The Shetland ‘Bus’, Transporting Secret Agents Across The North Sea In WW2

With the German invasion of Norway, Britain faced a serious threat from German naval vessels operating out from and into the North Sea, Atlantic and Arctic waters, but those were not the only threats. The proximity of the Shetland Islands to Norway meant that many Norwegians were able to cross in small fishing boats to escape the Germans, and for secret agents and commando groups to travel from the Shetlands to Norway in fishing boats, submarines and Coastal Forces vessels, The Shetland ‘Bus’ was born. Very Highly Recommended

NAME:  The Shetland 'Bus', Transporting Secret Agents Across The North Sea In WW2
FILE: R3317
AUTHOR: Stephen Wynn
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £19.99                                                
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   World War II, World War 2, Second World War, WWII, North Sea, 
Occupied Europe, Occupied Scandinavia, Shetland Isles, fishing boats, Coastal Forces 
vessels, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Royal Navy, Royal Norwegian Navy, Norwegian 
Resistance, covert operations, secret agents, refugees

ISBN: 1-52673-535-0

PAGES: 204, 8 page b&w photo plate section
IMAGE: B3317.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/yfo5deu7
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: With the German invasion of Norway, Britain faced a serious threat 
from German naval vessels operating out from and into the North Sea, Atlantic and 
Arctic waters, but those were not the only threats. The proximity of the Shetland 
Islands to Norway meant that many Norwegians were able to cross in small fishing 
boats to escape the Germans, and for secret agents and commando groups to travel 
from the Shetlands to Norway in fishing boats, submarines and Coastal Forces 
vessels, The Shetland 'Bus' was born.  Very Highly Recommended

The activities of SOE and the French Resistance, together with Commando raids on the French Coast, have received much coverage by film makers and historians. The similar activities to the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have received very much less coverage, but were of at least equal importance during WWII.

Keeping a close watch on major German warships lurking in the Norwegian Fjords, or making a dash through the Skaggerak for the North Sea and Atlantic, were of critical importance. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union the importance increased as Britain sent PQ/QP convoys round the North Cape to Russian ice free ports. Then there was the nuclear threat that depended on supplies of heavy water from Norway to Germany to construct a nuclear device. This was all in addition to the Norwegian desire to injure and eject the German invader and restore their freedom.

There has been some myth, mystery and confusion over the history of the Shetland ‘Bus’ and the author has made a very good job of setting out the real story, based on solid research and illustrated by an eight page photo-plate section.

Some of the early history is, and probably will always be, murky, because the broad operations started very informally. Shetland and Norwegian families have long held close relations and the islands were Danish until the land grab by the Act of Union that united the governments of England and Scotland. There is some controversy about the true ownership of the islands because the Danish King who made a gift of the Shetlands and Orkneys, as a dowry, to a Scottish King was only entitled to make a gift of lands he owned and not the whole of the islands. Even then, there is a question about his right to make any such gift because Danish law was not feudal.

As the Germans began their invasion some fishing boats began taking off refugees and landing them in the Shetlands. This was informal and private acts but Norwegian sailors soon started voyages to help their compatriots and that may be considered the start of the Shetland ‘Bus’ service which managed to navigate the threats of interception by German ships and aircraft. It did not take the British Secret Intelligence Service and SOE long to ask if these voyages could also take agents and equipment to Norway to assist in the development of a Norwegian Resistance and the establishment of watch posts to observe Germany activities and radio details back to Britain.

The author has looked at the ‘Bus’ operation that was set up, with Flemington House in Shetland as the operational head quarters, and traced the first official journey carried out by the Norwegian fishing vessel ‘Aksel’. Originally, some fourteen boats of various sizes were used. Later the US navy donated three 110ft submarine chasers, vessels, very similar to the Fairmile B Motor Launches used in commando and SOE operations to the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Through the war, the Shetland ‘Bus’ was kept busy with frequent sailings to insert and extract agents, equipment, supplies and some civilians. It provided a reliable method of inserting agents, although some air drops and glider landings were carried out, notably in the operation to destroy production and stocks of heavy water before it could reach Germany for the German nuclear development program.

This is an important story, told well, that also covers the sailors of the boats and the agents they carried.