by Captain W. E. Johns



XIII.        VICKERS VERSUS SPANDAUS  (Pages 145 – 152)


Biggles hunts for Hess and exchanges greetings with the crew of an antiquated British B.E.2C as he flies past.  Looking back at the B.E.2C, Biggles sees a flash of sunlight on wings and flies back to find Hess’s red and white Pfalz about to attack that British aircraft.  Biggles fires a warning shot to tip the British plane off and they take evasive action.  Biggles then flies wingtip to wingtip with Hess and takes off his helmet and goggles.  “There was no smile on his own face now, but a burning hatred of the man who shot down machines of inferior performance and then boasted of his prowess.  He saw the look of recognition spring into the German’s eyes, and the fear that followed it.  “Not so sure of yourself now, are you?” snarled Biggles.  “Come on, you skunk – fight!”  Hess races, nose down, for home.  Biggles chases after him and catches up with him so Hess is forced to turn around and fight.  Biggles fires at Hess at point blank range.  “A tiny tongue of flame curled aft from the scarlet petrol tank; it grew larger and larger until it was a devouring furnace that dropped through the air like a stone.  Biggles pulled out of his dive and turned away feeling suddenly sick, as he often did when he sent down an enemy machine in flames”.  Biggles returns to Algy and tells him to make out a combat report claiming a red and white Pfalz three miles north of Jebel Tire at 10.51 am.  “I shall do nothing of the sort,” cried Algy indignantly; “he was your meat”.  “I don’t want the Huns to know that, do I, you ass?  snapped Biggles.  “You do what you’re told.  And remember, you don’t know it’s Hess.  Our people will get that information from the other side in due course.  That’s all, laddie,” he went on with a change of tone.  “I must be getting back now”.  He looked suddenly old and tired.  “O.K., Skipper,” replied Algy, looking at him under his lashes, and noting the symptoms of frayed nerves”.  Biggles says he has to go on to the end.  “Their hands met in a firm grip, the only time during the whole war that either of them allowed their real feelings to get uppermost”.  Algy watches Biggles take off in the Halberstadt.  “Those soulless hounds at the Air Board need boiling in oil for sending a fellow like Biggles on a job like this,” he muttered huskily.