WORRALS IN THE WASTELANDS
First Published in January 1949 - 215 pages
The original title of this book was going to be “Worrals and the Lipstick Clue”
You can view a letter from W. E. Johns’ agent, Peter Watt, HERE to W. E. Johns informing him that the publisher wants to change the title of the book
Bill Johns has written on the letter “W in the Wasteland” (there was no ‘s’ on the end as far as I can see) but could it also be read as “W in the Northland”(?)
The original first edition dust jacket – showing the original book price of 7/6 - by Reginald Heade (born Reginald Cyril Webb) 1901 – 1957
WORRALS IN THE WASTELANDS
Click on any chapter for a summary of the events in that chapter or see the general story summary below
Worrals is asked by Air Commodore Raymond, Assistant Commissioner of Police at Scotland Yard, to go and arrest a woman wanted for war crimes. The woman is Anna Shultz from Stenberg Internment Camp - a concentration camp. A clue has indicated that Shultz is in Canada, at Lake Desolation, an inhospitable place, that can only be reached by weeks of land travel - or by an aircraft. Flying out in a twin-engined six-seater Ranger aircraft, Worrals and Frecks go to Lake Desolation and glide in quietly to arrive without anyone knowing. After a confrontation with a wounded bear, Worrals and Frecks find a wounded and starving man in their camp. He is Max Lowenhardt and he has an interesting story to tell, which ties in with certain facts that Worrals already knew in advance. Lowenhardt was the wireless operator for Hauptmann Otto Rumey. Rumey and a Fritz Hanstadt had been prospecting for gold in Northern Canada before the war started. They were also looking for suitable sites for a secret U-boat base. They had met with two old trappers, Erik Hedin, a Swede and Angus Fraser, a Scot, who had told them that war had broken out. With advance warning, the two Germans were able to avoid internment and get back to Germany. In order to do so, they had to spend some pale yellow gold they had found. After the war, a Captain John Larwood had tried his hand at prospecting and teamed up with Hedin, whilst Fraser was in hospital. Larwood and Hedin had heard about the gold and set off to Lake Desolation to find it. They were flown up and had made arrangements to be picked up on a certain date, but they failed to meet the plane and a search could find no trace of them. The connection with Anna Shultz was this. Otto Rumey was in love with Anna and had told her about the gold he found in Canada. After the war, the two of them had flown to Lake Desolation to collect it by panning it out of the sand. Rumey had taken Lowenhardt with him. Anna wanted to bring a Doctor Wolfe with her. Rumey refused outright, but the Doctor stowed away on board their aircraft. Unknown to Rumey, Doctor Wolfe is in fact, Anna's husband. On arrival at Lake Desolation, the aircraft has had its wings cut off and has been covered in stones. It is now the Germans' base and they refer to it as "the box". The Germans had met up with Larwood and Hedin and joined forces with them, to pan the gold. The plan is merely to use Larwood and Hedin and then murder them when the work is done. Doctor Wolfe drugged Larwood and Hedin to prevent them meeting the plane that was to collect them. When they wake, they think the plane had failed to come and carry on working. One day, when Larwood and Hedin are out hunting, Rumey catches Shultz and Wolfe hugging each other and a confrontation results in Anna shooting both Rumey and Lowenhardt and dumping their bodies. But Lowenhardt has survived and is now able to tell Worrals the story. Rumey had a plan to get away from Lake Desolation. He was waiting for his old partner, Hanstadt, to come. Worrals realises that the lives of Larwood and Hedin are hanging by a thread. When Shultz and Wolfe need them no more, they will kill them and have all the gold. On a recognisance mission to view "the box", Frecks accidentally meets Anna Shultz, who is quite friendly towards her. Frecks says she has flown up and agrees to fly Shultz and Wolfe out, the plan being to arrest them both when they are off guard. Worrals agrees with Frecks' plan and the following morning they go to collect Shultz and Wolfe. However, Worrals has an unfriendly reception because Shultz and Wolfe have had all their gold stolen! Worrals offers to fly around and look for Larwood and Hedin who are the obvious suspects in the gold theft. Only the four of them knew where it was hidden. Worrals flies back to her camp, where the wounded Lowenhardt is recovering and finds, not only Larwood and Hedin, but also Angus Fraser. He has come to look for his missing partner. Fraser has found out about Anna Shultz and was able to warn Larwood and Hedin that they were in bad company. This is why they have taken the gold. Worrals forms a plan to catch Shultz and Wolfe and arrest them. She will say she has found Larwood and Hedin's camp and when they go to get the gold back, as they are sure to do, an ambush can take place. Flying back to Shultz and Wolfe, the trap is set, only to be ruined by the arrival of Hanstadt and ten men of the German navy. The Germans' plan is for the Germans to march back to their secret U-boat base and escape with the gold. However, Hanstadt is planning to take the gold to South America for the benefit of the surviving Nazis, whereas Anna Shultz wants the gold for herself and her husband. Hanstadt and four men go with Shultz to recover the gold. Worrals and Frecks are kept at the camp. Allying herself with Doctor Wolfe, for the time being, Worrals enlists his help to get away. Wolfe uses a drug to knock out the remaining German sailors. Worrals then handcuffs Wolfe to the inside of "the box". Worrals and Frecks then fly down to the ambush site to forewarn everybody what the current situation is. The confrontation occurs. Lowenhardt is able to tell Hanstadt the truth about what really happened to Rumey. Anna Shultz runs for it and Worrals refuses to shoot her as she wants to take her alive. Chasing after her, Worrals sees Anna meet the wounded bear, a bear she, Anna, had shot and Anna is badly mauled. Worrals gets Hanstadt to promise that he won't remove Doctor Wolfe on his return to "the box". Hanstadt keeps his promise by leaving Wolfe's body after shooting him dead on seeing what he has done to his men. Shultz's wounds turn septic and she dies two days later in hospital.
With the exception of the frontispiece (which is merely the cover illustration), there are no story illustrations in the FIRST EDITION of this book, however you can
The book was later re-issued by the publishers at the lower price of 6 shillings, they re-priced the original dust wrappers and cut off the 7/6 from the corner! – See example below.
This is confusing for collectors as everyone would naturally assume the lower price would be the earlier edition
The book was re-issued again in 1950 in a “New Illustration Edition” by the publishers and they changed W. E. Johns credit by giving him the title “Captain” back.
They had omitted this from the original publication and it was one of the reasons Johns was annoyed with Lutterworths and parted company with them.
You can view a letter from W. E. Johns to Martin Lewis at Lutterworths HERE informing him why he was unhappy with Lutterworths as publishers of the Worrals books
French edition – Le Lac Maudit – (The Cursed Lake)– There were no illustrations in this edition
(The artwork is identical, but notice how they have darkened the hair of the man on the ground)
Click on the picture above to see it in more detail
Worrals in the Wastelands
Subtitle - none
Publication Details - published by Lutterworth Press