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NEW REQUIEM-RELATED BOOK
John Stanley's well-researched and detailed book about the real crash of the
real bomber featured in Requiem For A Wren has now been released. It would
be an ideal gift for anyone interested in Nevil Shute or in World War 2.
That would cover just about everyone worth talking to.
Why not stock up on Christmas and birthday presents now while stocks last ?
The Exbury Junkers, A World War II Mystery by John Stanley ISBN
1-903953-60-X is available for 9.95 British Pounds plus postage.
10 British Pounds roughly converts to 18 US Dollars or 15 Euro or 24
Australian Dollars or 71 Polish Zloty or 13 Jordanian Dinars.
The book is available from:
Woodfield Publishing, Woodfield House, Babsham Lane, Bognor Regis, West
Sussex, PO21 5EL, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)1243 821234, Fax: +44 (0)1243 821757, E-mail: email@example.com,
We await the first review for our bibliography section.
SHUTE ACADEMIC PAPERS
Arden Jensen of Cleveland, Tennessee, The USA writes:
I recently delivered a paper about Nevil Shute's work to the 2004 Tennessee
Philological Association Conference. Would you be interested in it for your
Editor's Comment: I replied that essays and articles about Shute and his
works make very popular reading on our website. The variety of perspectives
on Shute's work constantly amazes me. I am looking forward to Arden's paper.
R101 CRASH THEORY / R100 MODEL
Shute accepted the official leaking gasbag theory for R-101's crash. There
is at least another theory, propounded by E. F. Spanner in The Tragedy of
R-101. That theory relies on structural failure in the central new bay
(inserted in a hurry to get more lift, because the ship was overweight) as
the result of hard-up elevator position through flying at low altitude in
gusty weather. I found Spanner's book, when I read it about 1946 (Found on
CS Forester's bookshelves; haven't seen a copy since, nor one on Amazon), to
Having considerable interest in the R-101/R-100 controversy, I ordered and
assembled the Marquette model of R-100. It is flying at near ceiling height
above my dining table; looks quite nice. Had to make a hidden toggle
fitting with which to suspend it, removable for mounting on the tower. That
mounting is not so good. However, I have a photo of R-100, the only one of
R-100 shown in the R-101 memorial book. That photo shows tail fins just like
the model's. The engine car mountings have been simplified, but would be
difficult to do better on such a small scale. If I had had good
information, I might have tried to include a proper ladder and thrust cable
Editor's Comment: The book The Tragedy of R101 by E.F. Spanner was published
within months of the Inquiry in August 1931.
I also found this reference in a website about the psychic Eileen Garret:
'In a sitting at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research on October 7,
1930, two days after the explosion of the R101, Flight Lieutenant H.C.
Irwin, Captain of the airship, suddenly entranced Mrs. Garrett, announced
his presence and gave the listeners a highly technical account of how the
airship crashed. The narrative was taken down in shorthand and a copy was
submitted to the Air Ministry. According to the opinion of experts, a number
of observations in the message tallied in every detail with what was
afterwards found in the course of the official inquiry. E.F. Spanner, the
well-known naval architect and marine engineer, came to exactly the same
conclusions in his book, The Tragedy of the R101.'
Call me shallow and frivolous but I just love reading about a marine
engineer named Spanner. I bet his nick name was Shifty. (for the rest of the
world to really appreciate my brilliant joke they must understand that what
they call an Adjustable Wrench, Australians call a Shifting Spanner)
NEVIL MET AMY
of Hull, The UK writes:
I can confirm that Nevil Shute met Amy Johnson. Amy was a friend of my
mother and it was through my mother's collection of Shute novels that I
became a fan.
ALICE DVD OPTION / LAY-BY OR LAY-AWAY
of North Carolina, The USA, writes:
The last time I looked, Alice on VHS was in plentiful supply on Amazon and
it should be easy to convert it to DVD (it's legal as long it's for not for
resale) and then sell the VHS on eBay.
Lay-By (Lay Away) is still quite popular in this area, especially around
Christmas, as many of the local folk lack sufficient income for credit cards
and rarely have enough cash in their pocket at any one time.
