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Secret Destinatioms

The Shetland Bus at Scalloway

The Shetland bus, click to enlarge
A quite remarkable silver ship overlooks the harbour in the tiny Shetland port of Scalloway. Its significance can be discovered in the nearby museum where the story of the Shetland Bus is well recorded:
On the night of April 8-9th 1940, Germany attacked Norway. This neutral country was taken by surprise and was unable to resist. King Haakon and his government decided that the best course of action was to move to Britain and continue to fight from there. Soon after they invasion, 300 small boats set out for freedom and most of them landed in Shetland.

The Shetland bus memorial plaque, click to enlarge
Before long, resistance fighters were making the return journey. This was the start of the Shetland bus. Fishing boats from Lunna and Scalloway made almost 100 crossings carrying Norwegian agents, wireless operators and supplies for the resistance movement. By 1943, 10 boats and 44 lives had been lost. It was clear that better boats were needed and help game in the form of a gift of 3 American sub-chasers, renamed Hitra, Hessa and Vigra, with Norwegian crews. A further 115 round trips were made without loss.

This contribution to the war effort was of a strategic importance far in excess of the scale of the operation; Hitler believed that the Allies would invade Norway and kept many garrisons there.

The exquisite memorial in Scalloway rests on a cairn of stones gathered from the home area of each of the 44 men who gave their lives.