Thursday, December 5, 2013

U-537 and the Nazi weather station in Labrador

Photos and captions from Canadian Geographic, December 1981/January 1982
During World War II, the Nazis established 21 automatic land weather stations, 14 of which were located in arctic or sub-arctic areas.  These were designed to provide essential weather information for planning naval activities on the Atlantic.  These stations were timed to make a radio transmission every three hours, each transmission lasting one minute for warm-up and two minutes for broadcasting on the high frequency band of 3,000 to 12,000 kilohertz.  The transmissions were picked up by receiving stations in northern Europe.

Only one such station was set up in a location in a non-occupied country:  the northern tip of Labrador, on the Canadian coast.  A type IXC U-boat was dispatched to boldly enter Canadian waters and find a suitable location.  On October 22, 1943, the mission was accomplished.  

The war ended, and the station was forgotten.  Almost 40 years later, some impressive sleuthing by German and Canadian historians identified a possible location for the station.  In the summer of 1981,  an expedition was mounted to search for the station, and it met with success.

As for U-537, she was sunk by torpedoes from an American submarine in the Java Sea a year later, with the loss of Kapitanleutnant Schrewe and all hands.

For the full story, see The Nazi Weather Station in Labrador.

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