BIGGLES IN SPAIN
by Captain W. E. Johns
X. MORE SHOCKS FOR GINGER (Pages 115 – 130)
Ginger awakes feeling almost elated. A messenger arrives to say that there is a car waiting behind the lines for him. Ginger goes to thank Fred Summers and asks if he wants to be an air gunner if Ginger “could wangle it”. Fred declines saying he’d rather stay where he doesn’t have so far to fall. An hours drive and Ginger is at the airfield meeting McLannock and the other pilots. Ginger doesn’t know whether he should take the first opportunity to fly to France then get the message back to England or return and try and find Biggles and Algy. Secretly, he decides to compromise, and he will spend three days trying to find his comrades before going to France. McLannock has a two-seater plane waiting to test Ginger’s flying skills. Jock, in the back, sees all he needs to see when Ginger taxis to take off “because taxi-ing on the ground demands as much skill as flying in the air”. They fly to the River Ebro and have to flee from three Fiat aircraft. The Fiats catch them and attack but Ginger is able to shot one down before the other two flee the scene. Ginger is satisfied that Jock had asked him if he could fly and “he had answered that question in a manner more conclusive that anything he could have said”. Jock flies them back to the aerodrome and lands. He asks Ginger who taught him to fly like that and he says “Biggles” – “his proper name is Bigglesworth”. Jock then takes Ginger into an office and asks “So ye’re Mr. Hebblethwaite, na doot?” Ginger agrees and is shocked when Jock pulls an automatic gun on him and calls him a “spyin’ rat”. (‘I’ll show ye what’s the matter, ye spyin’ rat’- is the illustration on page 127). Ginger reminds him he has just shot down a Fiat – is that the work of a spy? McLannoch (yes, the spelling of his surname has changed now – presumably a careless error by the typesetters, originally mistaking Johns “h” for a “k”, not picked up in the proof read. The name remains McLannoch with an “h” for the rest of the book) recalls the name Biggles from France. Ginger says he was in two-six-six squadron in Maranique. Ginger takes Jock into his confidence and tells him the whole story. He asks how Jocks knows about the affair. Jock says he read about it in the Barcelona paper last night. Biggles and Algy were tried and sentenced to be shot. Ginger asks when and is told “in the morning”.