Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

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Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:01

When I started writing this, it was only ever intended as a short snippet but - like Topsy, it just "growed and growed". It also meant I got the chance to do to Biggles what I've been wanting to do for months. Regular forum members will spot the liberty I have taken.

A big thank you too to the forum members who helped, and especially those whom I badgered about technical details. If I have not taken their advice it is because I chose to take the easy way out and 'fudge' it.


*****

It was a bright cold day, and the clock was striking thirteen. To the townspeople, in whose church the errant clock resided, it was a bad omen and many looked up fearfully, one or two even crossing themselves. To the two German officers seated in a jeep in the town square, it was an unwelcome diversion from their planned itinerary. They were just about to go into the local cafe for a taste of the excellent fish dishes it was famous for, but any unusual occurrence would have to be investigated and this definitely qualified as an unusual occurrence. To the two men lying huddled under a dripping hedge, however, the extra chime was a relief.

"That's it," one of the airmen said, a Squadron Leader by the rank on the sleeve of his Royal Air Force uniform. "You've got half-an-hour."

The other, a Pilot Officer with bright, red hair, rose onto his knees from a lying position and cautiously peered up and down the field. "Okay, Chief," he answered doubtfully, "only - are you sure you'll be all right?" and he indicated the other's foot, the ankle of which appeared to be very swollen and puffy above the shoe.

"Get on with it," snarled Biggles at Ginger. "We'll be in an even bigger mess if you're not back before Algy comes."

For answer Ginger merely nodded, stuck a woollen ski hat on his head to cover his distinctive hair, adjusted the boiler suit he wore over his uniform, placed his hand briefly on Biggles' shoulder and then crouching low, dashed to his left, keeping his head below the hedge.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:02

Only twenty-four hours earlier Biggles had been sitting behind his desk at Rawlham, completing some of the endless reports that were the lot of a Commanding Officer of a fighter squadron during wartime. His second-in-command and closest friend, Flight-lieutenant the Honourable Algernon Montgomery Lacey, or Algy, as he preferred to be known, sat opposite him, giving him a hand.

Biggles looked up as a brief knock on the door heralded the entrance of Toddy, the Station Adjutant. "The Air Commodore's just pulled up," He informed Biggles, grimacing a little.

Biggles sighed. "I thought things were too quiet," he murmured. "Okay Toddy, show him in."

The Air Commodore entered, removed his hat, sat in the seat Algy had just vacated and threw his gloves onto the desk. He looked weary, as if he'd been up all night, which, in fact, he had.

"No, don't go, Lacey," were his first words as Algy prepared to depart. "No doubt you'll be involved in what I'm about to tell Bigglesworth, so you may as well stay."

Biggles looked at his senior officer carefully. He recognized the signs of an all-nighter only too well.

"Would you like some coffee, sir?" he asked, walking over to the door.

Air Commodore Raymond accepted the offer gratefully. Cigarettes were lit, and chairs drawn up around Biggles desk. Raymond leaned back in his chair, took a long draw of his cigarette, eyes closed as if marshalling his thoughts. The others waited expectantly. A minute or so later, he opened his eyes and looked at his best operative.

"Three days ago," he began, "two Norwegian school teachers who were trying to make their way to Britain via Sweden were captured near Skien. Skien is, or was, the administrative centre of Telemark and I don't need to tell you, gentlemen, what has happened there in the recent past." **In the brief silence that followed this remark, there was a brief knock at the door. Toddy entered with the coffee and it wasn't until he left again, carrying Biggles' completed reports, that Raymond next spoke.

"The day before yesterday, we had a signal from the Norwegian Resistance. This signal confirmed our worst fears. The two men were shot by the Gestapo. They had been tortured first, to make them reveal the whereabouts of certain papers they had been carrying." He took a sip of coffee and looked from Biggles to Algy and back again. "Knowing they couldn't evade capture they hid the package in the bole of a tree. Not very original, I know," he said, "but all that was available at the time. It wasn't long before the Gestapo got the information they wanted. One of the men revealed everything." He saw Biggles frown and went on, "What you have to remember is that these men were not professional soldiers. True, they were very patriotic but that didn't help them and we know that under severe torture any man will break eventually and these two were teachers, after all. But all that is academic now."

"What were they carrying?" Biggles asked, after a short pause.

Raymond hesitated. "We're very lucky," he said slowly. "The two men had volunteered to carry a sealed package to England but they did not know the contents."

"But if the Gestapo know of the whereabouts of the package, then they'll now know what's in it," Algy remarked.

