Bagley, Strängnäs, Iwan Morelius and the Husqvarna M/40 pistol

Desmond Bagley and the Husqvarna M/40 9x19mm parabellum pistol © Gothia Arms Historical Society, Gothenburg, Sweden.

The image of Bagley shown here is from the Desmond Bagley collection at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University USA. Credited only with the copyright name of Bengt-Ove Tideman and no other details, information [1,2] confirms it was taken in Strängnäs, Sweden in May 1972 when Bagley visited a close personal friend; Iwan Hedman aka Iwan Morelius. Used by Collins Publishers as a publicity image for the release of The Tightrope Men in 1973, the photograph was again used in promotion material for the release of The Snow Tiger in 1975.

Desmond Bagley © Bengt-Ove Tideman – From the Desmond Bagley Collection, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Morelius (1931- 2012), a Captain in the Swedish Army, founded the Swedish crime fiction publication DAST-magazine in 1967 and had started to correspond with Bagley in 1969. Bagley visited Morelius in Strängnäs on a number of occasions, firstly in May and June of 1972, where he conducted a book signing at the local bookshop and also visited a publishing house in Stockholm.

Bagley visited again in February of 1975 spending this latter visit conducting research for his novel The Enemy, in which Morelius was to feature as a character.

‘I am Captain Morelius.’ He had watchful grey eyes and a gun in a holster under his jacket. ‘You will come with me.’

I could imagine the expression on the face of the colonel of the Royal Södermanland Regiment if I poked my nose into Strängnäs again. I needed no imagination at all to picture the cold grey eyes of Captain Morelius of Swedish Army Intelligence. [3]

The pistol Bagley is shown holding is Morelius’s own weapon, a Husqvarna M/40 9x19mm parabellum pistol, a copy of the Finnish Lahti L-35 designed by Aimo Lahti. Morelius smuggled Bagley onto the P10 (Södermanlands Regiment) military training ground, which also featured in the novel The Enemy [4,5]. The Husqvarna M/40 pistol itself had been mentioned in one of Bagley’s earlier novels The Tightrope Men.

It’s a Husqvarna, Model 40 – Swedish army issue. A nice gun with but one fault – there’s about a sixteenth of an inch play in the barrel. If the barrel is forced back, the trigger won’t pull.’ He pressed the muzzle with the palm of his left hand and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. ‘See!’ [6]

Geoffrey Boothroyd © ANL/REX Shutterstock.
Geoffrey Boothroyd © ANL/REX Shutterstock.

Bagley wasn’t the only visitor to be shown this courtesy, previously in August 1970 Morelius had taken Geoffrey Boothroyd, the British firearms expert and advisor to Ian Fleming to the P10 training ground where Boothroyd fired the Husqvarna M/40 and a Kulsprutepistol M/45 also belonging to Morelius. Boothroyd was featured in the sixth James Bond novel Dr No as the service armourer ‘Major Boothroyd’. [5]

A similar image of Bagley also holding a submachine gun, most likely the same one as Boothroyd fired is also archived in the Desmond Bagley Collection in Boston [7]. There is further information available [8,9] which confirms that this image of Bagley holding the pistol was indeed taken in May 1972 at the dining room table in Morelius’ home in Strängnäs, Sweden by a photographer who worked for a local newspaper.

You can read more about Morelius on Nigel Alefounder’s site here.


Images © Bengt-Ove Tideman – From the Desmond Bagley Collection, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission; Husqvarna © Gothia Arms Historical Society, Gothenburg, Sweden; Geoffrey Boothroyd © ANL/REX Shutterstock.

1. Duns, J. (2015). pers. comm 4th Jan, 2015.

2. Alefounder, N. (2015). pers. comm 4th Jan, 2015.

3. The Enemy (London: Collins 1977).

4. Ansvarig (2012). DAST Magazine ‘Strängnäs på deckarkartan’ [online]. URL[Accessed Dec. 21st 2014]

5. Ansvarig (2012). DAST Magazine ‘Det började med Bond – en osannolik historia’ [online]. URL[Accessed Dec. 21st 2014]

6. The Tightrope Men (London: Collins 1973).

7. Johnson, J.C., Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston, U.S.A. (2014) pers. comm 19th Dec, 2014.

8. Ripley, M. (No date). SHOTS Crime and Thriller ezine ‘Fondly Remembered’ [online]. URL[Accessed Dec. 21st 2014]

9. Alefounder, N. (2016). pers. comm 27th Nov, 2016.