THE THREE SHORT “WORRALS” STORIES
These three Worrals short stories never appeared in the eleven Worrals books. They are shown here in reverse order of publication
The original first edition dust jacket – showing the original book price of 6 shillings
ON THE HOME FRONT
This Worrals story was first published in 'COMRADES IN ARMS' on 8th December 1947 - 41 pages – from page 63 to 103 inclusive.
The book contained six stories, one Biggles, one Gimlet and one Worrals, together with three other stories not featuring those characters.
The story is in five parts, each headed with a Roman Numeral
I. Squadron Officer Joan Worralson arrives at No. 21 Balloon Wing with Flight Officer Betty Lovell on the instructions of Air Commodore Raymond of the Intelligence branch. They have been sent to investigate the complaint of an aircraftwoman named Norma Day. Norma’s friend, Doris Marchant, has been found drowned and Norma rejects the Coroner’s verdict of “found drowned”. Norma says Doris didn’t drown herself and she was a good swimmer, so she wouldn’t have accidently drowned - it was murder. Norma tells a story about how, she and her friend were on duty manning their barrage balloon, when, on two occasions, it appeared to be hit by a smaller balloon carrying something. On the day of her death, Doris had gone off to investigate but Norma had been unable to go with her. Doris had not returned and her body was found in the River Ouse, just where a stream called the Niddy flows into it. Norma shows Worrals on a map where their barrage balloon is stationed and where Doris’s body was found. Worrals decides to do some aerial recognisance.
II. In less than half an hour, flying at one thousand feet, Worrals and Frecks survey the ground on a westerly course from the barrage balloon. This is the direction where any mystery balloon would have come from. Finding the stream known as the Niddy, Worrals notes that it runs past an old Elizabethan mansion. The map tells them this is Gresham Grange. Frecks sees a man on the roof of the place. Back at the airfield, Worrals rings the Inspector at Burnham Police Station and makes enquiries about Gresham Grange. The police say it is empty. Apparently the building has a sliding roof as a previous owner had an observatory installed. Worrals is suspicious of Gresham Grange and decides to go and have a look around it that night. She decides to get permission to take Norma Day with her, so she can act as a look out and get help if Worrals and Frecks get into any trouble.
III. It was nearly 9.00 pm when Worrals, Frecks and Norma set off. Stopping the car outside the wall to the estate, Worrals gives Norma her instructions. If she sees Worrals fire her flare gun, or if they are not back in two hours, she is to go to Wing Headquarters and see the Wing Commander who will get in touch with their Chief at the Air Ministry. Worrals has spoken to them all on the phone in advance, so they know what the girls are doing. Worrals and Frecks climb the wall and then follow the River Ouse and then the Niddy. Frecks says that what happened to Doris might happen to them. “That is what I’m hoping will happen – that is, up to a point,” replied Worrals coolly. “The end should work out differently though. Doris was alone, and unarmed. She wasn’t ready for trouble. We are”. An air raid siren goes off in the distance and shortly after a German plane passes over the old house. It returns and then Worrals and Frecks see a balloon released from the top of the house. It is soon lost to view in an Easterly direction. “Travelling on a west wind that balloon will in due course arrive over Holland or Germany,” said Worrals in a low voice. Worrals sends Frecks back to Norma to tell her to go and alert the authorities.
IV. Worrals explores further whilst Frecks is gone and discovers that the stream has been confined in banks of brickwork so that it took the form of a canal. Frecks returns and the two girls see a car come quietly round the far end of the house, apparently from the garage. In due course, four men are seen by the car and they speak in German. Worrals runs forward and shoots out the tyres to stop the men leaving and at the same time Frecks fires the flare signal into the night sky. A gun battle with the men then ensues and the girls are forced to retreat from the bushes to the river behind them. Attempting to cross the river, Frecks is apparently hit and both girls are carried away by the current down the stream. They lose their guns in the icy cold water. Worrals tries to get to the brick sides but she is thrown back into the current. “Even at that dire moment the thought flashed into her mind that this was what must have happened to Doris Marchant”. Further down the stream, Worrals is able to get Frecks to a small bit of beach that she had noticed earlier. Frecks is not badly hurt. A man comes running from the direction of the house and sees the stranded girls. He stands with an automatic in his hand ready to shoot them and Worrals throws sand in his face. Norma arrives on the scene and takes a running jump into the back of the man, sending him headlong into the river. When the man tries to drag himself out of the river on the opposite bank, Norma snatches up his gun and shoots him. Several men come running towards the girls and Worrals says “Great Scott! It’s the big chief himself” as Air Commodore Raymond arrives. Raymond says they have picked up three dead Nazis and two live ones. “There’s another in the river here,” said Worrals.
