 1948 to 1971. With Ian Fleming writing the novel From Russia With Love in 1956, we’re limited to models prior to that year. As the car is described as ‘shabby’ we’re going to assume it was not a new car. That seems to narrow it down to three models of the Oxford:

The Oxford series II 1954–56

The Oxford Series II from Morris Motors
The Oxford Series II from Morris Motors

The Oxford MO 1948–54

1953 Morris Oxford MO
1953 Morris Oxford MO

The Oxford Six, Sixteen and Twenty 1929-1935

1935 Morris Oxford Sixteen
1935 Morris Oxford Sixteen

I can’t imagine the car being much older than that.

Morris Motors was one of the United Kingdom’s early car manufacturers, founded in 1912. The name continued in use on automobiles until 1985. The name and brand is currently the property of SAIC Motor of Shanghai.

Slivovic

While in Belgrade, at the apartment of Stefan Trempo, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova have some refreshments before returning to the Orient Express for the next part of their journey in From Russia With Love.

Later, after Slivovic and smoked ham and peaches, Tempo came and took them to the station and to the waiting express under the hard lights of the arcs.

Slivovic (or Slivovitz or Slivovice or Šljivovica) is a plum brandy, common in Central and Eastern Europe. It is known as the national drink of Serbia and the plum is the national fruit. It is revered more than any other alcoholic drink in the country. It is part of many folk remedies.

Even today, Serbians are known to have a shot of brandy upon waking up, to “wash away” the viruses and accelerate circulation. It is used for day-to-day use as well as mourning and celebrations.

plum-brandy sljivovica

It is easy to read over the passage and completely not register “Slivovic,”or give it a second thought. But as usual, Ian Fleming provides the exact correct beverage for what people in that location, at that time, would be drinking.

(On a food note, smoked meats are very popular in Serbia, and peaches are almost as plentiful as plums.)