The Shetland Bus written by Stephen Wynn and published by Pen & Sword Books – £19.99 – Hardback – Pages 208

The Shetland Bus was not a bus, but the nickname of a special operations group that set up a route across the North Sea between Norway and the Shetland Islands, north-east of mainland Scotland. The first voyage was made by Norwegian sailors to help their compatriots in occupied Norway, but soon the Secret Intelligence Service and the Special Operations Executive asked if they would be prepared to carry cargoes of British agents and equipment, as well. Fourteen boats of different sizes were originally used, and Flemington House in Shetland was commandeered as the operation’s HQ. The first official journey was carried out by the Norwegian fishing vessel the Aksel, which left Luna Ness on 30 August 1941 on route to Bremen in Norway.

This book examines that first journey, as well later ones, and discusses the agents and operations which members of the Shetland Bus were involved in throughout the war. It also looks at the donation of 3 submarine chasers to the operation, made in October 1943, by the United States Navy. These torpedo-type boats were 110 ft long and very fast, allowing journey times between Shetland and Norway to be greatly reduced and carried out in greater safety.

Wow, when I was offered the chance to review this book I was just going by the title which intrigued me to what it could be. Firstly, I thought I knew a lot about WW2 but I had never heard about this at all. But what a great book and I have learnt lots from this. The Shetland Bus turns out to be a coordinated link between british and Norweigen spies across the North Sea using small fishing type boats at first. Later on these boats would become a little more advanced and durable before being able to use a few submarine chasers that had been donated from the US Navy. Now I’ve seen what the North Sea can be like, and these men having to travel across in such small boats had guts. Plus it was a great route for those in Norway wanting to flee German oppression. A great book about individual spies and sailors from both sides of the water putting their lives at great risk. I really enjoyed this book and it was written in a bit of diary style, plenty of information and photographs. I really do enjoy reading Stephen Wynn books and he seems to be becoming quite a prolific writer on the second world war. I certainly recommend this book to all.