Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter - March 2015

Letters to the Editor

FROM Alison Jenner

The registration website is now live and you can access it from the conference website at

Once you have registered, you can pay by credit or debit card or (better for us) by direct funds transfer to the Foundation bank account. All the details are on the registration web site.

Anyone who wants to stay in single ensuite rooms on the Balliol campus, we have reserved rooms in the historic college setting and there will be quite a number of us there. You can email me directly or use the link from the top right hand corner of the website Or use the form below.

Once we have your details we will invoice you for your accommodation.

If you want to book a twin ensuite room in the Jowett Walk accommodation, 10 minutes from Balliol, please contact the college conference organiser Jacqueline Fossey at , with the dates you want to stay.

If you have decided to book at the Randolph or Hawkwell hotels there are conference rates available to our group members; or if you wish to stay at another hotel there are some suggestions on the conference website. Email me if you have any problems.

We can look forward to a really lovely setting for our meeting!

Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Oxford Conference 30th August - 4th September 2015

Booking form for Balliol College Rooms






Please reserve the following SINGLE rooms in Balliol College:-

Dates room required:  ____ nights from ______ to _______

Accomodation:- Single ensuite room in Balliol College at £65 per room per night

(inc VAT) Room charge includes breakfast Number of nights

NOTE:- Additional nights stay in the rooms before or after the Conference must be arranged directly with Jacqui Fossey at Balliol

NOTE Twin rooms in Balliol College's annexe in Jowett Walk MUST be booked through the College Conference Officer, Jacqueliene Fossey,

The accommodation will be invoiced to you by the Foundation and must be paid for in advance of the Conference. Details of payment methods will be included on the invoice.

Alison Jenner item 2

 We have just begun a new short (6 week) course at the Story Museum, Oxford, meeting at 2pm on Thursdays from 27/02/15.

Following on from the 'Nevil Shute's Oxford' course, our topic is 'Nevil Shute - writing for a purpose.'

Last week we discussed Ruined City; our next meeting on 05 March will cover 'What Happened to the Corbetts'. Also included in the programme are 'Pied Piper,' 'The Chequer Board,' 'Round The Bend,' and 'On The Beach.' We will be looking at Shute's reasons for writing these particular novels as well as enjoying the writing for its own sake.

Do let me know if you would like to join us by emailing on

Alison Jenner item 3

Nevil Shute Reading Group

Tom Wenham has kindly booked the Ford Room at Brooklands for the 21st March from 1 pm so we can discuss "Ruined City".   He has also asked them to  reserve the larger Napier Suite in case there are more than 12 of us.  Let me know as soon as you can and by 06 March, 2015 at the latest, whether you intend to come so we can let them know whether we need the larger room.

Brooklands is well signed, especially from the M25.

Entry is £11.00 (opens at 10 am). 

There is loads to see and Tom suggests that people get there early enough to have a good look round before having lunch at say 12.30. There is a pleasant cafeteria doing good lunches at reasonable prices.

Some of us will meet at 10:30 for coffee and go round as a group.   In two hours there would have to be a certain amount of cherry picking of what we looked at as it would be impossible to see it all.

Tom will open the Masefield Archive and explain briefly about Masefield and his contact with Shute.    There is also the Barnes Wallis office; Tom is going to research any information about BW connections. 

There are acres of parking shared with Mercedes-Benz World and parking is well signed.

FROM David Henshall

Reference the excellent article in the Newsletter from  John Cooper, can I add the following.

It might be dangerous to make too many assumptions that when writing, NSN's "go to" choice of aircraft would be from DeHavilland.

Even in the time since the meeting in Fareham, more evidence has emerged strengthening the links between NSN and both the Fairey and Sopwith families. Indeed, as we discussed last Spring, there is now ample evidence pointing to many of his aircraft in the books being from the Fairey stable.

One such example is the Chipmunk (as featured in Marazon).  There really was a seaplane enter into the Kings Cup,  a Fairey FIII. Even the choice of engine (as reported in the book) is right...with there being evidence of a new powerplant 'falling off the shelf in the stores'.

I hope to be going into this in more detail at Oxford later this year.

FROM Cedric

The City of Fergus Falls,  MN was where I attended school as a teenager.   Recently, a historian from the Otter Tail County Historical Society recounted the circumstances of the Citys founding.  

I thought the description of the Scotsman founder was so evocative of the Scottish Runners used by Leif Ericksson,  and featured in Nevil Shutes novel An Old Captivity:  Haki and Hekja.

It was very valuable for explorers to have scouts who could roam ahead of the expedition,  looking for the easiest path,  and also looking for danger,  who were able to outrun any hostile people and carry a warning back to the base camp.

FROM Paul Spoff


If you saw this before... pretend you didn't and watch it again. Good story.

