The story “The Raid” was first published in “Wings” – Volume 1 Number 2  - Dated Autumn 1934 but actually published on 1st October 1934

(Interestingly the index of this magazine says, after the title and the author’s name, “This popular author has placed this story in Iraq, a country that he knows well”)

The story was then published by John Hamilton as a hardback called “The Raid” in April 1935 with four other W. E. Johns stories - 221 pages

“The Raid” was then republished in paperback as part of “Desert Adventures” by Norman Wright in 2001 - 190 pages

It can be quite hard to tell a first edition of THE RAID.  I have been and viewed the first edition copy in the Bodleian Library.  Their copy is date stamped by them as being received on May 11th 1935.   The boards are orange with black titles and the John Hamilton ‘sundial’ logo on the spine.  At the front of the book there is a list of four of Johns non-fiction books, then six Biggles books plus the book ‘Wings’ to make a total of eleven titles by W. E. Johns opposite the title page.  There is a thirty page catalogue at back, which is undated, but headed 'Aviation General'. The first book listed is ‘Max Immelmann – Eagle of Lille’.  Importantly, there is an advert from John Hamilton on the inside back cover of the book, the details of which can be seen below.




The story “The Raid” was first published in “Wings” – Volume 1 Number 2 - Dated Autumn 1934 but actually published on 1st October 1934

Pages 7 - 146

Flight Lieutenant Guy Baring is in love with Sheila Forbes, whose parents were both killed in flying incidents. Guy cannot give up the Air Force and Sheila feels that she cannot marry an airman, as she will never have a moment's peace. When Sheila and her Uncle come to Baghdad with the mysterious Professor Wiseman from Sweden to excavate at Prensis, Guy accidentally sees a list of friendly and hostile Arab leaders amongst the Professor's possessions. With his suspicions aroused, Guy makes enquiries and eventually discovers that 'Professor Wiseman' is in fact a German spy, called Erich von Lertzhardt. By this time, Sheila has become engaged to the Professor and Guy finds himself in a difficult position, not wishing to denounce a man who would be seen as a rival for Sheila's affections. Flying out to Prensis, Guy warns 'Wiseman' that he knows who he is and asks for his word that he will leave in order to save Sheila and her Uncle from any embarrassment in the affair. Von Lertzhardt agrees to go but Sheila refuses to leave with Guy there and then and later, hostile Arabs raid the camp at Prensis. Von Lertzhardt is shot in the head whilst defending Shelia, who is then captured and carried away by Arabs. Guy rescues Shelia by parachuting ahead of the Arabs (shades of Mossyface here). Escaping together, there are big shocks coming before Guy is able to save the day.



The story “All’s Fair” was first published in “Wings” – Volume 1 Number 1 - Undated but actually published in 1934

Pages 149 - 168

"All's fair in love and business", says Captain Peter Logan. He is the Chief Instructor at South London Aero Club and he has words with one of his pupils, Sheila Sanderson. When Logan takes a dangerous photographic assignment for the Daily Pictorial he finds that Miss Sanderson has pipped him at the post. Or has she? Logan has the last laugh in this battle of the sexes.



This story is NOT to be confused with the story “Strange Freight” that appeared in “The Wilfred Pickles Gay Street Book” in 1949

That was originally a story entitled “Questionable Cargo” published in “The New Book of the Air” that had been renamed but is a completely different story!

The story “Strange Freight” was first published in “Wings” – Volume 1 Number 3 - Dated Winter 1935 but actually published on 1st January 1935

Pages 171 - 190

Bill Davenish tells the writer of the story about where he has been for the last three months. Hired by a mysterious stranger to go and collect some Elephant Ivory, Davenish finds that all is not as it appears. This short story has a pleasant surprise for the reader at the end.



The story “Old Soldiers Never Die” was first published in “Wings” – Volume 1 Number 1 - Undated but actually published in 1934

Pages 193 - 199

Jerry Barton and Bill Reeves, old comrades of 296 Squadron, have come up with a clever way to sell aircraft for their employer, the Falkner Aviation Company.



The story “The Ace of Spades” was first published in “The Cockpit” – in August 1934

Pages 203 - 221

This was a Biggles story. Biggles is accused of incompetence by a General and has to clear his name. Biggles flies without ammunition during a camera duel with Wilks and is attacked and forced down by an orange coloured German plane with a distinctive Ace of Spades on the side. A General sees this one-sided dual and reprimands Biggles for not firing a shot. Rather than writing a report to explain what happened, Biggles borrows Algy's Sopwith Camel and subsequently shoots the German down. The fabric showing the Ace of Spades is sent to the General as his report. This story was originally first printed in The Cockpit in August 1934 and then reprinted in Biggles of the Special Air Police and it is interesting to note the differences between the original adult version as printed in this book and the subsequent children's version in the reprint. For example, the phrase "He swore, tersely but effectively", relating to Biggles, is not in the reprint and expressions like "My God!" become "My Gosh!"



Original Dustjacket showing the faded price of 3 shillings and 6 pence on the spine


This Dustjacket is from a later reprint and appears to be identical to the first – the price of 3 shillings and 6 pence on the spine has faded to such an extent that you can’t really see it, unless you hold a light behind it.


This copy of ‘The Raid’ has been reduced to only a shilling – Presumably because it wasn’t selling at the higher price


The first edition of the book has the above advert by John Hamilton, seeking submissions, on the inside back cover.


2001 Reprint of the story 'The Raid' (with Desert Night)