Commander Bond’s Battle Dress in The Spy Who Loved Me
Roger Moore as James Bond, sophisticated British MI6 agent
Sardinia, Italy, Summer 1977
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Release Date: July 7, 1977
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Have you heard of Black Tot Day?
On July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy ended its centuries-old tradition of providing its sailors with a daily rum ration. The day became known as Black Tot Day, as I first learned in a Facebook post from my favorite Pittsburgh bar, Hidden Harbor, when they announced their acquisition of a Black Tot “Last Consignment” bottle, bottled from the last remaining stocks of Royal Naval rum.
To commemorate this tragic day in the history of the British Royal Navy, I’m revisiting The Spy Who Loved Me for the second time this month with a look at the naval battle dress worn by Commander James Bond, RNR, during the climactic battle aboard the Liparus, the massive supertanker owned by the film’s Goldfinger-esque villain, Karl Stomberg (Curd Jürgens).
What’d He Wear?
The British Royal Navy first introduced battle dress in the middle of World War II. Royal Navy air crewmen had been approved to wear Army battle dress beginning in 1941, but 1943 saw the introduction of navy blue battledress specifically for all Royal Navy personnel. With its epaulettes, chest pockets, and adjustable waistband, the British battle dress jacket—also known as the “working dress” blouse—would inspire the design of the classic American “Ike jacket” that also emerged later in WWII.
Many examples of wartime British Royal Navy battle dress jackets can still be found online (see here and here), but the example worn by Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me likely shares more with the garment after it was significantly altered in 1948. The jacket would have been obsolete by the time of the film as it had been phased out of service in 1973, at least three years before the film is set.
Roger Moore’s screen-worn jacket was made by Berman’s & Nathan’s of London, as confirmed by its listing in a Bonhams auction where it sold for more than $15,000 in March 2007: “A Navy battle dress jacket, the jacket being of black [sic] wool, complete with commander’s epaulettes and inner pocket for Walther PPK, labelled ‘Bermans & Nathans, 40 Camden St, London NW1’ stamped ‘ROGER MOORE 11523 SPY WHO LOVE ME’.”
Bond’s British Royal Navy battle dress blouson is dark navy wool serge with three naval crested brass shank buttons on the front and three smaller buttons on the right side of the waistband to adjust the fit. A large box-pleated patch pocket on each chest panel closes with a button-down pointed flap.
Unlike the double-breasted “Blue No. 1C” dress uniform jacket with peak lapels (seen earlier in The Spy Who Loved Me), the battle dress blouson is single-breasted with notch lapels.
Bond’s rank of Commander (OF-4) is denoted on his epaulette shoulder straps rather than on his sleeves. The Commander rank is denoted with three ½-inch gold embroidered braids with a circled loop on the uppermost stripe.
Underneath his battle dress blouson, Bond wears a a lightweight cotton knit turtleneck in a lighter shade of navy blue. He would go on to wear a similar turtleneck shirt with a navy blouson and trousers for another battle scene four years later in For Your Eyes Only.
His predecessors had both sported both mock and full polo neck shirts as 007, but Roger Moore mastered the art of successfully executing the full turtleneck, beginning with his black “tactileneck” in Live and Let Die.
Bond’s trousers appropriately match his dark navy serge jacket with a long rise that buries his black belt under the jacket’s waistband. The front appears to be darted, allowing Moore a more generous range of motion than a pair of traditional flat front trousers without the added material of full pleats. The trousers have side pockets, jetted back pockets, and straight legs finished with plain hems.
In a departure from his usual horsebit loafers, Moore wears a more military-authorized pair of black leather three-eyelet derby shoes with squared cap-toes, worn with black ribbed dress socks.
The Spy Who Loved Me marks the first appearance of Bond’s streak of Seiko watches, beginning with a stainless steel digital Seiko LC Quartz DK001—identified as model 0674-5009 on Dell Deaton’s blog, James Bond Watches and at James Bond Lifestyle, which includes more details about this particular timepiece.