The Air Commodore smiled briefly. "No, they don't. When they got to where the teachers had hidden the package it was no longer there." He held up his hand. "Allow me to continue. They had been spotted by a resistance member hiding the package. The man waited until it was safe and lifted it. He took it to his cell leader. Realising perhaps that it might have some significance, we were notified last night by the Resistance of its current whereabouts."

"And you'd like me to get that package, I suppose?" Biggles asked shrewdly.

"Well, yes," Raymond said frankly. "Your name was the first one to crop up."

"I'll bet it was," Biggles murmured softly. He sighed. "Right, sir, let's have the details."

"The main reason why your name was at the top of the list, Bigglesworth, is the fact that you speak Norwegian, enough at any rate, for the needs of this operation," Raymond said with a little asperity. "We have no time to get anybody else who does, and who has the skills necessary for a successful conclusion." He took another sip of his coffee and pulled from the breast pocket of his tunic what looked like a map. He placed this on the desk but let his hand rest on it without attempting to spread it out.

"I must tell you that the timing of this mission is out of our hands. We have to work around what we have been given. He looked from Biggles to Algy and then proceeded to unfold the map. "You have a thirty minute window tomorrow to collect the package, otherwise it will be destroyed and those two teachers will have died in vain, and many more may die."

Biggles' and Algy's eyebrows shot up at the word 'tomorrow' , but all Biggles said, was "Sir, what exactly is in the package?" and looked directly at the Air Commodore, who fidgeted.

"Strictly speaking, Bigglesworth, you don't need to know," he began, but encountering a certain look on Biggles' face he capitulated with a sigh, playing with the edge of the map under his hand.

"After Telemark** the Norwegian Resistance was virtually non-existent, those members who survived the subsequent reprisals going into hiding. Almost everything that had been built up in that region since the occupation was destroyed. The reconstruction has been slow and only now is it at the stage it was before Telemark. The package contains vital information about the new structure. Safe houses, contacts, drop points - but you get the picture." He waved a hand vaguely in the air.

"Tomorrow evening a battalion of SS troops is due to arrive in Skien. Why, we don't know - yet. That need not concern you, but the package has to be picked up or it will be destroyed, for obvious reasons."

Biggles grimaced but said nothing as evidently the Air Commodore hadn't finished. He spread the map out and stabbed at it with a forefinger. "This is your drop point. You will parachute in and make your way to - here." He traced a short route on his map. "It's a barn, only a matter of a couple of miles away. You can lay up there until it's time and it's where you'll find what you need." He shifted his forefinger again. "On the edge of the town is a baker's - Svendsen. You will collect the package from there. This is where your Norwegian comes in, Bigglesworth. You will go into the baker's and ask for a certain type of loaf - a huset brød. It means House Bread, which I am informed is a er...specialty of the establishment. The package will be baked into the loaf you will be handed. For added security there are certain other things to be taken into consideration but we can go into that later."

"You said there was only a thirty minute window," Biggles pointed out. "How will we know when that window is?"

The Air Commodore's mouth twitched a little. "Are you superstitious, Bigglesworth?" He gave a little laugh at the expression on Biggles' face. "No, no need to answer. You will know because the local church clock will chime thirteen times."

** At the outbreak of World War II, the Vemork hydroelectric plant at Rjukan in Telemark, Southern Norway was the only facility in Europe that produced heavy water (used in nuclear fusion) in large-scale volumes. Between 1942 and 1944 there were attempts by the Norwegians to sabotage the production and transport of this heavy water with serious reprisals by the Germans on the local population.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:03

After the Air Commodore left there was a period of frantic activity. Facilities had been provided for them at RAF Montrose, an aerodrome on the North-East coast of Scotland, ideally situated for flights into Norway. Biggles, in spite of his pre-occupation with the mission, was looking forward to visiting this particular station. It was, he explained, at this station that the very first operational military airfield in Britain had been established back in 1913 and taken over by the RFC. Now a training station, it nevertheless had the facilities available for Biggles' needs and he wasted no time in flying the Squadron up en masse.

Algy and Biggles, being the first in, had waited until the whole squadron had landed before making their way over to the Squadron Office. There was a sharp wind blowing directly off the North Sea. The sky was grey and as Biggles looked around he detected an air of depression which seemed to pervade the whole airfield.

Tug ran to catch them up, his cap and goggles swinging from one hand. There appeared to be something on his mind. "What a depressing place," he remarked, mirroring Biggles' thoughts. "Skipper, have you heard? Toddy tells me this station is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Britain," and he rolled his eyes, his tone light and scoffing.

"I don't know about the station," Biggles said evenly, "but if I see you land your Spitfire like that again, a certain part of your anatomy will be haunted by the toe of my boot."

