Biggles Buries a Hachet by W. E. Johns was first serialised in the monthly Boy's Own Paper from March to September 1958 before being published by Brockhampton in September the same year. Since then there have been five other editions with the most recent being in 1980 by Knight Books. The events in the book take place in the late 1950s mainly in the remote Russian island of Sakhalin.
Biggles' arch-rival, Erich von Stalhein, has fallen out of favour with his employers on the other side of the Iron Curtain. So Biggles and co set out to rescue him from a remote Russian penal colony. Thus, long before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and before the shooting down of KAL007, W .E. Johns introduces his young readers to Russian gulags and the mysterious island of Sakhalin.
Note: The sections below contain spoilers. In particular, the plot subpage (click here) has an extended summary of the narrative in the book
The Special Air PoliceEdit
Friends and alliesEdit
- Fritz Lowenhardt
- Major Charles
- Colonel Cyrus Bradfield
- Pat Manton
- Ivan Miskoff
- Olga Miskoff
- Erich von Stalhein
- Hong Kong
- Chitose Airfield(?) - although Johns does not mention it, the fuel-conscious Biggles would definitely have chosen an airfield near Sakhalin rather than Tokyo as his jump off point. Equally, during his egress, he would not have wanted to fly all the way down the length of Japan. Thus, it is likely he chose an airfield in Hokkaido, the island of Japan closest to Sakhalin. Chitose Airfield, operated by the USAF at that time, seems to fit the bill. Again there is mention of members of Pat Manton's squadron meeting him on his arrival after escaping from Sakhalin. Pat's squadron must have been based in Hokkaido otherwise he would not have been patrolling in the waters off Sakhalin.
- In a later book, Biggles Takes a Hand, von Stalhein reveals that the people assigned to kill Biggles here was a team of professional killers comprising Ludwig Karkoff, Molsk and Rallensky. Von Stalhein was asked to assist them but refused and this resulted in him being arrested, tried for treason and sent to Sakhalin.
References to the pastEdit
- Biggles describes his exploits in Biggles Flies East to Ginger in the first chapter.
- Fritz Lowenhardt tells Biggles that von Stalhein lost the confidence of his superiors after his failure in Biggles in the Blue (although von Stalhein served in several other operations after that).
- There are several mentions of the United States Army Air Force. This is an anachronism. After World War 2, the United States Army Air Force was spun off as an independent service, the United States Air Force. The US Army still maintained aviation units but the F-86 Sabres Pat Manton flew would definitely have been flown by the US Air Force.