PT Boat 658

The only functional, restored, PT boat left in the world, and operating out of Portland, Oregon.

A real tribute to the gentlemen who restored the boat! An example of another terrific contribution made by the Greatest Generation.

FROM Martin Roberts

I thought this piece on the BBC News site may be of interest to other NSN fans.

A curious British airship experiment

FROM Thomas Edwards

Being a stickler for accuracy, though guilty of making many, your critical comments regarding three Shute review books in the latest newsletter were a pleasure to read. New am I to the Shute newsletter but find myself reading every word.  About eleven Shute books have been read, some numerous times and now opportunity allows the consumption of all the others.

FROM Gadepalli Subrahmanyam

All great men think alike. There is not an iota of doubt about the greatness of either Nevil Shute or Thomas Alva Edison. They have an astute understanding of humans and their nature. Whether they thinks of providing ambience for women to live, or provide work as the main prerogative of humans, they are unparalleled.

That is the reason why, they are remembered all the time.

FROM Mike Blamey

Reading the comments about 'odd' vessels (sea-borne baking!) which formed part of the Normandy Invasion Fleet did raise a series of thoughts in my mind.

fast-est, most-est is I believe the military maxim which comes to mind: a mantra told me by a dear friend, who, whilst we are of the same age (doing 'O' and 'A' levels at the same time) was eventually a colonel in the Royal Artillery. What appears clear is that whatever the courage, military skills and strategic planning involved in military affairs, in the end (and indeed at the start) the only thing that really matters is logistics. How much weaponry, suitably supplied and manned, can be assembled on a hostile shore and protected from the 'other side' for long enough to become effective.

Fellow Shutists might remember that my father served (along with Shute) as a 'civilian attached' in HM Weezers and Dodgers: the reason I was born in Portsmouth!. Sadly, father died in late 1943, not of enemy action, nor (so my mother always said ) of the TB that it said on his death certificate but of a broken heart. Broken by the assumed superiority, intransigence and stupidity of more senior and 'proper' navy officers.

Reading about Operation Sledgehammer -a suggestion of a holding operation in Cherburg prior to D-day- did remind me of this. I do recall father's brother, an uncle who acted 'in loco parentis' for me, describing many years later his coming back from France in the summer of 1940, not from Dunkirk, but from Cherburg. Apparently, there had been a suggestion by the senior military that 'we' should retain a foot/toe hold in Continental Europe in 1940 [a working port was essential] which might become a route to a subsequent breakout. My uncle, a Royal Engineer was part of the planning for its defense. Churchill, probably correctly, was of the view that such a 'redoubt' was not sustainable: and being pushed into the sea yet again, following Dunkirk, would be too much for public opinion?

Later in this article, in preparation for D-day, there is description of Thames Barges being requisitioned, moved to the South & West coast and modified for their D-day roles in various ports and harbours. Interesting that in Seaton, where I was brought-up (mentioned by Shute in Slide Rule as a place he rowed to, during a late 20s voyage along the south coast, to buy provisions from his becalmed yacht in Lyme Bay) there is still a small harbour, on the River Axe. The great-great grandson who is the present local boat builder, H Mears & Sons, believes that his relative was one of those who did this type of conversion: and later became 'crew' on one such vessel. The navy sought small-boat sailors with on-shore experience, and local fishermen were exactly that.  Fellow Shutists might recall that Lyme Bay was the sad scene of a training exercise involving unprotected -due to an inter-service communication error -Landing Craft (Tanks) that went horribly wrong. Several were sunk: a problem (in view of the very limited number available in June 1944) which seriously delayed/ almost stopped the entire D-day episode.

My constant thought is that it is always the Engineering, the logistics, the manufacture, the creation of innovative solutions to pivotal problems, the ability to improvise, to do for 10p what any fool could do for £1.00 that Shute valued so highly. What a pity that we are only asked to use our skills when matters are already 'out-of-hand ' and the catastrophe of war is already in place. Perhaps as Engineers and technologists we might deal with the preservation of peace so much better than our apparent betters.

FROM Tom Wenham

I have just finished reading, and can heartily recommend, 'My History - A Memoir of Growing Up' by Antonia Fraser, a writer I much admire.   Of interest to Shutists might be her description of her time as a 'She Dragon' at the Dragon School in the nineteen-forties.  Although quite a while after Shute was there, the atmosphere she describes would surely have been much as it was in Shute's time.   Later, like Shute,she too went to Oxford, but to the female college, Lady Margaret Hall, to read history. 


Im having a problem with the address-book on my computer. Because of that, I have not given the email-addresses of all, names that are in the newsletter this month. For some I may even have given a wrong address. Ill try and sort this problem out, before t he next newsletter.

From Holland, where it is almost spring, see you next month