Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter March 2018
Text only version

Letters to the Editor

FROM Laura Schneider
NEVIL SHUTE SYMPOSIUM- April 13-15 is only SIX (6) weeks away!!

The Upper Valley Shutists are getting ready to roll out the red carpet to all Shutists. Many thanks to our local members, as well as those farther away who are making this 10th international conference a success.

ALL the information you need is on the NSNF website. The Symposium page is being updated whenever there is new information to share....which is frequently!

How do I register??  
The registration link will be added by 3/5/18.  All nevessary information will be there. If you have any questions, please contact me at

Who is Presenting and Speaking? 
Check out our Speakers and Presenters at the NSNF website.  Many of our speakers are well-known to this group and we are fortunate to include a few new and equally memorable Shute enthusiasts! In addition, an acclaimed author and  Dartmouth Professor will be our Banquet Speaker. 

Where can I/we stay?
Six South Street in Hanover, NH is our hotel. They have set aside a block of rooms for us. To receive our special rate, tell them you are part of the Nevil Shute weekend. YOU MUST MAKE YOUR ROOM RESERVATION BY CALLING THEM. 603-643-0600. They do not take reservations online.  NOTE:  They are holding this block of rooms until March 13. If you make your reservation after that date, our special rate will not apply.  My suggestion is to make the reservation and if necessary, cancel 48 hours before your arrival date.  It costs nothing to hold the reservation but will cost a lot more if you reserve after March 13. If they still have rooms. There are other hotels in the area but Six South Street was chosen for its central location, wonderful staff, special symposium price, and beautiful facility. 

The 10th international gathering promises to be memorable. We look forward to seeing veteran conference Shutists and welcoming new ones!

If I can assist you, please contact me.,

FROM Joost Meulenbroek

After our first Dutch book discussion in the National Military Museum in Soesterberg, and the second one in Singraven in Denekamp, it is time for a third meeting.

This meeting will be held on April 22 next, in Restaurant De Thermiekbel (thermal bubble) on the glider airfield Terlet, between Arnhem and Apeldoorn.
We will discuss The Chequerboard, or 's Mensen Schaakspel as the Dutch title is. 

John Turner, injured in a wartime air crash, is told he has one year -or less- to live.

How he decides to spend his last few months makes just as moving and readable a story today as when this novel was first published in 1947.

The meeting will be held on Sunday 22th April. We will arrive from noon and will have lunch at 13:00 hour. If the weather is good, we will lunch on the balcony, with a wonderful view over Terlet airfield and all the activity that is going on there.After lunch we will discuss the book. Depending on the attendees, the discussion will be in Dutch or English. The participation to this meeting is free, but for the consumptions that you will have and the lunch.

The address is:

Restaurant De Thermiekbel
Apeldoornseweg 203
6816 SM Arnhem
The Netherlands
tel: +31 26 445 5450

If you want to come to this meeting, please let me know in advance.
tel: +31 6 54 791 307

FROM Martin Aubury
I’ve enjoyed reading Shute for the past 60 years or more and followed in his footsteps as an aero engineer; though not as a novelist.

I agree with Tom Wenham (Feb 2018 Newsletter) that there’s little technical similarity between fatigue failure of the Reindeer’s tailplane as told in No Highway and failures of the Comet fuselage five years later.  But neither is there much similarity to wing strut failures on the Twin Pioneer.

I respectfully suggest there’s a much closer similarity to fatigue weakness of the Boeing 707's tail.  This caused loss of 707 operated by Dan Air on approach to Lusaka Airport, Zambia, on 14 May 1977.  Subsequently 38 other 707s were found to have similar incipient cracks.  


I also wonder if Shutists are familiar with Flight Magazine archives.  They will find many contemporaneous accounts of Shute’s achievements if they search “N.S.Norway” or Airspeed.  Do Shutists realise that more Airspeed Oxfords were built, to train bomber pilots, than the more famous Lancasters and Mosquitos?

