Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

February Newsletter

2006-02/February, 2006


I was recently contacted by the son of Forester Lindsley. Forester now lives in Brisbane, Australia. At 16, Forester joined Airspeed in York and moved with it to Portsmouth. Forester is now 90 and in poor health so I am interviewing him slowly. Apart from speaking to him, what is particularly exciting is that I have been told he has a large collection of photographs so I am hoping we will soon uncover some treasures. Forester worked on Cobham's Air Circus planes and was a ground engineer on the first Ferry flights and was also involved in the aerial refuelling project. He met Amy Johnson several times and also said that he knew Flt Lt Colman, Airspeed's test pilot, well. He spoke well of Shute and Tiltman. Forester worked as a Ground Engineer through the war and was working in Karachi in 1948 when Shute had his Proctor serviced there on his way through to Australia. Being a young ground engineer who joined aviation as a young boy, was involved with Cobham's Air Circus, and later was working in The East where Shute met him, it is hard not to speculate that he must have been a partial model for the characters of either or both Tom Cutter or Connie Shak Lin in Round The Bend. Further speculation is encouraged by the story that Forester was doing a bit of Ground Engineer teaching in Karachi when Shute visited. Sadly when I tried to cross reference in the Flight Log for a mention of Forester I couldn't find one but as the Flight Log is a hurriedly written diary this is not so surprising. I have been sent a lovely photo of a teenage Forester with an early version of the Airspeed Courier. He looks like a fun loving and likeable teenager just like Tom and Connie. Hopefully there will be more forthcoming as I hear more from Forester.


On a website called I have discovered a strange coincidence. Royal Navy submarine website says of HMS Snapper: Possibly sunk southwest Ushant by German minesweepers. HMS Snapper left the Clyde on 29th January 1941 for a patrol in the Bay of Biscay. She should have arrived in her patrol area on 1st February. On the 7th February she was ordered, by signal, to remain on billet until the 10th and then to return home with her escort. Snapper failed to make the rendezvous with the escort and was not heard from again. It is believed that she met her fate through a mine or that she was mortally damaged by a (German) minesweeper, which attacked a submarine in Snapper's area on the 11th although Snapper should have been out of the area by then.
There is a loose post-publication parallel with the fictional HMS Caranx in Landfall, which I believe was based on HMS Snapper's accidental bombing by a British Avro Anson. In the book Caranx is also thought to have been sunk in an area after it should have left that area. Snapper disappeared 2 years after Landfall was published. The more I read on submarine websites, the more I felt that signing on for submarines in WW2 was like signing an automatic death warrant as so many submarines were lost with all hands and disappeared without trace.


John Anderson writes:

I was interested in your piece in the latest Newsletter about the incident where an Avro Anson accidentally bombed the British Submarine HMS Snapper.
From Ocotber 1939 Shute attended several meetings of the Toraplane Development Committee which were at Admiralty House Portsmouth and chaired by Admiral Sir William James, C in C Portsmouth.
From these meetings and his involvement in the Toraplane (gliding torpedo) development he got the background for "Landfall" (an Admiral, a Professor, secret weapons, observations from a trawler etc. all feature in the story).
Both Air force and Navy personnel were present at these meetings. From them he may have learned of the accidental bombing and used this for the plot line in the novel.
I checked the website about this accident which is given as December 1939.
Whilst at the National Archives I consulted the War Diaries of Admiral James for this period. These diaries, which were secret, record all information regarding Naval activity, manpower and losses in the area of Admiral James' command i.e. the Eastern English Channel. I did not find a record of an accidental attack on a submarine. But I did not check this in any great detail.
The story of the Anson mistakenly bombing the submarine in December 1939 would exactly fit in with Shute's close association with the Navy and RAF on Toraplane work and his attending TDD committee meetings. In line with his other novels, a real life incident would provide material for "Landfall". (The parallel would be his using the Junkers shooting down in "Requiem")
To corroborate this story, I have just found that the logs for HMS Snapper for this period are housed in the National Archives. They should provide dates and details of the incident.
The N.A. also has documents relating to the Navy taking control of Coastal Command Operations at this time. Again this is referred to in Landfall.

Editor's Comment: John now plans another visit to the National Archives. To save travel time, I understand he now takes a sleeping bag and has built a little shack and a fireplace in a far and unfrequented corner. More updates soon. Research purists need not worry as he is using only non-Nevil Shute archive material in his campfire.


Regarding the question whether Shute and Lord Brabazon knew each other, Johan Bakker has written that he has seen a copy of Brabazon's book, personally and warmly inscribed by Brabazon to Shute and commenting on their relative literary skills. Johan says that Nevil Shute's daughter, Shirley owns the book.
As Brabazon also knew Lord Grimthorpe who was Chairman of Airspeed, I was surprised there was no mention at all of Airspeed at all in his book but I suspect Brabazon had such close contacts with the entire aero industry he just decided not to mention anybody.
Because Shute had specifically mentioned Cresta Run people as likely investors in aviation companies, we also checked to see if Brabazon had been an original shareholder in Airspeed but he wasn't.


