A matter of major concern is highlighted in an article in the Daily
Express, 23/3/2012. The thatched cottage in Lingfield, Surrey,
where W.E.Johns wrote the first Biggles stories, is threatened by a
planned development in fields opposite. The property over hangs a now
busy arterial road. With the present amount of traffic, spray is destroying
the lime plaster & lorries regularly remove some of the thatch.
This is apparently the last thatched cottage in Lingfield village. The
plans for a large development show the cottage further from the road
than it actually is but Surrey County Council seem determined to approve
In General Aviation, Feb. 2012, an article by Steve Slater,
“Being Biggles”, discussed the “Biggles Bi-plane”,
a replica BE2C, which was originally built for the film “Biggles
sweeps the skies” (never made). Aeroplane, April 2012,
had more news of the replica. It was due to fly on 1/2/2012 to commemorate
the centenary of the maiden flight of the prototype BE2 at Farnborough.
However a “blustery arctic gale” prevented this. The replica
did make its celebratory flight on 3/2/2012. Flypast April
2012, also recorded this event. All articles included photographs.
Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio, 2/4/2012 broadcast an interview with
Emily Cockayne, author of Cheek by jowl; a history of neighbours.
The content of the book concerns relationships between neighbours &
at one point, falling in love with one’s neighbour was discussed,
W.E.Johns being mentioned as an example. According to Emily,
Johns made opportunities to speak to the neighbour by lobbing tennis
balls over the dividing fence. Presumably this refers to Doris Leigh,
Adrian Riches’ book When Comics went to War contains
mention of Biggles fights alone & Wings over Spain
from Modern Boy in 1930’s, also Biggles follows on
from Boy’s Own Paper, 1952.
Almost Unknown by Stewart Wilson, Chevron, 2009, discusses
what makes a good fighter pilot. “Very few good pilots were Biggles
figures, the dashing, unflappable, indestructible & fictitious Boy’s
Own character many of us…read about when we were young.”
Various references have occurred about people mentioning their reading
of Biggles books. The Vimy Experiences by Peter McMillan, Insight,
2011, is an account of the flights of the replica Vimy. One of the team
behind the project, John Owen, “grew up … reading Biggles
Flying at the Edge; 20 Years of Frontline flying in the Cold War
Era, Terry Doyle, Pen & Sword, 2010, recorded Terry’s
reading of Biggles, “which sealed my fate as far as aviation was
Best of British, March 2009, has an article “Biggles
& me” by Ted Dempsey, who wrote enthusiastically. “Biggles!
As a child, I loved the books, written by the romantically named Captain
W.E.Johns.” For a full page, he records his daydreams about Biggles
& flying. One of the illustrations is a photo of W.E.Johns.
In Best of British, Feb. 2012, Robert Eden shared his love
of books. “At the tuppenny library, I developed a taste for the
William books & the Biggles books”.
Andrew Sykes, in Waitrose Weekend, 19/1/2012, chose the top six books
which influenced him as a child. Biggles in the Baltic was
among the six.
Radio 4 broadcast a series “Stop what you’re doing &
read this” in January. This was about the transforming power of
reading & on 12/1/2012, Carmen Callil recalled Biggles books with
Anita Bensoussane, in the Enid Blyton Society Magazine, no.
18, 2002 wrote” Occasionally authors create characters that transcend
the book & become part of our culture.” The examples given
were Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Noddy. Biggles could certainly be added
Daily Express, 26/3/2012, ran a heading “Medals won
by a real-life Biggles could fetch £20,000 at auction”.
Major Alan Wilkinson (!) won a double D.S.O. for bravery over the Western
Front in World War 1. He was the first allied airman to shoot down six
German planes in a day, “echoing the dare devil dogfights of author
W.E. Johns’ fictional pilot Biggles”.
The Royal Victorian Aero Club ran a feature in its magazine on why
members joined the club. One Glenn Alford reported various experiences
in learning to fly, including contact with a pilot who had flown in
New Guinea, “a modern day Biggles”.
On 1/1/2012, a presenter of the BBC sports programme donned a flying
helmet & exclaimed “look, it’s Biggles” &
a Radio Times Quiz had Biggles as one of multiple choice answers.
Empire of the Clouds; when Britain’s Aircraft ruled the
world by J. Hamilton-Paterson, Faber & Faber, 2010, was reviewed
in The Aerospace Professional. The reviewer referred to the
“Biggles-like title & dust wrapper”.
Flygirl Adventures: an autoflyography by Anita Mayes, 2011,
wrote of “Mad Rob” with his Biggles helmet.
Microlight Flying, Dec. 2011, had an article “Biggles
& the Chav” with illustrations of book covers.
Best of British, March 2009, had a feature on Joe Meek, who
produced a pop record sung by John Leyton, the actor who appeared in
the TV Biggles serial.
Model Aircraft, Jan. 2012, reported the International Plastic
Modelling society’s meeting, with photographs of some models made
by the Biggles Special Interest Group.
Thank you to all who sent items and please
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