by Captain W. E. Johns



II.                    THE COMING OF CARRINGTON  (Pages 33 – 48)


Biggles, with his second-in-command, ‘Algy’ Lacey (Senior Flight Lieutenant on the station) is sat at his desk working on the establishment of the squadron under his command.  Biggles put Algy in charge of A Flight, with Ginger.  Biggles says he will fly with them whenever possible to fill the gap.  Lissie will take B Flight, with Ferris and O’Hara.  They will have to leave C Flight for the time being.  Algy suggests putting Carrington in his flight, when he arrives.  In bad weather, a Spitfire arrives in an unconventional way, banking so low as to risk the aircraft.  A few minute later Pilot Officer Carrington is introduced, hatless and chewing gum.  The man has a suspicion of a Cockney accent.  He gives his first name as Tug and Biggles queries whether that really is his name.  It is, given to him by his father a Port of London tug master.  Tug was a Flyweight boxer and he is surly and aggressive in this initial interview.  Biggles ticks him off about the way he landed.  “What I handle, whether it’s women, dogs, or planes, I handle rough; then there’s no argument as to who’s boss” muttered Tug grimly.  “In the end we get on better that way”.  Algy takes Tug to the mess to where he meets Bertie, Tex and Ferocity and he almost gets in a fight with Bertie after Bertie remarks “Good heavens, what’s this?” to Tug, following Tug posing in the style of a professional boxer.  “Had that remark of yours anything to do with me? asked Tug quietly.  “My dear old top,” murmured Bertie.  “Don’t tell me you’re looking for trouble?”.  Algy calms things down, but Tug says “I don’t take lip from anybody”.  Tug is against alcohol and when he orders a glass of milk with a dash of soda in it, the others smile.  The palpable tension is relieved when the airfield is unexpectedly attacked by a Junkers bomber. Tug is first out and into his Spitfire.  A death defying take-off and some mad flying gets him into a position where he can – and does – shoot the Junkers down.  (As straight as an arrow sped the Spitfire, straight towards the Junkers – is the illustration on page 47).  Tug lands to the admiration of all who watched him.  Biggles invites him to the mess for a drink.  Tug asks for a glass of barley water.  This time nobody is smiling.


This chapter was originally a 6 page story – with illustrations – from the October 1939 edition of “Air Stories” entitled ‘“Hard Case” Carrington’.  The differences in the original story are these.  Firstly, the original story was a First World War story rather than a Second World War story.  It is set at 321 Squadron, R.F.C. and “Mac”Maclaren is in the ‘Algy’ role and CO. Major Smith-Norton is in the Biggles role.  Carrington arrives in the same style but this time in a S.E.5 and it is a Cockney Second-Lieutenant Tug Carrington who reports for duty.  Maclaren takes Tug to meet the other men and it is an Indian Army officer seconded to the R.F.C. by the name of Norman who remarks “My God! What is the service coming to?” instead of Bertie.  The story then continues in a different vein. Rather than being bombed and Carrington jumping into his aircraft to shoot down the bomber, Carrington has a suggestion how to catch the Germans when they are not expecting it.  He says they will be patrolling up and down, waiting for the British to come over.  If you wait for a few hours, they will have a crack at other things such as balloons and trenches.  Then, when they set off home, tired and low on fuel and ammunition, that is the time to attack them.  The Squadron follows Tug’s idea and manage to shoot down half a dozen German planes.  Returning to their aerodrome, Tug is invited for a drink and has ginger beer.  “He glanced suspiciously round the company – but nobody was smiling”.  This story can also be found in the May 1941 edition of Air Training Corps Gazette where it is abridged from the Spitfire Parade book version.  Most of Biggles long conversation with Tug is removed.