Perry Zamek of Jerusalem writes: Interesting coincidence - in the December newsletter, you mention the Bristol Brabazon aircraft, and have a link to the Crest Run film clip. If you watch the film clip, the various curves etc are named. Among them: Brabazon.

Editor's Comment: This curve was probably named after Lord Brabazon who headed the Cresta Run committee for many years rather than the Bristol Brabazon aeroplane which was also named after Lord Brabazon. Brabazon headed the wartime Brabazon Committee which made recommendations on British post-war civil aviation.


Gene Scribner writes:

Some of the members might be interested in what John Lienhard has to say in his radio program "The Engines of our Ingenuity.".


Jim Woodward writes: About your tactical plans to use the glider to assault rival literary groups - I would be happy to join you as a crew member of the Horsa - I like the profile better than the Waco - seems more sturdy and aerodynamic to me.
I am feeling the effects of a deliberate overdose of Soy Milk and am feeling pretty feisty at this particular moment. (But I must say that the champagne would have been a better choice.)

Editor's Comment: Those wishing to join the glider assault force need not fear as Regular and Low Fat milk will also be available at morning tea breaks during the attacks.


I must have been brain dead last month but luckily dozens of readers emailed back that the French title The Diamond Hunt must be Trustee From The Toolroom.
Bill Hague, Philippe Charuest and others confirmed that Pour un Oui, Pour un Non is the French title of Stephen Morris.
Philippe Charuest continues:

Une Chasse aux Diamants is the first Nevil Shute I ever read, a gift from my father (a Nevil Shute fan himself) when I was ten years old.
I have now started to read them in the text (English) much later.
I am 45 now and I read them again and again in English with great pleasure and my collection of the first editions by Morrow is almost complete.
The French title of Round The Bend, Le Sixieme Livre / The Sixth Book is a much better title.


Penny Morton recently sent me a copy of her excellent article called "Rainbow Connection - Nevil Shute's The Rainbow and The Rose and Tasmania which was published recently in a Tasmanian magazine.
In it she mentions Shute's 1953 trip to Port Davey and his ongoing love of that area.
Of particular interest to me were revelations that ground engineer Billy Monkhouse seemed to be based on a pilot called Bill Vincent and that pilot Rhys-David was based on Lloyd Jones, chief instructor at the Hobart Aero Club, whose daughter said he'd delighted in the fact that Nevil Shute wrote the book around him.
It appears that Lloyd Jones also provided inspiration for most of the flying in the book by both the Johnnie Pascoe and Ronnie Clarke characters as he had performed many rescue flights in rough areas and had piloted Nevil Shute around Tasmania in the early 1950s.
About Lloyd Jones, Penny also said:

His best-known mercy flight was in 1953, to an island off Tasmania's northeast coast, to rescue a four-year-old boy. Flying a single-engine Auster Aiglet in heavy rain and low clouds, at times as low as 20-50 feet, he landed on a 300-foot airstrip staked out on the beach.
Conditions that day were such that commercial aircraft were grounded. Who would doubt that was the inspiration for Shute's setting of The Rainbow and the Rose ?


Bill McCandless writes regarding listing local shutists.

I'm sure that there are Shute fans in Illinois, and especially around Chicago.
Are there any who live in the SW suburbs?
I live in Joliet.
If anyone is interested in a local chat group or just a sit-down with another devoted fan.


Martin Roberts of The UK writes:

Greetings from deepest, darkest Warwickshire.
I was introduced to NSN's work as a child by my Grandfather, and "Trustee" was the first of Shute's books that I read when I was about 10 or 11 years old.
Even now after 25 years, I can still remember details of the story from that first reading.


Art Cornel wrote remarking that the last line of An Old Captivity was We Shall Remember Them and Art asked if there might be a connection with the last line of a famous British WW1 poem.
In fact, the poem ends with We WILL Remember Them rather than We Shall Remember Them.
Although non-Commonwealth readers might think there is a link I would seriously doubt this because I believe that Shute would not have wanted to have such a link made.
I am speculating on Shute's thought processes here but this is my reasoning. While the poem by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) called For The Fallen (written in 1914) and is, I understand, used sometimes in US Memorial Day services, I doubt it has the emotional power in The USA that it does in Australia, New Zealand and, I assume, also Britain where it is perhaps the most remembered and significant piece of poetry in our culture.
It is the 4th Stanza that is etched into all of Australia's and New Zealand's children's brains as it is read every Anzac Day (April 25th) and every Armistice Day (November 11th).
The stanza goes:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Because the poem has this solemn power far beyond anything that could relate to general fiction I doubt Shute would have intentionally used We Will Remember Them as the tag line in his book.
A direct reference would immediately recall honoured war dead to mind and this seems wrong to me in terms of the book.
The fact that he used We SHALL Remember Them instead suggests me that he was simply saying that while being forgotten by most people, Haaki and Hekya would, at the very least, be remembered by Donald and Alix.
It could also be that We Shall is preferred grammar. Grammarians may respond. Where is Lynn Truss when you need her?
I can't imagine that Shute wanted to suddenly invoke ANZAC Day / Armistice Day / Memorial Day and the complex feelings of heroism amongst needless mass slaughter and tragic death in the very last line of his book.
I may be quite wrong and I would welcome disagreement and feedback from British and American readers regarding this poem's recognition and its significance to the general public in their countries.
Any Australian or New Zealander of 50 or over knows those lines by heart.


