THE RESCUE FLIGHT
Book First Published in May 1939 - 256 pages
This story was first published, in ten parts, as BIGGLES’ RESCUE FLIGHT in Modern Boy, issues 33 to 42, dated 1st October 1938 to 3rd December 1938
When 16 year old Peter Fortymore (nicknamed "Thirty") receives notification that his brother, Nigel (nicknamed "Forty"), is missing, believed killed, during the Great War, he and his school friend Dick Ripley (nicknamed "Rip") run away from their public school with a view to going to France. Thirty's brother, Forty, had written a last letter saying that if ever he was shot down and escaped from a German prisoner of war camp he would head for a certain location where the two boys used to holiday as children. Thirty and Rip use two of Forty's old uniforms to pose as Officers in the R.F.C. and then "borrow" two Sopworth Camels and fly to France. They land at the first aerodrome they find after being saved from being shot down by another Camel pilot. The aerodrome belongs to 266 squadron and the pilot who saved them introduces himself as Bigglesworth. Bluffing that they are new pilots sent out from England and they have lost their papers, both get to meet Algy and the squadron C.O. Major Mullen. However Biggles finds out who Thirty and Rip really are when he receives an old newspaper from England. Thirty explains that he has come to France to rescue his brother and Biggles has some sympathy with him, particularly as he knew Nigel Fortymore. It is not long before Biggles, Algy, Rip and Thirty set off to Forty's prearranged location to see if he is actually there. Amazingly he is! After some considerable peril they manage to rescue Forty and bring him back to the 266 squadron aerodrome. Major Raymond is informed and Forty suggests that a regular rescue flight could be set up for any escaped soldiers or airmen. All it needs is for Forty to return and be recaptured to enable him to spread the word amongst trusted men as to where the prearranged landing grounds are. Three grounds are prepared in advance, with food supplies to assist any escapee until a plane arrives to pick them up. A signalling system is set up so that it can be ascertained from the air whether anybody is waiting to be picked up or not. As time passes a number of successful rescues are carried out. Then everything goes wrong when Thirty and Rip crash on one of the landing grounds. They are on a mission to take a vital telegraph part to a spy in the German held French town of Belville-Sur-Somme. Thirty carries on with the mission while Rip waits at the landing ground as had been planned. After some nerve racking adventures Thirty passes the part on and gets back to the landing ground. Here he finds that Rip has met an escaped army officer, Captain Forsyth of the Ninth Buffs. Returning to 266 squadron however, all is not as it seems and Thirty finds out that his brother is under arrest and that the Germans know about the rescue flight. Thirty risks everything for his brother as he once again returns to the landing ground where he had previously crashed. Returning with Forty, there is a desperate flight home through thick and thin. Successful, Thirty is recommended for the Military Cross but officially he doesn't exist. Both Thirty and Rip are given a commission in the field so the Military Cross can stand and they are allowed to stay on to serve in 266 squadron.
The Rescue Flight
Publication Details - published by Oxford University Press
The spine and cover illustrations from the original Oxford first edition
Click on the above to see it in more detail