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The Shetland Bus: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Adventure [Paperback]

Our Price $ 14.41  
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Item Number 367572  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   236
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.74 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 17, 2008
Publisher   The Lyons Press
ISBN  1599213214  
EAN  9781599213217  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The Shetland Bus recounts the hundreds of crossings of small boats from the Shetland Islands to German-occupied Norway to supply arms to the Resistors and to rescue refugees—all under constant threat by German U-boats and winter storms.

Buy The Shetland Bus: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Adventure by David Howarth from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781599213217 & 1599213214

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More About David Howarth

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Howarth ran a spy ring during World War II. He was also the author of two dozen major books of history.

David Howarth was born in 1958 and died in 1991.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Military > General   [9842  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > Naval   [958  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General   [2794  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Howarth's Picturesque, Adventurous, Enjoyable War  Aug 28, 2008
June 10, 1940 was a good day for Hitler -- his conquest of Norway was complete. Germany was now able to safely import vital Swedish iron ore from the Norwegian port of Narvik, effectively bypassing the British blockade. For Young Norwegian fishermen like August Naeroy, Mindur Berge, and Ole Grotle, it was time to sail away to freedom.

In occupied Norway, the standing army went underground, and an active resistance to the Nazi occupation began. Fishing boats and expatriates that had fled Norway volunteered to begin ferrying weapons, supplies, agents and refugees for the Norwegian underground.

British historian and military author David Howarth offers a interesting behind-the-scenes history of these risky micro-operations -- The Shetland Bus. His own naval experiences as a sailor and boat-maker in Shetland made him an ideal second in command, under Major L.H. Mitchell (a Scandinavian expert), at the tiny clandestine naval base.

Hoping to avoid notice by searching German patrol boats, maritime aircraft, as well as well-positioned shore batteries, and observation points, inconspicuous Norwegian fishing boats became the default vessel for the Shetland Bus. Needing to operate under darkness, as much as possible, on missions for up to three weeks duration, the covert fishing vessels were restricted to the dark winter months only.

Many surreptitious operations were successfully carried out by the tiny force. Only 400 tons of arms were eventually delivered to Norway and 350 refugees rescued. Those secretive operations that met adversity are the heart of Mr. Howarth's book.

The author retells a number of adventure vignettes about undercover Shetland Bus operations. Fishing boats shot to splinters by strafing German aircraft -- floundering boats, far out in the stormy winter seas, never to be seen again -- Cold, injured men swimming between icy islands, hunted down by determined German patrols -- weary agents sneaking from house to house in search of help from sympathetic countrymen.

The boldest military operation assigned to the Shetland Bus is retold in 'Big Game'-- the attempted attack on the anchored German Battleship Tirpitz by two-man torpedoes (Chariots). Mr. Howarth's most riveting chapters follow desperate agents on the run across Norway with German authories in dogged pursuit.

As a war correspondent for the BBC, Mr. Howarth sharpened his skills for writing adventure stories. His book relates bravery, courage, and resourcefulness told in the low key, restrained British style. Mr. Howarth's heroes seem to be struggling against winter weather, treacherous seas and their own nosy countrymen as much as the Germans.

A difficulty with war stories is that the voice of the enemy is usually missing, and this is surely the case here. Well into the book, I felt the author was straining to make an adventure book out of a subject that should have been a magazine article. The author describes life in the Shetland Bus operation was rather "picturesque and adventurous and sometimes even enjoyable." McHale's Navy would have gladly traded assignments with the men of the Shetland Bus.

Amazingly, all the air goes out of the story when the Shetland Bus is re-equipped with U.S. Navy sub chasers. The missions instantly became routine, with no casualties suffered during the last two winters of the war.

Concerning "The Shetland Bus" -- the operation and the book -- readers will agree with author: "we wondered whether it had all been worth while." The Allies' invasion of Norway never did come. Mr. Howarth consoles himself that all the arms delivered surely must have worried the Germans and helped cheer the Norwegians through the occupation. More likely, the biggest benefit of the resistance were the ten divisions Germany was forced to maintain in Norway that could have been useful to the Reich elsewhere.

"The Shetland Bus" contains a gallery of 17 interesting photographs, and 3 maps. This book will be of interest to World War II espionage fans. For those who truly care about the Norway Campaign, "The Shetland Bus" is essential reading. Other similar books by Mr. Howarth are "The Sledge Patrol: One of the Greatest Adventure Stories of World War II" and "We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance."
Well told - nothing special  Apr 2, 2006
This is about the British effort to provide boats to move people between England (from the Shetland Isles) to Norway and back. Primarily agents, guns, and supplies to Norway and agents at risk back out.

