Biggles in the Theatre of War

Most people of any magnitude, graduate from school with honors like magna cum laude and summa cum laud. In Biggles case, he had been ejected from his Malton Hall public School as Corruptio Optimi Pessima, which roughly translates as most horrible of the finest. As a result, the best he could hope for was a position in a third world country as a doorstop, or he could hope for a state of continual world war and fortunately for him honor favors the insane and had been rewarded with a constant state of warfare since 1916.

He was in the medic tent with yet another part of his anatomy missing, having been hit by low flying anti-aircraft missiles, oddly this had occurred while playing snooker in the officer’s tent. Since he attracted ack-ack in the same way Canadian geese attracted small pieces of lead whenever they flew over the American border, he put it down to an unusually enthusiastic Iranian gunnery sergeant.

“Blasted Abdullah’s!” he lay on his stomach as clench his teeth as the doctor probed his posterior with tweezers, “I was just about to make a break on the white ball and bam! I’m blown clean across the room and into the drinks cabinet. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but Reggie owed me a fiver and he got blown to kingdom come.”

“Please remain still, captain Bigglesworth,” the doctor frowned as his tried to find the shrapnel in Biggles rear. “This is serious.”

“So is a winning streak,” Biggles went cross-eyed with a shot of pain, “What I’d like to know is how Jolly Abdullah happened to put an ack-ack shell right in the officers tent, nine hundred miles from the front with Iran?”

“What front? No one told me about a front.” The doctor looked up at Biggles with the sort of surprise a nurse has when she finds an elephant in the bedpan. He said holding up a shiny bit of metal with the tweezers. “But we’re not at war with Iran. Are we?”

“Well, it’s not so much we’re at war with Iran, as I’m at war with Iran,” Biggles whistled at a twinge, “according to the Geneva Convention, it only takes one side to declare war. So to speed things up I’ve declared war on Iran for the allies.”

“Can you do that?”

 “I’m Biggles you know.” Biggles went cross-eyed with pain again, “Imagine World War I without a Bigglesworth. There see - you can’t. That means I’m crucial for a state of war to exist. Hence, if anyone is going to declare war, it’s jolly well going to be me.”

“Not really surprising they’re shooting at you while you’re playing snooker,” the doctor held a bandage to Biggles behind, “now then, is it?”

“Also dashed uncivilized, I would have thought.”

“So is declaring war.” The doctor grinned. “Now, don’t sit down for a week.”

“What do I do for pain killers?” Biggles would have whimpered but he was too heroic.

“A bottle of whiskey a day, or gin, whichever takes your fancy.”

“I say,” said Biggles, as he cheered up immensely, “this modern medicine has come a long way.”

“No modern medicine is still in the Dark Ages, whereas the collectivized welfare state has created this instrument of torture for all doctors called the National Health Service, and they don’t pay me enough to fill out a prescription for morphine. So you’re bally well on your own captain Biggles. Now leave, your blood is congealing on the operating table and I want to clean it off.”

Biggles blew through his moustache in irritation, but on reflection knew he was spending the next week in the officer’s mess downing Singapore Slings and crooning Vera Lynn songs, until the hangovers drove him back to the indifferent arms of the National Health Service. So all things considered it was a boon for morale.


“Drink!” Biggles yelled at the adjutant behind the bar as he staggered in, “It’s a medical emergency!”

“Biggles!” came a cheery voice out of nowhere.

“Spiffy!” Biggles yelled to his old flying chum, then leapt over the bar and tackled the barman, as he was taking too long with his cocktail. “I thought you were blown up over Suez back in 56’.”

“I was,” Spiffy looked over the bar as Biggles started beating the adjutant to a pulp. “I’ve been a prisoner for the last fifty years in an Egyptian prisoner of war camp. I would have escaped but they have these amazing hummus dishes and endless Egyptian soap operas.”

“I’ve watched some of those, incredibly boring I would have thought,” Biggles grabbed a cocktail mixer and hammered it over the head of the adjutant. “When I yell for drink! I want a drink! It’s a medical emergency!”

“Here Biggles,” Spiffy poured a glass from his decanter. “Have one of mine.”

“Oh Spiffy!” Biggles sighed happily and let the barman collapse to the floor, “You’re a lifesaver. What are you flying now?”

“Tornados,” Spiffy grinned and lit a cheroot, “got a mission tomorrow, all hush-hush you know.”

“Splendid.” Biggles downed half a pint of gin mixed with antifreeze. “Do tell.”

“Can’t old bean,” Spiffy winked. “Mums the word.”

“No Pims is the word, things have changed since you were last out.” Biggles pulled out a service revolver and shot the adjutant in the leg. “And let that be a lesson!”

“Well in the case,” Spiffy leaned over, “doing a recce over Teheran tomorrow.”

“Will that be all, sir?” the adjutant held the blood back with a rag.

“Yes, and don’t come back without a case of Boodles British Gin.”

“Yes sir.”

“And what’s the box of ack-ack shells doing behind the bar, bally things could go off.” Biggles turned back to Spiffy and resumed a conversation he had started fifty years before. “It’s not like the Manfred von Richthofen is up and flying again, not after what I did to his …”

Outside the officer’s mess Captain Arash of the Iranian secret service pulled out a wireless detonator from under his adjutant's cap and pulled the trigger. Ten seconds later Biggles landed in the infirmary, cradling a new war wound and screaming for a prescription for vodka.

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