Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

February Newsletter

2007-02/February, 2007


A recent radio program on prisoners of war told how Jimmie Edwards, the template for Joe Harman in A Town Like Alice, would still have the drive and energy, after a day of forced labour on the Burma Railway, to be collecting firewood and brewing a billy (boiling water) to refresh his mates when most others were collapsing from their extraordinary and often fatal exertions. Cedric has written recommending the following lecture on prisoners of war that you can view online. Go to Then click the Watch button.


Tony Woodward writes:

A very dear friend once twitted me about my constantly re-reading my favourite books. I pulled her up immediately. "But don't you constantly replay your favourite records?" I asked her - "so what's the difference?"

Editor's Comment: I have often been made to somehow feel faintly foolish because I have re-read Shute so many times. It's great to have a decent comeback in store for the next time.


Neil Wynes Morse writes that Shute has an entry in the now-online [for free!] Australian Dictionary of Biography at:
Neil continues: Not a bad entry but they always end saying he is a dreary writer (prose style) and an imperialist.
I wish I were so dreary and imperialist.


Susan Batross writes:

As the new US Librarian, I'd like to introduce myself.
My name is Susan, and I'm writing from the my home in South Dakota, which is now the new home of the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation US Library.
Just before the New Year, the Library materials arrived in five large boxes. I knew they were coming, and I just hoped for their safe arrival. In these boxes were all the Nevil Shute Books, Video tapes, Audio Books, Manuscripts, and other materials available to lend.
It is my pleasure to be able to send out any of the Library items requested. I will do my best to honor requests in a timely manner, and to be of any other assistance that I can.
The official time for me to begin my Library duties was January first, and it was announced in the January Newsletter.
I must thank Dan Telfair for making this transition so easy for me.
To my joy, my first request came within 24 hours of receiving my Newsletter. This is a wonderful start, and I hope to be able to fulfill many more requests in the months to come.
Anyone wanting to borrow from the Library can find all the information they need on the Foundation website. Choose the Lending Library link for titles and items available.
I look forward to hearing from any of you who want to borrow from the Library.
Contact me at
or write to me Susan Batross
US Librarian
Nevil Shute Norway Foundation
PO Box 66
Hitchcock, SD 57348

Susan Continues:


To "Read Nevil Shute" in Alice Springs.
I'm so excited to be able to attend the Foundations fifth biennial Conference, Nevil Shute's Legacy, in Alice Springs, Australia this coming April.
I've been asked by Laura to head up the seminar "Read Nevil Shute". Introduced at the fourth Conference by Margo Ganster, this popular seminar will be repeated.
As in Cape Cod, we will have 10 Readers, choosing their favorite passages from Nevil Shute books to read for the rest of us to enjoy.
Each Reader will have eight minutes to read their passage and explain why they chose it.
I need to know who would like to be a Reader. I'm asking for volunteers. Our time is limited to 90 minutes, so we will only be able to hear the first 10 who request to read.
At this time, I don't necessarily need to know what book you want to read from, but would like that information by March 15th. I need to hear only from those of you who wish to read.
Be among the first to volunteer.
E-mail me to assure that you are among the first ten responders.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Susan Batross, US Librarian


Brian Wickland writes:

Vera Brittain's TESTAMENT OF YOUTH does so much to explain, for me at least, the outlook (and pressures) conditioning the 'flower of youth' who so urgently marched off to war in '14.


Andy Banta writes:

The mention of "Air Circus" in the January newsletter sent me on a web search to find a copy of the appropriate Blackwood's Magazine. I found a copy at a very reasonable price at a dealer about 100 miles from my home. After the purchase, it took the US Post Office 19 days to deliver it. I purchased another book from Melbourne, Australia and that arrived at my home in California in four days. I would suggest thinking twice about using the low cost media mail. I did read "Air Circus". It is interesting but in my opinion it is not one of Shute's better efforts.