***

Biggles wasted no time in gathering the squadron together for a briefing. There had been no time before they left Rawlham and he knew they would be wondering what was afoot. He went over the mission with them as Raymond had laid it out, omitting only the contents of the package.

"Because it's such short notice," he began, "we have had to abide by whatever setup the Norwegian Resistance have made. There simply hasn't been the time to confer. So, here is the plan. Algy and I have gone over it with a fine-tooth comb but if you spot a flaw say so. I'd rather have an upset now than in the field."

With the aid of a map pinned to the wall Biggles went over the plan as Raymond had done. Algy was to fly Biggles and Ginger over to Skien arriving at the drop zone at first light and return at the appointed time to the pickup zone to collect them. He would take Tug as his copilot. B Flight, led by Bertie, would fly escort in their Spitfires and offer cover whilst Algy was on the ground, the most vulnerable time. Angus, with the remaining pilots, would remain at a thousand feet higher, ready to pick off any enemy aircraft that might be about.

"That's about it," Biggles concluded after courses had been planned, checked and double-checked. "Just remember though, that you'll only have sufficient fuel for about five minutes over Skien before you have to return, so nurse your engines on the way there. Any questions?"

No one had and the meeting broke up with Biggles remarking that he saw no reason why the drop, at least, shouldn't go without a hitch.
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:04

The drop had indeed gone without a hitch, small amounts of flak notwithstanding. These didn't worry Algy, he was too high for that, although he did ask Tug, who was navigating, to note the positions so he could alter his course a fraction to avoid them on his return when he would be flying much lower.

Biggles and Ginger had stepped out into the void which had a very distinct cold chill to it. They floated down to land on soft, springy turf, to find the temperature was only marginally warmer. The sun had risen in a cloudless blue sky, but it had obviously been raining for the ground felt soggy underneath and the trees and hedges were dripping. Biggles hoped it would warm up a bit when the sun had had a chance to do its work.

They quickly got out of their harnesses and rolling their parachutes into balls, tucked them under their arms and carried them as instructed to the barn which was to be their refuge for the next few hours. Within forty-five minutes they had reached the barn, a long, low structure standing on its own some three hundred yards from a cluster of other farm buildings. Once inside they lost no time in hiding the parachutes as instructed behind some bales of hay. Two nails hammered into the wooden wall held two boiler suits and two woollen ski hats. Below them, on a crate, were a metal can containing coffee, two tin mugs, and some bread and cheese. A handful of small change in Norwegian Krøner, a packet of Norwegian cigarettes and matches inside the pockets of the boiler suits completed the haul.

Biggles stuck his cigarette case inside his tunic and opened the Norwegian packet. He grimaced a little at the unfamiliar taste as he lit the cigarette but was pleased at the attention to detail. He could now have a cigarette in public without raising an alarm. The coffee was lukewarm, but welcome, as was the bread and cheese.

Biggles looked at his watch. "We've got a couple of hours or so before we need to think about moving; you can have a kip," he told Ginger. "I'll keep watch," and he sat down on a convenient bale near the door where he could see the approach through the rough slats.

Two hours later he shook Ginger awake. His watch told him it was eleven o'clock and it was time to move, to get closer, ready to act when the signal came, so he and Ginger had the last of the coffee, now cold, and got into their boiler suits, both tucking their hats into their pockets. They had a last look around to make sure nothing incriminating, apart from their parachutes, had been left, opened the barn door carefully and looked outside. There was no one around, so he beckoned Ginger and they both stepped outside, making directly for the hedge which ran at right angles from the back of the barn.

They had been walking for perhaps thirty minutes, using hedges as cover whenever possible and had made good time. Ahead Biggles could see a couple of buildings which he knew were the first of the houses that marked the beginning of the town. Two large trees stood by a wooden gate about two hundred yards ahead. He turned to Ginger.

"This is where we wait," He said, pointing to the trees. "The bakery is only about ten minutes away. Come on." He turned and strode forward. The next second, he stumbled and fell and a cry of pain broke from his lips.

Ginger dashed forward. "Biggles, Biggles, what is it?" he asked urgently, looking around, fearing that Biggles might have been shot, although he had heard nothing.

"My ankle," Biggles hissed through gritted teeth, struggling to sit up. "Rabbit hole - I think," and he clutched at his right foot. Ginger looked. There indeed was a rabbit hole. But what made him gasp was the sight of Biggles' foot, already beginning to swell over the edge of his shoe. Ginger's first instinct was to remove the shoe but even as he realised the folly of this Biggles was struggling to his feet. "Help me to get under cover," he said, putting his right arm over Ginger's shoulders.

