by Captain W. E. Johns


12.   CHAPTER 12 – (UNTITLED)  (Pages 142 – 151) (106 – 112)



“Ginger and Bertie went swiftly along the side of the hedge as the nearest way to the main road.  As they walked Ginger gave Bertie a crisp and concise account of what had happened during the morning.  Some distance away, through an occasional thin patch in the hedge they could see Zolton and his party taking a more direct route across the field to Lotton Hall”.  Bertie says “I wonder what Zolton will do now he knows the cat – or rather, the mail, is out of the bag”.  “If he discovers that we’ve got Varley, who might be in the mood to rat on him, he might skip out of the country” replies Ginger.  They go to Bertie’s car, in case Minnie is waiting there and then drive closer to Lotton Hall.  They see the taxi drive out of Lotton Hall and head towards London.  Ginger wonders whether Zolton is going to collect his precious drugs.  After parking, Ginger and Bertie find a gap in the hedge to get onto the property.  They are startled by the furious barking of dogs no great distance away.  Ginger says the most likely person to upset them was Minnie and all he could do against a pack of dogs was bolt.  Bertie thinks they have got someone cornered.  They advance but there is not even a tree to climb if the dogs come for them.  “You can’t do much against dogs with your bare fists” remarked Bertie.  Round the next shrubbery, they can see five or six dogs – of the Alsatian type, which have barked themselves to silence.  They are all sitting on their haunches in a rough semi-circle, all gazing in the same direction.  There is an old stable with a loft and a ladder reaching up to it from ground level.  They see Minnie stuck up in the loft.  “It’s easy to see what must have happened,” whispered Ginger.  “The dogs went for him.  Having nowhere else to go he bolted up the ladder.  Now he daren’t come down”.  Bertie says “I’m dashed if I can see what we can do about it.  Can you?  I mean to say, to go near those bow-wows would be asking for it”.  Ginger sees a man coming from the house carrying under his arm a rifle or a sporting gun.  Bertie identifies him.  “Stiffen the crows!  It’s that little rat who carries an automatic.  He’s now got some heavier artillery”.  Ginger suggests to Bertie that he goes back to the car to try to get in touch with Biggles on the nearest phone.  “He’ll have got back to the Yard some time ago.  Tell him we need help”.

“With considerable reluctance Bertie back away from”


And that is all we have.  On Friday 21st June 1968, at 8.30 am, Johns stopped writing, made a cup of tea and had a heart-attack and died that morning.  He was 75 years old.  We will never know the end of the story, although the book BIGGLES DOES SOME HOMEWORK speculates about possible endings.


It is said that Johns stopped writing in mid-sentence, but I simply don’t believe that.  You would finish your sentence before you stopped.  The line “With considerable reluctance Bertie back away from” was the last line at the very bottom of a page.  I say Johns started a new page to finish the sentence, it may have only been a couple of words.  Maybe he wrote more.  After his death, that partially written page wasn’t kept.  Only the completed pages put to one side were kept.