by Captain W. E. Johns



IX.                   A LUCKY COMBAT  (Pages 99 – 114)


“For two days Ginger suffered all the agonies of fear and horror inseparable from modern trench warfare, to which was added a gnawing anxiety every time he thought of Biggles and Algy, or the document that still reposed in his pocket”.  “There were times, however, when he forgot everything except the desperate business of preserving his own life”.  The enemy have been attacking and been repulsed, each attack preceded by a bombardment.  Ginger has seen several dog-fights in the sky and longs to be seated in a cockpit “yet, situated as he was, an aeroplane seems as unattainable as the moon”.  One of his sides aircraft, known as the “Blue Devil” by the troops is said to be flown by a Jock McLannock from Glasgow “a pilot of high social position who had abandoned his Highland home to fight in what he considered to be the cause of freedom and justice – a cause for which millions of men since the beginning of time have laid down their lives, usually in vain”.  Ginger wants to be transferred to the Air Force but as his officer’s only speak French and Spanish he can’t communicate this.  One day, Ginger sees the “Blue Devil” take part in an aerial combat and get shot down.  The plane makes a forced landing in front of Ginger’s trench.  The pilot is trapped in the wreckage and Ginger get outs of the trench and runs to help him.  “With bullets whistling past his ears, or screaming off the rocks around his feet” he reaches the plane and gets the struggling pilot out.  “Scotland for ever!” shouts the pilot as Ginger gets him out and they shelter in a nearby shell-hole.  Ginger tells the pilot “You must have been daft to give the fellow such an easy shot” to which the pilot, who is Jock McLannock, says “Are ye telling me how to fly, ye little whipper-snapper?”  Ginger explains he to, is a pilot and McLannock says they need pilots.  When it is dark, Ginger and McLannock crawl back to Ginger’s trench.  McLannock is able to speak to the French Sergeant and Spanish commanding officer and he gets Ginger transferred to his squadron.  He is to be collected in the morning.