They made it to the cover of the trees and the thick hedge which grew up either side and in between them, Biggles biting his lip with pain. He sank down thankfully and forced his way under the hedge between the trees, wincing with pain. Ginger followed, twitching a little as little droplets of water dripped onto his face and down the back of his neck. But the hedge here was particularly thick and the ground thankfully was dry.

Biggles wriggled around until he was in a comfortable position. Ginger looked at him. "Well Chief, what do we do now?" and he nodded at Biggles' very swollen ankle.

"You, my lad, are going to have a crash course in Norwegian," Biggles told him calmly.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:04

Ginger goggled at him. "But.." he began, only to be unceremoniously cut short.

"We don't have any alternative," Biggles said, indicating his foot with a wave of his hand. "I can't go. I'll stick out like a sore thumb with this and I'd be bound to draw attention to us. And," he added by way of a clincher, "if anything went wrong, I wouldn't be able to run. I'd just be a liability. So pin your ears back and listen very carefully."

For the next fifteen minutes Biggles went through the few Norwegian phrases he thought Ginger would need and made him repeat them ad nauseum. They consisted of the few words necessary to ask for the bread and the common courtesies of "Good morning" or "Good afternoon." For the rest, Ginger would have to rely on his wits.

Biggles glanced at his watch. He could expect the signal any time. "Now, just once more."

Ginger sighed and repeated the phrases as best he could. There was silence for a moment when he had finished and he wished he could get it over with. The waiting was always the hardest part. He looked out from under the hedge. It was a bright cold day, and the clock was striking thirteen.

*****

Ginger looked up and down the track. There was no one coming so he vaulted over the gate and, hands in pockets, strolled towards the outskirts of the town in what he hoped was a casual manner. It was a ten minute stroll to the bakery and he was so preoccupied with repeating the phrases he would need that he failed to notice a man standing on the opposite side of the road staring at him, his eyes following Ginger down the street.

Ginger entered the bakery cautiously. He hoped that at this hour it would be almost empty, the morning rush over. He was correct. There were only two people in, and Ginger stood in line waiting for his turn. He looked at the virtually empty shelves, and he wondered whether the shelves were ever full. He knew only to well how the German occupying forces stripped the country bare.

Keeping his head bowed to avoid conversation, Ginger shuffled forward. When it was his turn he looked directly at the girl behind the counter and uttered the unfamiliar words. She said nothing but reached out behind her and took a lone loaf from the bottom shelf. Wordlessly, she handed him the loaf, keeping her eyes on him all the time. There was a sudden 'ting' as the shop door opened and a German officer walked in. He took no notice of Ginger, however, but walked straight over to the proprietor, a short, rather flabby man, and began to harangue him in Norwegian.

Ginger put down some money, trying to appear casual, but his heart was racing. He would have liked to have left the shop as quickly as possible without waiting for his change but knew that might be suspicious. The girl, however, merely picked up some coins, pushed the remainder in his direction and turned her back. Ginger left as slowly as he dared.

Once outside, he walked briskly back in the direction he had just come. His mind now was on only one thing. How to get Biggles to the rendezvous with Algy. They were to return to the barn to hide before setting out on the last leg, a four miles walk to the only field suitable for an aircraft and Ginger doubted if Biggles could do it.

He had just reached the end of the houses and turned left down the track when someone pulled viciously on his arm, jerking him backwards. As a voice spoke in his ear he felt the tip of a knife pressed to his back.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:05

The voice hissed in English."The bread is not good in these sad times." Ginger froze, his mind dragged from thoughts of getting Biggles away to the unwelcome present.

A slight pressure was put on the knife which seemed to be uncomfortably close to his right kidney. Ginger forced himself to focus and after only a slight hesitation he was able to reply calmly. "But if it is all we have we must eat it."

As Ginger had given the correct response to the question asked he fully expected the knife to be removed. It wasn't. Instead, he was asked another question. "Who are you?"

This was a question Ginger didn't really want to answer but he reasoned that if the man with the knife was an enemy, who, or rather, what he was, would be discovered soon enough, so he gave the only information he was obliged to give, his name, rank and number. The effect it had on his interlocutor was immediate.

There was a muttered imprecation and the knife was removed from his back. He was spun around, but found the tip of the knife now held at his throat as the front of his boiler suit was ripped open. The wings above his left breast pocket told their own story and the knife was removed.

