SPITFIRE PARADE - BIGGLES AT WAR
by Captain W. E. Johns
IV. TAFFY TRUNDLES IN (Pages 68 – 81)
Biggles is discussing with Toddy, the Station Adjutant, a new posting. A man called Hughes. Flight Lieutenant Lord Bertie Lissie overhears and asks if they are referring to “Taffy Hughes the Buster?” Biggles says it is “Flying Officer J. W. Hughes of Aberystwyth” and Bertie confirms “Yes, that’s Taffy the Buster”. Biggles asks how he got the nickname. Bertie says that Hughes has “a curious knack of busting things – not that it’s always his fault”. Bertie tells a story of Taffy Hughes “busting” four Dornier 17s when they interrupted a rugby game on an aerodrome. Taffy jumped in a Spitfire and went up and got four of the German bombers. He was then shot down by a Messerschmitt 109 and borrowed a lorry to get home to finish the rugby game. Unfortunately the brakes failed and he made a hole in the officer’s mess. Bertie says that Hughes also bought a roundabout and bust that when they tried to find out how fast they could get it to go. Taffy is currently on his way from his station to his new posting at Biggles’ squadron in Kent. However, he is not flying in a direct line and attacks two German Junkers flying about five thousand feet below him. Taffy shoots down one and the other dives for home, but Taffy gets that one as well. Later, Taffy gets a Messerschmitt. Taffy then attacks five Heinkel fighters and sets the rear one on fire but is chased off by the others. Taffy escapes but the sudden vibration of his engine forces him to land in a convenient field on his way to his new squadron airfield. Nearby, some British ‘Tommies’ (soldiers) are standing by a tank. Taffy asks for some water and gets into conversation with the soldiers. He has a look inside their tank and sits in the driver’s seat. The corporal showing him the controls is called outside, leaving Taffy alone in the tank. “Just what he put his foot on he did not know. He never did know. But there was a violent explosion, and the machine jerked forward with a jolt that caused him to strike his head on a metal object behind him. At the same time the trap slammed shut with a clang”. The tank drives off at speed and there is nothing that Taffy can do about it. The tank hits a bank and a hedge but just goes straight over any obstacles. Soon he is on the aerodrome heading straight for the sheds. The tank goes over Bertie Lissie’s Morris car. “Stand clear – I can’t stop” bawled Taffy through the letter-box like slit that permits the driver a restricted view ahead. The tank enters an aircraft hangar and out the other side, narrowly missing a mechanic. The tank ends up in a concrete pit and stops. Taffy struggles to get out of the tank and seeing the C.O. (Commanding Officer) says he is reporting for duty. Biggles says “Your name, I fancy, is Hughes?” Taffy is surprised and asks how he guessed. Biggles says “I didn’t guess” with deadly sarcasm. “I knew”.
Biggles should really have had the greatest sympathy for Taffy for EXACTLY the same thing happened to him in a 5 page story – with illustrations – from issue number 336 of “The Modern Boy” (week ending 14th July 1934) entitled “Biggles and the Runaway Tank”. The story was collected in “Biggles in France” and published by the Boys’ Friend Library in issue number 501 dated 7th November 1935. This original story is effectively in two parts. It starts with Biggles insulting some Chinese workers who are attempting to build a road at his aerodrome. Then a message is dropped for Biggles from a German officer explaining that Biggles has bombed his wine cellar and he must either pay for the wine or meet the officer in the air for a duel. Biggles is persuaded it is a trap and declines to go. The next message he receives is about some mustard for his “cold feet” and Biggles is so angry that he goes and shoots the German down, over his own aerodrome. Flying back, Biggles is forced to land in a field and sees some British soldiers with a captured German tank. Biggles gets in and the tank drives off causing destruction at his own airfield. Rather than Bertie’s Morris car being destroyed, it is Mahoney’s Sopwith Camel. The chaos caused by Biggles is seen by a visiting General and Biggles ends up being reprimanded. The only good outcome is the tank has flattened the lumpy road made by the Chinese workers.