The Renegade is the fourth short story in Biggles Takes the Case. The anthology, the second one about Biggles in the Air Police, was published in 1952. This particular story was originally published in 1949 in The Wonder Book of Comics by Odhams Press.
Biggles plans to trap a gang of jewelry snatch thieves by stealing the jewels first!
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It is a nice fine day for doing something exciting, says Ginger. Biggles has just such an idea. A gang of jewel thieves has been using aircraft for quick getaways after their crimes and Biggles wants to catch them. The Rajah of Rantipana is scheduled to arrive at Gatwick bringing along his fabulous pearl collection. American police has warned Biggles that the gang of thieves is in London. Biggles plans to beat them to it by stealing the pearls and then lead them into a trap.
The Rajah arrives and steps off his aircraft. Meanwhile, Biggles is among the journalists snapping photos of the scene. Suddenly there is a flash and smoke fills the area. Biggles is a little surprised but steps forward and seizes the jewel case being carried by a detective. There is another hand on it--one of the jewel thieves--but Biggles knocks him on the jaw and runs off to where Ginger is waiting in a Mosquito.
They take off knowing they will be pursued. Sure enough, another aircraft, an American Volting appears on their tail. Biggles had earlier noticed it standing near the Rajah's plane. Ginger slows the Mosquito down to allow them to catch up and heads towards Margon, an airfield near Lyons.
They land and go to the refreshment room and order tea. There is no one else in the room except a curé and a mechanic. The Volting lands and the gang of thieves step into the refreshment room. One of them angrily demands the jewel case, but Biggles tells him he is mistaken. The man seizes the case and opens it. It is empty! He draws his pistol intending to shoot Biggles but there is a shot and he staggers and falls. The shot comes from the curé--it's Bertie in disguise! The French mechanic is also covering the gang with his pistol--that's Algy. The French police which had earlier cordoned off the airfield run it and take the thieves prisoner. The Air Police crew need to go back to London but Biggles decides there's time to finish their tea.
The Special Air Police/Scotland YardEdit
- Air Commodore Raymond
- Algy Lacey
- Ginger Hebblethwaite
- Bertie Lissie
- The Rajah of Rantipana
- Gatwick Airport
- New York
Editorial changes between editionsEdit
The story as first published in The Wonder Book of Comics includes a longer opening paragraph which Johns needed to introduce his young readers to the main characters. It reads:
Ginger Hebblethwaite, Air Constable of the Criminal Investigation Department, glanced up at his chief, Sergeant Bigglesworth, one time of the R.A.F. but now of New Scotland Yard, came into their office after a prolonged absence.
In Biggles Takes the Case, the preambular text about Ginger and Biggles being in Scotland Yard has been removed and needless to say, Biggles is no longer mentioned as a sergeant because in the intervening time between the two publications, Biggles had been promoted to inspector in Another Job for Biggles (first serialised Aug 1950). The newer text reads simply:
"Ginger" Hebblethwaite glanced up as Biggles came into their office after a prolonged absence.
Choice of France as the location for the trapEdit
The choice of France as the place to spring the trap is natural. At the point in time when the gang is to be arrested, they would not have broken any British law. On the other hand, the French police would have been highly motivated to get the gang members because they killed a French policeman in the previous robbery. The choice of Margon is never explained but could be because of operational considerations based on inputs from the French police.
Absence of Marcel BrissacEdit
For a case ending up in France, it would have been natural for Marcel Brissac to be involved. Marcel was introduced in the previous book, Biggles Works It Out. However, this particular story was first published in 1949, predating Marcel's first appearance.