"I am sorry." The knife was lowered and a man moved into Ginger's field of vision. He perceived a middle-aged man with bright blue eyes and blond hair, with a face weathered by the sun, wearing an old threadbare jacket over an equally threadbare fairisle sweater with patched corduroy trousers. There were lines around his eyes and an air of resignation about him which sat at odds with his actions of a few moments before. "You are not at all like the man we have a description of. The one who was supposed to pick up this." And he pointed to the loaf Ginger was still clutching, putting away his knife as he did so.

Ginger let out a breath of relief. "That would be my C.O." He waved an arm down the track. "He has hurt his ankle, either a break or sprain, I'm not sure which. He cannot walk. I was just wondering ..." Ginger suddenly stopped. He had no idea how much he should be saying. His companion seemed to guess what was going through Ginger's mind, for he took him by the arm and propelled him down the path. "My name is Erik. We will go to see your officer," he said decisively. "I am charged with making sure this does not fall into the wrong hands," and he once more he waved at the loaf.

Together and silently they walked down the track and as Ginger approached the gate near which he had left Biggles he whistled softly. There was no answering reply.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:05

Ginger whistled again. Still no reply. Worried now, he crept along the track past the gate a little, followed by Erik, until he was behind where Biggles should be. Suddenly a pair of small legs appeared dangling in the air, to his right, clad in patched and ragged trousers. A pair of very scuffed boots were on the feet at the end of the legs. Ginger stepped back, startled, but the legs suddenly waggled a bit and dropped lower, to reveal their owner. A boy of perhaps ten years old, hanging from a tree branch above him, giggled as he dropped to the ground. The boy looked at Ginger curiously but addressed Erik. As the conversation was in Norwegian, Ginger could only wait impatiently. After a minute or so, Erik placed his hand on the young boy's head. "This is Hartwig, my nephew," he explained. "Your officer is with his father, my brother. Come, it isn't far."

As they walked Erik explained that Hartwig was returning home with his father, kicking an old ball. The ball had gone into the hedge. Hartwig had scrambled in to find it and had come across Biggles on the other side, who had been holding a revolver. Naturally, seeing a young boy, Biggles had lowered the weapon, and spoke to him in Norwegian. Hartwig's father, seeing Biggles' swollen ankle and being a member of the Norwegian Resistance, had put two and two together and insisted on taking Biggles to his house only a short distance away. Hartwig had been left to guide Ginger to his father's house.

Five minutes later, Ginger was reunited with Biggles. Biggles was sitting in the large kitchen, his foot being dressed by a man so similar to Erik in appearance that Ginger realised it must be his brother. His name was Orveld and he was the local vet.

Biggles, his face marginally less ashen and drawn now, accepted gratefully the offer of a simple lunch of bread and soup. Having already established his host's credentials, he maintained they would have to be on their way, as every minute in the house increased the danger to the occupants. Orveld glanced at Erik , who nodded.

"You will never make it to the field," he told Biggles, inclining his head towards Biggles' heavily bandaged ankle. "If you do not get out now, you never will. A battalion of SS troops will be stationed here by nightfall. I have a horse and cart in which I do my rounds. There is a farm I visit close by your rendezvous. I will go now. You will have to lie low nearby but that cannot be helped." He turned to Hartwig and spoke to him quietly. The boy nodded and disappeared.

Biggles, meanwhile, had torn the loaf apart and removed the package which he handed to Ginger. "If anything goes wrong, anything at all, you are to try and get away. That package must reach England. Don't wait for me, is that clear?" He looked Ginger straight in the eye. "And that's an order."

"Yes, Chief," Ginger grunted. He had guessed Biggles would say something like this and was determined to find some way around that order. No way was he leaving Biggles alone injured in occupied territory.

Biggles, with Ginger's assistance, made his way to the yard at the rear of the house. Hartwig was standing holding the reins of a very old horse, which stood patiently in between the shafts of a cart that, like the horse, looked as though it had seen better days.

Biggles was helped into the cart, Ginger following. They lay down on the old boards. Ginger wrinkled his nose. Judging by the smell and the remains of old straw and dung on the floor, it had been used to clear out a stable. An old canvas was thrown over them. A few seconds later, they felt the cart lurch and the journey began.

The journey was even more uncomfortable than Biggles had expected. it was also somewhat longer than four miles as the cart could not of course, go across country. Even when the cart was on a road, it still jerked from side to side alarmingly, but when it went off the road onto some unknown track it also jolted up and down continually. Biggles thought he was lying on something, a stone perhaps, but no matter how much he wriggled he could still feel it. Once the cart stopped and Biggles heard the driver being questioned, and he and Ginger held their breaths until the cart resumed it's lumbering journey.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:06

Finally, two hours later, the cart stopped and the canvas was thrown back. Orveld spoke softly. "Here we are. I cannot take you any further." Biggles and Ginger climbed out stiffly and saw they were at a fork in the track they had been bouncing over for the last twenty minutes. Orveld pointed to the right hand track. "That is your way. The field is about half a kilometre down on the right. You will see a broken gate tied with string. Please retie it when you are through. Had you walked from Skien you would have approached it from the opposite side." He handed Biggles a walking stick. "Here, this should help. Do not leave it, though. Make sure it goes with you. You had better go now."

