Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated November 2012

Letters to the Editor

From Chris & Penny Morton

There is not a lot to report. Chris is currently negotiating with QANTAS regarding their offer to assist with international airfares, so more on that later.

Thanks to all who have notified us of your intention to come to Hobart. Numbers are growing, which is encouraging. Chris appreciated the e-mails in large font, but has now resolved the issue and learnt how to manipulate incoming mail on his computer, so no need in future.

As for what to expect weather-wise in October, this year we've had a typical Tassie month. There has been a fair bit of rain (about 60mm, mostly in brief showers), a few windy days, some cloud, lots of sunshine and, of course many rainbows. Daytime temps have ranged between 10 and 23 degrees centigrade, with a spread of 3 to 15 at night. Best advice is to bring a warm, waterproof jacket and plan to dress in layers, to be comfortable in our often-changing normal daytime conditions.

Now that John has got the conference website up and running, all pertinent information will be found on that, so no need to e-mail us with questions about "what, where and when".

Less than a year to go now, so start thinking about coming "down under Down Under".

For the Eastern U.S. members, we hope you and your loved ones are safe and not suffering in the devastation caused by "Sandy".

Till next time, Chris and Penny

From John Anderson


As part of a local history project, Nick Yarrow has been going through old editions of his local newspaper The Eton, Slough and Windsor Observer. Eagle-eyed he spotted an entry in the paper for 10th September 1921. where it was reported that 2 men before the Petty Sessions (local court) were each fined £4 for riding a motorcycle without a licence and that "A similar summons against Neville Shute Norway, of Kensington, was dismissed as the licence had only just expired." This was during his long vacation. The following month Nevil was about to start his final year at Oxford.

He would have given his parent's address - they lived in an apartment in Kensington. Also was the motorcycle in question still the much loved Rudge Multi that he and Fred had shared, and where was he off to when he was pulled up for riding a motorbike without a licence! We will never know.

From Jim Woodward

Hello all!

I just finished listening to Trustee From the Toolroom by NSN. I try to get my books on compact disc because I have a difficult time staying focused when I attempt to read. I enjoyed the book very much and chose it because of some things shared in common with the main character, i.e., model building and fine machinist's tools. I never thought that Keith Stewart would accomplish his search as he seemed to be pulled on so many different directions. The way to story line went reminded me of a Mark Twain short story entitled "The Story of the Old Ram". If people ask me which book I liked best I generally tell them, "Whichever book I last read!"

Most younger people and some my age are not familiar with NSN since most of his writing was done at early on during the 40s, and 50s and the public school system here is more interested in passing students on rather than education or literature. When I was a child or 10 years or so we had a card game entitled "Authors" and our job was to pick a one of four choices written by a author (English or American). I suppose these days in education it would be too much of a challenge. Not too long ago a young girl about 15 or 16 years of age asked me if I fought in the War Between the States (1861-1865) as I was wearing a Civil War sweatshirt (Civil War has to be an oxymoron). I told the young teenager that I was much too young for that conflict. She stared at me with a blank face and then said she meant WWI. I responded to that with, "By then I was too old for that war."

I know this is not related to the main subject, but while I was listening to the CD I also had the opportunity to watch the film "The King's Speech". Now my British genes are beginning to take over as I felt more British than American. I have done genealogy and have discovered that my ancestry takes me back to Edward "Longshanks" of England and beyond.

I have about 16,000 names in my ancestral file and if anyone works on genealogy I would be happy to share the surname information to anyone and then more detailed information for no charge. I have worked on this for about 40 years. I do believe that we are ALL cousins to one degree or another.

Best wishes to all at NSN!

Jim (an Okie not too far from Muskogee)

From Tony Woodward

One of the iconic WW2 flying movies that your anonymous correspondent didn't mention is "Memphis Belle". A crew of virtual teenagers, terrified to be flying into a combat zone. This seems to sum up how it must have felt and to accent how brave they were to overcome their fear and go anyway. I only saw this movie once when it first came out 20 years ago, so I don't remember the details, but it left an indelible impression. I am convinced that I once saw a dramatization of "Pastoral" on TV nearly 40 years ago, in everything but name or attribution, but I already mentioned this in this newsletter a few years ago so there is no point repeating my thread of sightings of "phantom" Shute movies, which had exactly the same plot but gave no credit to the author. There are three or four of them and I have been looking for supporters for 20 years or more. Just occasionally someone contacts me who remembers too and I am over the moon!

I haven't seen "Hanover Street" and now I must find a copy. Incidentally it was an idiot pilot flying a B-25 Mitchell, and refusing to obey instructions and regulations, that flew into the Empire State Building in 1945.

