BIGGLES IN THE BALTIC
by Captain W. E. Johns
XI. WHAT HAPPENED TO BIGGLES (Pages 136 – 149)
Biggles set off in search of Briny and spent the best part of an hour searching, without seeing any craft of any sort. Then he sees two craft together, a large one and a smaller one. The smaller one turns out to be Briny’s motor-boat and the larger one appears to be a trawler. Biggles looks at the flag on the trawler, but is unable to identify it, other than knowing that it is not a German flag. Believing the boat to be from a neutral country, Biggles lands and draws up to the boat. The flag is of a Scandinavian country, but he can’t remember which one. Biggles is astonished when the crew pull out a whole range of weapons and point them at him. (From all sides he was covered by a whole range of weapons - is the illustration on page 139). Biggles is taken by an officer and two armed men. He is disarmed and the contents of his pockets taken away. Biggles is then taken before a man seated behind a desk. Erich von Stalhein of the German Secret Service! Biggles congratulates him on changing his nationality. “Since it couldn’t be worse than it was when I last saw you, it must, perforce, be better”. Biggles asks what have they done with his man, the fellow in the motor-boat. Von Stalhein tells Biggles he knows that he is operating near their coast and asks where their base is. Biggles replies “I have a higher regard for your intelligence than to suppose you expect a correct answer”. Biggles criticises Von Stalhein for flying a false flag and Biggles denies he is a spy. He says he is wearing a British officer’s uniform and the rules of war demand that he be treated as a prisoner of war. Von Stalhein has “Major Bigglesworth” taken away “to a fairly comfortable cabin”. Biggles sees out of the port hole as several men cut the engine from the Willie-Willie. It is cast to float away and then the boat opens fire on it, smashing the floats and causing it to settle slowly in the water. Around six o’clock, as near as Biggles can judge (his watch had been taken from him when he was searched), the clang of bells and shouts tells Biggles something is happening. He looks out of the port hole and sees the Leipzig. Biggles is then taken to that large liner, via a gangway placed between the two ships. Biggles is taken to a stateroom, where the assembled company are disposed in the nature of a Court or tribunal. Charges are read and Biggles’ demands to be treated as a prisoner of war fall on deaf ears. The President of the Court says harshly in German, “I don’t think we need waste any more time over this. We have heard of this man Bigglesworth before; he is one of the best men in the British Intelligence Service; we have reason to know him, for he has given us a lot of trouble in the past”. Biggles is sentenced to be shot to death just as everyone hears the sound of anti-aircraft and machine-gun fire break out. There is the high-pitched scream of a diving aeroplane, then a huge explosion that hurls everyone off their feet.