Being a hitherto unrecorded adventure in the war-time career of Captain James Bigglesworth, M.C., D.F.C. (known in the R.F.C. as ‘Biggles’),

and his friend the Hon. Algernon Lacey, R.F.C.


by Captain W. E. Johns


First published August 1935



FORWARD  (Pages 5 – 7)


Johns writes about why there is one period of the career of Captain James Bigglesworth, M.C., D.F.C. that has never been mentioned.  In the first place Biggles regards the tour of duty with distaste and in the second, it was thought prudent to remain silent whilst one of the principal actors was alive.  “This man, who at the time of the events about to be narrated was a trusted officer of the German Secret Service, in the end met the same fate as those of his enemies who fell into his hands – blindfold, with his back to the wall, facing a firing party in the cold grey light of dawn”.   (This must be taken to mean Count von Faubourg, one assumes).  “Biggles, at the time was a war-hardened veteran of twelve months’ active service in the R.F.C.”  (This would seem to date the story as occurring in October 1917 as he went to the Front in October 1916).  Biggles “afterwards confessed to Algy that it was not until his feet had trodden the age-old sands of the Promised Land that he learnt to know the real meaning of the word Fear.  When he was there he was, like many another air warrior, still a boy; when he came back he was still a boy, but old beyond his years.  Into his deep-set hazel eyes, which less than eighteen months before had pondered arithmetic with doubt and algebra with despair, had a come a new light; and into his hands, small and delicate – hands that at school had launched paper darts with unerring accuracy – had come a new grip as they closed over joystick and firing lever.  When you have read the story perhaps you will understand the reason”.




List of illustrations – Page 11 (Frontispiece and four plates all by Howard Leigh.  The plates are facing pages 32, 174, 218 and 232)


I.      HOW IT BEGAN  (Pages 13 – 24)


The book opens with Captain James Bigglesworth, R.F.C., home from France on ten days’ leave going for lunch at 12.50 pm to the Caprice Restaurant, “the famous war-time rendezvous of the R.F.C. officers in London”.  He is in civilian attire as his uniform is being cleaned.  A stranger approaches him with “Good morning, Captain Brunow”.  Biggles points out his mistake.  “No!  Ha, ha, of course not.  I quite understand.  In the circumstances the sooner a name like that is forgotten the better, eh?” replies the stranger, who introduces himself as Ernest Broglace.  Biggles is offered the chance of earning some easy money “by working for people who will appreciate what you do”.  Suspicious, Biggles plays along and they agree to meet again at 6.30 pm that evening.  Biggles sees an acquaintance, Ludgate of 287 Squadron and finds out from him that Brunow had been hauled up on a charge of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” and thrown out of the service.  Ludgate confirms there is a physical similarity between Brunow and Biggles.  Biggles then goes to the Headquarters of the Air Board at the Hotel Cecil, in the Strand and tells his story to Major L. Bryndale of Air Staff Intelligence.  He then speaks to Brigadier-General Sir Malcolm Pendersby, who cancels Biggles’ leave and tells him to meet with Broglace and gain his confidence.  Biggles is given Brunow’s file to read.  Returning to the General after his meeting with Broglace, Biggles is asked if he is willing to volunteer to become a German spy, working for the British.  Biggles accepts, saying that he can’t very well refuse.