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 with the copyright name of Bengt-Ove Tideman, it was taken in Strängnäs, Sweden in the last week of May, or first week of June 1972, when Bagley visited Iwan Morelius (aka Iwan Hedman-Morelius), who was to become a close personal friend. The image was taken in Iwan’s dining room, at Flodins väg 5, by a photographer who worked for the local newspaper Strengnäs Tidning. Used by Collins Publishers as a publicity image for the release of The Tightrope Men in 1973, the photograph was again used in promotional 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, together with his wife Joan, visited Iwan and his first wife Inga Morelius at their home, Flodins väg 5, Strängnäs for the first time in May 1972. Arriving on Saturday 27 May they stayed for a week, and Morelius recalls the visit in his book Meeting with Authors and Other People in the Book World. [1]

The Bagley’s visited again between 11 – 15 February 1976, to celebrate Inga’s 40th birthday and for Bagley to conduct 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. [2]

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 [3,4]. The Husqvarna M/40 pistol itself had been mentioned in Bagley’s 1973 novel 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!’ [5]

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’. [4]

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 [6].

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. Hedman-Morelius, Iwan., Meeting with Authors and Other People in the Book World (DAST DOSSIER No 10: 1997) pp.30 – 32.

2. The Enemy (London: Collins 1977).

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

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

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

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