BIGGLES DEFIES THE SWASTIKA
by Captain W. E. Johns
XIII. FRESH PLANS (Pages 201 – 216)
“To say that Biggles was shaken would be to put it mildly, yet on second thoughts he perceived that the fact that Ginger was in the other machine made little or no difference to the situation. He could not hope to be recognised at the distance which separated the aircraft”. Biggles has to get away and he goes to take off, but looking up at Ginger’s aircraft, Biggles sees a line of specks approaching. Ginger, intent only on his quarry has allowed himself to be surprised by a German patrol. Biggles will have to place his aircraft between Ginger and the approaching Germans and hope that Ginger sees them. However, the approaching planes are eight Messerschmitt 110s and they attack Ginger before Biggles can do anything. Biggles lands to watch the end of the affair. Ginger’s aircraft has black smoke pouring from the engine and at two thousand feet, Ginger parachutes out. Biggles is soon taxi-ing to where Ginger will land. Grabbing his parachute fabric, Biggles “seemed to be hauling for an eternity before Ginger appeared, puffing and blowing like a grampus” (A grampus is a dolphin like sea creature). “Biggles never forgot the expression on Ginger’s face” when he eventually sees him. Biggles waves to the Messerschmitts, which he hopes will be construed as thanks for saving him and that their assistance it now longer needed. They fly away to the south. Biggles glances to the shore and sees a solitary figure standing on the edge of the cliff that can only be Schaffer. Biggles waved a friendly greeting and Schaffer waved back. Ginger asks if he is waving to Algy but Biggles says no, it’s a friend of his. Biggles explains that Algy is a prisoner of the Boche. Biggles tells Ginger they have two things to do. “First, get a message to the Admiralty. Second, get Algy out of the clutches of the Nazis”. Biggles explains to Ginger the trap into which the British fleet are steaming. Biggles tells Ginger to put him ashore, then Ginger can fly off and warn the British fleet. “How am I going to get near the fleet in this swastika-painted kite? They’ll shoot me to bits as soon as I show up”. “That’s a little problem you’ll have two work out for yourself,” declared Biggles. “But I think your best plan would be to locate the fleet, and then land on the water somewhere ahead, with your prop stopped. They won’t shoot at you if they think you’re disabled, and they’ll certainly pick you up”. Biggles asks Ginger to fly him twenty miles up the coast. Ginger then lands, taxies to a natural wharf and drops Biggles off, so he can land dry-shod. Ginger flies off and twilight falls, but Ginger can’t find the fleet. He eventually runs out of petrol and is forced to land on the sea. “He felt that he had let Biggles down; that he had let everyone down”. It must have been approaching midnight when Ginger hears the dull methodical beat of a heavy engine, but whether it is a British or German ship, Ginger has no way of knowing. Ginger lets out a hail – and hears an answer – in English, to his relief. Ginger is taken aboard a trawler and his German aircraft is taken in tow. Ginger is taken to a cabin to see two officers, one of which is the captain. Ginger pours out his story of the German trap and also describes the German base now in Fiord 21. Ginger is given some refreshment and whilst eating this meal, he is flung across the cabin by a fearful explosion which takes him completely unawares. Instantly all the lights go out. Ginger makes his way to the deck but finds water swirling round his legs. The doomed vessel lurches and there is a great hissing of steam. Ginger jumps in the sea and swims for it, in order to place as much distance as possible between himself and the sinking vessel. (‘He started swimming as fast as he could’ - is the illustration on page 215). “Whether he swam into the submarine, or whether it rose up under him, he never knew”. Exhaustion and shock reduce him to a state of semi-consciousness. “In a dreamy sort of way he was aware of hands clutching at his jacket, and dragging him up. What happened after that he did not know”.