BIGGLES DEFIES THE SWASTIKA
by Captain W. E. Johns
II. ALARMING DEVELOPMENTS (Pages 23 – 35)
“Actually, only two or three shots were fired, and they whistled harmlessly past”. The Nazi emblems on the bike help Biggles on his journey and at sixty miles an hour it takes him less than half an hour to reach his aerodrome. However, he finds men in the grey uniform of the German Air Force there. One welcomes him saying “Why didn’t you tell us you were one of us?”. Biggles recognises the man as Kristen, a member of the flying club. Biggles bluffs it out saying he is not officially in the German service yet. He has borrowed this motor-bike and headed for the aerodrome in the hope of being able to do something. Kristen says that he can recommend Biggles as a pilot, having seen him fly. Kristen introduces Biggles to the Commandant, Hauptmann Baron von Leffers. The Baron asks who Biggles is and Kristen tells him “He is one of us, but as yet his appointment has not been confirmed”. Kristen says Biggles is entirely in sympathy with the Nazis and wants to fly for them. Asked if he has had any experience, Biggles says that he was a test pilot for a while in America. “In making this statement Biggles was telling the truth; for once, in America, he had tested some machines for the British Government with a view to purchase”. Biggles is told the Germans will have to take his aircraft. “You will be paid for it, of course – after the war”. Biggles makes his way to the hangar, hoping to fly away in his aircraft, but the hangar is full of Germans and they have already dismantled all light aeroplanes to make room for their fighters. Biggles goes to the club-house, now the German officer’s mess, and meets with Kristen again, who gives him a red armlet bearing a black swastika within a white circle. “It will show that you are not an ordinary civilian and may save you trouble with the guards”. They dine together. “Biggles smiled faintly as he wondered what his comrades would think could they see him, swastika on sleeve, calmly eating in a German mess”. The Commandant sends for Biggles and after close interrogation, supported by his Norwegian papers of nationality, Biggles is admitted into the German Air Force on probation with the rank of ‘Leutnant’. Biggles still hopes to get away and asks to put in some practice with a Messerschmitt, but he is told that none are available. Rounding a corner Biggles suddenly comes face to face with the German officer whose motor-cycle he had borrowed. The man has just stepped out of a large touring car “in which sat three men wearing the uniform of the dreaded Gestapo”.