Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter February 2008


Babette Hills, Secretary and Treasurer writes:

A very, very big thank you from all of us to Dan Telfair for over ten years of devoted service to the Nevil Shute webpage, gatherings, newsletters and libraries.

Dan has worked very hard to continue the original mid '90s webpage, the monthly newsletters, and everything else that has happened for us all since.

It is the simple truth that none of the activities since 1999 would have occured without Dan's efforts and guidance.

He planned the hugely successful first gathering, Centennial99 and the continuation OZ2001. He incorporated the Foundation and started the scholarship program.

The libraries were first just the informal borrowing of Dan's extra copies.

Dan initiated the process that led to the publication of the first new Nevil Shute book published since early 1960's, The Seafarers.

These are only some of the endless tasks Dan accomplished in the past ten years.

There are no doubt many others that he never mentioned to any of us.

Most importantly, Dan has mentored volunteers to continue his work to ensure the future of the Foundation, webpage, newsletters, gatherings, and lending libraries.

Dan will remain on the Board in an advisory position.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Dan. Good on yer!


Babette Hills, Secretary and Treasurer writes:

The New Year has brought a few changes to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation.

John Anderson and his committee are busy planning YORK2009 and have chosen a venue and dates - July 26-31. Keep an eye on the website for more information.

David Dawson-Taylor is updating the website. Check out the '"What's New" highlights every month.

Each library has a new book - the biography of Billy Vincent, the bush pilot who served as the model for Billy Monkhouse in Rainbow and the Rose.

The US Library is in transit. Items should be available for loan very soon. We wish Susan Batross, the former librarian, a speedy recovery and welcome the new librarian, Gary Bartell. John Anderson in the UK and Richard Michalak in OZ along with their able assistants have continued researching wherever Nevil Shute leads them.

A special exhibit is being prepared for a special location.

Dan and ZiaTelfair are on their way to Australia for a long vacation or short residence in Longreach.

I am watching the email and books with help from Chief of Staff Art Cornell.

The Foundation is fortunate to have so many members that ask not what the Foundation can do for them but instead get busy and ask what they can do for the Foundation (apologies to JFK.)

Editor's Comment:
JFK, who mostly seems to have been one of the last really literate speechmakers, also said "Ich bin ein Berliner" which translates one way as "I am a Berliner".
Luckily the Cold War Berliner's generously took it the right way because it could also have been translated as "I am a Jam Donut !" as in Germany a "Berliner" is the name they give to their delicious round jam doughnuts.(From Webmaster - note English spelling !)


Dan Telfair writes:

This past month's "cover girl" for the OUTBACK magazine was our own Annabelle Coppin -granddaughter of Jimmie Edwards, and recipient of our double scholarship in 2007. Annabelle's aunt, Pauline Edwards, sent this tidbit along to me. Please check out: In August 2007, the Foundation awarded a $3,000 "double" scholarship to Annabelle Coppin. It is to be used toward her helicopter training.

Annabelle already has an airplane license, and both the airplane and helicopter licenses will be used in her pastoral duties.

Her training has to be squeezed in between cattle musters and her many other responsibilities as a station manager.

This is some lady !

Editor's Comment: You can see photos and read details of Annabelle and other recent scholarship recipients at:


John Anderson reports on:
The Airspeed Bus Garage.

On a tour of York Laura, Mike, Phil and I walked up Piccadilly past the old bus garage where Airspeed began. We have seen this before but this time the doors were open and we were able to look inside. Although still owned by the Council, it is derelict inside having been used as a store for builder's materials. Photographs taken by Phil Nixon can be seen on the PhotoTimeLine here Mike Mehan, John Anderson and Laura Schneider

Despite the neglect, it is possible to envisage the Ferry and Tern Glider being built there. The office up in the roof that is mentioned in Slide Rule is still there although the stairs to it have gone. The doors are just about wide enough for them to have maneuvered out the Ferry aircraft, minus its wings, into the street for it to be towed behind a car to Sherburn in Elmet aerodrome for its trial flight.

How long the building will be there is anyone's guess; the site is overdue for re-development- we hope it will still be standing when our Conference meets in York next year! We repaired to the Red Lion right next door, a traditional pub, which is probably unchanged since Airspeed's time. We could imagine Shute and colleagues nipping for a pie and a pint at lunchtime - it still provides excellent sandwiches and local beer.

The Yorkshire Air Museum - A Nevil Shute Exhibition.

The Yorkshire Air Museum is a World War 2 airfield that houses a large collection of vintage aircraft as well as the Barnes Wallis collection.

Their Main Exhibition Hall is undergoing extensive refurbishment in preparation for putting on a new exhibition entitled 'Against the Odds' about Bomber Command.

An exciting development for us is that, at the Foundation's instigation, the Hall will also house an exhibition on the life and work of Nevil Shute. Large display boards are going to be prepared telling the Nevil Shute 'Story' and we have been working with the Museum's Director on this project. If all goes well it should be in place when the refurbished Main Hall is formally re-opened in March by Sir David Jason, a well-known British actor (of Inspector Frost fame). We hope to have more news of this is next month's newsletter.

Nevil Shute in York - UK 2009.

The venue for Nevil Shute in York - UK 2009 Conference will be the Novotel York Centre Hotel. It is a modern city-centre hotel with good facilities, with all the many attractions of York within walking distance. The dates are 26th to 31st July 2009.


Alison Jenner is arranging a Nevil Shute Mini Conference in beautiful Dartmouth in Devon which was the setting for Lonely Road and Most Secret.

The conference will take place on May 10 to 11.

I have been to Dartmouth and it is very pretty place. Make sure you ride on one of the ferries that are mentioned in the books.

It's a fabulous place and very atmospheric.

Contact Alison for details at:


The website's glossary has recently been updated.
The glossary makes fabulous reading as reference material or as an entertaining straight read-through.
You can find it at:


Recently David Vaughn wrote:

In his book, Two Men in a Flying Machine, by John Morris, published in London by Robert Hale in 1969, the blurb on the front fly says that 'This is a story by a forty-year-old Australian doctor, who chose a distinctly middle-aged English aeroplane as his magic carpet, in a search for post-graduate education and adventure.

The aircraft [was] a thirty-year-old Monospar ST12, designed by Nevil Shute. . . .' In the book, Morris says that the Monospar was built in 1930 by the General Aircraft Company in Croydon, England, and designed by Nevil Shute. It had two Gipsy Major engines.

The particular aircraft he discusses (and flew) has the identifying letters VH-UTH. I can find no reference in my Nevil Shute collection (or in online sources) to Shute's connection with this aircraft.

Can your readers clarify the issue?

Editor's Comment: This issue came up recently from another reader as well and I think it is a mistake and a bit of wishful thinking. I spent considerable Google time and can find no evidence that Shute had anything to do with the plane except this one claim. I saw a photo and the plane is reminiscent of Airspeed aircraft in looks. Do any readers have any other information ?


John Anderson writes:

When Nevil Shute came across the wreckage of the Junkers that had crashed at Exbury after being shot down, he was returning from an invasion exercise and had just disembarked from an LCT. That was on the morning of 18th April 1944.

Where had the exercise taken place? In his book 'The Exbury Junkers' John Stanley says that the Typhoon aircraft that fired on the Junkers were returning from providing air cover for 'Exercise Smash' This exercise took place in Studland Bay on the Dorset coast and was viewed that same day by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower and other top brass.

So if Shute was returning early that morning he could not have been taking part in Exercise Smash. The other likely location was Slapton Sands on the Devon coast.

However if you look at the various websites relating to Slapton Sands you will read all about Operation Tiger the invasion exercise that went disastrously wrong when several American LSTs were attacked by German E boats and over 600 Americans troops lost their lives. However this happened later in April on the night of 26/27th. So where did Shute's exercise take place?

In his Second Front article Shute describes the exercise taking place on the beach where, some years earlier, he had watched the actor Clive Brook go through the part that he had written for him on that beach. Clive Brook starred in the film of 'Lonely Road' and the beach was Slapton Sands. Shute also writes that he was on board the LCT for 3 or 4 days and this would have been the time required for the LCT to sail from Lepe Hard across Lyme Bay to Slapton and back after the exercise. So I looked again more closely at the websites about Slapton and Operation Tiger and read that Tiger was but one of a number of invasion rehearsals that took place at Slapton.

Indeed in another article that Shute wrote on Beach Assaults Shute writes that several rehearsals were necessary to get the timing and logistics of a beach assault right.

Incidentally Shute was full of praise for the Canadian soldiers on that LCT who had lived, cooked and slept on the steel deck for those days, in the open, alongside their 'Priest' gun

Dr.G.E. Thomas (Tommy) writes:

Spot on John, I am impressed with your analysis.

Polly and I had a beach hut at Studland beach during the three years we lived nearby in Swanage in Dorset.

The National Trust now own the beach and the foreshore and while we were there the associated reinforced lookout (Fort Henry) was made available to the public again.

I generated a website of the event at that time that might interest your readers.

The history of the Valentine DD (duplex drive) that was another good idea that tragically misfired in described in detail in the links from my website and would have been material for another novel if Nevil had been allowed to write it.

Also while we lived there we witnessed beach-landing practices with craft from Poole and rescue boats from Portsmouth appearing over the horizon after their very short journey time to rescue a stranded LCT.

No way would it have taken 2 days to travel the 60Km involved straight across the Solent. Well done John, yet another thread is now open.

Editor's Comment: John's research work is always fascinating and Tommy's Studland website is just terrific.


Brian Kendal writes:

I was very interested to see Tom Wenham's letter, I think that I have written about this in the past, but I will repeat it for those who did not see it before.

In the early 1950s, while I was working at Stansted Airport, I had two friends, both of whom had worked on the transformation from Halifax to Reindeer aircraft.

The unusual tail formation was chosen so as not to offend any manufacturers who thought that if the Reindeer looked at all like their products, they would be smeared by the same airframe fatigue problem.

In the final scene with the aircraft, Mr Honey (James Stewart) destroys the aircraft by retracting the undercarriage on the ground. If fact, the retraction was actually done, not by James Stewart the actor, but by James (Jock) Stewart an engineer. Jock later became Freddie Laker's Chief Engineer. My other friend on the set was Ernie Coombs. Unfortunately, in the way of the aviation profession, I have long since lost contact with both. However, in telling the story of the Reindeer, Ernie often said how charming and friendly Marlene Dietrich was with those working on the aircraft and set. Regards and a Happy New Year to all Shutists


Tom Wenham writes:

Following on from my note last month about the Handley Page Halifax which was converted to beome the Rutland Reindeer for the filming of No Highway it seems that the mention of the Reindeer in the Air-Britain magazine provoked a flurry of interest on the Air-Britain bulletin board.

There has been much discussion about the identity of the 'donor' aircraft and after much debate it has been agreed that it was in fact ex-Halifax G-AJNW.

Halifaxes which were converted for civil use became known as Haltons.

The history of this particular aircraft is detailed (I won't bore you with the details here) but in 1949 it ended up in the ownership of Westminster Airways based at Blackbushe, an airfield a few miles from Farnborough.

It completed 116 sorties on the Berlin Airlift as a liquid fuel tanker and then returned to Blackbushe prior to the expiry of its Certificate of Airworthiness in 1950.

The aircraft was selected as the prop for the film and the conversion was carried out by the film company's technicians with assistance from Westminster Airways maintenance staff.

It was 'modernised' with a tricycle undercarriage, four turbo-prop engines and a single fin and rudder with a weird double tailplane, never seen on any aircraft before or since! It was given the fictitious registration G-AFOH. The conversion was carried out using builder's scaffolding, timber frames and a light metal skin. When filming required the Reindeer to move this was accomplished by means of a cable attached to an out-of-shot tractor. The retraction of the undercarriage whilst taxi-ing was achieved by an electrically driven hydraulic pump mounted on the fuselage.

A photograph of the Reindeer appeared in the December 1970 edition of the Aircraft Illustrated magazine and a poor quality scan of this photo can be seen on
where there is also a lively discussion about the aircraft and the film as well as a couple of rather nice photos of the Reindeer 'in flight'.

Editor's Comment: I urge you to take the time to look at the website It's really fascinating and has photos from the film production of No Highway and shots of models used in the film.
I remember being impressed that the windows in the set of the interior of the plane were large, and I think I recall that they were square.
You may recall that the crashes of the Comets partly resulted from the windows being square and therefore weaker.
I believe that the reducing in size and rounding of jet aircraft windows ever since was a result of the Comet crashes. The Comets were noted to have weakend and torn at the window corners and opened up in flight like a can.
A comment in the forum suggests they may have shot the interiors in another plane but I am certain it would have been shot in a studio set.


Charlie Cerf of Washington DC, The USA writes:

Pretty soon it will be time for me to reread my Shute books again, as it's been over a decade since the last time and I (perhaps fortunately) have a poor memory.

Of course I'll start with Stephen Morris and proceed chronologically.

I was happy to see favorable references to Round the Bend in a couple of novels by Dana Stabenow. Because her books are set in the Alaskan bush, aviation is a constant theme.

Which reminds me: I suggest a contest....well, a contest without winners. Ask newsletter readers to submit a list of 10 or so of their favorite authors. Then see who, if anyone, is mentioned disproportionately. You never know what relatively obscure author might turn out to be positively correlated with Shute.

Twice, however, I've read authors said to be just the thing for Shutists, and twice I've been disappointed. Whoever suggested Patrick O'Brian was, I thought, far off the mark. Probably the favorite author list will at least show whether Shutists read mysteries or thrillers more than the general reading public does.

Editor's Comment:
Since the website and the newsletter began readers have been seeking similar authors.
I am afraid it is a lost cause as if after 10 years there is not a single author that is generally agreed to be markedly similar to Shute then one seems unlikely to appear soon.
This is probably why we have the website and the newsletter in the first place.
Shute is just unique and probably will remain so unless we were to buy a small boy with a stammer and subject him to exactly the same life experiences and hope for the best.
Sadly this experiment would take about 24 years before we could even see if his first version of Stephen Morris was similar.
The other hitch is we would need a time machine so he grew up in the same time and milieu.
I have been working on this for some time but still have some tinkering to do till it is perfect.
The mice are returning but they have no heads.
Till then we are doomed to re-read Shute.


Bill Levy of New Jersey, The USA writes: I am the author of an unpublished small book titled 'Beyond the Beach: The Wit and Wisdom of Nevil Shute' (2004).

The first section, the 'Beyond the Beach' chapter, is an overview of Nevil Shute Norway's life and career and includes a discussion of reasons why his books should be read today and tomorrow.

The second section, 'The Wit and Wisdom of Nevil Shute,' consists of 114 quotations from Shute's fiction beginning with his first mature work, 'Ruined City'/American title: 'The Kindling' (1938).

Editor's Comment:
I believe that copies of Bill's book are going into the various Shute libraries on the website but I am sure Bill would happy to assist you in buying your own copy for personal use and gifts. Email him


Joy Hogg has written an email full of interesting suggestions. Although Joy suggested I ask only a couple of her suggestions per month, I am passing the lot straight on to you on the basis that different people will and won't respond to different questions so those who want to write on whichever issue can get going right now.

Joy writes:

I think the books attract engineer type minds, left brained, linear thinkers. Many of our discussions described details, facts, places, events, and the subjects of Shute's inspiration.

What we haven't talked about much is why Shute's books inspired US to collect, reread, and join this group.

I am not actually suggesting that our newsletter change as we all like it the way it is. I am suggesting that we add another facet to it.

Here are some general questions for other Shutists:

  • Which of his books inspired you to be a Shutist?
  • What struck you about that book ?
  • Have any of his books affected your life, decisions, etc.?
  • Why do you collect?
  • What are you hoping will happen to your collection?
  • Which of his many characters do you relate to?
  • What do you think of his political theories? I have often thought of his advanced theory that there be a total of 7 votes if you reach a certain level of achievement. (Americans may need this !)
  • Do you detect any religious theories ?
  • Have the Shute books influenced your life view or plans?

Another idea we could do is to plan to discuss one of his books per newsletter, beyond what we normally talk about.

For example, we could declare that this month we all reread Trustee From the Toolroom.

In book clubs, someone proposes to ask certain questions to stimulate conversation, and we take turns with that responsibility.

I would be willing to send Richard some questions to be included in his letter, and in his next letter you might send in your responses if you care to, or any other thoughts.

After a newsletter or two, depending on the depth of the discussion, we move on to another book with someone else posing stimulating questions.

So a portion of our splendid newsletter could actually be an international Shute book club, studying his books individually.

Also, I think we need a toast. Are there any toasts in his books? When we toast at family gatherings, or say 'Slante' or whatever we do, it might be nice to have a private toast to Shute. Any ideas ?

Editor's Comment:
If there were to be a Shute book reading club with novels set and comments made, it would be better if someone else ran that. The resulting reports could always be attached to the newsletter. I am afraid I would explode if I were to take that on too.
As you all know the newsletter is an organic thing. It waxes and wanes. Last month was a tiny newsletter and this month it is as big as it has ever been and the subjects range all over the place. I have to admit that when it is small I am sometimes quite relieved especially if it coincides with Tax Time.


Summer continues in Sydney with humid weather and drought breaking rain. The dams are at 66% which sounds down except that they were at 30% and thought to be still dropping during 2007. Naturally we are having floods now the drought is receding.
My cat Franny has a mysterious sore leg and all the cats seem to have gone off their dry food a bit. The other cats, Charlie and Benito are fine. All are well behaved .
That's the news this month.
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
Chris & Penny Morton live in Tasmania.
James Fricker" lives in Melbourne.


Julian Stargardt


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam lives in Vizianagaram


Chris Phillips lives in Sacrofano just outside Rome.


GrahamTritt lives in Berne.


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Richard Wynn lives in Cinderford , Gloucestershire.


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 near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia
Jim Magruder near Salem, Oregon
Jack Harper, Evergreen, Colorado
Fred Depkin Palm City, Florida
Jim MacDougald St. Petersburg, Florida,
Jim Cavanaugh Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island, and Seattle, Washington.
Robert J Price Cottonwood, California, near Redding.

The Foundation maintains a password protected database of Shute enthusiasts world-wide who have expressed an interest in having their names, emails and locations recorded so that they may be put in touch with others of like mind. If anyone would like to be included in this listing, please forward your details to our UK librarian at David Dawson-Taylor