Shetland Bus 80th anniversary commemoration

A long heritage of international military and civilian cooperation was acknowledged at the Shetland Bus memorial, as speakers from Shetland, the Norwegian Navy and UK Navy came together to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the historic war operation. 

The Norwegian Navy corvette Gnist sailed around from Lerwick to Scalloway for the ceremony, after prior events in Lerwick. The sleek, ultra-modern coastal defence vessel lay at the west Blacksness quayside after slipping into the harbour in the twilight of the previous evening and served a backdrop for the events on on Thursday.

The Gnist

The Shetland Bus operation, based from Scalloway, has been increasingly acknowledged over time on both sides of the North Sea as having a significant impact on the progress and outcome of the Second World War, and in the troubled world of 2023 the significance of strategic operations with civilian support was recognised as not only something of the past to be remembered, but something that will always be valued. 

The wreath laying ceremony this week was introduced by Councillor Stephen Leask, a member of the Shetland Bus Friendship Society who own and operate the Scalloway Museum. The organisation raised the Shetland Bus Memorial in 2003. 

Councilor Leask spoke of “the strong bond between Shetland and Norway was forged in these times of hardship and danger, and continue to this day”.

As part of his introduction, he Leask gave reference to the history of the Shetland Bus Operation, and the particular heroism of the Norwegian civilians who crewed the fleet of small fishing vessels that ran between Shetland and occupied Norwegian coast in the early days of the war in Norway, 44 of whom gave their lives for their fellow countrymen and are remembered through the Scalloway memorial.

Wreaths were laid by depute Norwegian ambassador to the UK, followed by the crew of the Gnist, including Commender Bergmann, His Majesties representative the deputy Lord Lieutenant, the Navy Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Convener of Shetland Islands Council Andrea Manson, and the Royal British Legion.


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