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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Northern Isles at War

The Northern Isles at War. During the two world wars, the chain of island groups - Orkney, Shetland, the Faroes and Iceland, linking Europe to North America, acquired great strategic significance. Operating from its main base at Scapa Flow, the Royal Navy and its allies sought to contain the German naval threat within the North Sea and protect the northern flank of maritime operations in the North Atlantic. This book tells the story of operations along this northern front in a sequel to the author's earlier account of Scapa Flow, operations that had to contend with fierce weather as well as a determined and capable enemy. While the clandestine, daring operations of the Shetland Bus to maintain contact with occupied Norway are well known, some other aspects of the story have almost faded from memory: the Northern Patrol of armed merchant cruisers based in Shetland in between 1914 and 1918 that implemented an effective blockade on German commerce; the lonely patrols of the Coastal Command flying boats; and the military occupation of the Faroes and Iceland in between 1940 and 1945. The book also recounts some remarkable incidents, such as the arrest in 1914 of the staff of the Lerwick Post Office, the laying and clearing of the North Sea mine barrage, and the VE Day riots in Reykjavik. Illustrated with over a hundred archive photographs, this is a fascinating glimpse into a theatre of war overlooked by other naval history books. THE NORTH ATLANTIC FRONT: The Northern Isles at War.

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