Editor's Comment: I agree with Andy that Air Circus doesn't quite have the spark we expect from Shute. However, it is interesting to read it if you get the opportunity. Towards the end of Air Circus, Shute seems to roundly condemn the whole idea of air circuses as detrimental to aviation in general. I wonder what his former companions felt about such a public damning. But then again, as they had already had their day when he wrote his comments he would hardly have put anyone out of work by his comments.


I wrote to the Aero Club of Southern Tasmania regarding Lloyd Jones, the inspiration for most of the flying in the Nevil Shute book The Rainbow and The Rose. Jones performed many rescue flights in rough areas and piloted Nevil Shute around Tasmania in the early 1950s.
Lloyd Jones' best-known mercy flight was in 1953 to rescue a four-year-old boy from an island off Tasmania's northeast coast. Flying a single-engine Auster Aiglet in conditions that grounded commercial aircraft and times as low as 20-50 feet, he landed on a 300-foot airstrip staked out on the beach. Shute's novel closely parallels Jones' actual flight.
Peter Fenton, manager of the club, replied:

Certainly Lloyd Jones was a larger than life character who deserved the accolades and the MBE he received a number of years ago.
When Lloyd died about two and a half years ago, the Aero Club performed a 6-aircraft formation flypast with Missing Man included.
This was featured on the local TV stations.

Editor Continues: Peter will send me some photos of Lloyd and his aircraft for the online Photo Album.
Webmeister's further comment: See the note in the February 2006 newsletter about Penny Morton's article and the inspirations for both Johnnie Pascoe and Ronnie Lake.


William McCandless writes:

In your August 2006 Newsletter, which I am re-reading for specifics which I may have missed, the item titled "No Shutes at Chartwell" reminded me that before the US entered the war Churchill had requested that the US Navy build a ship that could effectively storm the beaches of Africa and Europe with fighting men and equipment that would provide a means of invasion that heretofore had not been successful.
Our John Neidermair of the Bureau of Ships designed the LST (Landing Ship Tank).
It was a huge hull (328 feet long and 60 feet wide with a flat bottom draft of 7 feet 6 inches fully loaded). With an ingenious system to take-on and discharge water ballast, the ship was able to approach any shoreline and deposit its cargo of 1500 tons of tanks, weapon carriers, jeeps, DUKWs*, and LCTs, along with the fighting men to take and hold the beachhead. Shute rode ashore on #517 and back on #535, both of which were built at the "Cornfield Shipyard" just 30 miles South of here at Seneca, Illinois.
Eisenhower used 233 of these ships in the Normandy invasion.
My (obscure) point is that if Churchill hadn't conceived of the idea, they probably wouldn't have been procured; Shute and Normandy and perhaps the fate of the entire free world, would not have happened.
Their lives did indeed cross!

*Why is It Called a DUKW?

It is fortunately coincidence that this well-known and well-respected World War II amphibious vehicle had a name which was so easily given such an appropriate nickname as DUCK. One must wonder what might have happened had its name been that of its parent vehicle, the CCKW.
Unlike many military names, DUKW is not an acronym but rather a code telling the type of vehicle. D stands for 1942, the year it was created. U stands for utility vehicle. K tells us that the vehicle has all wheel drive and the W indicates two powered rear axles. (Quoted from Allen Butler's History of the DUCKS on the Associated Content web site ).


Nevil Shute's Legacy - Alice Springs Conference Update:

Only 81 days until the Fifth Biennial Conference begins in Alice Springs! A reminder that there are a limited number of flights in and out of Alice Springs each day so travel arrangements need to be made at your earliest convenience. Any questions about registration, accommodations, etc. should be directed to me at: Conference details can be found at This conference is going to be memorable and fun. Looking forward to seeing you there!


With only 24 hours notice, I am off to China in the morning so if this months newsletter seems a little rushed, it is.
My apologies.
Hope you are all well and enjoying whichever season you are in now, wherever you are.
Richard Michalak


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
Ruth Pearson lives in Adelaide
Neil Wynes Morse lives in Canberra


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
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan (northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac)
David B. Horvath, dhorvath in the domain, near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia