The Sunday Yarn ~ Biggles

19 08 August 4th 2013

Copyright Alastair Forbes

I know nothing about fighter planes but the image of Hawker Hurricane brought back memories of Biggles. For decades, Biggles held children in thrall with his fictional exploits as a dashing Royal Air Force pilot.

“I have always considered myself a man’s man, there’s something special about being in the thick of it with your comrades, your
brothers in arms. Like
on the  rugby pitch, huddled into a scrum,
limbsentwined, all pushing and
urging on towards the same goal.
Its a metaphor for life”
— from Biggles Becomes a Man.

It has recently emerged that Biggle’s unlikely adventures may have been based on fact – in the shape of a real airman from the First World War.

A 1918 combat report by a pilot called Major James Bigglesworth (his real name in the many books) book  has been found at the RAF Museum in a collection of papers that once belonged to Biggles author WE Johns.

‘RAF record-keeping was pretty thorough, but there is some evidence of Bigglesworth’s name having been removed from other sources, possibly for security reasons when he moved to the Special Air Police later in his career.’

This is a real upside down, inside-out and other-way-round world where  one’s childhood fantasy readings turn out to have real men for heroes.