Special "Shetland Bus" Postmark for Scalloway Museum Opening by Jens Stoltenberg
The Shetland Bus (Shetlandsgjengen in Norwegian) was the name given to a joint special Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Special Operations Executive (SOE) operation to link Shetland and German occupied Norway by sea between 1941 and 1945. The official title of the operations group was "Norwegian Naval Independent Unit". The main purpose of the operation was to transport agents, combatants, refugees and weapons between the UK and occupied Norway.
The Shetland Bus was originally based in Lunna and Flemington (now named Kergord). During 1942 operations were moved to Scalloway to improve communications and gain access to a proper slipway to improve the speed of repairs to the boats involved. The men working on the Shetland Bus were welcomed in to the local Shetland community which, although many were aware of their work, never compromised the operation.
After almost 100 missions from Shetland to Norway using only small fishing vessels losses totalled 10 boats and 44 men through a combination of winter weather in the North Sea and German action. During October 1943, three larger and faster american submarine chasers were delivered by the American Navy, meaning the Shetland Bus was able to run a further 115 times without loss.
Leif Andreas "Shetland" Larsen was perhaps the most celebrated Shetland Bus man having made 52 trips to Norway. His bravery meant he would become the most highly-decorated Allied naval officer of the Second World War.
A 1955 Norwegian film titled Suicide Mission featured the story of the Shetland Bus and many original particpants of the operation played their own role in the movie.
Read more about the wartime Shetland Bus operations at wikipedia.
The special Shetland Bus Friendship Society sponsored postmark depicts one of the boats that took part in wartime operations and is available for one day only - 17th May 2012 - to mark the opening of Scalloway Museum.
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