Operation Edelweiss (ii)

This was a German pair of operations (‘Edelweiss I’ and ‘Edelweiss II’) to land weather reporting teams and their equipment on the east coast of Greenland (August/4 November 1944).

The two undertakings followed ‘Bassgeiger’, and began at the end of August 1944 when a meteorological team led by Dr Gottfried Weiss, who had been with the ‘Holzauge’ team, was transported by the converted trawler Kehdingen to the east coast of Greenland. Shortly before the ‘Edelweiss I’ landing on Koldewey island, the US Coast Guard icebreaker Northland appeared, and Oberleutnant Joachim Brünner’s escorting U-703 fired several torpedoes, which missed, and had to withdraw. The Kehdingen’s crew scuttled their vessel and both they and the meteorological party were taken prisoner.

In ‘Edelweiss II’ the German navy then despatched a meteorological party that was originally to have spent the winter on the Franz Josef Land island group, in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard, to Greenland. This ‘Edelweiss II’ party was led by Karl Schmid, and reached Lille Koldeway island early in October 1944 on board the converted trawler Externsteine. On her way back, the vessel was intercepted and sunk off Shannon island by the US Coast Guard icebreakers Eastwind and Southwind.

Soon after this reconnaissance aircraft of the US Army Air Forces discovered the ‘Edelweiss II’ weather station, and on the night of 3/4 November about 200 US troops landed and took prisoner the German party.