FROM Ron Hall
I have recently been reading the biography of Anders Lassen VC (Anders Lassen VC.MC. of the SAS by Mike Langley, published by Pen and Sword UK). In this book there is an interesting account of a small force of Commandos sailing a requisitioned Brixham fishing smack, The Maid Honor, 70 feet long with a sixteen and a half foot beam, from Poole Harbour to Fernando Po off the coast of West Africa where, from the Maid Honor, they successfully raided and captured two German ships, a small German Tanker, The Likopmba and a 7,600 ton Italian Liner and Merchantman the Duchessa d’Aosta. Both ships had remained at anchor for a year but continually worried the Admiralty as they had the possibility to become supply ships to aid Surface Raiders or U-Boats. Both captured ships were sailed to Freetown Sierra Leone. The Duchessa was then sailed to Scotland and became the Empire Yukon where it was used as an Allied transport. The whole story of the voyage and capture of the two ships is told at length in the book but the really interesting part as far as our members are concerned is that the Maid Honor was fitted out in a quiet corner of Poole Harbour known as Russell Quay on the wooded West side of the Arne Peninsular - just sandbanks covered in heather and a little sandy cliff used by the crew as a firing range. The men were encouraged to believe that the craft’s innocent appearance might help them escape detection if she were employed in a cross-Channel raid. The Commander of the Expedition, Gus March-Phillips, was kept busy arming and equipping the fishing smack for the long and probably dangerous voyage.  I quote -Lieutenant-Commander Norway RNVR (Nevil Shute the author) examined the Maid’s suitability for fitting with a spigot mortar which, mounted on a steel plate in the deck, would launch small , tail-finned bombs at surfaced U-Boats. A test firing exposed the risk of using this weapon on a yacht, red hot particles of the charge burned holes in the Maid’s mainsail.

Having read this part of the history of the voyage there is no doubt in my mind the Neville Shute must have got the idea for ‘Most Secret’ from visiting this boat and saw the possibilities of the novel, which as all readers will know deals with a disguised fishing boat which raids German vessels off the coast of France. 

I recommend the book to anyone, especially the part about the voyage to Fernando Po via Freetown and Lagos, a voyage of 3,185 miles to Freetown, sailed by weekend sailors! Quite incredible for the time.

FROM Philip MacDougall
Nevil Shute Norway spent the final months of World War One in uniform, guarding North Kent from an increasingly unlikely possible German invasion. He was posted to the Isle of Grain. In writing my recently published book ‘When the Navy Takes to the Air’, I became more and more convinced that it was while serving on the Isle of Grain that the future author, Nevil Shute, gained a unique insight into the highly advanced experimental work being undertaken at the Marine Aviation Experimental Establishment, formerly in the hands of the RNAS, that had been established on the Isle of Grain at the beginning of the war. I say this, because two of the key aviation ingredients in his second published novel, ‘So Disdained’ (1928), are drawn straight from the secret work being undertaken on the Isle of Grain at the time he was stationed there.  Apart from the fact that every advanced machine with any potential for naval use was tested there, the air station was working on aerial photography and explosive devices that would turn night into day. Maurice Lenden photographed Portsmouth Harbour at night. Most crucially, for the plot of So Disdained, Maurice Lenden, a former Great War pilot was flying a machine fitted with a silencer.  At the Isle of Grain, aeroplanes were being fitted with Rolls-Royce III engines that included just such a device. The experimental silencers fitted to those engines at the Marine Aviation Experimental Establishment worked through the sound of the engine being muffled through the elimination of back pressure by way of cooling the gases that were emitted from the engine.

FROM J.B. Roberts

I read my first Shute opus in 1944. I wonder if there is anyone who pre-dates me?


And another month has passed. With 2 events coming up, one in the USA and 1 in the Netherlands, we can have a good time. From the Netherlands, where the weather is lovely, but very very cold, see you all next month.