by Captain W. E. Johns



VI.                   A DANGEROUS MISSION  (Pages 63 – 81)


The plan to blow up the Albeck tunnel is for the Willie-Willie to be converted into a two-seater and for Biggles to take Ginger and a time bomb with him.  They will fly over at the maximum ceiling of 25,000 feet and this will involve the use of the oxygen apparatus, which has been supplied in their base.  Algy will then fly in the Didgeree-du, also converted to a two-seater, twenty minutes later at 10,000 feet to act as a decoy and drown out the noise of the first plane and pick up the occupants of the first plane if their machine should be damaged on landing when they will show a red light.  They will fly the same course at the same time, the extra time between take offs to allow Biggles to reach the greater height.  Biggles flies up to 22,000 feet before putting the oxygen on, then sets off at 280 miles an hour towards the German mainland.  They see the air cut by searchlights and Biggles tells Ginger over the telephone “Poor old Algy seems to be copping it”.  Eventually they reach their destination and Ginger sees the railway.  Biggles and Ginger glide down to land, whilst Algy begins to circle around in accordance with their plan.  To glide down to a given landing-ground, at night, without touching the throttle requires more skill than the average pilot possesses.  Ginger sees a ball of fire rolling along a track and realises it must be a train.  It disappears into the tunnel and Ginger knows they are there as Biggles skilfully lands.  They drag their aircraft back into the trees, facing the open field they have landed on.  Biggles picks up the time-bomb and the two of them then make their way along the hedges towards the tunnel.  There are two sentries.  One looks up as Algy circles round in his aircraft.  (He was staring up into the sky when Biggles rose like a black shadow behind him - is the illustration on page 73).  Biggles hits the sentry on the head with the butt of his revolver.  “The man dropped without a sound”.  Biggles then puts on his cap and holds his rifle, bayonet fixed and he is then able to confront the second sentry who wanders over.  “One sound and you die” said Biggles, sharply in German.  They get the man to lie face down on the ground and pull his greatcoat over his head and tie it round his neck with his belt.  Then Ginger ties his hands behind his back using a handkerchief and Biggles ties his feet using the cord pull through (used for cleaning) taken from the butt of the rifle.   Biggles snatches up the time-bomb, scrambles down the slope and enters the tunnel.  A guard comes towards Ginger just as Biggles comes panting up the embankment.  “Run for it” he gasped.  (Presumably this is said by Biggles, but it is not entirely clear).  Ginger is flung to the ground as the roar of an explosion nearly bursts his eardrums.  He staggers to his feet and Biggles catches him by his arm.  “Keep going” says Biggles.  They reach the field where their aircraft is.  Another aircraft with its navigation lights on flies overhead and Biggles realises the Germans have fighters up, looking for Algy. Ginger says if they fly low with their navigation lights on, they will be taken for Germans and left alone.  “Brilliant idea” declares Biggles. The dodge works well and they are not challenged either by searchlights or anti-aircraft guns. They cross the coast-line and Ginger lets out a yell of triumph.  Biggles sees fog ahead and soon they are engulfed in it.  Biggles has to fly high above the fog until they reach the area of their base. Then they can’t land for fear of colliding with the rock.  Biggles has to turn away from the base, then go down through the fog to the sea.  As the altimeter sinks down to zero they see a dark indistinct mass loom up below and land on the sea in a cloud of spray.  “We sit here until the fog lifts” Biggles tells Ginger, adding “I only hope Algy got home before all this muck came down”.