To respond to another correspondent: airships, including the R-100, were an aeronautical dead end. As, sadly, were flying boats - I once saw the majestic Saunders Roe Princess in flight and it was spectacular! - the largest flying boat, and indeed one of the largest aircraft, ever built. Like airships, flying boats were designed to travel to places that did not have airports capable of supporting long-distance land-based aircraft. Unfortunately after WW2 many countries built airports to accommodate the new large airliners, and so the flying boat - a good idea too late for its time - went the way of the dodo. This is sad, but it's called progress.

I once saw the Bristol Brabazon too, flying over our family home in Gloucestershire, England, in about 1950. It was a truly beautiful aircraft, and among the unsung tenets of aircraft design among the technicalities if it looks right then it probably is right. And the Brabazon looked right in an aesthetic sense. But the also aesthetically gorgeous De Havilland Comet was already on the drawing board so the Brabazon with its 8 Bristol Centaurus piston engines (among the largest piston engines ever built) was already obsolete. Very sad.

The R-100 was a reasonably successful airship for its day, and it is sad that the R101 disaster, which NSN refers to in "Slide Rule", scuppered the entire British airship programme. On the other hand, the pragmatists among you might argue that it was a good thing to force the airship industry to cut its losses since it was eventually going nowhere. Airships were on the edge of what was possible and the maintenance costs were enormous and untenable in the long run. The dreamer in me wishes that the programme might have continued a few years more, to prove its fundamental worth at that time in aviation history. It was the Hindenburg disaster not the R-101 that finally killed airships. The use of helium rather than hydrogen would have prevented all these. But let's face it - airship travel was SLOW. And transatlantic travel by jet airliner would have killed it in the end anyway.

For a possible new future for airships I suggest that NSNF Newsletter readers look up "Dynalifters" on the Web. This is a concept that I think has merit. It is a parallel with the canal system in Britain which was killed all too soon by the new railways. The canal system was slow but once the system was charged it could deliver large quantities of material daily. What goes in one end comes out regularly at the other end - who cares how long it takes to get there!! After the first few days the actual processing time is irrelevant. The canals were delivering material systematically and reliably. It is a great pity that railways came along so soon after canals. I think a similar argument is true for airships and the fact that aircraft so soon replaced them There is a niche here for airships - they are slow and they are useless for passengers, but the enormous freight potential has been too long ignored. So look up dynalifters on Wikipedia. was the first URL that came up but there are many others.

From Dan Telfair

I have recently been in touch with Richard Bach's son, James. He provided the following update on his father's condition following his aircraft accident last month:

"He has suffered damage to the part of his brain necessary to speak. He is able to speak a little bit, and although he's very weak we have been able to explain the situation to him and begin the process of therapy.

He is still in the hospital, and I think he will be there at least another couple of weeks at this rate. We still don't know whether he can write, or walk, or much of anything, because he's been so weakened and his hands are swollen up from edema. My understanding is that he also can't eat right now. So you can imagine.

It will be a long recovery, but we no longer fear he will die any moment, except, at his age, and in a hospital, anyone can die at any moment!"

I have written back to James and expressed our condolences. I shared with him the following anecdote from the Centennial:


Thanks for the update. We are sorry to hear that your father's recovery has been and continues to be so difficult. I promise you the Quiet Birdmen will drink a special toast to him and to his full recovery tomorrow night.

I would like to recount a brief anecdote, that you might like to share with your siblings. In January, 1999, I hosted a centennial celebration on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nevil Shute Norway (RIP), an English/Australian author your father admired. Richard somehow heard about the gathering and wrote asking if he could attend. I was delighted to extend an invitation to so famous an aviation author, and asked if he would speak at one of our seminars.

At first, he refused. With my persistence, he finally relented, but only agreed to speak under a pseudonym. He did not want any attention drawn away from our "guest of honor", the deceased Nevil Shute Norway. He was listed on the program as an "aviation writer", under the name "Saunders". No one, other than my wife and I knew, the true identity of Saunders.

Richard spoke on how Nevil's book Round the Bend, was the impetus for his own book, The Reluctant Messiah, but did not mention the title of his book - he only described it in general terms. It was a real treat to see the members of the audience slowly come to realize who the speaker really was.

I mention this because I believe it is one indicator of your father's character. He agreed to share his love of Nevil with all of us, but only providing that he not take anything away from the author we were all celebrating.

He has all our best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.


Dan Telfair


Sorry for being a bit late again. I will do my best to put out the newsletter earlier from now on.

From the Netherlands, were the weather is fine, but cold, see you again next month