by Captain W. E. Johns



IV.   A MEETING AND A DUEL  (Pages 42 – 54)


Biggles is called to the Count’s office and given his first real job.  He is told that the Germans have received word of a large body of British troops, chiefly Australian cavalry, and there is reason to believe they are in certain hills indicated to him on a map.  Biggles is told to find them, if necessary by landing and making discreet inquiries.  Biggles watches a silver and blue Pfalz Scout machine take off and recognises it as the German aircraft used by a pilot named Leffens.  Biggles takes off in the German’s captured Sopwith Pup and flies in the direction of the hills shown to him on the map.  When out of sight of the aerodrome, he turns and flies to Abba Sud, hoping to meet with Algy.  When German anti-aircraft (archie) fires at him he shoots a green Very light, a pre-arranged signal so they know he is ‘friendly’.  Biggles also has a white bar painted across the top plane of his aircraft for identification, so he isn’t shot down by other German planes.  Landing at Abba Sud, Biggles is pleased to see that both Algy and Major Raymond have landed there in an R.E.8.  Raymond suspected that Biggles would be over today.  Biggles explains his mission and his dilemma in actually reporting anything true.  Raymond says the Australian troops are hidden in the palm groves around Sidi Arish, but they are due to move that night, so reporting it would be quite safe.  The Germans will send a photographic machine to check and see that Biggles is correct.  By the time a bomb raid is launched, they will be gone.  “You’ll put your reputation up with von Faubourg, and consolidate your position, and the Huns will waste a few tons of bombs” says Raymond.  Biggles agrees with Algy a way of getting a message to him at Zabala in an emergency.  If Algy flies over at night and cuts his engine twice he could drop a non-committal message in the large olive-grove behind the German aerodrome.  Raymond asks Biggles to blow up the water supply for the German troops.  He says the reservoir supplying them is just north of Biggles’ aerodrome.  Biggles is concerned that he is taking too many risks already.  Raymond has a small but powerful bomb which he bought with him on the off-chance.  Biggles agrees to take the bomb and see what he can do.  A flash in the sun draws Biggles attention to a silver and blue aircraft.  It’s Leffens Pfalz scout; he has followed Biggles!  Biggles rushes to take off as he must now stop Leffens getting back to base to report what he has seen – Biggles – at what could only be a pre-arranged rendezvous with British R.F.C. officers.  Biggles races after him and they battle in the air.  Biggles’ plane is hit by gunfire but he shoots Leffens down and then lands in the desert to make sure he is dead (not wanting to leave a wounded man to die of thirst).  Leffens German Intelligence ring has come off in the crash and finding it in the sand, Biggles keeps it.  Biggles flies back to Zabala.