BIGGLES DEFIES THE SWASTIKA
by Captain W. E. Johns
XI. COMPLICATIONS (Pages 171 – 185)
“It looks as if I was not the only one who realized that this fiord would make a useful operating base” says Biggles bitterly. They speculate over what became of Ginger. The Germans might have sunk him before he could get off. He would certainly have heard them coming and by acting quickly might have got clear. From the fact that Biggles can’t see any oil on the water, he is inclined to think he got away. They discuss where Ginger would have gone and agree that sooner or later he’ll come back for them. Biggles says “Give me a minute to think”. From the west, they hear aero engines and Biggles recognises British Merlin engines. Ginger must have fetched them to bomb this place. The planes are Skuas of the Fleet Air Arm. (It was Blackburn Skuas that, in real life, attacked and sunk the German ship ‘Konigsberg’ in Bergen, Norway on 10th April 1940). The Germans have seen the planes coming and everything below is in a state of something like panic as the Germans have no time to establish an adequate defence. The German camp is bombed and strafed and soon obscured by smoke. Biggles sees Ginger’s seaplane keeping slightly apart from the rest of the attacking planes. Biggles tries to signal to Ginger but is prevented from doing so by the smoke. Biggles wonders if Ginger has already spotted them. Biggles tells Algy “You stay here in case the smoke clears, in which case he’d be more likely to see you up here than down below. I’ll go down to the water to see if he had landed. If he has I’ll dash back here and let you know”. Biggles makes for the landslide and sees the damage done by the British raid. “He noted that one of the store-ships was in flames; the other appeared to have run aground. At least five of the Dorniers had been wrecked; two had been beached, and the remaining two were taxi-ing at high speed towards the open sea”. Ginger lands and draws up to where Biggles is. “Where’s Algy?” he yells. “He’s waiting on top! shouted Biggles. “We weren’t sure if you’d spotted us. Stand fast – I’ll fetch him”. Biggles returns to get Algy. Meanwhile, at the top, Algy can hear the conversation with Ginger, “Yet, knowing the danger of departing from a fixed plan, he dared not leave the spot, for the smoke was thick around him, and there was a risk that if he started down the landslide he might pass Biggles without seeing him. If that happened than Biggles would arrive at the top only to wonder what had become of him”. Algy flings off his German greatcoat as it impedes his movements and hears someone coming, assuming it to be Biggles. Suddenly out of the smoke burst a crowd of Germans, with an officer carrying a machine gun, which is pointed straight at him. Algy puts his hands up. Biggles arrives and sees what has happened and the officer asks who he is. “As we know, Biggles was in German uniform, but as the officer had remarked, he was not one of the squadron that had been raided”. Biggles says he was just landing when the British raided, causing him to crash his aircraft against the rocks and sink his machine. Biggles asks to go with the Germans when the officer says they will have to walk to find a telephone to get in touch with head-quarters. Meanwhile, Ginger is wondering why Biggles and Algy don’t come down. He realises that something must have gone wrong. As the smoke clears, Ginger comes under rifle fire and so he has to take off. In the air, Ginger sees Biggles and Algy with the Germans and guesses what must have happened. He has no choice but to fly away, heading north. The German party, with Biggles and Algy, see a motor-cyclist storm-trooper who says he will let head-quarters know what has happened. The motor-cyclist says he is on the trail of two British spies. He says this to Biggles, who wonders why, then realises that he is the senior officer as he is in the uniform of an Oberleutnant. Biggles suggests going back to the fiord. The German Leutnant says “Haven’t your heard?” Biggles doesn’t know what he means. “Then you were not on the same job as us, that’s certain” says the German. “The Leutnant hesitated, but then went on confidentially. “Keep this to yourself,” he whispered, “but the British North Sea Fleet is sailing into a lovely trap”. The German says that their Intelligence people know that the British are going to land troops at Narvik and the British fleet will use Westfiord as a base. The fiord is now stuffed full of magnetic mines and Germans planes are concentrating at Narvik to shoot the British troops to bits. The Dornier squadron was there because they were laying the mines. Algy has overheard this conversation and both Algy and Biggles know they must get a warning to the Royal Navy and the commander of the troops bound for Narvik. Biggles says that he believes two of the German planes escaped the raid and he asks the Leutnant if they will return. When told yes, he says they should return to the fiord as the machines will enable them to get in touch with head-quarters. The Leutnant agrees. They discuss what to do with the prisoner, Algy, and agree they will either fly him up to Trondheim or send him back to Oslo. They set off back towards the fiord.