He shook hands with them both and brushed aside Biggles' and Ginger's profuse thanks. "God speed," he told them as he climbed up onto the cart again and flicked the horse's reins, moved off down the left-hand fork.

They proceeded slowly on their way, keeping an eye all the while on their surroundings and prepared to dive for cover should anyone appear. It took them twenty minutes to cover the half kilometre, although Biggles refused to rest his ankle. There would be time enough for that when they reached the field, he had said.

Biggles also refused to have the gate opened on the grounds it might be noticed so he scrambled over it with the help of Ginger who vaulted over with ease. Using the hedgerows as cover they made their way to the agreed spot and settled down, once more under the hedgerow. Biggles looked at his watch. Biggles turned to Ginger. "We've a few hours before we can expect Algy," he said quietly. "Remember what I said earlier."

Ginger looked at Biggles carefully. Although he tried to hide it it was obvious he was in pain. His mouth was pinched and he winced when he moved his foot even slightly. Ginger could only hope the pick-up would go without a hitch. "Your turn to get some shut-eye," he told Biggles bluntly. "I'll wake you if I need to," and turning the collar of his boiler suit up, he turned slightly away, hugging his knees.

Biggles' mouth twitched a little at this show of assertion. He was tired and he doubted if he could sleep, but he lay back as best he could and closed his eyes.

In spite of his misgivings Biggles fell into a doze until he was shaken awake three hours later by Ginger. It was now dusk, one or two stars twinkling in the deep blue of the sky.

Ginger leant over him and whispered "I've just seen some lights - over there, on the other side at the end. I think I heard a vehicle." Biggles struggled out from under the hedge and looked in the direction in which Ginger was pointing.

Even as they looked, a second set of lights appeared, then a third and a fourth and the distant sound of vehicles drifted over to the listening airmen. They continued to watch the vehicles. Two carried on across the field and, as they reached the hedge on the opposite side, they were reversed so their headlights shone across the field they had just traveresed. The engines were turned off and the headlights extinguished. The other two vehicles had peeled off to the left and right of the gate they had just entered and these too were reversed up against the hedge before their engines and lights were turned off also. Silence reigned.

Ginger and Biggles looked at each other, horrified. The presence of vehicles could only mean one thing. A trap had been set. Even as that thought entered Biggles' brain it was swiftly followed by another. Had he not sprained his ankle and they were able to adhere to their original plan they would have blundered right into it. The Norwegian underground had a traitor in their midst.

But what far outweighed any of this was the fact that any time soon, Algy would be across. And with the moon only just on the wane and as bright as any spotlight he would land right into the trap. Biggles would have said he wasn't superstitious but the fact that the date was the thirteenth did nothing to lighten his thoughts.

Biggles suddenly cocked his head and Ginger knew that he had picked up the unmistakable hum that denoted a gliding aeroplane. A second later, he too, heard it and he turned to Biggles. Biggles' face was grim. "There's nothing we can do," he stated baldly. "Things are liable to get hot," he added. "I hope Bertie's on the ball. Now let's get into position."

They positioned themselves at a point where Biggles estimated Algy would come to a stop. They watched as the plane made a complete circuit before Algy committed himself to a landing.
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:07

The very second the wheels touched the ground the headlights on the four vehicles came on, lighting the field from both sides and the staccato chatter of several machine guns opened up. The plane rumbled on, committed now, bullets pinging against the fuselage. Ginger and Biggles watched helplessly, willing the machine to get beyond the deadly hail of bullets.

Unfortunately, as the machine rumbled past, the jeeps pulled out behind it, two either side, their speed increasing even as that of the plane decreased. Soldiers leaning out of the windows kept up the deadly hail.

"Now," Biggles hissed and pushed Ginger forward. "Go!"

Ginger knew better than to argue, so he merely nodded and ran. The plane came to a halt about a hundred yards ahead and he ran, reaching into his pocket as he did so. The fuselage door opened and Algy appeared, beckoning urgently. Ginger's arm went up and forward, the package sailed through the air and caught an unsuspecting Algy in the midriff.

