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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars47
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 30 January 1999
You won't find any buses within the pages of this splendid book. This book relates the little known story of the brave British and Norwegian men who operated what we would today call a "shuttle service" between Nazi-occupied Norway and the Shetland Isles, 200 miles apart across the treacherous North Sea. Even if you're not into war-related fiction/non-fiction, I would recommend this book for a good read.
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on 10 June 2007
An utterly gripping and fantastically well written account of the unconventional British Navy and Norwegian operations through the dark, storm lashed winters in Shetland. Howarth vividly evokes Shetland - you can almost feel the rain on your face. This book is a fitting remembrance to the courage of the men who risked all; in Shetland people remember them very well. It describes how closely Norway worked with Britain and how a special relationship developed betweenour two countries. Every year Norway sends 2 christmas trees to the UK, one intended for Trafalgar Square in London, and the other to Shetland.
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on 10 December 2008
This is a wonderful tale of an diverse mix of men from Norway and Britain, some military, most not who came together in the Shetlands to form a link between Norway and Britain during the dark days of Nazi occupation. The tales of heroism at sea are awe inspiring, long voyages north of the Artic circle in vile conditions right under the nose of the Nazi war machine to deliver men and munitions and importantly hope to Norway. A really good read indeed about people whose deeds are scarcely known but fully deserve to be recorded. Highly recommended.
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The book: from late 1941 to early 1943 there was a steady stream (as long as the nights were long) of small Norwegian fishing boats between Shetland and many parts of Norway. The shortest crossings were some 150 miles; the longest 900 miles - all this in 50 to 75 feet boats with single-cylinder engines, in winter, with the occupying Germans hunting them with 'planes and warships. The boats carried people, messages, explosives, weapons (400 tons), 350 refugees, 60 radio transmitters; sometimes they laid small mines, and occasionally they would attempt the odd attack on a German battleship. The boats were manned by volunteers, resourceful and brave Norwegians, and when their boats were sunk they died, or if they were lucky escaped by rowing forty miles in a leaky boat - one guy rowing, the other baling. In early 1943 the losses were mounting, so they switched to US subchasers, with which they carried out 114 ops without losses - this bit occupies two pages! The main part is about what all Norwegians understood by the Shetland bus: small Norse fishing boats plying a dangerous trade. One of the skippers was Leif Larsen, who for his services received the GCM, DSM (bar), DSC, DSO - the only allied officer of the war to receive all of these; plus a host of Norwegian medals.

The author was one of the main organizers on the Shetland side; he was categorically forbidden to sail with his 'independent buccaneers', which rankled; he felt the proper spirit was officers to share their men's dangers and all their risks. In the end he asks 'was it worth it?' and writes "everyone in Norway knew that the route to and from Shetland was always kept open" and that "our base of 100 men" was an essential link in a chain which bound 284,000 German soldiers in Norway throughout the war.
four-and-a-half stars!

My opinion: excellent - a restrained style, very British, full of admiration for 'his' Norwegians, writing with pride; and also with grief at the sacrifices, the summary executions, the waste and the losses.
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on 22 December 2008
When changing flights between England and Shetland I picked up a used copy of this book at a charity stall in Inverness airport. Expecting the usual sort of war story, I was quickly drawn into a fascinating account of bravery and stamina, to such an extent that I couldn't put it down until it was finished. Although I had, and still do, visit Shetland regularly, the story of the Shetland Bus was new information for me. Since reading it I have made a point of visiting the places mentioned, and on a recent visit to Shetland I experienced some of the exceptionally wild weather that these islands endure.
If you like true stories, this is one of the best. Then go north, and see the place, you will never forget it.
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on 21 January 2010
The story of a bunch of brave men operating out of Shetland and into occupied Norway. Although the scale of the operations was small in the overall WWII context, the audacity and bravery some of these men displayed is astonishing, they saved lifes and kep hope alive. I recommend reading it together with "Another Man's Shoes" (to get the vision from those that were on the occupied land).
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on 1 September 2009
An informative book, which I have read many years ago, but which I wanted to read again having just returned from Norway. It sets out in detail the early "seasons" for this work, but then skips the last few seasons when the fishing boats were replaced by ex American ships. Pity about the error made by the author's son in the last page. The memorial to those lost and those who survived the experience was unveiled in Aalesund and not Bergen as stated in the text.
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on 8 February 2009
A must buy for all folk interested in war history.

A very easy read and factual.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lars when I was very young...a true hero.
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on 2 February 2012
An extraordinary , little known 2nd WW true story. Very moving. Recommended reading for the younger persons especially.
An real combined operation, which operated secretly from a secret place between Shetland and Norway during the whole war. Fantastic reading!
I feel an enormous admiration for all the people involved, included the author!
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on 18 April 2012
I first read this book as part of the curriculum for 'O' Level back in 1964 and I enjoyed it then. I decided to read it again and was not disappointed - even remembering quite a bit of it. It's not an action packed yarn but a factual account of the events that helped to annoy the Nazis in Norway, thus keeping troops away from the front.
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