Biggles Delivers the Goods Paperback – Aug 7 1994
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About the Author
W. E Johns was born in Bengeo, Hertfordshire in 1893. During the First World War he served in the Machine Gun Corps, and then in the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918 he was shot down and captured in France. His first book, The Camels are Coming, was published in 1932.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First Published in April 1946 - 182 pages
Rubber. This is what Biggles is asked to deliver by Air Commodore Raymond. 500,000 tons of it, to be taken from Elephant Island, off the coast of Japanese held Malaya to India, as it is vital to the British war effort. A Chinese man called Li Chi brings details of the rubber to the attention of the RAF. Biggles has meet Li Chi before (in a story called 'The Oriental Touch' in 'Biggles Flies Again'). Biggles goes to Elephant Island with Li Chi and organises the building of a wooden runway over the lake, painted blue to disguise it from the air. This is so that supply planes can fly the rubber back to India and Biggles' squadron will fly the planes.
Biggles organises a trip to Shansie to meet the reclusive Major Marling and obtain further supplies of rubber. He arrives just as the Japanese attack Marling's home and he helps to fight them off. Stealing the Japanese River patrol boat for the return journey, Biggles plans to seize a ship from the Japanese to help transport the rubber, which he later does. Meanwhile, the Japanese plan to attack the base on Elephant Island having been made aware of it by their spies. Japanese destroyers are brought into the Japanese harbour at the mouth of the river. Biggles and Ginger fly up river and blow the banks to flood the surrounding landscape, where the Japanese have an aerodrome.
This has the effect of reducing the water in the river and grounding the destroyers in mud. Algy is forced to ditch his plane in the sea and is captured by the Japanese. Their leader, Admiral Tamashoa plans to have him beheaded but another raid lead by Biggles saves him in the nick of time. Just when the Japanese prepare to launch another major attack on the base at Elephant Island, Air Commodore Raymond arrives. He has organised a major air attack on the grounded destroyers and the Japanese reinforcements. With the opposition completely crushed by this attack, Biggles is left to finish delivering the goods. The dust cover shows a close up of Biggles waving.
This is a great story for Biggles fans. It has all the formulaic cliches, like Algy getting shot down 200 miles from land, facing death by drowning or thirst, carried by destroyer to the sinister "Jap" Admiral's torture lair, refusing to talk and then being saved by Biggles as the executioner's blade begins to descend.
It's comic book action start to finish, but very well done. The later Biggles books are much more polished than the early books, in their setting of mood and their description of exotic locals, though they continue to be juvenile fiction with ridiculous plot twists, narrow escapes and blatant racial prejudices. ("You could tell he was a foreigner, by the way he waved his arms around when he talked.")
You must accept silly premises for these books to work, whether it's a magnetic ray that confuses compasses, a glowing blue radium mountain that emits a paralyzing beam (but could also cure cancer), or a simple invasion of a mythical (but friendly) country by an evil dictatorship. In this book we must believe that simple workmen can construct a floating landing strip from teak logs, boards and nails, and it will hold up to heavily loaded bombers landing on it day after day. And that painted blue, it becomes invisible to planes flying overhead. LOL!
In all the Biggles books, the reader has to accept lots of coincidences, lucky rescues, and miraculous recoveries. Rarely is a major character seriously hurt; for example, in an earlier book when Ginger is shot through the shoulder by an enemy aircraft's machine gun bullet, his pals shrug it off "A couple of days in hospital will see him right." Sure enough, Ginger is helping out in a few days, free of pain other than a little discomfort. Shot through the thigh in another book (after nearly bleeding to death), he is gamely walking around the precipitous slopes around Monaco after a few nights of soup and nursing, though he does admit that he feels a little worn. He and his companions are shot down in flames, bludgeoned, smashed in aircraft wrecks too numerous to count, tumbled off cliffs, stabbed, interrogated, bombed, washed away in floods, frozen, starved, burned and imprisoned. All in a days work for Biggles' Squadron!
Speaking of Ginger, nobody ages in these books, just like The Hardy Boys. By the time this book comes along, Ginger has been Biggles' young protege for 20 years and he still has the same rank and never seems to gain any maturity or good sense. Nobody has been promoted or retired, and everybody still seems to have all his body parts.
Bertie is my favorite character. He's an aristocrat and a fop, overplaying his silly mannerisms, like furiously polishing his monocle when he is perturbed. But when the chips are down, he really delivers, with smart decisions, gutsy boldness and tireless uncomplaining persistence ("Biggles Fails to Return").
My one wish is that there could be more female characters. But I suppose they would get in the way with their feminine weaknesses and hinder all the high testosterone action.
These books are silly as can be. But addictive. Google "W E Johns Biggles ebook download", and you just might be surprised and pleased.
Spokane WA USA