Ginger wheeled round and as he ran back to Biggles he heard the sweet sound of Merlin engines. The noise increased, joining with the sound of the guns but he ran on, keeping low. He was vaguely aware of a short, sharp burst of browning machine guns and one of the jeeps burst into flames even as a Spitfire roared overhead.

"Good old Bertie," he muttered even as he dodged the bullets flying his way.

A second Spitfire followed and a second vehicle went the way of the first. By now the occupants of the remaining two jeeps were tumbling out and running towards them, machine guns in their hands. Ginger was vaguely aware now of Spitfires circling around, but he ignored all the chaos and reaching Biggles, grabbed him, hauling one arm around his shoulder and his other arm around Biggles' waist. Meanwhile, Algy, suddenly grasping the situation, leapt out of the plane and hurried towards them. He went to Biggles' other side and the two of them virtually lifted Biggles off his feet and ran towards the plane. Reaching it Ginger clambered in and leaned forward to haul Biggles in. Algy pushed Biggles into Ginger's hands and put out his arms to haul himself into the plane. There was the sound of a shot from close range and Algy cried out and fell back.

Ginger looked aghast, then scrambling over Biggles, leapt out and grabbed Algy, helping him to his feet, ducking as bullets winged past his head. He pushed him up and through the doorway, throwing himself on top. As he heard Biggles yell " Tug, get us out of here," he turned to close the door and discovered his hands were slippery with blood.

Even as the machine roared forward Biggles was taking stock. "Ginger, man the rear turret," he cried and then shuffled forward, his eyes staring at the blood stain spreading outward on Algy's tunic. To his intense relief, however, Algy was struggling to sit up. His face was pale but he managed to grin at Biggles. "Phew! That was a bit hectic." He looked at Biggles' heavily bandaged foot. "What happened to you?" he went on, but his question ended on a hiss of pain as he attempted to pull himself to his feet.

"Only a sprain," Biggles said dismissively. "Stay still, Algy, for God's sake. You've been shot and it looks like you're still bleeding."

Don't I know it," Algy retorted, a little breathlessly. "It's only my shoulder. It didn't catch anything vital, but I rather think the bullet's still in it." He sniffed, wrinkling his nose. "Did you happen to fall in a midden?"

Biggles, looking around for the first aid kit, grinned. "No, but it might as well have been. Yet another dry-cleaning job Raymond can pay for. Now, sit still and let's have a look at that shoulder of yours." With difficulty Algy's tunic was removed, a dressing applied to his wound and his arm put in a sling. When he had done all he could Biggles sat back.

"I think we can safely leave things to Bertie and Angus now," he said. "I wonder if Raymond will meet us?"
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Fairblue » 25 Jan 2015, 01:08

The nursing sister at the hospital had never before had such an illustrious visitor but she had her patients well-being to think about. "I'm sorry, sir, but they are supposed to have complete rest." Air Commodore Raymond looked down at her, and smiled. "I promise I won't be long, sister. If I know those two I strongly suspect they're not very good patients. Five minutes?"

Sister gave a tight smile but she was no match for a man in uniform who was used to command. "Five minutes, no more," she said and lead him through a set of double swing doors.

Biggles and Algy, lying in beds side by side at the far end of the ward, watched him approach.

"No grapes," Algy whispered. "You'd have thought that was the least he could do."

"Don't you know there's a war on?" Biggles chided jokingly, struggling to sit up. His lower leg was in plaster and in a sling which was suspended from the ceiling at the end of his bed. His ankle was broken, Orveld's understandably rough diagnosis missing the small fracture at his ankle bone. The worst aspect of this, as far as Biggles was concerned was the fact that he was grounded for at least six weeks.

"I shouldn't complain," Algy had said when he had been told. "Raymond will be unable to send you on any more crazy missions for a while."

"Well old son, you're in the same boat. It looks like we've got nothing to do together for the next six weeks. Are you any good at doing jigsaws?"

It had been two days since Tug had landed at RAF Montrose, yelling for the ambulance he had already requested by radio. The MO, after a cursory examination had sent them to the civilian hospital for immediate treatment, the nearest military hospital in his opinion being too far away.

Now both Biggles and Algy welcomed their senior officer as he sat down on a chair between the two beds. "And how are you two gentlemen?" he asked, eyeing Algy's pale face, his arm in a sling, and the contraption that supported Biggles' leg.

"Fair to middling," Biggles answered for both of them. "How long are we going to be stuck here? Ginger - er..Hebblethwaite said the squadron is going back to Rawlham. We'd like to go too, if it's all the same to you. I can still fly a desk with this leg."

