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Fighting Front

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   - Gilbert Thomson

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  Shetlanders in the Air

  The Submarine War

  Tenth Cruiser Squadron

  SS Wiltonhall

 Shetlands’ War

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Shetlanders served in most areas where fighting took place.


On land this meant serving in the Scottish infantry, especially the Gordon Highlanders. Shetland didn’t really have the social formation that created cavalry. And in any case they weren’t an important part of the conflict.


The Shetland Gordons territorial section had to stop operating as a unit, but Shetlanders continued to serve with the regiment. The Shetland diaspora ensured a wide spread of Shetlanders across the rest of the British army and Empire formations. When the USA joined the war there were a few in the United States Expeditionary Force. A few of these Shetlanders abroad were able to return to the islands on leave, but most simply had to be noted in the local papers.


The Shetland commitment to seafaring and the submarine war meant that wherever a Shetland sailor served there was a potential front line. For many Shetland families, therefore, the fighting front was a dispersed affair, following individuals rather than a strict geographical line.


The Tenth Cruiser Squadron at Swarbacks Minn gave Shetland a fighting front of its own, a zone across the ocean. Repurposed merchant ships – armed merchant cruisers – intercepted shipping between Shetland and Norway. It was a significant but not well-known contribution to the blockade of Germany.


The islands' part in the sea war front was set to have been extended if the war had continued. A seaplane base was being built at Catfirth, in Nesting. Using Porte Baby aircraft it was to have operated against enemy shipping and submarines. The war ended before it came fully into service.


 Fighting Front

Willie and Jamie Arthur, Stromfirth. Shetland Museum.

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