BIGGLES DEFIES THE SWASTIKA
by Captain W. E. Johns
V. UNEXPECTED ALLIES (Pages 70 – 85)
“In acting as he did, Biggles was actuated first and foremost by the obvious necessity for getting out of Oslo; also he wanted time to think”. Biggles stops the car so he can concentrate on the problem. The outstanding fact was that it was known to the Gestapo that Bigglesworth was in Norway and both von Stalhein and Brandt knew him by sight. Biggles felt that if Colonel Raymond knew this, he would ask him to leave the country, but he couldn’t get in touch with Raymond unless he went back to Sweden and Raymond may be making plans, the success of which depend on Biggles being at Boda. “Hendrick’s” failure to return to his hotel will be viewed as suspicious and it will only be a question of time before someone discovers that a Norwegian named Hendrik has joined the Nazi Air Force at Boda. Biggles would need to continue to report to von Hymann as well, to stop him wondering what became of Hendrik. At the back of Biggles mind was a vague idea of getting ‘Bigglesworth’ out of the country. If Biggles could get von Hymann to believe that Bigglesworth had fled via the British held port of Narvik, then the hue and cry for him would die down. Von Stalhein and Brandt might leave as well. Biggles was in civilian clothes and still had his Norwegian passport, so he could pose as a Norwegian when necessary and a Gestapo agent when necessary. “There was one final point that worried him. In Oslo he had picked up information which the British authorities would be glad to have, but this information would be of no value unless he could pass it on immediately”. Biggles decides to get to Narvik and send a message to von Hymann that Bigglesworth has escaped, then ask permission to return to Boda and stay there until Colonel Raymond gives him permission to leave Norway. “Spying as a profession made no appeal to him, although more than once he had been forced to do it”. “He much preferred the straight-forward life of a fighting pilot, which, really, was what he was”. Biggles drives on, covering fifty miles in fair time and although stopped by German patrols his Gestapo pass gets him through. He then runs into Norwegian patrols and by saying he was on his way to Narvik to offer his services to the British he is allowed to continue. Passing a signpost to Trondheim and arriving at a village called Stol, Biggles is too tired to go on. He stops at an inn where the Landlord and several villagers were still up, talking about the invasion. “Biggles told them as much as he thought was good for them”. He then falls on his bed and “slept the sleep of exhaustion”. Next morning, after a good breakfast, he continues his journey. “The scenery had always been wild, but now it grew rugged in the extreme, far more savage than it had seemed from the air. On all sides towered mountains, gaunt, still white with snow”. “He might not have seen the sailors had not one of them deliberately exposed himself, making strange signals”. The man is a young officer and he says, “Me British sailor, me hungry – no food”. The man is shocked to hear Biggles reply coolly “What on earth are you doing here?” The man says they were in the trawler Seagoer, torpedoed off the coast and there are seven of them, the rest hidden in a dell. Biggles asks why they don’t go to Narvik and is told that is the last place they would go, as it is in German hands. Biggles says he thought the British had landed there but is told “The fiord is stiff with Jerry destroyers. They’ve got the town”. Biggles sees movement and spots a German soldier creeping towards them. He then sees other Germans. The sailor asks Biggles what’s wrong, having seen his face. “I’m afraid you’re out of luck, old man,” returned Biggles quietly. “We’re surrounded”. Biggles quickly tells the sailor “I’m a British spy, and I’m going to put my life in your hands. I’ve got to get back to England with vital information”. Biggles ascertains the sailor is called Bill Evans and he asks for his help. He asks Bill to put his hands up. “That will lead the Jerries to think I’ve captured you”. Biggles says they think he is a German agent. Biggles says he will come and question them later and they need to admit that a Britisher named Bigglesworth attached himself to their group, but left when he stole a dinghy and rowed out to a steamer. Biggles explains he is Bigglesworth and he needs to make it look as if he has escaped out of the country. Biggles tells Bill to act as you never acted before. “One slip and it’s a firing party for me”. “By gosh! You’ve sure got a nerve,” muttered the sailor admiringly. “I won’t let you down”. Biggles tells Bill to prime his friends about Bigglesworth but on no account let them know that it is him. “Simply tell them to remember that Bigglesworth got away on a ship – a slim fellow with fair hair”. The sailor, with his hand’s up marches to the dell where the other sailors are hidden and Biggles orders them all out. “He would have much preferred to fight side by side with them”. “At that moment the German troops sprang up and ran forward. An officer was at their head”. Biggles says, “You’ve arrived at a useful moment” and shows his Gestapo pass. (‘You’ve arrived at a useful moment,’ he said - is the illustration on page 83). He hands the prisoners over to the German soldiers then gets back into his car and drives into town. Biggles then goes to “General Head-quarters” and asks to see the officer in charge of operations. Meeting a Colonel and his adjutant, Biggles shows his Gestapo pass and explains that he is looking for an English spy named Bigglesworth, who he thinks he is there. Biggles asks to see captured British prisoners and is told they have eighteen of them. Taken by the adjutant to a small schoolroom being used as a prison camp, the prisoners are coldly hostile. “One, a leathery-faced old salt, cursed Hitler and everything German in a steady stream of invective”. Biggles glanced at him. “Shut up!” he snapped, “or I’ll give you something to curse about, Schweinehund”. Biggles walks slowly down the line of prisoners and at the seventh man, he stops dead. It was Algy.