This contains six short stories. Three of the stories are Gimlet, Worrals and Biggles stories respectively, then there are three other war stories.
The Gimlet, Worrals and Biggles stories are unique to this collection and are not to be found in any other W. E. Johns' books published.
AN ORIENTAL ASSIGNMENT
A "King" of the Commandos story.
This story runs from pages 7 to 61. Gimlet, Cub, Copper and Trapper are asked to go to French Indo-China (now Vietnam) in this war time story. The reason is to collect an unusual form of Heveabraziliensis or rubber tree. Sir Lionel Radnor had cultivated a strain of sufficient hardiness to be grown in a temperate climate. He destroyed the lot apart from 20 seeds, which he hid. Later, he was captured and tortured by the Japanese until he died. Word has reached British Intelligence via Radnor's chief native assistant, Charla Song, as to where the seeds are hidden. They have been hidden in a hollow elephant in the Oriente Hotel in Saigon, but that is now being used by Japanese Officers. Gimlet and his men fly out with Biggles and Ginger (so this is technically a Biggles story as well) who will return to pick them up in two days. Making their way to the Oriente Hotel proves easy but the seeds are not in the hollow elephant. Contacted by a Chinese relative of Charla Song's, Chang Chu, our heroes learn that Charla had moved the seeds and re-hidden them. He too had been tortured and executed by the Japanese. In Charla's demolished house, a Chinese proverb - "By still water in a garden is happiness found" leads Cub to twenty planted rubber tree saplings. These are the missing and priceless seeds! Chased by the Japanese, Gimlet and his commandos, accompanied by Chang Chu escape to rendezvous with Biggles, Ginger and Algy (both Biggles and Ginger get a few lines on the last pages of the book) and to a lengthy flight home.
ON THE HOME FRONT
A "Worrals" of the W.A.A.F. story.
This story runs from pages 63 to 103. Worrals is sent to investigate the story of Aircraftwoman Norma Day, whose friend Doris Marchant has been found drowned. They both worked on a barrage balloon and had witnessed strange things happening, particularly when a piece of their balloon had appeared to 'break off'. Doris had been investigating alone when she disappeared and was later found drowned in the river. Worrals works out the direction of the prevailing winds and flies around to investigate the lie of the land. Frecks sees something suspicious at a nearby mansion house, Gresham Grange, and the girls decide to concentrate further enquiries there. Investigating the supposedly abandoned house at night, Worrals and Frecks take Norma with them, to act as look out. They see a German plane fly over the house and also what appears to be some sort of signal. Later a balloon is released from the top of the house. Sending for help, Worrals and Frecks unexpectedly find themselves in a confrontation when four men are seen with a car. The men are speaking in German. Worrals shoots out the tyres on the car, to stop the men escaping. A gun battle takes place and Worrals and Frecks retreat to the river, which has bricked up sides. Frecks is injured and both girls end up in the river. After being swept downstream, Worrals is able to get Frecks out, only to be confronted by one of the Germans with a gun. Norma Day shoots him dead just as Air Commodore Raymond arrives with reinforcements to catch the spies.
THUNDER OVER GERMANY
A "Biggles" adventure.
This story runs from pages 105 to 135. Air Commodore Raymond brings a 16-year-old Air Training Corps cadet called Peter Masters to see Biggles. Peter knows the location of a huge German petrol store in the Black Forest as he used to live in Germany when his father was in the Diplomatic Service. Taking three Mosquito Aircraft and Peter with him, to act as guide, Biggles leads Flight Lieutenants Algy Lacy and Bertie Lissie and Flying Officers Ginger Hebblethwaite and Tug Carrington on a bombing raid. The dump is successfully bombed. Biggles estimates that it contained a million gallons of oil. Attacked on the return journey by a Focke-Wulf 190 and then 18 Messerschmitts, Biggles and his colleagues have to use all their flying skills to get home safely. As they reach the English Channel they meet a huge force of German aircraft but Biggles still has a surprise in store.
THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME
A story of U-boat warfare.
17 year old Jack Carrington lives on the island of Trinidad. When exploring the remote Porpoise Island for coconuts, Jack comes across a hidden German U-boat refuelling. Seen by the Germans, Jack flees under fire and dives off a cliff. He hides in an underwater cave he discovers. Later, he ties a punctured can of oil to the submarine, in order for the leaking oil to leave a trace in the sea as a method of locating it and then gets back to a Fleet Air Arm marine aircraft base to report his findings. They send out ships and aircraft and sink the submarine. Returning to Porpoise Island and the hidden cave, Jack finds the skeleton of a dead pirate and just over a hundred gold coins.
A NIGHT OUT
A story of a sabotage raid.
Pilot Officer Kazi Mahomet meets up again with his old childhood friend, Flying Officer Lance Lorimer. Both of their fathers had fought side by side, and died fighting for their regiment in India. Lance now carries out sabotage operations in Germany and Kazi gets to go with him. They fly to Germany, land and then blow up a Railway Bridge just as an ammunition train goes through. They then have to fight off the Germans to get back to their plane and fly back to England out running German planes. Ditching in the sea just off the English coast with a holed fuel tank, Lance and Kaziare picked up by the Navy. As they are close to the coast they are able to tow in and save their plane before it sinks.
A ROUTINE JOB
A story of the commandos.
When 15 year old Hubert Fairfax is rescued from a canoe on the Mediterranean Sea he has an interesting story to tell. His father had been working in Rome at the outbreak of the Second World War and had been arrested and interned. Hubert, who spoke fluent English and Italian, has been forced to join a Fascist propaganda department but used the opportunity to gather useful intelligence. Learning of a new secret submarine base being built by the Germans at Casagrande, Hubert had stolen the plans for the base and set off for Malta to bring the important information to the attention of the British. Hubert is asked by Colonel "Buster" Brown, of "Buster's Bulldogs" to act as scout on a commando raid on the submarine base. Hubert suggests that they could also use the raid to liberate his father and other internees from Castelvero, just 4 miles away from the base. The extra men could then be armed to help in the attack. The plan is for a two pronged assault, Hubert, going with a dozen commandos to free the internees and then attack the submarine base from the rear. Whilst the Germans are distracted, the main commando force will then attack from the sea. This happens, the base is destroyed and Hubert is reunited with his father.
Book Condition & Notes
Hodder & Stoughton, London 1947. First edition. Bound in original dark blue publisher's cloth, with gilt titles to upper cover and spine. Unclipped dust-wrapper (6/- net). 227 pp.; colour frontispiece. Some foxing and minor dustiness to the page-edges. In a generally VG+ wrapper showing small chips and creases to the spine-ends and corners (small spots of loss). Internally clean and tight. Overall, a pleasing example. The dustwrapper is housed in a protective removable film.
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