THE opening sequence of the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger show OO7 (Sean Connery coming out of the sea in a wet suit (decoy seagull on his head). He blows up a heroin factory and then, mission accomplished, strips off his wet suit to reveal a white dinner jacket complete with red carnation buttonhole.

The idea for this scene came from Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Dehn, a former agent with Special Operations Executive during World War 2. He borrowed it from a real wartime exploit devised by Colonel Euan Rabagliati.

Believe it or not Rabagliati was a Bradford-born decorated World War 1 fighter pilot, racing car driver, civil servant and secret agent who was head of the Dutch and Danish Section of MI6 and known as The Rabbi.

Tricia Platts, secretary of Bradford's World War 1 Group, takes up the story:-

"During World War 2, Dutch Queen Wilhelmina was given sanctuary in London. From here she was able to broadcast through the BBC and Radio Orange and thus encouraged the Dutch resistance.

"In 1941 three young Dutchmen visited her in person and proposed a daring raid into Holland. The Dutch Government in London showed little interest but the idea was rapidly taken up by The Rabbi who personally supervised the escapade.

"On November 23, 1941, a British Royal Navy ship (MGB 321) crossed to the Dutch coast and lowered a dinghy which took two agents into shallow waters on Sheveningen beach. One of the agents, Peter Tazelaar, was dressed in immaculate evening wear under a water-proof diving suit. He stripped off the waterproof and his companion doused him with finest Dutch brandy.

"It was 4.30 in the morning when, giving every appearance of a dishevelled party-goer reeking of booze, Tazelaar staggered past German guards through Sheveningen and successfully made contact with resistance workers. To ensure Tazelaar's credentials, a hand-written message from Queen Wilhelmina, reduced to postage stamp size by The Rabbi, was stitched into the collar of his dress shirt.

"Tazelaar's mission was to set up radio contact between Holland and London and to arrange for reports, maps or photographs which could not be transmitted by radio, to be brought out of the country by the same route through which he had just entered.

"In January 1942, Tazelaar's accomplice, Hazelhoff Roelfzema made the same journey in order to deliver two radio transmitters. Tazelaar failed to make the rendezvous having been temporarily arrested by German patrols.

"His 'drunken party-goer' stunt worked once again but Roelfzema had to improvise. He made his way to a telephone kiosk hoping to contact the resistance. To his dismay, his old Dutch coins - supplied by The Rabbi - no longer fitted the pay box and he returned to England leaving the transmitters buried on the beach!

"In the early 1960s one of those working on the screenplay of Goldfinger was former Special Operations Executive agent, Paul Dehn. The Rabbi's daring scheme for MI6 had become something of a cause celebre which many in SOE had envied. Paul Dehn now used his knowledge of The Rabbi's ruse in the raid to inject drama into the opening scene of the film.

"Cuthbert Euan Charles Rabagliati was born in Bradford in 1892, the youngest of four brothers. Their father, Dr Andrea Rabagliati, was the son of a political refugee who fled Italy during the 1821 Italian revolution. Settling in Edinburgh the Rabagliati family came into contact with some leading Scots families and in 1877 Dr Andrea Rabagliati married Helen, daughter of the Provost of Edinburgh, Duncan McLaren MP.

"Soon after marrying, Dr Rabagliati took up a post as surgeon at the Bradford Infirmary and, in the next few years, five children were born. The family lived first at Walmer Villas and later at 1, St Paul's Road - both addresses in Manningham where lived many other aspiring professional families with European origins. The four sons attended Bradford Grammar School.

"Euan Rabagliati, the youngest of the brothers, was a pupil at Loreto College, Edinburgh from 1907 to 1909, joined the King's Own Yorkshire Light infantry and was commissioned in February 1912. Two years later, in May 1914, he became one of the first to be awarded a pilot's licence and when war began he was immediately seconded from his regiment to the Royal Flying Corps.

"He proved to be a fearless airman. On August 25, 1914, he was cruising with an observer on a reconnaissance mission over northern France when they came across a lone German aeroplane. Rabagliati’s aircraft was unarmed, but he had with him a .303 Lee Enfield rifle.

"The German carried a Mauser pistol, fitted with a wooden shoulder stock. The two machines approached each other and circled, coming within feet of colliding. Rabagliati fired100 rounds when, he reported afterwards, ‘to my intense joy, I saw the German pilot fall forward on his joystick and the machine tipped up and went down’. This was the first German plane to be shot down during the war and was specifically mentioned by Sir John French in his first dispatch of the war.

"By the end of the war Rabagliati was a Lieutenant Colonel of his regiment and was awarded the Air Force Cross in recognition of exemplary service.

"Between the wars Rabagliati became known as something of a playboy after racing down Buckingham Palace Road at the wheel of the famous Red Label Bentley owned by his brother, Dr Rabagliati of Durban.

"However, he also raced more seriously and had a narrow escape in a Talbot when racing at Brooklands in 1930. In swerving to avoid a slower car in the middle of the track, Rabagliati was hit by another Talbot and crashed into the crowd. Twenty people were injured and two died at the scene, including Rabagliati's mechanic who was thrown from the car.

"From then onwards mechanics were banished to the pits and safety signs saying "Motor Racing is Dangerous" were displayed at all race tracks.

"Euan Rabagliati was married three times. After WW2 he was appointed British vice-consul in San Francisco before eventually retiring to Cannes in the South of France where he died in 1978.

"None of the brothers returned to Bradford and their only sister, Catherine Priscilla Rabagliati remained unmarried and died in Oxfordshire in 1973. However, following the family tradition for public service, Catherine served as an Alderman of Westminster City Council from 1945 and was twice Mayor of Paddington.

"She had a particular interest in housing matters and, in 1954, was awarded an MBE for political services to Paddington."