V. The following morning, Frecks has a strip of surgical plaster on her cheek. Air Commodore Raymond says the men were spies and the difficulty with spying is not getting useful information, but getting it out of the country without the method being spotted. The Germans were using balloons with radio units in that could be picked up by enemy radar. An aircraft could then shoot it down and retrieve the message. Worrals says that all credit has to go to Doris and Norma. It turns out that the man Norma shot was the person who killed Doris. “We know that because the Nazi who is doing the talking has told us all about it, to escape personal responsibility” says Raymond. Worrals, Frecks and Norma get a lift in the Air Commodore’s car as Worrals and Frecks are going to take Norma out for lunch in town.
The cover of the 1948 French edition of Comrades in Arms – “Rendez-Vous en Extreme-Orient” or “Rendezvous in the Far East” – there were no illustrations in this edition
WORRALS WORKS IT OUT
First Published in 'Girls Own Paper' in the September 1947 edition of the magazine
Worrals and Frecks are dining in a West End restaurant when Air Commodore Raymond walks in. “The Great White Chief himself” says Frecks and then he comes over and joins them. Raymond shows them a large diamond and says that a little girl named Alice Bates has found it in a bird’s nest that morning in the village of Dellhanger in Surrey. Worrals and Frecks go to Dellhanger to investigate and meet with Alice, a young girl of about twelve or thirteen. She shows them the bird’s nest where the diamond was found. She had been regularly checking on eggs in the nest and could say that the diamond was not there the night before but it was by 8.00 am that morning. Alice says she saw a man in the field and she thought he was mushrooming, that is, looking for mushrooms. Worrals asks if Alice has heard any planes recently and Alice confirms she heard one early that morning. It was flying low presumably on account of the fog. Worrals and Frecks let Alice return home. Worrals speculates that the man in the field was probably there to collect diamonds thrown from the aircraft, but due to the fog, he was late arriving. She thinks that is the only way a diamond could have got into the bird’s nest. Some package was thrown out of a plane and has accidently burst. Worrals and Frecks search and find a small red bag attached to a little white box high up in the trees. The box has apparently hit a branch and scattered its load. A twenty minute search yields three diamonds. Worrals and Frecks remain in the field and in due course two men arrive. Worrals sends Frecks to the village post office to make a telephone call to Air Commodore Raymond to tell him “the bird he wants to meet is right here by the nest”. Frecks returns and says “The Chief is on his way. The Flying Squad should be here in about half an hour”. Worrals and Frecks watch the men searching for a while and when the men engage them in conversation, Worrals asks one of them if he is looking for this and shows him a diamond. “That’s mine” he says. “And I’m sure the police, who are standing behind you, will be interested to hear you say that” announced Worrals calmly. The two men are handcuffed and taken away. Air Commodore Raymond says the diamonds were stolen from a Paris dealer yesterday. Frecks remarks how lucky it was that Raymond found them having lunch but Raymond says it wasn’t luck, their housekeeper had told him where they could be found. Frecks looked at Worrals. “Well!, Of all the frauds!...”
This story was rewritten by W. E. Johns and published in 'Stirring Stories for Girls' in 1960 as 'Pearls and Primroses' with the two lead characters becoming police officer Margaret Robertson and her assistant Jill Peters. Biggles fans will also recognise the same story, rewritten again and published in 'Biggles Flies to Work' in 1963 as 'The Case of the Early Boy'.