Editor's Comment: Most areas have a business that will convert home movies
to DVD. They should be able to convert a VHS to DVD. However, I have
suspicions about the legality of this process and any business's likely
willingness to do such a copy above the table. If the situation was
desperate, some extra weeping and pained, desperate looks at the business
owner through big, pleading, tear-filled eyes might convince them to make
you a copy even if it was not strictly legal. A good example of a desperate
situation is the previous reader whose aged mother no longer had a VHS
player and really needed to make a DVD copy of her own, legally purchased,
VHS tape to maintain her quality of life. So long as the DVD copy was not
sold, lent, or rented out the copying might be at least morally justifiable.
However I would caution everyone to tread very carefully as copyright is a
very serious business and once in a while enforcement agencies decide to
make an example of relatively innocent individuals who only wanted everyone
to be happy. If someone wants to sue or imprison anyone, I did NOT say you
should copy a tape to a DVD. The silliness of this situation is that I am
sure we would all happily pay reasonable sums for all the Nevil Shute films
on DVD if only they were available.
As this is a constantly re-surfacing issue I would appreciate email from
anyone who can definitely say, with authority, what the legal situation is
in this case.
UK R-2004 / DMWD / GLIDING TORPEDO
Thanks for the Howden (R100 Airship construction site - now a golf course)
maps, photographs etc just downloaded today. What I will do is to print
these out and provide copies for those (Reunion attendees) who want them.
R-2004 will run from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime. I've planned an
outing for Saturday afternoon to the Air Museum at Elvington. The Hotel
we're using is only a couple of miles away.
Ken Deacon from Howden is coming to give us a slide show about the airship
station on Sunday morning.
I am in the middle of writing up my talk on 'Nevil Shute and the DMWD' based
on Pawle's The Secret War, Julian Smiths biography and my own researches at
the National Archives. We will have photos of many of the devices.
Whilst at the UK National Archives I had a quick look at the documents they
have on Denis Burney's gliding torpedo, which NSN assisted with in
1939-early 1940. There are 9 thick files of correspondence, minutes and
papers from the Admiralty and Air Ministry relating to Burney's Toraplane
and Doravane inventions. The Toraplane was the gliding torpedo designed to
be dropped from an aircraft, glide at low level and shed its wings on
entering the water. The Doravane was a gliding bomb. The Admiralty were keen
on the Toraplane and there are minutes of meetings in late 1939 at
Portsmouth, Chaired by Admiral Sir William James with Air Marshall Joubert,
Professor G.P.Thomson, Sir Denis Burney and Mr.Norway (always referred to as
Sir Denis Burney's assistant). This was the Toraplane Development Committee
discussing the trials that were taking place and developments in hand.
Burney must have done a good selling job to warrant the formation of such a
high powered committee (G.P. Thomson was an eminent physicist of the time,
son of J.J.Thomson, discoverer of the electron).
Doing all this and a full time job is hard work! I'd love to be able to
retire and do the research full time - if only!
Editor's Comment: Readers of Landfall will see the Toraplane and Doravane
work reflected in that novel. Landfall, published in 1940, must have been
written while the work was being done or immediately afterward.
UK R-2004 will be held on May 15th and 16th at the Gateway to York Hotel in
YORK. It's not too late to sign up.
ON THE BEACH / MULTIPLE VOTES
of Corona del Mar, California, The USA writes:
Now that I've found your Foundation's web site, I've ordered The Seafarers
and Smith's biography. I've read all of Shute's other books except On the
Beach; I didn't want to cope with our real threat of annihilation.
I am cheered by the existence of the Foundation.
I expect Nevil Shute will remain my sensory input for Australia. The
richness of his descriptions makes me feel I know much about being there.
With our lives increasingly controlled by Big Bucks and Big Media, I wonder
if a combination of In the Wet's multiple votes and the internet would
return political power to the many good and noble and interesting people.
Editor's Comment: I would still recommend On The Beach. While it has a grim
theme, it is still so optimistic about people in general and is really about
living what life you have to the fullest while retaining absolute regard for
It is more a plan for life than death. Though On The Beach is not a comedy,
I can see a lot in common with Bill Murray's excellent early 1990s comedy
Groundhog Day. Both are intelligent, well observed and have a Carpe Diem
In today's world we have to be wary of the 7 votes because TV Evangelists
would probably get 6 votes having graduated from their own universities and
being ministers of their own religions.