Fulton Cook of The USA writes:

I too have seen the photos of D-Day (Horsa) glider shadows you mentioned.
I know I have seen the was in an aviation magazine, possibly "Aeroplane", some years ago.


UK Librarian David Dawson Taylor writes:

Greetings and a Happy New Year from a VERY cold UK!
From the UK library, I recently lent Jim Beer a copy of Round the Bend which he returned to me with the comments which follow:
Just a few thoughts on Round the Bend. I have read the book again twice after a space of about 50 years. I find that most of Neville Shute's original research is still relevant.
For instance there is still a Mosque by the side of the servicing pan in Bahrein, flying east we still fly overhead Bandar Abbas albeit from a much higher altitude and a slightly different direction, to avoid overflying Iran and let down to Karachi overhead Jiwani.
I wonder if Tom's planes landed at Mauripore or Karachi International Airport? To these way points as they are now called I would add Ras AI Hadd on the Omani side of the water.
There are some interesting strips out in the desert in this part of the world. My favourites are Afar on the edge of the empty quarter and the twins Furq and Saiq one at the bottom of a mountain and the other at the top, landing uphill just to add to the excitement value turning round at the top and flying off the edge and down to Furq a return journey of some twenty minutes. Also a trip to Gualiore in Baluchistan for a pedigree Bull who would not fly without his bosom buddy, a Goat!
These trips were accomplished in Short Skyvans in Oman and C 130 to Baluchistan for the bull. The planes have changed but the romance is still there.
As to Tom's equipment, from my own experience and a little help from Janes world aircraft I am inclined to think that his original cargo plane was a Percival Prince and that he picked up a Fairchild packet (Cornell Carrier) when he met Connie again out on the airstrip in Cambodia. A Curtis Commando C46 is a possibility but from the description I think unlikely. There are still Packets at work in Alaska!
I think that the next plane that he picked up at Plymouth was in fact a Bristol 172 Freighter and that when he returned again to the UK for aircraft to fly pilgrims to Connies shrine they were Bristol wayfarers a longer fuselage version of the 172 and built for Passengers. I have seen a freighter flying in the UK in the last five years, belonging to Instone Airways one of the oldest names in British aviation history, Oh yes and for Airservices read Airwork another old name.
Finally although not of a religious bent I tend to agree that the added responsibility of high value equipment and lives puts a different slant on the work. I have been accused of having a vocation and I certainly work more for the satisfaction and not the money.
At 70 I still work on planes in that way.
Has anybody else reached the conclusions that I have? I would be interested to know.
By the way all these older planes were extremely noisy and due to their slow speed exposed the passengers to much discomfort. Note that I have to wear a hearing aid.


David Dawson Taylor writes:

I have just received from the BBC a copy on CD of the "Great Lives" programme about NSN, for the UK library.


John Anderson writes:

Early in February Mike Meehan and I are meeting at Oxford to advance the planning for the "Shute Weekend in Oxford". We will be making an announcement about the arrangements in February. All those who have emailed expressing an interest in the event will be kept informed.

Editor's Comment: Contact John if you might attend. It sounds fantastic.


Jack Calaway wrote recently directing me to this website: Jack asks if this WW1 sci-fi illustration doesn't remind you of something.


Peggy Steel writes:

I just finished a book by James Sallis, a novel called Cypress Grove.
On page 214, the main character speaks of his empty office reminding him of the last scene in On the Beach, which he says he saw at age 14, and liked so much that he read every Nevil Shute book in the local library.

Editor's Comment: I wonder if his office had an open window, a venetian blind cord, a Coca-Cola bottle and a Morse Code transmitting key in it? I always keep a set of them in mine just in case.


Chandra Shekhar of India writes:

I am a big fan of Nevil Shute's book, my favourite being the Trustee From the Toolroom.
I read these books between 20 and 17 years ago.
What is the likelihood that Shute's books will come out in Ebook form?

