Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated January 2014

Letters to the Editor

From Chris & Penny Morton

Hope everyone had a good Christmas week, no weather-related problems and a safe return from travels to and from loved ones.

David Dawson-Taylor has done a terrific job on the website with the report of TAS 2013, "The Rainbow Connection", slotting in the photos we've sent him. There are some blanks though. If anyone has appropriate photos for the text (specifically: presenters, special guests or the banquet), it's not too late to send them, for David to add to the story. A few people have promised photos, so we look forward to receiving them. Once again, a huge thank you to Julie O'Brien, Alison Jenner, Sandra Backett and John Anderson for the great photos you sent us!

Regarding the financial outcome, one final cheque we'd written came through today (January 1st) so the Conference bank account is about to be closed. The balance of $802.07, minus the $500.00 'seed money' we'll repay the NSF, leaves a final profit of $302.07 to submit to the NSF Board. It is a great relief to end up with a small profit, after some worry that it might not happen.

Chris was particularly gratified with the response to the pens he made and still has some fittings, so if anyone would like pens made from unique Tasmanian timbers, he would be happy to do so, for the sum of $10.00 (Australian), plus postage.

We wish you all the very best of health and happiness in 2014.

Chris and Penny

From John Anderson


“Reviews to date awful, but the book seems to be selling”, so wrote Nevil Shute to a friend in May 1953 when he was in London for the launch of “In the Wet”

He was right. Some of the British Press were hostile. The (London) Times described it as “this disgruntled hobbledehoy of a tale”. The Empire Chronicle began their review ”five hundred years ago such a piece of lese-majeste would have landed Mr Shute in the Tower” The News Chronicle’s headline for their review was “This is going to make you angry” adding that “it is not usual to introduce members of the Royal Family into novels-even about the future- and to attribute imaginary opinions on Government to them”.

Of course Shute added in his author’s note that “no one takes a novelist too seriously”. Perhaps not, but he certainly ruffled some feathers at the time!

From Charles D.

In Nicole Kidman's latest film, The Railway Man, she plays Patti Lomax, the wife of a former prisoner of war who suffered terrible torture building the Burma railway.

The memoir "The Railway Man", the late Eric Lomax's remarkable account of how he survived torture and extreme deprivation during his time as a prisoner of war in Thailand under Japanese rule. Along with his fellow prisoners, Lomax was forced to participate in the construction of the Burma Railway, which cost the lives of more than 100,000 forced labourers and prisoners of war.

From Charles D.

At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, a relic of the Cold War met its end on Thursday [19 December 2013]. The Air Force destroyed the last B-52 bomber required under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

A crew used a circular saw to cut through the plane's aluminum skin, the tail section separating from the fuselage with a loud thunk and officially rendering the bomber useless.

Frank Klotz, a retired general who was in charge of the Air Force's nuclear weapons, says both Russia and the U.S. have greatly reduced the number of nuclear weapons under strategic arms reduction treaties.

"The United States, at the height of the Cold War, had more than 31,000 weapons in its arsenal. A couple years ago, then-Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton announced that that number had dropped down to just over 5,000, so that's a dramatic change in terms of the overall capabilities of both sides," Klotz says.

On Thursday morning, the tail section of B-52 #58-0224 was set down at an angle away well from the fuselage. That way Russian satellites can see that the plane is destroyed.

PS. There are still some B52s in service that weren’t covered by this particular treaty.

From Charles D. (Thanks Charles)

When you go to this site, it will lead you to other aviation films in their archives.

Canadair was a forerunner of the present day Bombardier. It has a rather complicated history going back to Vickers and WWII production.

Challenger: An Industrial Romance by Stephen Low, National Film Board of Canada - See more at:

Canada’s aviation history is very rich and diverse, and goes back one hundred years. We had never produced a business jet until Canadair designed and produced the Challenger in the late 1970s.

You don’t have to love airplanes to watch this film. It is essentially the story of a great Canadian project, filled with interesting characters and plenty of plot twists. I invite you to watch it and be enthralled by its wonderful story and characters. - by Albert Ohayon

From Shirish Joshi

I am forwarding an email about an aircraft that was hit by another (German) aircraft during WW2.

As in pastoral, the pilot and crew did some pretty heroic things to keep it going, including landing the plane safely.

Very interesting.

There was also some discussion on its authenticity, here

The email:

B-17 in 1943

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named "All American", piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew - miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel. They radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used" so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.

When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

From Beall Fowler

“The Chequer Board” was my first Nevil Shute book, way back in the 50’s, and it remains one of my favorites. I recently found a marvelous review in the May 3, 1947 issue of the Saturday Review of Literature, a journal of note in the United States in the mid-20th century, which reminds me why I am so attached to this work. While this review, by Catherine Meredith Brown, accurately summarizes the story, the first and last two paragraphs testify to what a wonderful and perceptive author Nevil Shute was and what a significant book “The Chequer Board” still is. I quote them here:

First paragraph: “Despite our vaunted liberalism, our strident soap-box screams for tolerance, no American could have written ‘The Chequer Board.’ We are not ready to react to miscegenation with equanimity nor to find a place in society for mixed marriages. Our approach to the problem assumes tragic consequences. Our theories are tinged with pity, shame, and hopelessness. It is, therefore, eminently rewarding to read such a wise dispassionate, perceptive writer as Nevil Shute dealing with freedom recently fought for and finally won.”

Final two paragraphs: “Mr. Shute, in clear, logical, and unsentimental terms, creates the final oneness of mankind. Class, rank, creed, color, good, or the appearance of evil, all merge in the vast play of the world. ‘The Chequer Board’ not only puts first things first but it makes virtue palatable and injects justice with joy.”


The first Newsletter of 2014. I hope that 2014 will be a great year for all Shutists.

Every month, when I send out the Newsletter, several are returned as undeliverable. I have send an email to all the addresses, that were returned for the last 4 months. I know, that some addresses, that are returned to me, still do get the newsletter. So if you have received an email about this from me, but you want to continue receiving the Newsletter, please let me know, otherwise I’ll have to remove your email address, before the next Newsletter is send out.

See you all next month.