EXPIRED: 12/16/09 – Dame Victoire Evelyn Patricia “Paddy” Bennett, better known to all as Lady Ridsdale, 88, was a British secretary and intelligence operative. She was author Ian Fleming’s secretary during World War II and was the model for his character Miss Moneypenny, James Bond’s loyal, long-suffering secretary. Although Ridsdale claims that with Fleming’s long line of girlfriends, the unrequited love angle between Moneypenney and Bond was pure fiction.
What wasn’t fiction was Ridsdale’s tenacity. It was later disclosed that as his secretary, she had assisted Fleming’s counter-intelligence efforts during World War II multiple times. She was responsible for creating a fictitious identity for a body which had turned up drowned – the man who never was – disguised as that of a naval officer, complete with totally convincing “secret” papers showing a different plan of attack and that it had been the casualty from a shot-down plane. As intended, the body was found off the coast of Spain by German spies. Fleming’s task was to make the body totally convincing, including placing theatre tickets and love letters in the body’s pockets. Lady Ridsdale authored those love letters.
She later was secretary to and married Sir Julian Ridsdale, son of Sir Aurelian Ridsdale and was appointed a DBE in 1991, ten years after her husband’s knighthood. Sir Julian died in 2004; they had been married since 1942 and had one child, a daughter.
At age 76, Lady Ridsdale was mugged outside the garage of her South Kensington home. The man, whose identity was concealed by a motorcycle helmet, had ripped the wristwatch off her arm and was tugging at her wedding ring when she lifted her high-heeled shoe and kicked him squarely in the groin.
“It takes 10 minutes and a lot of soap to get those rings off – I thought he’d chop my fingers off,” she noted. “Well, I wasn’t having any of that.”
The mugger fled. Ridsdale attributed her kicking ability to childhood ballet training; her husband said it had to do with “her Irish blood.”
Thank you Miss Moneypenney.