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W. E. Johns- "Vader"van Biggles

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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Apr 2006 19:44    Onderwerp: W. E. Johns- "Vader"van Biggles Reageer met quote

W. E. Johns (February 5, 1893 - 21 June 1968) was an English pilot and writer of adventure stories, best known as the creator of the ace pilot and adventurer Biggles.
William Earl Johns was born in Hertfordshire. In 1913 he enlisted in the Territorial Army as a private in the King's Own Royal Regiment (Norfolk Yeomanry). The regiment was mobilised in August 1914 and was sent overseas in September 1915. They fought at Gallipoli and were then posted to the Suez Canal. In September 1916 Johns transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. During service in Greece he was hospitalised with malaria. After recovering he was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in September 1917 and was posted back to England to learn to fly.

On 1 April 1918, Johns was appointed flying instructor at Marske in Cleveland. Aircraft were very unreliable in those days and he promptly wrote off three planes in three days due to engine failure - crashing into the sea, then the sand, and then through a brother-officerís back door. Later, he was caught in fog over the Tees, missed Hartlepool and narrowly escaped flying into a cliff. Shooting oneís own propeller off with the synchronised forward-mounted machine-gun was an accident, but it happened to Johns twice! He stayed with the RFC and then the Royal Air Force until 1930, leaving with the rank of Flying Officer. Shortly before he left, Johns had the unpleasant duty of removing T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) from the RAF for enlisting under a false name (Lawrence later rejoined).

After leaving the RAF, Johns became a newspaper air correspondent, and founded the magazine Popular Flying; it was in the pages of Popular Flying that Biggles first appeared. The first Biggles book, The Camels are Coming, was published in 1932. Unique among childrenís writers of the time, from 1935 Johns employed a working-class character as an equal member of the Biggles team - Ginger Habblethwaite, later Hebblethwaite, the son of a Northumberland miner (we never learn his Christian name, and he proclaims himself a Yorkshireman once or twice.

At first, the Biggles stories were credited to "William Earle", but later Johns adopted the more familiar byline "Capt. W. E. Johns". The rank was self-awarded, his actual rank of RAF Flying Officer is equivalent to an army Lieutenant.

Johns continued writing Biggles until the his death in 1968. In all, nearly a hundred Biggles books were published.

Other less-famous characters created by W. E. Johns include commando Captain Lorrington "Gimlet" King; aviatrix Joan "Worrals" Worralson (essentially a female Biggles, created at the request of the Air Ministry to inspire more young women to join the WAAF); and pioneering astronaut (ex-RAF, naturally) Group Captain Timothy "Tiger" Clinton, who first rocketed into space in 1954.

By Jove,Biggles!, a biography of Johns was published in 1981, written by Peter Berresford Ellis and Piers Williams.
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