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Historic vessels to honour wartime links

The Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway. Photo: Shetland News
The Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway. Photo: Shetland News

TWO historic ships will set sail from Norway to Scalloway later this month to commemorate Shetland’s wartime links with the isles’ Scandinavian neighbour.

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl and the restored sub-chaser Hitra will visit Scalloway as part of a series of events due to be held in the village between 13 and 15 April.

Their visits will mark 75 years since the Shetland Bus operation linking the isles to Nazi-occupied Norway during the Second World War II suffered heavy losses in 1943.

The tall shop Statsraad Lehmkuhl has been a regular visitor to Shetland. Photo: Austin Taylor

Later that year, however, three sub-chaser fast attack crafts came into service after being donated to the operation by the US Navy, with no further losses reported.

The Shetland Bus operation used fishing vessels and civilian crews to provide a lifeline link between Scalloway and Norway, which was occupied by the Nazis.

Mayor of Bergen Marte Mjøs Persen and commanding officers from the Haakonsvern Naval Base near Bergen and the Commandant of Bergenhaus Castle will take the trip to Scalloway on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl alongside a Norwegian veteran’s group.

Shetland Bus Friendship Society will host the Norwegian visitors. Open days are being organised for both visiting vessels while local guides will take walks through Scalloway to view historic locations.

Norwegian historian Asgeir Ueland will present a talk on the Saturday about some previously unknown aspects of the Shetland Bus operation.

A concert will be held in the Scalloway Hall on the Friday with fiddler Maggie Adamson and friends on the bill alongside Jenna and Bethany Reid.

The duo will perform compositions dedicated to the story of Jan Baalsrud, who escaped with his life when a Shetland Bus vessel was ambushed by the German military north of Tromso.

There will also be a wreath laying ceremony at the Shetland Bus war memorial on Main Street in Scalloway on the Sunday morning and a church service in honour of those who served.

The Scalloway Museum, meanwhile, continues to feature a dedicated display on the Shetland Bus operation.