Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated December 2011

Letters to the Editor

From Charles D. Cedric

Email 1

I sometimes enjoy an evening listening to 1940s music while browsing and reading on my computer, at

It seems a little awkward to find the right place on the screen, but you can click on the "Now Playing" line and if you have RealPlayer on your computer, you can get live streaming. There are many old songs that are seldom heard anymore. They just played "Charlie, My Boy" by the Andrews Sisters. I'd never heard that one except when sung to me by old aunties.

Email 2

I watched a war-romance movie last night that reminded me of "Pastoral" which I've read several times.

It was called "Hanover Street", starring Harrison Ford, Leslie Ann Down, and Christopher Plummer. It has a plot that is quite contrived, and fairly simple, but not stupid. It follows the B25 bomber and crew whose pilot has fallen for a willing English woman and starts to get nervous and anxious about getting back to her after each mission. You can probably imagine the continuous stress, interrupted by sheer terror, that these crews lived with. If the truth were known, there were plenty of flyers who lost control of their bodily functions, including vomiting, etc., even before take-off. It took mental training and a surrender to their fates to keep on doing it. (I'm not so sure that "true" romance could have flourished without a lot of casual dancing around at first. Nevil Shutes' "Pastoral" seems to indicate that it could. And movies, as well as novels have to be short.); The military had decided that a 4% rate of loss was acceptable. Statistically, that meant you had little chance of surviving 25 missions. Usually, you got to go home if you made the 25 missions. Some stayed for 50. I worked with a draftsman who had been a tail-gunner and even 40 years later his hands had an uncontrollable shake until he put pencil to paper.

I also had an uncle in the 8th Army Air Force, who went in before Pearl Harbor and didn't get home until 1946. But he did ground duty. A whole different deal. Those guys had plenty of time, plenty of booze, and plenty of opportunity for war-time flings.

It is a romance-novel idealization of the fiction often fostered by war-time exigencies. Plenty of works on the same theme were published during and immediately after the war. Some we all know, such as "Casablanca", "12 O'clock High", "Catch 22", "A Piece of Cake", "Goodbye Mickey Mouse", "Danger UXB", "Swing Shift", etc. One that not too many have seen is "Land Girls", which I thought was very well done.

The main highlight of this film for most would be the actual B-25 flying scenes. (This was before computer-graphic simulations.)

I suppose that the most well-known surviving bomber pilot is former Senator George McGovern, whose story is well-documented.

From Richard Wynn

I was recently given the book 'Beaufighter over the Balkans', an account by Steve Stevens DFC of his service with the South African Air Force in Europe during WW2. In Chapter 7 he details their pre-war training, and he as a flight instructor when they went From Tiger Moths and Hawker Hinds to the new Airspeed Oxford:

"When I first saw this plane and climbed into it I was delighted. No longer would I be sitting uncomfortably cramped in an open cockpit, having to shout down the speaking tube to my pupil. Now I would be in a closed cockpit with my pupil sitting next to me. I would be able to speak to him in a loud voice, but no longer would I have to shout. I could observe his every movement and all his reactions. No longer would our vision be impaired by an engine in front of us. This open, forward, unobstructed vision was a delight, something I had never before experienced. I also found Oxfords easy to fly."

Interested readers can e-mail Steve at He is now in his nineties, living in Worthing, W.Sussex, and still writing memoirs! He has also written at length about his experience as a MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship); pilot in the Sudan and in Ethiopia.

From Ricard Bach

I've just opened my new website, There's a little essay there about The Rainbow and the Rose and Nevil Shute and about

It's called The Rainbow and the bookcrossing.

Nevil Shute fans are warmly welcome to stop by !

From John Anderson


R.100 arrived back From Canada on Saturday 16th August 1930. As Nevil Shute mentioned in Slide Rule there was a much smaller crowd to welcome them back than there had been in Montreal. He wrote that "we slink in unhonoured and unsung in the English manner". A little research indicates that there might well have been another factor contributing to the low turnout. That Saturday England were playing Australia in the final Test Match at the Oval in London. It was the deciding match in the series. England and Australia were 1 all with two drawn matches so this would decide who won the Ashes. Also the legendary Don Bradman was in the Australian team. I suspect that, for many, the lure of the Test Match would have won over welcoming R 100 home, and they weren't to know that this would be R.100's last flight.

