Lunna, Scalloway and the Shetland Bus

The Shetland Bus

The Shetland Bus was a World War II resistance movement taking wireless operators, armaments and combatants into Nazi occupied Norway and returning with refugees and members of the resistance. It was originally based in Lunna but later moved to Scalloway. We visited both.


Lunna House
Lunna House
Lunna House was the original HQ of the Shetland Bus from the invasion of Norway in 1940 until 1942. It housed 30-40 agents who set out in all conditions in little fishing boats to perform their heroic deeds. Today it’s a B&B, so not open to the general public, but the church (1753 – the oldest still used in Shetland) is worth a look, as is the pretty harbour and beehive-shaped limekiln. The modern gravestone is inscribed: Calum Forbes Mackenzie. Died January 27th 2012. Aged 54. Doctor in these islands he loved. I found that touching on many levels.


Shetland Bus Memorial
Shetland Bus Memorial
In 1942, the Bus moved to the more central location of Scalloway, with better communications and a purpose-built slipway for repairing the boats. Dinapore House was the new HQ – it and the slipway can both be seen today.

In almost 100 missions using the small fishing vessels, 10 boats and 44 men were lost. Later, the American Navy donated three American sub-chasers which undertook a further 115 missions without loss. In 2003, these brave men were honoured by a memorial in Scalloway and the excellent museum has a large, and very moving, display devoted to them.

Scalloway is Shetland’s second largest settlement after Lerwick and was once the capital. It’s a pretty little town to wander round and has a ruined castle to visit too. This was built by forced labour in 1600 for the infamous Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, Lord of Shetland and a half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots. We’ll meet him again on our travels. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s a Scalloway Gallery.

24 thoughts on “Lunna, Scalloway and the Shetland Bus

  1. Stephen Stafford June 17, 2016 / 04:54

    Google is a wonderful tool and found your article on the Shetland Bus. I thought you might be interested in a little bit of history on Dinapore House.

    It was built by my great-grandfather in 1909 when he was the parish doctor. Adding to the story, he was originally from India and moved to Scotland to study medicine.

    There is an interesting article in a Shetland magazine which can be found at, with a picture and short story on Dr De Sylva.


    • Anabel Marsh June 17, 2016 / 07:28

      Thank you for getting in touch. It’s really interesting to “meet” a descendant of someone connected to the story. I shall certainly read the article.


  2. clicksclan September 9, 2015 / 07:43

    I’d never heard of the Shetland Bus, how interesting.

    And what a beautiful place to visit. 🙂


  3. Su Leslie September 6, 2015 / 21:33

    I had no idea about the Shetland Bus. It must have been harrowing to be part of those missions. I had a great grand uncle in the Arctic Convoys, who died when his ship sank in the Barents Sea in 1942. It was a converted whaler, so probably not dissimilar to the boats of the Shetland Bus. I’ve read the official report into the sinking at the National Archives in Kew. There were three survivors, and their testimony is incredibly sad.

    Thanks for this post. It’s fascinating reading — and I love the church. It is beautiful.


    • Anabel Marsh September 6, 2015 / 22:13

      Thank you. We came across some history about the Arctic Convoys later in the holiday. Still to come!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Su Leslie September 8, 2015 / 04:03

        I’ll look forward to it. The more I learn about them the more in awe I am of those men.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. jazzfeathers September 5, 2015 / 20:25

    Didn’t know about that WWII story. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh September 5, 2015 / 20:34

      I didn’t know either till I went to Shetland the first time. True heroism.


  5. Birgit August 29, 2015 / 23:11

    This seems like a lovely trip. The B & B looks great to stay in but probably not cheap. You are right that gravestone is touching and I love that gate! Nice and bright. I only know of one Patrick Stewart (he can talk to me anytime:)) so I will be interested in what you write about this other not so nice guy


    • Anabel Marsh August 29, 2015 / 23:45

      Ha ha, not THAT Patrick Stewart! I haven’t checked the B&B but it’s maybe more like a hostel because it doesn’t have en-suite facilities. I don’t do sharing bathrooms these days!


  6. Sarah Ferguson August 29, 2015 / 14:59

    I’d never heard of this piece of history, either.

    Also? Those sheep in the first picture really make the picture for me. Apparently, I think all buildings that have a certain look should come with a field of sheep. And that house has the look!


    • Anabel Marsh August 29, 2015 / 15:58

      Sometimes hard to take a picture without sheep in Shetland! Downside: picking your way through a field of droppings…..

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sue Archer August 29, 2015 / 01:26

    I did not know about this piece of history. I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to cross over in those fishing boats! I love the carving of the bird.


    • Anabel Marsh August 29, 2015 / 08:22

      I know. I was very subdued after visiting the museum. Yes, the bird is beautiful. Also, there were very few headstones in the new part of the graveyard and it really stood out. I felt the doctor must have been held in very high esteem.

      Liked by 1 person

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