First Published in May 1950 - 202 pages
Republished in paperback by Norman Wright in 2006 – as “Short Sorties & Sky Fever” - 269 pages (Short Sorties ends on page 147)
This book contains 20 short stories written by W. E. Johns
FORWARD (a short passage about how and why these 20 stories were written by W. E. Johns)
WHAT HAPPENED TO MARCUS?
Flt/Lt. Osmond Gale finds himself explaining to Mr. Vasey, the father of an old friend, how his son Marcus came to disappear in the Libyan Desert.
Shades of 'Biggles Flies South' in this story.
WINE WITH A LADY
When two strangers find themselves seated together at the Restaurant du Midi in Piccadilly during the Second World War,
they soon realise that both are not what they seem.
This was first published in “Collier’s Magazine” in the USA, 23rd May 1942 and then in Australian Women’s Weekly, 19th December 1942
A Group Captain tells the writer of the story about Jean Tavan from Provence in France and how he came to be fighting with the Free French in England
and how he brought his beautiful wife with him.
MOTHER IN ARMS
What would prompt Prudence Valerie of the Women's Air Transport Auxiliary to get into a Hurricane and fight like a demon against a formation of German bombers?
When Lieutenant Roy Winton, an American, crashes on a remote island in the Pacific where various nationals are living in complete ignorance of the War,
he finds himself having to lie.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Czech pilot, Captain Rumbolt has a new co-pilot for his mission, a man called Kenton.
They are both surprised when a German spy turns out to be on their plane and further surprises are in store.
This was first published in “Illustrated” magazine, issue dated 25th April 1942 and then later published in “Commander Story Annual” in 1956 – find out more here
Brian Gray lands his hurricane to answer a signal by Morse code for help. Surprised to find an American lady,
there are further surprises in store when Helen Cardell helps Gray out later.
This was later published in “Open-Air Adventure Stories for Girls” in 1965 – find out more here
A THING TO BOAST ABOUT
Private Mazrak Mahomet loves the beautiful, crocodile-hide suitcase of the officer to whom he is batman.
When that officer comes down in a haboob, Mahomet volunteers to help get him back.
Leofric Tallebois and Isaac Soloman both have a family history going back many, many years. After saving each other's lives,
they find out even more about each other when they have to deal with the difficult situation they find themselves in.
This was first published in “Britannia and Eve” magazine in March 1942 – find out more here
SOME GO IN DARKNESS
Who is the mysterious Joan Barton, whose photograph is in the cockpit of a Wellington bomber?
Jerry Hardleigh hears a memorable tune in Germany in the early thirties. When he hears the same tune during the Second World War, it leads him to a spy.
However, the charming Jennifer Page complicates things.
Major Jeff Quinton is faced with a dilemma when a beautiful Italian spy is caught, particularly as he has met the lady before.
PERSEUS FLIES AGAIN
The hero of this story, Nigel Deane, has the same name as the hero of 'The Unknown Quantity'. When Deane lands in the field of Colonel Rusby and meets his daughter,
Joan, he learns of certain problems they are having with Lieutenant Rudolf Leffens, problems that Deane is able to solve.
This was first published in “Britannia and Eve” magazine in July 1941 – find out more here
Captain John Broughton has had a book belonging to Priscilla Grey virtually all his life. When he travels from America to England he finds he has an opportunity of returning the book and solving a mystery. He then discovers that the Broughtons always come home.
THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN FLEECE
Shades of 'Affaire de Coeur' (the famous Biggles story, in ‘The Camels are Coming’, where he falls in love) in this tale. The hero even has a description that parallels that of Biggles. This time the story is told with an unexpected twist. Flight Lieutenant Cedric Delane is asked by a beautiful French girl to drop a message to her father over in France. Delane is happy to drop the message, but for someone else.
This was first published in “Britannia and Eve” magazine in January 1941 – find out more here
Desmond van der Rande is intrigued by the mysterious Morse code signals he sees when he flies over Holland. His Commanding Officer has an idea that will solve his fascination, but all does not go as planned.
MARS SHAKES A COCKTAIL
Squadron Leader Eric "Buster" Stanbush does not want to fall in love with the beautiful Stella Garton, but fate may have other plans.
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
Bill Tyson is a hen-pecked husband who decides not to comply with his wife's wishes for once.
This was first published in “Britannia and Eve” magazine in March 1941 – find out more here
When a Group Captain sees the attractive Mrs. Hatheray at the annual Staff College dance, he has an interesting story to tell her. The story is about his experiences in Burma and an attempt to stop the Japanese advance using Elephants and teak. You can see the twist coming a mile off.
A Squadron Leader is shot down and badly wounded. The Doctor who saves him discusses with him the implications of fate and the magic of the words "if only".
This story was a reworking by W. E. Johns of his short story, 'Encounter' which had originally been published in the Daily Express on 17th February 1934.
Subtitle - none
Publication Details - originally published by Latimer House
My own first edition of this book has the above inscription from W. E. Johns in it