7.15pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 9 March 2021
The Shetland Bus was the nickname of a clandestine special operations group that made a permanent link between Mainland Shetland, Scotland and Germany when Norway was occupied from 1941 until the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.
From mid-1942 the group's official name was the Norwegian Naval Independent Unit (NNIU). In October 1943 it became an official part of the Royal Norwegain Navy and was renamed the Royal Norwegian Naval Special Unit (RNNSU). The unit was operated initially by a large number of small fishing boats and later augmented by three fast and well-armed submarine chasers Vigra, Hessa and Hitra. Crossings were mostly made during the winter under the cover of darkness, this meant the crews and passengers had to endure very heavy North Sea conditions with no lights and constant risk of discovery by German aircraft or patrol boats. There was also the possibility of being captured whilst carrying out the mission on the Norwegian coast.
Early on it was decided that camouflage was the best defence and the boats were disguised as working fishing boats and the crew as fishermen. The fishing boats were armed with light machine guns inside oil drums placed on deck. The operation was under constant threat from German forces and several missions went away of which the Televag tragedy in spring 1942 was a prime example.
Several fishing boats were lost during the early operations, but after receiving the three submarine chasers there were no more losses.
Our speaker Gill Halcrow has a special interest in the special operations and lesser known activites of WW2.