Everyone in his family seemed to find war-work except DW. DW's stepson Bill Younger was already working for MI5, and his wife Joan secured a position as an MI5 driver. On the day war was declared even DW's old friend Joe Links turned up in an Air Force uniform - he had been put in charge of a barrage balloon section in Hampstead.
DW wrote several letters to the Ministry of Information offering his services as a writer and propagandist, but did not even receive the courtesy of a reply.
DW asked his friend Maxwell Knight if he could find a niche for him too in MI5; but Knight was unable to oblige. Knight suggested that in order to keep up the public's morale DW continue to write his thrillers. Knight also asked DW to give cover as a researcher to one of his agents, Fritzi Gartner, or 'Agent Gelatine', who happened to be something of a beauty. According to one source, DW's stepson William Younger fell in love with her (he was apparently neither the first nor the last to do so) and proposed marriage to her, but his offer was declined.
In one of those curious twists of fate that one would hesitate to invent, while Friedl ended up marrying an American diplomat named Donald Calder, her sister Lisel ended up marrying a Major Ian Menzies, who happened to be the younger brother of Major General Stewart Menzies, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6.
DW worked on 'The Scarlet Impostor' at breakneck speed. Working most days from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. the following morning he got it finished on 19th October. He had written one hundred and seventy two thousand words in seven weeks, and he considered it one of the best books he had ever written.
It was published in January 1940 and was a huge success - not least because DW had the innovative idea of giving it a contemporary setting, and sent his hero (Gregory Sallust) into war time Germany to wage secret battle there.
References : 'Stranger Than Fiction' Chapter 1.
'Drink and Ink' Chapters 16 & 17.
Phil Baker pp 387-392.
Craig Cabell Chapter 3.
Also, on Fritzi Gartner, Anthony Masters 'The Man Who Was M', pages 71-4 etc; and on Fritzi Gartner and William Younger, Bernard Connor, 'Agent Fifi and the Honeytrap Spies', Chapter Seven page 139.