The Napoleonic War
In the wars of the last two centuries, the number of enlisted Scalloway people and Shetlanders in general, was disproportionately large, relative to the population. In the Napoleonic war of the late 18th century, men and boys were relentlessly hunted and pressed into service on the ships of the Royal Navy because of the islanders’ renowned skills in seamanship.
The Great War
In the Great War, of the 114 men who enlisted from the Scalloway area, 22 did not return.
In World War II, Shetland assumed high strategic importance nationally and this increased after Norway was occupied by the Germans in 1940. Shetland was believed to be a likely target for invasion and so at least 20,000 service personnel were hastily despatched to Shetland. At least 1,000 military personnel lived in Scalloway which became a military garrison and a Restricted Area.
The regular troops were aided in their defence of Scalloway by the Scalloway Home Guard.
Military Service in World War II
Of the 127 local men and women who were called up for service in the armed forces, the majority joined the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy or were recruited into the Scottish regiments. Nine lost their lives.
In 1942, the village became home to more than 70 young Norwegian men. These were the volunteers who carried out clandestine missions in the secret operation that was to become known as The Shetland Bus.