The Air Commodore didn't answer immediately, but sat still, lips pursed. "I've had Hebblethwaite's report, of course," he began, "and I'll need to have yours, too," he stated, looking at Biggles closely. "But that can wait for a few more days. It seems however, that there is a traitor within the Norwegian Resistance. We had an idea there might be, but Hebblethwaite's account of the waiting vehicles at the pick-up point seems to confirm it."

Biggles nodded. "We'd come to that conclusion too, when you told us about the capture of the two teachers. Other than that, I can't tell you any more except that Orveld and Erik are in the clear. They risked a lot to get us away, at such short notice."

"Yes, they won't be forgotten you may be sure of that." The Air Commodore stood up. "Well, now that I've satisfied myself you're both on the mend I'll be off. We have much to do." He looked from one to the other. "If you promise to be good and not give the nurses any grief I might, just might, leave Hebblethwaite up here so he can fly you both down to Rawlham." And with that he replaced his hat and gloves and strolled out of the ward, leaving Biggles and Algy grinning broadly at each other.

THE END
The Decision to Survive - A good pilot is both born and made. The best would look upon his work as a combination of adventure and a serious mission. – Major General Sir Frederick Sykes
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby RAAF Spitfire Girl » 25 Jan 2015, 01:59

Oh lovely, FB! Very much a nail-biter and very, very Biggles and the boys. Really enjoyed it :D
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby kylie_koyote » 25 Jan 2015, 03:20

Splendid!! :claphappy:
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby SaintedAunt » 25 Jan 2015, 10:16

kylie_koyote wrote:Splendid!! :claphappy:

Absolutely :D
The corners of Biggles' mouth twitched. "It's a sad thing to grow old without learning a thing or two." [Biggles Hunts Big Game]
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby tiffinata » 25 Jan 2015, 10:40

Wonderful!
I hope at least one of them saw a Montrose ghost.
So many lines I loved.
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Frederique » 25 Jan 2015, 12:21

Bravo, FB! :boing: :bluebounce: I really enjoyed that.

tiffinata wrote:So many lines I loved.
Yes :!:
"Where the dickens did you spring from?" he inquired.
"Oh, I was just hanging around, you know, in case I was wanted," returned Algy lightly.

Biggles Defies the Swastika
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Tracer » 25 Jan 2015, 12:38

This was my favourite:

if I see you land your Spitfire like that again, a certain part of your anatomy will be haunted by the toe of my boot."
pilots who had done a long tour and had that thousand-yard stare W. E. Johns
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby kylie_koyote » 25 Jan 2015, 13:12

Tracer wrote:This was my favourite:

if I see you land your Spitfire like that again, a certain part of your anatomy will be haunted by the toe of my boot."


Oh me too!!
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Kismet » 25 Jan 2015, 19:08

Lots of good stuff in this, Fairblue. It was worth all the re-writes! Thanks a lot.
'Major Bigglesworth' said Von Stalhein coldly, 'there are times when I seriously wonder if you were created by the devil just to annoy me.'
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby OzBiggles1963 » 26 Jan 2015, 12:28

RAAF Spitfire Girl wrote:Oh lovely, FB! Very much a nail-biter and very, very Biggles and the boys. Really enjoyed it :D


By gum that was a great story [I've also seen the 1965 movie Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas, lol], enjoyed all of the authentic touches & humour immensely FB!

Great to hear about a Biggles adventure starting & finishing at Montrose, :yay:

P.S. Was googling Telemark & the heavy water plant destruction of 1943, & found this reference to Birger Stromshein [one of the last 2 living survivors of Operation Gunnerside], who passed away at the ripe old age of 101 in 2012:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... tions.html
They've been working together for so long that each seems to know by a sort of telepathy when another is in trouble. One never seems to get them together. Get one & the others come after him. To give the devil his due they make a formidable team.
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby Spitfire666 » 26 Jan 2015, 15:10

Very much enjoyed this, Fairblue. Just realized I had not replied to it with so many messages and stories coming in! Very well thought out. 8-)
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Re: Biggles and the Baker's Dozen - by Fairblue

Postby J349 » 26 Jan 2015, 19:23

Haven't read this one yet until now:
Brilliant FB!!! :claphappy:
Excellent story, well written with a good storyline.
Great history lesson too!
kylie_koyote wrote:
Tracer wrote:This was my favourite:

if I see you land your Spitfire like that again, a certain part of your anatomy will be haunted by the toe of my boot."


Oh me too!!

I was just about to quote that!!
Petroffsky beamed. 'Now you may be certain of seeing me soon,' he declared. 'Au revoir. Remember, my rifle is at your command.'
'And my chocolate is at yours,' returned Biggles, smiling. 'Goodbye for now.'
Biggles Gets His Men.
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