My simpler plan would give readers of Shute 7 votes and everybody else would
EXBURY JUNKERS REPORT
David Dawson-Taylor writes:
Kate and I were privileged to be asked to represent the Nevil Shute
Foundation at the launching of John Stanley's new book, The Exbury Junkers,
which detailed the event around which Nevil Shute's novel 'Requiem for a
Wren' was based.
About 100 people were assembled in the Five Arrows gallery, a small building
within the grounds near to Exbury House itself. An impressive number of
guests were included and we
were introduced to John Stanley by Nicholas de
Rothschild, who some of you will remember conducted us round Exbury during
the visit there by the delegates to UK2003.
John Stanley gave a very interesting talk
to introduce himself and how he got involved in the subject. He told us about the
detailed research that he carried out over some eight years using a great
variety of sources, and some of the frustrations he met along the way. He has
unearthed some very interesting facts, dispelled some misconceptions and explained how Nevil
Shute slightly changed some of the facts to make his novel more interesting.
John met a large number of eyewitnesses to the event and recorded their
stories; many of these people were present at the book launch. It would be
worth reading the text of his talk, which is also attached.
Whilst we were all eating the buffet lunch so thoughtfully provided, John
kindly signed many copies of his book, which were on sale.
After lunch, we had a very interesting talk by Val Biro, the designer of the
original book cover for 'Requiem for a Wren'. Val explained how the
publishers had asked that his original design should include more aircraft
and more action, and they didn't like his 'pink sunset'. He showed us the
original painting of this design, from
which he cut the figure of Janet which he then pasted onto his second version. He also
altered the composition slightly to show a dog ('Dev') alongside Janet, rather than the
figure of a soldier ('Bill'). He is a very interesting man, still active in
writing and illustrating children's books. As he lives not far from us, I
will try to get to see him again.
Afterwards, John Stanley took us out to the field just south of Exbury House
near to where the Junkers crashed; unfortunately we were unable to get close
to the actual crash site. Here John gave a very
descriptive account of the occasion, the text of which is enclosed. Phyllis Hellier
(nee Stephens), the WAAF ambulance driver from Calshot who collected the dead airmen, and whose
photograph is on page 28 of the book, was also with us that day.
All in all, a very interesting day.
Editor's Comment: I was interested to see that on Val Biro's first version
of the cover showed that the original title was Elegy For A Wren. I wonder
if the last minute change was from Shute or his publishers. Shute said his
only arguments with his publishers came over title changes.
Doubtless, David has refrained from mentioning the famous Exbury afternoon
tea scones with jam and cream so we won't get too jealous.
SHUTE IN RUSSIAN
Stephen C Farrand of Freeport, Maine, The USA writes:
Rereading No Highway while suffering from a spring cold, I Googled Nevil
Shute and happened on your excellent web site. I'd like to make you aware
of a Russian translation of Pied Piper and On the Beach, translated by Nora
Gal' and published by Khudozhestvennaya literatura in Moscow in 1991 in
paperback. It's part of a series called 'The Foreign Novel of the 20th
Nora Gal was a major translator of 20th century French and English fiction.
The Russian title for Pied Piper is ???????? (Krysolov), literally 'rat
catcher' in English. Oddly enough, the whole translation is available online
at http://lib.ru/INPROZ/SHUT/piedpipe.txt. On the Beach is ?? ?????? (Na
beregu). I've read only the former, which I enjoyed immensely. I'd describe
my Russian as good, not excellent, as a foreigner; and the only thing that
rang a little false were several of Ms.Gal's translations of Shute's wry
I should credit Gal with bringing me to understand one moment I missed in
English, benighted Yank that I am. When Howard is talking to the English
children's mother, he says something like, 'just tell me what they say when
they, er, need to retire.' I assumed he meant to bed. Ms. Gal's Russian
(also euphemistic) set me straight.
