L. Hadley; McGill-Queen's University Press, Kingston and
posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org (Canadian War Library)
"The following [previously posted in comp.misc] is
condensed from *U-Boats Against Canada*, German Submarines
in Canadian Waters, by Michael L. Hadley; McGill-Queen's
University Press, Kingston and Montreal, 1985."
"Weather reporting formed a vital part of German
military operations. Given that weather systems generally
move from west to east across the Atlantic, it was
imperative that U-boats at sea enhance the reporting net
of surface ships and shore stations by radioing data to
BdU as frequently as possible. [BdU - Befehlshaber der
Unterseeboote (Commander U-boats); Admiral Karl Doenitz]
"Some missions consisted almost entirely of weather-
station patrols, either at the beginning or at the end of
tactical missions. In support of these wide-ranging and
highly mobile patrols, Germany built 21 land-based
automatic weather stations that would provide specific
data at predetermined transmission times. Fourteen of
these unmanned stations were established in Arctic or
subarctic regions (Spitzbergen, Bear Island, Franz-Joseph-
Land and Greenland); 5 were located around the Barents Sea
above Norway, and 2 were destined for North America. Only
the first of those bound for North America, and planned
for delivery by U-537 in the summer of 1943, was ever in
operation. The 2nd mission failed when U-867 was sunk NNW
of Bergen on 19 Sep/44.
""BdU charged U-537, on its maiden operation voyage
in the summer of 1943, with the installation of automatic
station WFL-26 [Wetterfunkgeraet-Land] on northern
Labrador. Code-named station "Kurt", it consisted of a set
of meteorological instruments, a 150W short-wave
transmitter and antenna mast, and an array of nickel-
cadmium and dry-cell batteries.
"The station was packaged in ten cylinders
approximately 1 x 1.5 m diameter, each weighing
approximately 220 pounds. The cylinder with the instrument
unit contained a 10-m-tall antenna mast with anemometer
and wind vane. In order to avoid suspicion if discovered,
the Germans had marked the cylinders with the rubric
"Canadian Weather Service". As it happened, the fact that
no such organization existed by that name did not
compromise the plan, for WFL-26 was not discovered and
identified as German until July, 1981.
"Once installed as designed, the station would
broadcast a coded weathergram at three-hour intervals. To
accomplish this, a sophisticated contact drum or Graw's
diaphragm (named after a certain Dr. Graw, then of Berlin)
would transcribe the observed values for temperature,
humidity, air pressure, wind speed and wind direction into
Morse symbols. These were then keyed on 3940 kHz to
receiving stations in northern Europe. Transmission time
for the whole weathergram, including one minute for
warming up, did not exceed 120 seconds.
"The choice of site for WFL-26 seems to have been
left largely to [Kapitan] Schrewe's discretion in
consultation with the technical advisers. In order to
avoid all possible contact with people ashore, especially
with 'Eskimoes trekking south at this time of year,'
Schrewe wanted to set up the station as far north in
Labrador as possible. At 18:45 on 22 October, 1943, he
anchored in Martin Bay, some 300 m from shore in position
60 degrees 4.5 minutes N by 64 degrees 23.6 minutes W.
"Within an hour, a reconnoitering party set ashore
by inflatable craft to locate a transmitter site. They
would leave empty American cigarette packages and match
folders on the site in order to decoy any subsequent
Allied intruders... By 18:00 on 23 October, less than 24
hours after having anchored, the work was done. The
first transmission of WFL-26 occurred 3 minutes late, but
was otherwise technically perfect.
"Throughout his Canadian patrol, Schrewe continued to
monitor WFL-26 and on a number of occasions reported
intense jamming by a station that turned out to be German.
For reasons we can only surmise, Canadian stations heard
nothing from "Kurt" in Labrador."
KTB [Kriegstagebuch ("War Diary")]/ U-537.
Douglas, Alec [W.A.B.] "The Nazi Weather Station in
Labrador," *Canadian Geographic* 101, no.6 (December
1981/January 1982): 42-7
Douglas, W.A.B., and Selinger, Franz. "Oktober 1943-Juli
1981: Eine Marine-Wetterstation auf Labrador." *Marine-
Rundschau*, Nr.5 (Mai 1982): 256-62
Note: Franz Selinger was the first to trace the location
of WFL-26, and ultimately joined Douglas to lead an
expedition to the site with the Canadian Coast Guard.