THE SHETLAND ‘BUS’
Transporting Secret Agents Across the North Sea in WW2
by Stephen Wynn
The Shetland Bus was not a bus, but the nickname of a special operations group that set up a route across the North Sea between Norway and the Shetland Islands, north-east of mainland Scotland. The first voyage was made by Norwegian sailors to help their compatriots in occupied Norway, but soon the Secret Intelligence Service and the Special Operations Executive asked if they would be prepared to carry cargoes of British agents and equipment, as well. Fourteen boats of different sizes were originally used, and Flemington House in Shetland was commandeered as the operation’s HQ. The first official journey was carried out by the Norwegian fishing vessel the Aksel, which left Luna Ness on 30 August 1941 on route to Bremen in Norway. This book examines that first journey, as well later ones, and discusses the agents and operations which members of the Shetland Bus were involved in throughout the war. It also looks at the donation of 3 submarine chasers to the operation, made in October 1943, by the United States Navy. These torpedo-type boats were 110 ft long and very fast, allowing journey times between Shetland and Norway to be greatly reduced and carried out in greater safety. The story of the Shetland Bus would be nothing without the individuals involved, both the sailors of the boats and the agents who were carried between the two countries. These were very brave individuals who helped maintain an important lifeline to the beleaguered Norwegians. It also allowed British and Norwegian agents away into Norway so that they could liaise with the Norwegian Underground movement and carry out important missions against the German occupiers.
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