Veteran author and teacher dies, aged 95

Click on image to enlarge

Renowned local author James W Irvine, 95, who explored the close relationship between Shetland and Norway during the war years, has died.

The retired teacher is remembered for writing over 20 books in three decades.  His treasured works include well-loved titles like The Waves Are Free, which studied the wartime Shetland Bus operation that transported vital supplies to Nazi-occupied Norway from the isles.

In 2008 the veteran writer was officially recognised by the King of Norway, when he was presented with the country’s most prestigious honour – the Saint Olav’s Medal – at a special ceremony in the Town Hall.

Born in 1917 at Exnaboe in Virkie, Mr Irvine was brought up in the area, before schooling at the Anderson Educational Institute. He went on to study at Edinburgh University, from where he graduated in 1939.

Mr Irvine saw six years of army service, including being present at the D-Day landings of 1944. He later wrote a book about his own and other Shetlanders’ memorable experiences of World War II, entitled The Giving Years.

After the war he became further education officer for Shetland for a time before reverting to teaching. He became headmaster of Bell’s Brae Primary School in 1966, a position he held until his retirement in 1977.

He was made a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland in 1973, and awarded the MBE in 1974.

Mr Irvine wrote his first book in 1980, and his writing became more and more prolific, until in 2004 he completed what he described as his last book, Final Curtain.

Since then, however, he wrote three other books – Memories are Made of This, Costly Cargoes and Meandering.

Mr Irvine is survived by his wife Bella, daughter Marion and son Alan.


Add Your Comment
  • Ian Mundie

    • October 9th, 2012 14:21

    It is with sadness that I read of the death of Jiimy Irvine. He was our class teacher at the LCPS before going to the secondary section. His nickname among the class was “brains” and believe me he was all that and more. A very caring and understanding teacher.
    My sympathies and condolences go to Bella and Alan.
    R.I.P. Jimmy.

  • Peg Young

    • October 10th, 2012 9:48

    Jeemie meant mair ta me dan I can ever truly express. He wis a shinin example for me as a teacher mesel, an he was as fine a man as a body could hoop ta ken. He wis a gentleman, a mentor, an a true son o Shetland. My deepest sympathies go tae Bella and Alan in their huge loss. He will never be forgotten.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.