BIGGLES DEFIES THE SWASTIKA
by Captain W. E. Johns
IV. CROSS-EXAMINED (Pages 51 – 69)
Biggles finds von Leffers in his office with two other men. One was the man whose motor-cycle he had taken and the other is introduced as Oberleutnant Ernst von Hymann, a senior officer of the Gestapo. Von Hymann wants to speak with Biggles about his flying career. Biggles had previously said that he had been a pilot in America and Canada. Biggles is asked if he was once employed by a firm called Arctic Airways, at Fort Beaver and Biggles agrees he was. (See the book Biggles Flies North). Biggles is told that checks have been unable to confirm a pilot named Hendrik worked there. Biggles says it is unlikely records were kept. Biggles is asked about the other pilots who used to work there and he says it was run by a fellow named Wilkinson and there was a man named Graves who was killed (at the start of Biggles Flies North, in a letter to Biggles, Wilkinson did say that his pilot, Walter Graves, was killed). Biggles then says that were pilots named Lacey and a lad named Hebblethwaite and “a fellow with a curious name – Tigglesworth – or was it Nigglesworth?”. “Was it Bigglesworth?” asks von Hymann. Biggles is asked to describe Bigglesworth and he does so, adding “he was about my build”. Von Hymann says Bigglesworth was the British Intelligence Service’s chief flying agent and that “Not long ago he was in Finland”. (This is a reference to Biggles Sees it Through, which was published in August 1941 at the same time as Biggles Defies the Swastika and Spitfire Parade – Biggles at War. It would therefore appear that Sees it Through was written earlier than Defies the Swastika). Von Hymann tells Biggles that he has reason to believe that Bigglesworth is in Norway. “This morning he was seen in Oslo by one of our agents” but was then lost in the crowd. The agent has now returned to Berlin to meet with a Hauptmann von Stalhein “who has had more to do with him than anyone else”. As “Sven Hendrick” knows Bigglesworth by sight, he is sent to go round Oslo and see if he can find him. Biggles is given a Gestapo pass with the number 2001 on it, signed by von Hymann. Biggles is told he can get in contact with von Hymann at his head-quarters at the Hotel Port on the waterfront. Biggles asks the name of the agent who knows Bigglesworth saying “I ask because it might be a good thing if we met some time, and compared notes”. He is told the man is called Brandt. Biggles leaves and says to himself “Suffering rattlesnakes! Where am I getting to? First I’m sworn into the German Air Force; now, of all things, I’m a full-blown Gestapo agent. I’ve done some queer jobs in my life, but this is the first time I’ve had to look for myself”. Biggles tells Kristen he has to go to Oslo and he will take the motor-bike and stay at the Hotel Kapital (his original hotel). On his return to that hotel he is questioned by two men but, on showing his Gestapo pass, “they apologized for troubling him – a rare concession for Nazis”. Lying on his bed, Biggles can’t sleep as he is worried about whether Brandt has returned from Berlin. Biggles decides to get up and go to Gestapo head-quarters to find out. He speaks with the two storm-troopers on duty outside and shows them his Gestapo pass. He asks if either of them knows Herr Brandt and one does. “Is he back yet, do you know?”. Biggles is told he came in half an hour ago by ‘plane and a civil flying-boat is pointed out to him floating on the nearby water. Biggles finds out another man was with him. “Was he by any chance a thin man, with sharp features, wearing a monocle?” When Biggles is told that his description is right, he knows that von Stalhein is here as well. Biggles can see through the glass-panelled doors into the vestibule beyond and he sees two men about to come out. One is von Stalhein and the other is unknown to him, presumably Brandt. Biggles walks away and then follows the two men when they come out. He follows them all the way to the hotel that Biggles is staying at. Biggles hears them describe “Bigglesworth” to the hotel manager and the manager says that the only person who fits that description is a Norwegian named Hendrik, who is out. The two Germans say they will wait for him. Biggles realises that he will have to leave the city and as a Gestapo agent, is able to requisition a car from a garage. He drives to a phone box and rings the Hotel Port and leaves a message for Oberleutnant von Hymann. “My number is 2001. Say that I have located Bigglesworth. He has left the city in a car, heading northward. At the garage where he got the car he asked how far it was to Narvik, so that is presumably where he is bound for. I’m following him, and am not far behind. I’ll report again at the first opportunity”. Biggles gets back into his car, studies a map, then heads northward, “whence came the sounds of battle”.