Editor's Comment: If, like me, you didn't know what meiosis meant, it means
This is the 2nd letter in a month from someone who was home with a cold,
read Nevil Shute, looked him up on the internet, found our website and wrote
us a letter. As the Southern Hemisphere winter approaches I am expecting a
surge in membership provided we are struck by a rash of head colds.
ENGINEERING AND BIBLIOGRAPHY WEBSITE PROJECTS
Enquiries have been received regarding 2 possible website projects. The
first is an update to the ENGINEERING section of the website to include a
page dedicated to MODEL ENGINEERING. The second is an expansion to the
BIBLIOGRAPHY section, to include full publication details of various
editions of Nevil Shute Novels. If you are interested in contributing to
either of these pages, or would like to get involved in helping to create
them, please contact the website manger directly at
firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
TUG'S CLOSE SHAVE
of Southampton, The UK writes:
Yesterday I went to the reception at Exbury Gardens to mark the publication
of John Stanley's book 'The Exbury Junkers - A World War II Mystery'.
Nicholas de Rothschild, John Stanley and Val Biro all spoke at the event.
Nicholas de Rothschild spoke of the experience of Leading Seaman Reg 'Tug'
Wilson, whose close shave as he cycled along the road between Lepe and
Exbury is recorded on page 17 of the book. Tug recounts how he 'had to
bike like hell to get out of the way' of the burning engines of the crashed
bomber that came through the hedge 'like two huge balls of twisted metal'.
I don't know if your organization have any influence over the publication
of further editions of Nevil Shute's books, but if you have, I think it
would be a good idea for a further edition of 'Requiem for a Wren' to be
released. It is at present out of print and cannot be obtained. Even
through Amazon books only second hand copies are available. I am sure it
would sell well through the usual outlets and especially through the gift
shop at Exbury. There is huge interest here in the UK on the 60th
anniversary of D-Day and it is a shame that the book is no longer available.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a special edition with Val Biro's cover design ?
Editor's Comment: I wish we did have some influence. Maybe some nice
publisher gets this newsletter and will take Jenny's hint.
VAL BIRO'S WEBSITE
Val Biro was born in Hungary on October 6th 1921. He moved to England in
1939 and became a graphic designer. Val created the excellent English and
Australian first edition dustjackets for 5 of Shute's books: Round The Bend,
The Far Country, In The Wet, Requiem For A Wren and Beyond The Black Stump.
Val also designed dustjackets for CS Forester's Hornblower books and many
Fans of Val Biro's artwork and children's books should see Val's website at: www.valbiro.co.uk
WEBSITE UPDATE - NEVIL SHUTE TRANSLATIONS
The Translations section of the website has been updated to include details
of Nevil Shute books in Russian. Some additional translations in German
have also been added. Many thanks to the dedicated Shutists who have
provided information for this. If you would like to add anything, please
mail the website manager directly at email@example.com
BOOK REVIEW SUGGESTION
Would someone like to do a review for the website of Miles Smeeton's sailing
book Once is Enough. Any volunteers ?
Mike Naugle firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Hi--I'm new to this site, but I'm an enthusiastic Shute reader who uses
Shute's novels in my college English classes. Does your organization offer
any sort of on-line group where members can receive other's letters
automatically as well as post letters to the web site? If so, I'd
appreciate knowing more about it. If there's some obvious indication of
this on my computer's screen, I apologize. I have to use sound-adaptive
technology instead of the screen, and that software doesn't read me
everything that's on the screen. Thanks,
Editor's Comment: I directed Mike to our Discussion Pages, which seemed the
closest answer to his request. I have also asked Mike if he uses our library
of audio books which are available whenever we can drag them back from the
long distance truckers who listen while driving their road trains through
the vast expanses of Australia's Northern Territory.
WEBSITE UPDATE - EVEN MORE DETAILS ON THE EXBURY JUNKERS BOOK LAUNCH
You can read more about 'The Exbury Junkers' book launch in the BIBLIOGRAPHY
section of the website www.nevilshute.org where you will find the
transcripts of two speeches given by John Stanley, details of guests
invited to attend the event, a photo of the original book cover painted by
Val Biro for 'Elegy on a Wren' (its first title, later 'Requiem for a Wren',
published by Heinemann), some photographs of the event, a link to the
publishers website and a link to Val Biro's website who designed covers for
several of Nevil Shute's novels.
