Air Commodore Raymond (for Air Commodore is how he is referred to affectionately by Biggles and co. for most of their careers, whether or not he was still in the R.A.F.), is such a fixture in the Biggles stories that it might be easier to list the stories where he doesn't appear. Indeed he might have more appearances than Algy--that has not been researched. Raymond also shows up in the stories of Gimlet, Worrals and Steeley.
For readers, Raymond represents the fatherly figure of authority, the person who indulges in his subordinates and even tolerates their excesses but nonetheless backs them up. He is often also the fixer, arranging for permits and loans of aircraft and equipment. What staff he relies on to do these things we never meet, but obviously he would have needed the equivalent of Miss Moneypenny or a whole section of them. He also has a wide network of overseas contacts which he introduces to Biggles to help him on his missions. He is most often seen in his office but occasionally takes to the field to lend support or pull his subordinates out of a tight spot.
Known Biographical DetailsEdit
- His initials are R.B. (from Biggles Fails to Return). What they stand for is never revealed.
Milestones in Raymond's CareerEdit
Raymond's appointments and ranks change throughout his career, often quite rapidly--for such is the lot of talented men who produce results.
- Biggles & Co - Rank: Colonel. The first time Biggles meets Raymond since the end of World War 1. He has become Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard. He recommends Biggles to Carstairs as the man to run a private airline to ferry valuable shipments of gold.
- Biggles – Secret Agent - Rank: Colonel here. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Special Intelligence Branch
- Biggles in the Baltic - Rank: Colonel. According to Biggles, Raymond is "back at his old job on Air Intelligence.
- Worrals on the War-Path - Rank: Air Commodore. In charge of the Special Operations Branch at the Air Ministry. According to Squadron Leader Yorke, he had recently been with Intelligence.
- Biggles Fails to Return - Rank: Air Commodore. His appointment on the panel of his door is "D.S.O. Air Intelligence" but that doesn't mean he is not in charge of Special Operations. The mission he sends Biggles for is more like Special Operations than Intelligence.
- In his first appearance in The Launghing Spy, Raymond is introduced as a major and Biggles is still a junior pilot at 169 Sqn. In his next few appearances, in the stories of The Camels are Coming, he becomes a Colonel. Subsequently, when Johns wrote Biggles in France, which includes many stories set in 1917 before Biggles becomes a flight commander in 266, he must have decided to reset Raymond's rank to Major. The reason for this is not clear. So many stories featuring Raymond were written in the 1930s that if it was an oversight, it seems inexplicable. Perhaps Johns felt he needed to give Raymond a promotion at some time since he was obviously doing well. Some researchers conclude that a good time to set his promotion to colonel is in November 1917, after the success of Biggles Flies East. Thereafter, the colonel rank is used quite consistently in subsequent stories.
- Raymond continued to be referred to as Colonel in the interwar years when he was at Scotland Yard, although by this time, it is obviously a honorific accorded to a retired officer in the same way people referred to Biggles as Major after leaving the service.
- Curiously, Raymond remains a Colonel in the early World War Two stories, Biggles in the Baltic, Biggles Sees It Through and Biggles Defies the Swastika, although he is quite clearly working for Air Intelligence. This may not have been so unusual--the intelligence services commonly employed civilians who might have been ex-service personnel and these were referred to by their previous rank as a courtesy.
- By the time of Spitfire Parade, however, he becomes an Air Commodore, which implies that he had been recalled to active duty in the R.A.F. and put back into uniform, this time with an R.A.F. style rank. Why this was done is not clear as his job description seemed to have remained the same but it would presumably make it easier for him to give orders to service personnel. Remember that this was exactly the same reason Biggles asked to be given a high R.A.F. rank in Biggles - Air Commodore because he foresaw that he needed to give fairly unusual and direct orders to R.A.F. units.
List of Appearances of RaymondEdit
First World WarEdit
- The Laughing Spy - Biggles is introduced to him for the first time. Major.
- Biggles' Surprise Packet
- Biggles Goes Ballooning
- The Packet - Colonel
- The Balloonatics - Colonel
- Camouflage - Colonel
- The Zone Call - Colonel
- Biggles and the Flying Camera - Major
- Biggles' Paperchase - Major
- The Rescue Flight - Major
- Biggles Flies East - Major
- Biggles' Christmas Tree! - Major
- The Carrier - Colonel
- The Bottle Party - Colonel
- The Professor Comes Back - Colonel
- The Thought Reader - Colonel, of 51st Wing Headquarters
- The Great Arena
- Affaire de Coeur - Colonel