Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated November 2011

Letters to the Editor

From Laura Schneider

Thanks to Gary Bartell

For the past four years, Gary Bartell has been the Librarian of the US branch of the Nevil Shute Library. Gary took over the library from Susan Batross and proceeded to put his own stamp on it. Next weekend (weather permitting), Gary is passing the torch to me and the library will be relocated in New England. My hope is to have the library up and running quickly without much delay in service. Thank you, Gary, for a job well done! Laura Schneider

From Laura Schneider

Thanks to the generosity of Fred Weiss and the enthusiasm of the Seattle Conference participants, the 2011 Conference made $208 selling Parallel Motion and other Nevil Shute titles from The Paper Tiger. This money will be donated to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation Scholarship.

From Gary E. SWINSON

in Seattle last month. The presentations were entertaining and informative (as always), the accommodations were grand and central to all of Seattle, and the excursions were most interesting.

I have finished work on the photo album from the conference. The photo album is being distributed to conference attendees. Thanks to the Standards for their contributed photos -- much appreciated.

From John Anderson


I came across this paragraph in the entry for Alan Cobham in Wikipedia:-

"On 25 November 1926, Cobham attempted but failed to be the first person to deliver mail to New York City by air from the east, planning to fly mail from the White Star ocean liner RMS Homeric in a de Havilland DH.60 Moth floatplane when the ship was about 12 hours from New York harbour on a westbound crossing from Southampton. After the Moth was lowered from the ship, however, Cobham was unable to take off owing to rough water and had to be towed into port by the ship."

Interestingly, in 1924 Nevil Shute wrote his second novel "Pilotage" which features Phillip Stenning, a character he modeled on Cobham. In the book Stenning is involved in a scheme to launch an aircraft from a ship in mid Atlantic to fly mail to England. The idea was to develop a service to reduce the time for the mails which could be charged at a premium. In the book the flight was not successful owing to adverse winds and other factors.

Of course Cobham and Shute knew each other having both worked for De Havilland. I wonder if perhaps they discussed this type of scheme and maybe this triggered in Shute's mind an idea for his book.

I asked Colin Cruddas, an expert on Sir Alan Cobham, about this and this was his reply:-

With regard to your query, it is of course now too far removed to make positive comment on the possible linking of Shute's prescient observation in 1924 and Cobham's failed attempt at landing mail in the US by air in 1926. I imagine anything is possible and Cobham could conceivably have been influenced by Shute but in my view this is unlikely. The facts as I understand them are that Cobham, riding high on his international fame following his return from Australia, was (easily) persuaded to embark on a lecture tour of North America. Capitalising on this he agreed to combine this with a sales exercise for the DH Moth. Having got the basic reasons for going established he then got the idea to be the first to deliver mail by air, albeit from a short distance off shore and had the Moth equipped with floats. He optimistically intended to carry his wife Gladys on the delivery flight , but what with her very heavy weight and the Moth's poor unstick capability, he was forced to unload her. A second attempt to take-off also failed following which, as you know, he was humiliatingly towed into port. The sales tour wasn't a success either but with wheels now fitted, the Moth was delivered to someone who had made the purchase in England who professed to be very pleased with it.


Again a very short newsletter. Come on people, we make the newsletter together, I just put it together. There must be people out there who have interesting things to say for us all. Don't be shy, email me.

Until next month, all the best