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History / Wreaths laid in Lerwick to honour Shetland Bus operation

Norwegian navy ship HNoMS Gnist is also in Shetland

Navy representatives of the UK and Norway were present at the wreath laying ceremony on Tuesday. Brigadier Andy Muddiman ADC RM Naval Regional Commander Scotland and Northern Ireland is pictured on the left of the middle, with Pal Oystein Hope - Defence Attaché for the UK Norwegian Embassy- on the right. Photo: Jim Mullay

WREATHS have been laid at the war memorial in Lerwick to commemorate the 80th anniversary of a key turning point in the Shetland Bus operation.

Members of the Norwegian and UK navy, as well as local representatives including lord lieutenant Bobby Hunter and SIC convener Andrea Manson, were present at the ceremony earlier today (Tuesday).

It followed the arrival of the Norwegian navy ship HNoMS Gnist into Lerwick, with her crew attending the event.

Although sailings began a few years earlier, 1943 marked a turning point in the Shetland Bus operation when three American sub-chasers went into service.

Wreaths will also be laid at the Shetland Bus memorial in Scalloway on Thursday at 11am.

The Norwegian navy ship Gnist berthed at Lerwick’s Victoria Pier on Tuesday morning. Photo: John Anderson

During the World War II German occupation of Norway, the Shetland Bus operation played a crucial role.

Under the cover of darkness, a group of small boats – collectively known as the Shetland Bus – ferried people and weapons between Shetland and Norway.

Initially it operated informally using fishing boats, before it then became a formal part of the war effort completing more than 200 trips.

Not all of those trips were successful, and 44 lives were lost during the crossings. However, the introduction of the sub-chasers brought an end to the fatalities.

Brigadier Andy Muddiman ADC RM, Naval Regional Commander Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “As we commemorate the heroism and determination of Operation Shetland Bus launched from Shetland 80 years ago, we are reminded of the strong and enduring bonds between the UK and Norway.

“This is as vital today as in the darkest days of World War 2. Our common purpose and commitment to NATO Allies and partners in the face of threats in all domains has never been stronger.”

The Norway and Shetland flags were flying in front of Lerwick Town Hall on Tuesday morning. Photo: Jim Mullay

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