The author writes well and he does a good job of telling the stories of what the Norwegians went through in Norway. That part is written in a less immediate form as the author was not there and is relating the story to us.

It's an interesting sidebar to the war. And the book is well written. But that is all it is. It's a sidebar that while important, was not critical to the strategic effort (although many in Norway might disagree). And while well written, the book does not reach out and grab you.

So I'm glad I read it. But there are other books that I would have enjoyed more that I could have read instead.
Allied covert operations in Norway during World War II.  Oct 4, 2003
An interesting story of the operation of anti-Nazi forces in Norway during World War II. Howarth was the Royal Navy officer responsible for coordinating activities with Norwegian fishermen during this time. The stories represent the resistance Norwegians provided the Nazis and Quislings in Norway. Howarth was not allowed to go to Norway because of the dangerous activites, but his account is first hand, so I discount the previous reviewers assertion that this book is not truthful enough. From the previous reviewer's viewpoint, we can't trust any second or third party accounts. Well, Howarth was there and interacted with these resistance fighters, so that is good enough for most readers.
The Shetlands are a remote island group of the United Kingdom. Howarth provides some details of the history of the region, and the geographic detail. Then the stories of ferrying supplies and spies to German occupied Norway. These stories are interesting, but not as interesting as the shoot ups I read about in some other Howarth books (We Die Alone, The Sledge Patrol, D-Day -June 6, 1944). Howarth is a great author, and I have read eight of his books. Anybody wanting to read good history should read his books. It is a shame of his recent passing, because I will soon run out of books written by him.
Fascinating stories  Oct 23, 2002
I've rarely been on a small boat on the ocean, I've never been to the Shetland Isles, and I wasn't on this planet during WW II. So, I found this book to be an interesting perspective that describes several years of a special operations group that supported Norway during the war. The book presents, rather drily at times, the stories of the men and ships who built the Shetland Bus operation -- from the time that they requisitioned and provisioned the ships and fishermen/sailors to the time when the wooden fishing ships were replaced with faster, more reliable submarine chasers.

The glue that holds this book together is the adventures of the Norwegian sailors, as retold by Howarth after the debriefs of the crews. (Howarth was prevented from sailing by the British Navy so his only first-person perspectives are from the operations and shipyard management side of the picture.) In short, what makes this book real is the stories about the storms that they sailed through, the difficulties in getting their small vessels across the North Sea, and the narrow scrapes they had with the Germans when they entered the protected waters of the Norwegian fjords

In summary, this is a marvelous account of a small but important operation. It could be improved by slightly more adventurous writing style but is definitely worth a read if you're interested in seafaring adventures or personal stories from the World War II era.

But He Wasn'there!  Aug 18, 2002
The Shetland Bus" is the story of the British/Norwegian operation to run supplies, ammunition, weapons and secret agents from the Shetland Islands to Norway during WW2. Rescued refugees took the return trip. These efforts were key to the Norwegian resistance to the German occupation, which tied down 10 divisions and 280,000 enemy troops.
Author Howarth was well placed to write SB. He was the number 2 British Naval man in the Shetlands and had a key hand in each mission. He was obviously as close to his men as a good commander can be and writes touchingly, respectfully and personally about his charges. We learn of close escapes from the treacherous weather, quislings and the persistent, if over stretched, German authorities. If his men were in trouble, they could -and did- die in minutes in the icy North Sea, far from shore or any hope of rescue. The author lends the reader an appreciation for the sheer logistical strains behind the Shetland Bus. Balancing people, personalities, supplies, and technical details was a demanding job- one, which the author plainly relished. He was a talented writer, producing 18 historical works, several of which are available on this
The weak side to SB is that Howarth was shoreside throughout the war. The action here is all second hand and the telling suffers. Howarth simply wasn't there. He was hundreds of miles from the action. Since this book first appeared in 1951, one gets the distinct impression that, so close to the War's end, some censorship of classified information may have been imposed. Something or someone may have held Howarth back. SB is hard to rate. Out of respect for the author, his obvious writing talent and his men: 4 stars. this fans may wish to scroll through Howarth's (apparently) better-received WW2 efforts; "Sledge Patrol" or especially "We Die Alone". I'll end on a positive note: Here is one military book with decent maps! Hooray!

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