Though not a naval uniform, Daniel Craig’s James Bond sported a similar look in Spectre with his dark navy suede John Varvatos jacket, dark charcoal cashmere/silk N.Peal mock turtleneck, and dark tic-checked flat front trousers. Although Commander Bond would certainly have the clearance to wear military clothing, Craig’s Spectre outfit shows an interesting take on achieving the same effect of Moore’s battle dress and turtleneck adapted with all civilian clothing.
What to Imbibe
Any man who drinks Dom Pérignon ’52 can’t be all bad.
Seven years after Black Tot Day, James Bond doesn’t mourn for the loss of his daily rum ration and instead stays true to his sophisticated character with his appreciation for Stromberg’s Dom Pérignon which, interestingly enough, he finds in Stromberg’s escape chamber.
If you’re looking for a taste of rum in the spirit of the British Royal Navy, Pusser’s Rum was founded in 1979 with the blessing of The Admiralty Board of the Royal Navy and a blend of five West Indies rums to produce the original recipe.
The signature Pusser’s cocktail is the Painkiller, concocted with two (or up to four!) ounces of Pusser’s rum, four parts pineapple juice, one part cream of coconut, and one part orange juice. The mixture is shaken with ice and poured into a big glass filled with ice. Fresh nutmeg is grated on top and—voila!—you’ve got a dangerously smooth tropical cocktail on your hands. Splice the mainbrace!
Bond’s Battle Dress
James Bond’s battle dress in The Spy Who Loved Me is a contextually appropriate approach to assault attire, combining functionality with the elegance of the British Royal Navy’s stylish heritage.
- Dark navy blue serge waist-length British Royal Navy battle dress jacket with notch lapels, three crested brass shank buttons, button-down flapped pleated chest pockets, 3-button adjustable waistband, and Commander epaulette insignia
- Light navy blue cotton knit turtleneck long-sleeve shirt
- Dark navy blue serge high-rise darted-front trousers with side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt
- Black leather squared cap-toe 3-eyelet bluchers/derby shoes
- Black ribbed dress socks
- Seiko LC 0674-5009 Quartz DK001 stainless steel digital wristwatch
(All military uniform posts are written strictly for educational purposes. The accomplishments of military veterans should be respected and not copied.)
Although the Walther PPK was never officially adopted for British military service, James Bond still uses his trademark weapon when attired in his Royal Navy battle dress, carried in an inner pocket that was specifically created for that purpose.
A few continuity errors in The Spy Who Loved Me feature a Beretta Model 70 rather than the PPK (such as the Cairo sequence), but the Walther remains his signature sidearm and is prominently featured in several close-ups.
Apropos his cover as “Robert Sterling”, Bond arms himself with a Sterling submachine gun from the Liparus armory, as do many of the other British, American, and Russian sailors with whom he is captured.
The Sterling submachine gun entered British service in 1944 with multiple variants designed and produced over the following decade until the Mark 4, designated the L2A3, was adopted in 1956 as the last version in regular service with the British Army, Royal Marines, and RAF Regiment.
The Sterling made its first appearance in the Bond series during the volcano lair battle in You Only Live Twice with 007 himself first using the weapon in the following film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when George Lazenby wielded one during the Piz Gloria attack.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Keeping the British end up, sir!
The Spy Who Loved Me is often considered among the best of Sir Roger Moore’s seven films as 007, and his 2012 book Bond on Bond recounts many fun tales from the production, an attitude reflected in the below behind the scenes photos.
A great outfit and very suitable for submariners. The Germans captured huge stocks of British army battledress after Dunkirk, and issued it to their U-boat crews. They thought so highly of it that they brought out their own version of battledress and made it general issue to all arms of the Wehrmacht but the war ended before it was widely distributed. The early battledress was cut very baggy to permit ammunition and even grenades to be stuffed into pockets.
I didn’t know that! Very cool background. Speaking of Dunkirk, have you seen the new Dunkirk film? I just watched it this weekend.
The Dunkirk film was good, but it didn’t even hint at a common belief that Hitler, at that time, was obsessed with a plan that he could return the Duke of Windsor to the throne as his puppet and boot out King George VI and Churchill. Totally annihilating the British Army would not further this plan. And they could have paid a little respect to the French who evacuated and later fought as the Free French. Incredibly brave men. However, it did shout out the gallantry of the civilian boat men who were drafted into helping the evacuation. Courage of a very high order.