BIGGLES - AIR COMMODORE
First Published in May 1937 - 255 pages
Re-published in 1994 as Biggles and the Secret Mission
Biggles is intrigued by a mystery. Supply ships have been disappearing in the Indian Ocean and before they sank they managed to broadcast a final message. In all cases, when they referred to the word "weather" it was misspelt as "whether". Biggles concludes that the same person sent the messages otherwise the coincidence would be too great. Biggles approaches Colonel Raymond, now with Scotland Yard, but formerly with the Air Intelligence staff when Biggles was in 266 squadron, to find out more information. Before he knows it, Biggles is dining in the Foreign Office and setting out his ideas about how to deal with the problem. Biggles is given a temporary commission in the Royal Air Force with the rank of Air Commodore and his plans are put into effect. A decoy supply ship has been sent out called the Bengal Star. A Royal Navy ship called the Seafret then follows this. Biggles, Algy and Ginger then follow on in an amphibian aircraft named Nemesis. The plan is too lure out whoever is attacking the British ships with the Bengal Star and then follow them to their base and launch an RAF attack on it. Things go wrong from the start when the Bengal Star is quickly torpedoed and the crew killed. Biggles manages to save one survivor called Ladgrove, although he later dies, but not before he is able to tell Biggles which direction the submarine took on leaving. Exploring in this direction, Biggles comes across a crashed plane. Algy and Ginger take off in their plane in order to send a signal to the Seafret but a hostile plane attacks them. Ginger manages to shoot it down before it gets them. Meeting up with the Seafret and Biggles, further casualties are suffered. At a council of war, Biggles catches a spy who has come from a nearby junk. Biggles leads an attack on the junk and captures it. Inside, maps are found which seem to indicate that Elephant Island may be the enemy base and the junk was taking further supplies to the Island. The junk is scuttled and its crew marooned. Biggles and Ginger set off on a recognisance mission to Elephant Island. Splitting up, Ginger discovers a submarine base hidden in a cave in a cliff whilst Biggles is pursued by hostile natives. Both Ginger and Biggles escape to rendezvous with the Seafret but it doesn't arrive. Algy arrives in the Nemesis to say that the Seafret has been torpedoed but the Captain managed to beach her to avoid her sinking. Biggles and Ginger return to investigate the submarine base and finding a supply of mines, they lay one in the entrance cave. However, they are trapped by the unexpected return of a submarine, which sets the mine off. Biggles and Ginger then have a desperate fight to get out of the enemy submarine base. Meanwhile, the RAF has been called up for an aerial attack and they bombard Elephant Island setting off the supplies of gas bombs kept there by the enemy. The base is destroyed and Biggles returns to England, his mission a success.