Biggles Sees It Through by W. E. Johns was first published around August 1941 by Oxford University Press and since then there have been at least 8 other editions in the English language. The rather improbable setting (see research notes below) probably resulted in it not being picked up after the 1960s for the Armada or Knight paperbacks.
The events in the book take place during the closing days of the Finnish Winter War (30 November 1939 - 13 March 1940). This is after Biggles in the Baltic (Ginger becomes a Flying Officer here whereas in Baltic he was a Pilot Officer) and before the exploits in Biggles Defies the Swastika. Swastika was serialised almost 11 months earlier but clearly deals with events which take place later--the German invasion of Norway was only launched in April 1940, by which time the Finnish Winter War was over.
While flying a reconnaissance mission over Finland. Biggles and co. come across a Polish aircraft engineer who tells them he has hidden some important technical documents which must not fall into the hands of the Germans. Predictably, British intelligence wants Biggles to retrieve that portfolio. And just as predictably, von Stalhein is looking for it too.
Note: The sections below contain spoilers. In particular, the plot subpage (click here) has an extended summary of the narrative in the book
Biggles and friendsEdit
- Colonel Raymond - Raymond is still refered to as Colonel
- Algy Lacey
- Ginger Hebblethwaite
- Bristol Blenheim
- Policarpov bomber - see Polikarpov R-5
- Messerschmitt fighter - probably an Me 109
- Large Russian bomber - probably a Tupolev TB-3
- Gloster Gladiator
- Short flying boat - probably a Short Empire
Other Research NotesEdit
- On the face of it, the setting would appear rather improbable. Britain was already at war with Germany, and Biggles and co. had already been in action as members of the R.A.F. in Biggles in the Baltic. Poland had been invaded, and the invasion of France was expected. So why would Biggles be going off to volunteer to fight in an International Squadron in Finland? And why would the government allow him to leave the R.A.F. for a foreign war?
- One possible explanation for the official attitude could lie in the fact that the British and French governments had been planning to send troops (up to 100,000 men) to assist the Finns in the war. These plans reached their final form in February 1940 and might have gone ahead had the Finns not sought an armistice in March. Seen in this light, the planners might have thought it useful to have certain trusted British officers such as Biggles already in Finland as some form of advance guard. They would be a useful point of contact as well as a source of intelligence.
- But this still does not explain Biggles volunteering to go off to help the Finns. He was reluctant to help Maltovia in Biggles Goes to War, and he did not volunteer in the Spanish Civil War--he got involved in that one by accident. Certainly the early months of 1940 were characterised by the inaction and boredom of The Phoney War but surely the authorities could think up some more of the special operations work which he did in Biggles in the Baltic.
- Notable Quotes. "... he made a mental note that he would take up tpbogganing when he got too old for flying." (Chapter 5)
(see also table at Aerial victories of Biggles and friends)
- Biggles, Algy, Ginger and Smyth
- Polikarpov bomber - Chapter 1. A quarter each.
- Messerschmitt Me 109, from a Gloster Gladiator. Chapter 12. Probable. "...the leader went into a glide as if his engine had been hit. Nor did he return to the combat."
- Large Russian bomber. Chapter 16.
References to the pastEdit
- Chapter 2: "So far north, at that season of the year, it would not get really dark, as it would do farther south." Was Johns thinking of summer? It was, as we know, March 1940 and wintertime. That's why the Finns call it "The Winter War".