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The remarkable story of the intrepid seamen who crewed the boats which ran from occupied Norway to the Shetland Islands was recalled by Mr John Harper, guest speaker at Berwick Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Sunday, 7th February 2016, 8:00 am

The crews, all volunteers, clocked up more than 91,000 miles on their clandestine trips across the most dangerous seas in the world. In all, 210 trips were made and 358 escapees, saboteurs, agents and sailors made it through.

Mr Harper said the Shetland Bus stood for freedom and while there were disasters and loss of life, there were also heroic incidents, with Leif Larson, a legendary skipper, making more than 56 journeys and becoming the most dedicated officer of the war.

One raid was a daring attempt to attack the German battleship Tirpitz in Trondheim. They had four submariners and two chariots to carry them to the ship. Only a few miles remained when the tow parted. The chariots sank, but the 40 sailors made it to neutral Sweden.

Mr Harper described the type of cutters used for the journeys, although in the latter stages they were replaced by US Navy vessels.

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One of the great achievements was to help set up 60 transmitters in occupied Norway, feeding large amounts of valuable information.