A New Beach

This is a slight misnomer as the beach has been there for at least 130 years, but it was new to us. My son has been to this one a couple of times and we decided to give it a try out… sadly it was heaving….

That’s two of mine in the foreground near the weird pier.

Yes it was heaving, I have never seen as many whelks in my life!

This was actually a small amount.

A lot of people up here said that they have never seen the tide so low, it did allow us to find some awesome things though…

The starfish was rescued from up the beach, it survived the gulls as it was upside down and covered in sand, as you can see it was quite a biggy. The urchin (or scabby man’s head as they call them up here) was the first I had ever seen in the wild… as you can see, it was not that big.

We followed this trail for about 3 metres and at the end of it was a small fly…

This was a lovely place to visit on a Sunday afternoon, but it does have a bit of a dark past (by today’s standards). Those weird things heading into the sea had a definite purpose.

They were used for whale hunting in the 18th and 19th century. This bay was mainly used for hunting pilot whales. The last Hunt here was in 1899 where 71 whales were run ashore…the last time before that was 1855. This was nothing compared to the 1540 that were killed in Quendale bay in 1845.

The photo above is from the archives, this is what it would have looked like, the traditional Shetland boats were normally used for deep sea fishing, but would be utilised for an easy hunt like this instead.

Driving Bottle-Nosed Whales – Shetland, 1891
Richard Harry Carter (1839–1911)
Shetland Museum and Archives

One of the last hunts took place just over the hill from me in 1903. Pilot whales used to be the most numerous cetaceans around Shetland… they are still seen in pods of up to 40, but normally in smaller pods between 10 and 20.

We loved the beach and the beach evidently loved us!

SOE, Shetland and the Norwegian’s

Today was a nice day so we went exploring out towards Lunna. This small out of the way place is synonymous with Norwegian resistance and WW2 as it was from here the Shetland Bus ran. The Shetland bus was not, as might be thought, a vehicle with four wheels. It was in fact a small fleet of vessels that ran from Shetland to the Norwegian coast and back again.

After Norway fell in 1940, the king and Norwegian government (plus a whole lot of gold) were put aboard HMS Glasgow and were taken to England to set up a government in exile. A whole host of refugees arrived on Shetland in fishing boats and other craft. They had made the 200 mile crossing to escape occupation.

The first base of operations for the Shetland Bus as just over the hill from me in Kergord, about a mile away as the crow flies. This is pretty much inland so a suitable location was required and Lunna Ness fitted the bill. Although the naval side of things moved to Lunna, Kergord was still used for the training of agents as well as mission objectives and debriefing of those returning.

To begin with Norwegian fishing boat captains were asked if they were willing to take agents and supplies in, the ad hoc arrangements were soon made more permanent in early 1941 by formation of a group of men and boats to take on the role. The main purpose of the group was to take agents into and out of Norway and provide them with weapons, radios and other supplies. They also evacuated Norwegians who feared arrest by the Germans.

This is Lunna house today, taken from down near the church

Interestingly the local Fishing Bod, has had some alterations…

These weapon slits are rather unusual in a 19th century fishing building. But as this became a bit of a training ground for agents, I wonder if the addition made this building into a training bunker or some reason like that.

This small stone beach had an important purpose as it was used as a training location for the chariots that attacked the Tirpirz.

A number of Norwegian’s were interred in the Small Church in Lunna. One was the first of the Shetland Bus casualties of the war. In October 1941 22 year old Nils Nesse was killed when his boat the Siglaos was attacked by aircraft. Others were casualties that were washed ashore.

Operations were moved from Lunna to Scalloway as the boats could be repaired there. By 1943 the fishing boats were put to rest as they were too vulnerable. To put it in to context in late 1943 twenty four men from a unit of sixty were lost.

Three lend lease sub chasers were given to the unit. These could make the journey a lot quicker and were more heavily armed than the previous boats. This is probably a story for a visit to Scalloway.