From Laura Schneider

The US Branch of the Nevil Shute Norway Library

The US Branch of the Library is up and running. As I have been sorting through the collection, one thing has become clear. We don't have many books on cd and there has been a steady increase in requests for books on cd. While we have an excellent selection on cassette tape, the cd choices are slim. The US Library would gratefully accept any cd donations. Please contact me if you can help. Thanks!


What happens to Nevil Shute books when their owners either downsize or the books are left for relatives to figure out what to do? Where do you think might be a good place for them? Please send your thoughts, ideas and suggestions to the newsletter.

Book Group Chapters

Currently, there are three NS Book Chapters in the US. The Tri-State Chapter (New Jersey, New York City, Eastern Pennsylvania);, formerly the New Jersey Nevil Shute Book Society, Colorado and Cape Cod. At the Seattle Conference, many Pacific Northwest folks were enthusiastic about starting a chapter - meeting in Seattle and Portland. If you are interested, please contact me. The goal is to set an initial meeting date so the group can be launched. OK, I'm biased but is there a better place in America to have a chapter ?

From Curt Chambers

I first ran across Nevil Shute back in the '50's when I was a young and callow college youth and found The Rainbow and the Rose in a Reader's Digest condensed book in my grandfather's garage apartment. As a star crossed romance story it fascinated me not only with the ill-fated romance but the way it was told through the "dreams" of Johnnie Pascoe's student From the past, and its myriad locations - from small town airfield in England, across the vast Pacific, and then on to the remotest of world locations, an isolated shoreline in Tasmania. How incredibly fascinating to this shallow callow youth. My studies were already suffering and from there on the compulsion to hunt down Shute novels caused only increasing academic pain. A lot of the fascination was because I was studying to become an engineer, and because of his dual life I wanted to write novels too. I finally did graduate - at the bottom of my class - and, even though academically bereft, throughout my working life I have been able to make a living as an engineer (not in aviation however); but I never could conjure up enough imagination to become a (fiction) writer. Throughout my life then, I have collected copies of his books and think I have them all, the most recent being The Seafarers. I recently got Airspeed and am in the process of reading that, and it is almost as fascinating as one of his stories. What a life he must have had! Too short, however, as I think we must all agree.

From Sherill Anderson

Sure do wish that Nevil could see this !

Subject: Bhutan VFR

Much like some strips in Idaho - but with an A320 ?

A 320 VFR only landing.

Landing at Paro , Bhutan in an A320.

Definitely VFR only.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is landlocked between China and India. Go to

From Harvey Fetterly

Verisimilitude... there's a word !

Good ol' Nevil Shute, he never ceases to educate and entertain, even after the umteenth reading, in this case Round The Bend.

That was the first Nevil Shute novel that I read and reread as a much younger man and I enjoyed it so much that I got the idea to find more books by the same author. It turned out to be a good idea. It turned out to be an even better idea, thanks in a large part to Dan Telfair and The Nevil Shute Foundation.

Dan, I so appreciate your giving us The Seafarers too. Without Nevil Shute and yourself we wouldn't have it.

Verisimilitude only replicates the truth and comes in handy in conflict of interest situations. Tom Cutter uses it to skate around Bergen in Bali when arranging for the Sheik of Khulal to visit Connie. He introduces the word just before, in reference to a play in Pekendang and doesn't actually use it in relation to Bergen but instead goes "softly on the religious side". I find that association fantastic. Tom doesn't get away with it though, as Bergen knew later on that he only got the appearance of the truth, not the truth itself. It didn't cost Tom very much, so maybe it is better to beg forgiveness than to not use verisimilitude in asking permission.

From Harvey Fetterly in Winnipeg, where it's -20°C and but feels like -26°C in windchill. Call it Winterpeg for the next 5 months.


Sorry for being a bit late this month. There are some very interesting things in the newsletter this month I think. Enjoy them.

This is the last newsletter for 2011, so Happy Holidays to to you all, and a great start in 2012.

From the Netherlands where it now is really autumn, see you next year