Editor's Comment: A great question. We will try to discover if this is likely.
Does anyone else out there read, or have more information on E-books?
Do people find them easy to read?
I have always understood that retention rates from a screen are around 30% while they are around 70% for print on paper. However these may be false statistics.
I find reading screens tiring with the present technology but I haven't tried or even seen one of the E-book tablets you hear about.


I was written to recently by a teenage reader who was doing a book report on Nevil Shute who made some interesting points.
Firstly she remarked how everyone kept on working till the end.
As an afterthought she asked:

If you were in the shoes of the people in On the Beach, how do you think you would have reacted to the news that you would die within a few short months?
In the book, many characters - like Mary Holmes, for instance - pretended that it was not true. But I think that everyone knew in their heart that it was true. They dealt with it differently, but I noticed something very strange. None of them seemed afraid to die.
Dodging the issue of how I myself might face death, I replied that Shute had always done work he loved and so, at least for him, it would seem the best thing to do to carry on with what gave him fulfillment and gave his life form and purpose.
Regarding their attitude to their impending deaths, some critics have said Shute was absurdly optimistic with his characters but the best example against this criticism are the repeatedly positive stories you hear about terminally ill patients.
You usually hear that those given a set time left to live try to act as Shute's characters do.
I suspect the lack of fear was Shute's belief in human resilience.
I think Shute felt people are always far stronger than they imagine.

Editor's Question to Newsletter Readers:

My question is whether this concept of dignity and strength in the face of death in the case of the terminally ill is more true than not or is it an unfounded convention that we maintain for our collective self respect?
Is it really all chaos and panic out there when a deadline is announced?
Are the sceptics who suggest Shute was a Pollyanna really right?
The utterly appalling 2000 version of On The Beach took the sceptics view.
But were they correct?
Does anyone have any hard evidence, statistics or widespread anecdotal evidence?

I know this sounds ghoulish but this idea is a core premise of On The Beach.
I am not available to test any theories.
By the way, the producers of On The Beach (2000) should be hunted down like dogs by our Horsa Glider Literary Assault Team and forced to watch their own film.


Stuart Lee Rosenberg of Canada writes:

I am very pleased to announce the formation of a new Nevil Shute Reading Club. The official name is the Nevil Shute Reading Club of Canada BC Chapter. We are the first Nevil Shute Reading Club in Canada. We meet the first Wednesday of the month in the evening and also co-sponsored by the Mission Community Library. I will be the contact for this new group. We have a total of 10 members. The group is very excited and enthusiastic about reading Nevil Shutes novels. We are starting with his early novels and plan to access the services of the lending library.
If you are interested in joining please contact:

Stuart Lee Rosenberg
Library Manager FVRL
Mission Community Library
33247 - 2nd Avenue
Mission, B.C.
V2V 1J7
604-826-6610 land
604-309-2753 cell

Editor's Comment: Stuart's group are reading: Marazan, So Disdained/The Mysterious Aviator, Lonely Road, Ruined City / Kindling, What Happened to the Corbetts / Ordeal and Stephen Morris (2 novels)


John Anderson writes:

In Slide Rule Shute describes his experiences as a youth of 17 in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin.
I was also aware that his mother had published a volume of letters entitled The Sinn Fein Rebellion As I Saw It. Some time ago I went to look at this at my local reference library, but while it was in their catalogue, they could not find the copy!
Now this book has been recently reprinted as a paperback by Kessinger Publishing and is available as a paperback and my copy has just arrived. It is a series of family letters written at the time by Mary Norway describing her experiences at the time and there are a number of references to Nevil and his part in events.
Reading the book makes you realise that Shute must have inherited some of his literary talent from his mother.
Readers can order a copy via for a modest $16 plus postage and packing.
The ISBN is 1-4179-7132-0
Still on the subject of books, I noticed that the UK House of Stratus still has a full list of Shute titles and that the prices have come down from £6.99 to £5.59 each. These are good quality paperback editions. They can be ordered online and mailed to any worldwide destination.


Laura Schneider of The USA writes:

I will be in Alice Springs (do I need to say Australia?) later this month to begin arrangements and negotiations with regard to holding our 2007 Conference there in March 2007 or thereabouts. Thanks to the many Shutists in 4 countries and 3 continents who have contacted me about the conference and for sharing your enthusiasm and support for an Alice Springs Conference!


All the very best,
It is now February here in Sydney and the height of our Summer when things can get very hot and humid. I am getting up at 0530am most days and having an early morning swim with my wife before she is off to work. It is very beautiful down at the beach early but quite crowded at times.
I hope you are all well.


Write in if you want your name listed and would like to get together with other Shutists in your vicinity.


Jim Wells lives in Lindfield, Sydney
Richard Michalak lives in Paddington, Sydney


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
(Priscilla will move to Thousand Oaks near LA in 2006)
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.