by Captain W. E. Johns



VIII.                        GINGER GOES ALONE  (Pages 87 – 98)


Ginger drops the ornament and it smashes on the ground.  He picks up the precious letter and “resumed his flight incontinently”.  Ginger, having eluded his pursuers, arrives at a wide square swarming with soldiers and he mixes with them.  Here he meets a cockney soldier called Fred Summers from Plaistow.  He introduces himself by saying “I’m Ginger Hebblethwaite from Yorkshire” and he asks what’s going on.  Italians fighting for (Nationalist) General Franco are breaking through and the (Republican) soldiers are being sent back to the front to fight them.  (Historically, Barcelona fell to Franco’s troops on 26th January 1939, which is interesting as Johns certainly starting writing this book before that date and may very well have been writing it during and after the event.  This story was first published in ‘The Modern Boy’ as ‘Wings Over Spain’ in weekly parts from 21st January 1939 to 1st April 1939).  Ginger explains he is new here and Fred offers to show him around their destination – the trenches.  Ginger and Fred board a lorry.  “A jabber of foreign languages fell on his ears; the reek of garlic hung in the dust-laden air”.  Ginger is in the International Brigade.  Ginger is worried about Biggles and Algy, not knowing if they are dead or alive and he wants to get back to them somehow.  Dead tired, he falls asleep and is woken when they reach the front.  They are soon under shell fire.  They enter the battle.  “One of the unfortunate fellows was groaning horribly, and Ginger looked away.  “You’ll see plenty o’ that,” remarked Summers calmly.  “Yer soon get used to it, though”.  The new-comers enter the trenches and some soldiers there “threw coarse jokes over their shoulders”.  Fred saves Ginger’s life when Ginger goes to look through an opening in the trench and is pulled out of the way in time to avoid a bullet.  “What yer trying to do – commit suicide?”.  They go to find their “bivvy and get fixed up”.