Operation Bassgeiger

bass viol

'Bassgeiger' was a German undertaking to land and operate a meteorological team on the east coast of Greenland (2 October 1943 /3 June 1944).

Since September 1943 a German meteorological team had been working under the leadership of Dr Heinrich Schatz at about 77 N off the east coast of Greenland in the specially adapted former trawler Coburg, which had departed Narvik in German-occupied Norway during the previous month. After this vessel had been separated from her escorting U-boat in a storm, she had become trapped in the ice, some 90 miles (145 km) off the coast of Greenland. The crew managed to move the vessel (using explosives to blast a passage) almost to the coast of Shannon island. There the vessel remained and the meteorological team managed to salve most of the specialist equipment as the ice started to crush Coburg.

In the spring of 1944, the meteorological team’s weather broadcasts were detected and reported by a US listening station on Jan Mayen island, and on 22 April a six-man US sledge patrol found and attacked the German camp. During the fight the German military commander, Leutnant Zacher, was killed, but the men of the sled patrol then withdrew.

On 6 May Coburg became unusable as a result of the continued crushing by the ice, but the meteorological term was able to remain operational for another two months. On 3 June of that year, a German flying boat managed to land and recover the meteorological team for delivery back to German-occupied Norway.

In October the Americans found the abandoned wreck of Coburg and the wrecked weather station.