First Edition - Published by Odhams Press Ltd, London 1946 - 320 pages – click on the above image to see it before digital restoration
WORRALS TAKES A HAND
First Published in 'The Children's Gift Book' in 1946 - 21 pages – from page 233 to 253 inclusive
Worrals lands her red and silver Ranger aircraft at Najula in East Africa and goes to the office of Equatorial Airways. Here she meets Tommy Batson. “My name’s Worralson,” she replied evenly. “To my friends, just Worrals”. She is offered a cigarette but says “I don’t use them – thanks all the same. Don’t let that stop you, though”. Worrals says she wired Batson about her friend Lovell. “We call her Frecks. She came here a fortnight ago. Where is she?” Batson doesn’t know. “She went off on her first trip and she didn’t come back” he says. Worrals says they both saw his advertisement in the paper and but for domestic affairs she would have come out with Frecks. Worrals asks Batson why he wanted pilots with their own machines. Batson explains that he had two aircraft, both crashed and he couldn’t afford another. He has a contract with the Novo Mining Corporation at Situri to transport their gold. They are situated some 600 mile away. He needs pilots with planes but in the last three months his last four pilots have all disappeared and he doesn’t know why. Worrals asks if she can have the job. She offers to start tomorrow, after she has returned to Narobi to collect her things. Worrals asks to see a map of the area and is intrigued by an area outlined in black. This is the Maratoro Reserve, owned by the Government as it has large patches of diamond-bearing gravel and diamonds are a Government monopoly. “Prospecting for diamonds is forbidden. No one without a licence is allowed to handle diamonds, and regions in which they might be found are closed to explorers”. Batson has permission to fly over the Maratoro Reserve as long as he doesn’t land. Worrals returns to Narobi and then the following morning she sets off to the Novo Mining Corporation, taking the post with her. Flying at 200 mph, Worrals arrives at her destination some three hours later. Here she meets three suspicious men, the first introduces himself as Lane and he appears to be their leader. Lane asks Worrals if she wants to fly for him and she declines. Lane asks if he and his men can have a lift back with Worrals in her aircraft and it is hard for her to refuse. In the air, a man who says his name is Tyson, pulls a gun on Worrals and she is forced to land in the middle of the Maratoro Reserve. Tyson confesses that although he is a pilot he is liable to crash planes due to “fever” (although we later find out it is alcohol abuse). The men have been responsible for all of the missing planes and when they land Worrals is handed over to a “gigantic negro” called Sam. Sam is holding Frecks and two male pilots prisoner in a hut, “the big negro was the jailer”. The two male pilots are Jimmy Smith and Bob Cable. Jimmy has a bullet wound in his thigh and Bob is down with fever. Worrals discovers the three men who were in her plane are diamond smugglers. Worrals tells Frecks that Batson is in with them and she knows it as she has made enquiries before she came out. Batson and Tyson are old friends. The pilots are in some peril. “If that unspeakable negro is to be believed, they’re going to murder the lot of us”. When Worrals says she is going to the river to get some water, Frecks warns “If you go out that nigger will shoot you. He’s never far away”. The baddies get ready to fly the plane away because Tyson can fly when he’s sober. Whilst they do this, Worrals lights a fire. The engine of Worrals plane won’t start despite the efforts of the three men. “They all tried, using a lot of bad language and losing a lot of perspiration”. Lane comes to speak to Worrals and she tells him that she has put water in the fuel tank. Lane whips out his automatic and threatens to shoot Worrals in his rage. Worrals tells him to look behind him before he does anything rash. Turning, Lane sees “a line of little dark-skinned men of the African Rifles, a white officer at their head”. The baddies are all captured. Worrals tells Frecks that when she went to Nairobi, she agreed with the Commanding Officer of the R.A.F. establishment there to monitor her constant radio signal from the tied down rocker arm of her radio. When the call signal stopped on the route they knew that she would be flying on, they would have a rough idea of where she was. The fire was to send up a smoke signal to fix the position for them. Worrals put the water in the gravity tank only, so they could still use the main tank to fly. Worrals says they will have to fly the two sick pilots to Nairobi.