BIGGLES FOLLOWS ON
by Captain W. E. Johns
XIII. THE RAID (Pages 138 – 150)
“It was shortly after midnight, in the soft moonlight, when the Scorpion, after a long glide, brushed its keel gently on the sullen waters of the Yellow Sea within a short distance of the flat Manchurian coast”. Gimlet and his men leave in the dinghy and the dinghy then returns for Biggles and his men. Algy is to stay with aircraft and Cub is to stay with the dinghy. The march inland is wearisome as the ground is sheer marsh. The immediate objective is the ruins of a peasant’s hovel near the camp. Beyond, two lights show, the commandant’s bungalow and the radio station, which operates day and night. Gimlet, together with his comrades Copper and Trapper set off uncoiling wire from a drum as they go. They take Wung with them due to his local knowledge. Biggles, Bertie and Ginger give them a twenty-minute head start then set off themselves. Ginger checks that the Chinese sentry has been knocked unconscious by Copper whilst Biggles cuts through the two wire fences. Wung returns to inform Biggles that there appears to be some conference at the commander’s house and Biggles’s name was mentioned. A German is there and from his description, he is clearly von Stalhein. With them is a Chinese General called Kwang-Sen. They know that Biggles has left London and that British Intelligence know about the broadcasting station. Wung is sent back to join Gimlet, whilst Biggles goes to listen to the conference. Von Stalhein speaks in German, (which Biggles speaks fluently) and has an interpreter to understand the Russian and Chinese officers. Biggles hears von Stalhein say that Ross is a spy put in by British secret agent, Bigglesworth. Stresser has been made to confess everything. Von Stalhein wants action taken now, but the others, who have been drinking, wish to wait until the morning. Von Stalhein wants extra guards put on duty now and to this the Chinese General agrees. Biggles leaves, knowing he has to get to Ross urgently. He and his team enter the hut where the deserters are sleeping and Biggles turns on the light. Bertie holds the sergeant at gunpoint, whilst Biggles tells Ross to get dressed. He then says “Listen, everybody. Anyone who wants to go home will stand up. Those who want to stay, lie down – and stay down”. Two men get back into their beds (Biggles later learns they were wanted for crimes far more serious than desertion). An American soldier, called Joe Clutson, snatches Bertie’s guns from him and uses it to kill the sergeant in revenge, because the sergeant had previously murdered his friend Johnny Briggs. Clutson then hands the gun back to Bertie. “Thanks, pal,” he said simply.