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Community / Wreaths laid at Shetland Bus memorial on national Norway day

Norway’s ambassador to the UK says the wartime operation is ‘part of the national psyche’

Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

“THESE are our heroes,” Norway’s ambassador to the UK Wegger Chr. Strømmen says about the Second World War Shetland Bus operation. “It’s not only a faded memory – it’s actually part of the national psyche in Norway in a way.”

Strømmen was speaking to Shetland News the day before a remembrance service was held at the bus memorial in Scalloway this afternoon (Tuesday) on what is Norway’s national day.

A number of wreaths were laid by local and visiting representatives, including from Norway and Germany.

Ambassador of Norway to the UK Wegger Chr. Strømmen

The Norway flag also flew on top of Lerwick Town Hall to mark the day, which celebrates the signing of the Constitution of Norway in 1814 when the country was declared an independent kingdom.

Strømmen is clear that the Shetland Bus operation remains an important piece of history on both sides of the North Sea.

It was a series of undercover boat trips run between Nazi occupied Norway and Shetland during the Second World War – ferrying people, weapons and supplies in often poor conditions.

A memorial to the operation proudly stands in Scalloway.

The last surviving crew member of the Shetland Bus operation, Jakob Strandheim, died in Norway last year.

It initially featured fishing boats before ‘submarine chaser’ naval vessels were involved. A total of 44 lives were lost in the early stages of the operation.

The base headquarters were established in Kergord, and the operational base, which had been at Lunna, was moved to Scalloway in 1942 until the end of the war.

Speaking about the Scalloway memorial, Strømmen said: “It must be one of our important monuments, including those in Norway, from the war.

“These are our heroes, and the activity of going back and forth between Shetland and Norway during the war – it’s not only a faded memory, it’s actually part of the national psyche in Norway in a way.

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“You learn about this at school. There are many, many books written, and still the interest keeps coming, although it’s many years ago.

Norwegian visitors were among those at the ceremony on Tuesday. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

“It’s really something that we appreciate and are eternally grateful for. A lot of people lost their lives on the bus going back and forth, but they were really, really heroes. I think it’s great that it’s commemorated.”

Strømmen said the monument is “moving” and gives time for reflection, while he also praised the Scalloway Museum which offers plenty of information about the wartime operation.

At Tuesday’s service one of the speakers was Nina Høgmo, a Norwegian who moved to Shetland in 2018.

She said for Norway it is the “most important day in the year”, adding that children are a key part of the celebrations.

“When other countries are showing off their tanks, their missiles and their armed forces on their national day,” Høgmo said, “Norway is taking the children to the streets, reminding us all that the future is about children and what values we are passing on to the next generations.”

Lerwick Town Hall. Photo: SIC

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