BIGGLES BREAKS THE SILENCE
An Adventure of Sergeant Bigglesworth, of the Special Air Police, and his comrades of the service
by Captain W. E. Johns
First printed August 1949
Page 5 carries the following short passage - "The story of the Starry Crown is one of the unsolved mysteries of the sea. This adventure is based on facts, so far as they are known, though the re-discovery of the wreck and treasure, and the characters of Biggles, his friends and enemies, are purely fictitious".
(It is interesting to note that an account of the Starry Crown is set out in 'Modern Boy' issue number 312, dated 27th January 1934, as W.E. Johns used to write numerous articles for that magazine. The article was written by T. C. Bridges (1868 - 1944) but it is likely that Johns read it and it inspired this book. Biggles Breaks the Silence was republished in 1970 as an Armada paperback (and in 1983 as a Severn House hardback) re-titled "Biggles in the Antarctic". The rear of the dust jacket of the original first edition of 'Biggles Breaks the Silence' refers to Biggles, incorrectly, as "some-time Wing Commander Bigglesworth, D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C., now Sergeant of the British Air Police”).
CONTENTS – Page 7
ILLUSTRATIONS – Page 9
I. BIGGLES HAS VISITORS (Pages 9 - 22)
Biggles is introduced as Sergeant Bigglesworth in this book. Biggles, Algy, Bertie and Ginger are in their London flat, Mount Street, Mayfair when Mrs. Symes, Biggles' housekeeper introduces two visitors. One is L.A.C. Grimes, a former aero fitter who was with Biggles squadron in the Western Desert, "the boys used to call me Grimy". He has bought his father along to see Biggles for a bit of advice. His father is a Glaswegian sailor known as 'Jumbo' Grimes (after bringing an elephant from Bombay to London zoo). Grimes Senior has a tail to tell. He was approached by a man called Lavinsky ("His nationality was a matter of guesswork ........ he spoke English well enough, although he certainly wasn't British. He mentioned one day that he was an Australian, but he didn't look like one to me") to take a Danish schooner called the "Svelt" to Chile. The real owners were two Japanese men, who Grimes called Shim and Sham as he couldn't pronounce their real names. Grimes was then asked to take the ship down to Graham Land, near the Antarctic and it turned out the crew were seal poachers. Whilst down in the Antarctic they came upon a ship frozen fast in the ice back. Lavinsky and the two owners went to investigate and when they came back, Grimes' friend Neil overhears them talking about finding a gold crown studded with diamonds, although the actual Japanese words used were "stars and crown". As they drew closer to port, Neil is murdered and Grimes has to jump ship and swim to the shore to save his own life. Biggles' visitors think there is a chance to pick up some valuable salvage but the question is how to get there. Biggles says, that one thing is for sure. Lavinsky didn't bring the crown away with him, because it was far to big for him to handle.