WEIGHTY HYDROGEN SUMS
This is in reply to Nathaniel Wilson's e mail in the March Newsletter
concerning the volume of hydrogen required for an Airship. I'm taking an
engineer's simplified approach which would be as follows:-
The airship has a mass of 40 tonnes = 40,000 kg. At standard temp and
pressure of 1 atmosphere and 20 Celsius the density of air is 1.29 kg/ cubic
metre and that of hydrogen is 0.09 kg/cubic metre. So for every cubic metre
of hydrogen that displaces air there is a lift of 1.2 kg. So to give a lift
of 40,000 kg you would need 40,000/1.2 = 33,333 cubic metres of hydrogen
(call this V1). To correct for temperature and pressure V2 =
P1 is 1 atmosphere (~100kPa) and P2= the pressure at 3000m = 72kPa. T2 is
the temperature at 3000m = 281K and T1 = 273+20 = 293K. So the hydrogen
volume at 3000m would be 33,333x100x281/(72x293) = 44,400 cubic metres.
Note:- I've neglected the weight of the hydrogen and this volume would only
allow the airship to float at ground level - you would need more than this
in reality. Also note that the hydrogen expands as the air pressure
decreases with altitude thus this was one of the restrictions on flying
airships - they flew at about 1000 to 1500 feet (300 to 450 metres) even so
gas had to be vented off as it expanded. 3000m or nearly 10,000 feet would
be unrealistic for an airship.
Finally, just for interest, the R100 had a hydrogen volume of 5 million
cubic feet or 140,000 cubic metres. Taking a lift of 1.2kg per cubic metre
of hydrogen the gross lift for R100 would be about 170 metric tonnes. In
Slide Rule Shute gives a gross lift for R100 of 156 tons so we're in the
right ball park.
Editor's Comment: Amazingly, John's answer coincides exactly with the
calculations I have just worked out here in crayon on the back of my Donald
who lives near Exbury in The UK is
negotiating with AP Watt, Shute's highly esteemed and extremely diligent
literary agents, for the necessary copyright permission to write and produce
a play based on Requiem For A Wren. Jenny writes:
I would adhere to the story as written by Nevil Shute and draw on the
first-hand recollections of people who served in the armed forces and estate
management at Exbury in order to give background to the narrative and keep
it as true to life as possible.
The people at Exbury Gardens are very excited at the prospect of running the
play as a number of outdoor performances and would like to run it yearly if
it proves successful. They would like the first performances to coincide
with the 60th anniversary of VE Day (May 8th 2005). Exbury Gardens feel a
strong identity with the novel 'Requiem for a Wren' and I think they should
be the first venue for performances. Indoor theatre performances at the
Nuffield Theatre Southampton are therefore likely to follow later in 2005.
Editor's Comment: I am sure that Jenny would welcome any sincere offers of
help, as staging a play is a massive and complex task. It would be very good
karma to help her and would earn you some valuable Shute-Points.
ON THE BEACH TITLE SOURCE
I have ready On The Beach several times. I have recently have taken several
courses on T.S. Eliot. I know the title On The Beach comes from one of
Eliot's poems. However I am having difficulty finding out which one.
Editor's Comment: On The Beach comes from T.S. Eliot's 1925 poem 'The Hollow
Shute first used the expression On The Beach in his second published novel
So Disdained (1928) when he describes the fate of the widow of Keumer, a
dead German aviator.
You can get yourself rather depressed by reading the poem at: http://www.cs.umbc.edu/~evans/hollow.html
In my other job I work as a television commercial cinematographer. Shooting
an ad on apprenticeships recently I found myself in an aeroplane engine
repair workshop. I asked the owner if he had read Round The Bend. Not only
had he read it, he even had a copy in the workshop as well as several other
Shute novels. I didn't ask if they had a Ground Engineer, interested in
religions, who they suspected was a prophet of God.
That completes this month's newsletter.
All the best from AUTFOD
Nevil Shute Foundation Historian and Newsletter Editor
Please write to: email@example.com