Early Boats
Shetland "Hands Across the Sea" Norway



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The Norwegian fishing boat 'AKSEL'

The first mission was operated from Lunna in August 1941 and was successful. But it turned out to be a dramatic autumn - even in September came disappointment and set backs when the Vita was captured by the Germans in the Trondheim area and all aboard were arrested.

In October the Siglaos was attacked by planes and the young Nils Nesses was killed. The Nordsjoen which had gone on a mission to lay mines on the north western coast of Norway ran into hopeless weather and sunk. The crew escaped capture by the Germans and managed to get back to Shetland in a stolen fishing boat, the Arthur. Their return was greeted with great relief as they had been given up as lost.

Norwegian fishing boats gathered in Scalloway harbour

In a violent November storm, the Arthur and the Blia were fighting to stay afloat. the Arthur has been to the Flora area to deliver arms and was on the way back to Shetland again when the motor failed. They drifted helplessly for five days. They were attacked by planes and one man was washed overboard when huge waves broke over the ship just north of Unst, but they made it in the end.

At the same time, the Blia was on her way back to Shetland after having completed her mission on the island of Stord. She had 36 passengers on board all of whom were wanted by the Germans. The Blia was only 55 feet long and heavily loaded as she was, she did not stand a chance in such atrocious weather. Years later a bottle was found in Hafrsfjord near Stavanger. In the bottle was a letter probably from a resistance man on the Blia when she sank. It begins, "We are sinking. Tell my wife and child farewell - help them".

The 'Andholmens'

In the winter of 1943 a number of missions failed and in all 24 members of the unit of 60 men were lost. One mission to end in disaster was that of the Brattholm, a big whaler, which left Scalloway on the 24th March with a crew of six and five passengers for Toftfjord on a small island north of Tromso. The idea was to land the passengers there to serve as organisers and instructors for local resistance groups. But things went badly wrong and they were surprised by the Germans who opened fire. Of the eleven men who had been on board the Brattholm only one made good his escape. (Jan Baalsrud's story of survival against the odds is told in David Howarth's book. " We Die Alone.")

It was becoming clear that the time for fishing boat operations to the Norwegian coast was over. There was such a shortage of fuel in Norway that few boats of any size were active along the coast, and the Shetland boats were therefore very conspicuous. The Germans had established a fine meshed control net around the coast of what they called Festung Norwegen - Fortress Norway - and the fishing boats were too vulnerable.

The arrival of the MTB's changed the situation for the better.

Wartime Shetland ] Wartime Norway ] The Operation ] The Boats ] The Crewmen ] The Agents ] SJH School Project ] WWW Links ] Bibliography ] Memorial & Mural ]
Design and Authoring by Force 10
Made in Shetland