Operation Wunderland II

wonderland 2

This was a German partially realised successor to ‘Wunderland’ (i) for the heavy cruiser (ex-pocket battleship) Admiral Scheer, supported by a number of U-boat groupings, to operate farther to the east and thus into the Siberian Sea (1 August/3 October 1943).

Already on patrol in the area, on 27 July Oberleutnant Erich Harms’s U-255 had sunk the 300-ton Soviet survey vessel Akademik Shokalsky off Spory Navolok on the north-east coast of Novaya Zemlya, and on 1 August established a forward base on the island. Here, on 4 August, the U-boat refuelled a Blohm und Voss Bv 138 flying boat, which undertook reconnaissance flights to the Vilkitsky Strait on 5, 6, 7 and 11 August to provide intelligence for the operations of the ‘Wiking’ (iii) wolfpack (U-302, U-354 and U-711) and also of the heavy cruiser (ex-pocket battleship) Lützow waiting in the Altafjord in the north of German-occupied Norway to emerge and attack any Soviet convoys which might be discovered. No significant convoys were sighted, and the pocket battleship did not, therefore, take any active part in ‘Wunderland II’.

On 21 August U-354 sighted a convoy off Port Dikson and followed it toward the east. However, it was only on 27/28 August that Kapitänleutnant Karl-Heinz Herbschleb’s U-354 and Kapitänleutnant Herbert Sickel’s U-302 were able to join forces and move through the Vilkitsky Strait to sink the 3,771-ton Petrovsky and 2,900-ton Dikson respectively on 27 and 28 August.