William Earl Johns was born in 1893 in Benego, Hertfordshire a son of a taylor. During World War 1 he first served as machine-gunner and from 1918 as fighter pilot with the RFC in France. He was shot down over Mannheim, became a POW, escaped, was caught again and sentenced to death. He was saved by the sudden end of the war! He stayed with the Royal Air Force until 1931, as a flight instructor and later as recruiting officer. When he left, his rank was Flying Officer. When several years later he became a successful author, he added Captain to his name. In the early 1930s he created his most famous hero, James 'Biggles' Bigglesworth. Almost immediately, Biggles became hugely popular and the character became a junior hero for boys everywhere. Johns went on to write 98 Biggles books which were published in more than 25 countries. He died in 1968.