Shetland "Hands Across the Sea" Norway



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'Alt for Norge'

The Scalloway firm of William Moore and Sons had always been playing a significant role in servicing Norwegian vessels, both at Lerwick and Lunna. Before long the officers in charge of the base began to consider the possibility of a more closely integrated arrangement with the firm. Jack Moore had a visit from some officers early in 1942. After a quick tour of the harbour they looked over the firm's workshop, and came to a unanimous decision that it was just what they were looking for.

The Prince Olaf slipway in Scalloway,
still in use, 60 years later

Once the decision had been taken to move to Scalloway the first priority was to build a pier and slipway for the repair of the Norwegian vessels. The total budget was only 750 so materials were scrounged or appropriated wherever they could be found. The rails came from a scrapyard on the mainland, the cradle was assembled on the premises, the winch was located in Fair Isle and the engine that drove it came from a wrecked fishing boat. An interview with Tommy Isbister recalls the day of the opening, and the subsequent arrival of the MTB's.

Dinapore house in Scalloway,
headquarters for the base

The base had to be virtually self sufficient since parts for most types of Norwegian engines were unobtainable in Britain. Much of the success of the operation was due to the firm's senior engineer, James Thomson, who soon gained the respect of his Norwegian colleagues for his remarkable ingenuity.

Technical adviser in charge of the Norwegian engineers was Johan Haldorsen whose family had owned the Wichmann semi-diesel engine works. Even after the Germans seized the factory, agents operating out of Scalloway could still readily obtain spare parts for the boats that had Wichmann engines.

'Norway House' which was used for Norwegian
accommodation in Scalloway

The Norwegians were accommodated in the large net repair loft belonging to Nicolson and Company.

The attic was used for sleeping quarters; the first floor was used for dining and recreational purposes while the ground floor was a store. Ammunition was stored in Scalloway castle and there was an armoury in a Nissen hut at Blackness from which boats were supplied before leaving on their missions.

Leif Larsen, for one, was amused to learn that the former net loft that had been home to so many Norwegians had in recent years housed the Shetland dealership for a German make of car, the Volkswagen.

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Design and Authoring by Force 10
Made in Shetland