The Agents
Shetland "Hands Across the Sea" Norway
 

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An agent shelters as he heads out to sea

During the first year of the war as many as 40 boats left the Alesund district for Shetland, with some 600 persons on board. The Gestapo called Alesund "Kleines London" (Little London) and sent their best people to the town to unravel the operations and put a stop to them. The fishing boat, Mars, came from Shetland with the sole purpose of bringing Harald Torsvig (a key organiser of the export of Norwegians to Britain) to safety but he refused to go. Torsvig was arrested in the spring of 1941, and when the Torsvig group stood trial at a German military court in Oslo the verdict was given beforehand - five of them were sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out on 26th November 1941, and to this day nobody knows where they are buried. Many more death sentences followed.

In a typical incident, the 'Viggo' was stopped by the German authorities before she sailed. There were two informers on board. Most of the passengers and crew were summarily shot. What the Germans called "Feindbegungsstigung" - assisting the enemy - was punishable by death.

One of the many agents' radios smuggled
into Norway by the Shetland Bus

The full attention of the Gestapo was then centred on Bergen. Through the infiltration of agents and by sealing off the city they managed to round up the illegal organisation known as the Stein group (a resistance group) Some 200 persons were arrested and submitted to hard torture. Among them was the young radio operator Ingebright Valderhaug , who had been back and forth to Shetland and was operating under orders from the Special Operations Executive based in London. He was caught red-handed with his transmitter and became famous for saying that two hours with the Gestapo was like twenty years in a Norwegian jail. He was executed along with many others.

On the highest authority in Berlin came the order that the traffic to Shetland must be stopped. The watch which was already kept on the coast was strengthened to make it more difficult to get out. When a young boy disappeared, for example, his father or other family members would be arrested in reprisal.

Probably the worst act of reprisal against the population of Norway was the assault on the fishing village of Telavåg in the spring of 1942. A Gestapo officer had been shot and killed there by two men brought over from Shetland. They belonged to the Norwegian Independent Company Number 1, popularly known as the Linge company. This company was specially trained in Scotland for missions to occupied Norway. The German retaliation for this shooting was terrible. The male population of Telavåg was sent to a concentration camp where 31 of them died. The women and children from the village were interned. The village itself was levelled to the ground. A section of this website is devoted to the tragedy.

 

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Made in Shetland