Operation Haudegen (ii)

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This was a German meteorological intelligence operation, a joint undertaking by the navy and air force, on the north coast of Nordauslandet island, to the north-east of Spitsbergen island, in the Svalbard islands group off the north coast of German-occupied Norway (9 September 1944/4 September 1945).

This last German meteorological party of World War II, headed by Leutnant Dr Wilhelm Dege and whose name formed part of the undertaking’s name, departed Narvik in northern Norway during August 1944 on board the adapted trawler Karl J. Busch escorted by Oberleutnant Hans-Jürgen Sthamer’s U-354. During their passage the U-boat located and attacked the escort carrier Nabob, part of the escort for the JW.59 convoy, damaging her so badly that she was deemed to be beyond economic repair, but was itself located and sunk two days later.

Loaded with the prefabricated weather station, a significant quantity of military and hunting weapons and their ammunition, seven tons of coal and almost 80 tons of supplies, this last constituting 44 lb (20 kg) per day for each of the party’s 11 men for one year, the trawler turned back to Norway during this period, but later departed once again from Hammerfest, this time escorted by Oberleutnant Erich Krüger’s U-307, and landed its party on Nordauslandet island to begin its task of transmitting weather reports eight times per day.

The meteorological station lost radio contact in May 1945, and the personnel were able to ask for support only in August 1945. On 4 September 1945 the personnel were picked up by a Norwegian seal-hunting vessel after surrendering to its captain. This was the last German surrender of World War II.