by Captain W. E. Johns



XII.         A NEW PILOT – AND A MISSION  (Pages 132 – 144)


Biggles meets Hess and finds him haughty, supercilious and conceited. “We know what to do with Englanders, we of the Hess Jagdstaffel.  Perhaps you would like to hear how I make them sizzle in their seats,” he continued, addressing Biggles directly.  I myself have shot down twenty-six”.  Hess says today he will make it twenty-seven as it is his birthday and he has “sworn not to sleep until I have sent another down like roast beef in his own oven”.  The Count and von Stalhein come into the officer’s mess.  “One glance at their faces told Biggles all that he wanted to know about the Arab attack.  That it has failed was certain, for the Count looked worried, while von Stalhein was pale under his tan and wore a bandage on his left hand”.  Von Stalhein asks Biggles if he knows exactly where Mayer’s machine crashed.  When Biggles says yes, he sends him to burn out the wreck as the machine “must be utterly destroyed”.   Biggles is told to photograph it afterwards so von Stalhein can be quite sure.  Biggles sets off to do this and sees the German mechanics admiring Hess’s aircraft, a new scarlet and white Pfalz D.III Scout.  Biggles believes that Hess has only been successful as he has a superior aircraft to the old British ones operating in this sector.  Biggles is aware that he still has to meet Algy in response to his urgent message and this mission gives him the perfect opportunity to do so.  Firstly however, he goes to deal with the crash.  Biggles lands and searches Mayer’s crashed plane to find out exactly what von Stalhein is so anxious to have destroyed.  It takes him half an hour but eventually he finds a secret stowage place between the two cockpits that has burst open due to the crash.  In it is a British officer’s field service cap.  Biggles keeps the cap and burns the wreckage.  He then takes off and bombs the wreckage and takes the necessary photographs.  Biggles then flies to Abba Sud where he sees a Sopwith Camel circling.  Biggles and Algy both land and exchange information.  Algy says the Camel has been sent up to deal with a German pilot called Hess, who has been “playing Old Harry up and down the lines with one of the Pfalz D.III’s and we’ve got nothing to get near him in”.  Algy mentions that he shot down a Halberstadt yesterday and when he says where, Biggles tell him that he was in it(!)  Algy says he heard that a Hun prisoner named Brunow had been captured and he, Algy, had gone to collect Biggles, only to find that he had already left in the charge of a party of Major Sterne’s Arabs.  Biggles asks Algy if he saw Sterne, but Algy said he had already left.  Algy says the Arabs had a far-fetched story about how their prisoner had escaped.  Algy confirms they got the message dropped at Kantara and as a result, a whole lot of troops, mostly Australian cavalry were waiting for the Arab attack.  “They gave them such a plastering that they’re not likely to forget in a hurry.  Some got killed and some got away, but a lot were taken prisoners, and they’re bleating for the blood of the white man who led them into the trap, for that’s what they swear happened”.  Biggles asks what the urgent news that Algy had for him was.  Algy says that the Air Board have warned him to beware of Broglace.  Broglace was in London but has disappeared and they think he has departed for Germany via Holland.  “They thought you ought to be warned, in case he turned up here”.  (This would appear to be an error on Johns’ behalf as surely he meant to refer to Brunow here, not Broglace, who was the man who recruited Biggles as a spy.  However, it is Broglace who is referred to in the Oxford editions, the Hodder & Stoughton reprint and the Armada paperback.  In the ‘Red Fox’ editions this has been corrected to Brunow).  Algy also tells Biggles they have set up a dummy aerodrome twelve miles south-east of Kantara, so he has something to report to the Germans and to get them to waste some bombs.  Biggles asks to borrow Algy’s Sopwith Camel “because I’ve a strong urge to be myself for a few minutes”.  He tells Algy that Hess is looking for his twenty-seventh victim today.  Algy swings the propeller and Biggles takes off.