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The Shetland 'Bus' (Hardback)

Transporting Secret Agents Across the North Sea in World War Two

WWII Military

By Stephen Wynn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 30 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526735355
Published: 28th April 2021


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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 a way in to Norway so that they could liaise with the Norwegian Underground movement and carry out important missions against the German occupiers.

In conclusion as I stated earlier this is one of the books that reveals that a war of resistance in the west was not just fought in France and the Low countries but in Norway as well, in conditions that were quite inhospitable in particular during the long northern winters.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

A moving tale of grit and determination of men pitted against the rough and unforgiving waters of the North Sea.

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Julian Stockwin

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

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A great book about individual spies and sailors from both sides of the water putting their lives at great risk. I really enjoyed this book and it was written in a bit of diary style, plenty of information and photographs. I certainly recommend this book to all.

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UK Historian

The Shetland Bus is an inspirational tale and this new telling properly acknowledges the bravery of the Norwegians involved.

Peter Wykeham-Martin, Warship World

About Stephen Wynn

Stephen is a retired police officer having served with Essex Police as a constable for thirty years between 1983 and 2013. He is married to Tanya and has two sons, Luke and Ross, and a daughter, Aimee. Both Stephen’s grandfathers served in and survived the First World War, one with the Royal Irish Rifles, the other in the Mercantile Marine, whilst his father was a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Second World War.

When not writing Stephen can be found walking his dogs with his wife, Tanya, at some unearthly time of the morning when most normal people are still fast asleep.

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