by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.           JUNGLE-BOUND  (Pages 87 – 98)


When Algy took off in the Nemesis, he was not thinking about any hostile aircraft.  Ginger started tapping out his message when, “without the slightest warning, the whole apparatus blew up”.  Ginger is thrown around as the plane manoeuvres.  He gets the machine gun and a drum of ammunition and staggers through into the cockpit in order to get into the open.  “At that moment he was concerned with one thing, and one thing only, and that was the destruction of their attacker, the man who, he guessed, must have been responsible for the death of Tom Lowery and his mechanic.  He felt no fear; he felt nothing but an overwhelming desire to destroy the man who was shooting at them; he wanted to do that more than he had ever wanted to do anything in his life before.  After that, he wouldn’t care what happened.  Actually, although he was unaware of it, his reactions were precisely those of scores of air fighters in France during the war; and they were the reactions by which those fighters could only hope to achieve success, or even save their lives, for in air combat it is a case of kill or be killed”.  Ginger fires the whole drum at the Seaplane and it strikes the trees “and instantly seemed to dissolve in a cloud of flying splinters”.  Algy manages to land on a stretch of black, oily water, surrounded on all sides by trees.  “Good shooting, kid” said Algy.  “I got him, didn’t I?” muttered Ginger, as if he still had difficulty in believing it.  “You can write number one on your slate just as soon as you get back to where you can buy yourself one” answered Algy.  Algy asks if Ginger got the message off, but Ginger was only able to send the call sign and their position.  Algy explains he had to come down as a bullet must have hit something vital.  Both engines cut out together.  They are in a big mangrove swamp which Ginger thinks is “rotten with fever”.  They locate the damage.  The gravity tank had been holed, and the petrol lead that fed both engines from the main tank had been severed in two places by bullets.  Ginger knows he won’t get it repaired in time to get out before night fall.  They want to get to Biggles as soon as possible to allay his worries and so make a makeshift punt to pole the aircraft to the side of the swamp.  Algy decides to go and find Biggles while Ginger does the repairs.  Time passes and Ginger notices the tide has come in.  He calls out to Algy but there is no reply.