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What follows is an article that I excerpted from my copy of the "V-MAIL" section of the News from the National WW II Museum and I am afraid many Americans have no idea of this happening on our shores.''



"Most people think of the U-Boat as only being a highly efficient ship-killer, but it also supported espionage, intelligence gathering and sabotage operations throughout the war. These missions were carried out at points throughout Europe, on the coast of Africa , within the Artic Circle and even in America. Before the end of the war, U-Boats made landings In North America on six separate occasions.


The first landing occurred on May 14,1942, when U-213 put Abwehr agent Alfred Langbein ashore near the village of Saint John on the Bay of Fundy coast of New Brunswick. Langhein spent the next two years in hiding without doing any spying at all before finally turning himself in to Canadian Naval Intelligence in Ottawa in September 1944.


Before dawn on June 13, U-202 put four saboteurs ashore near the village of Amagansett, Long Island as a part pf Operation Pastorius. Three nights late U-584 landed another group of four saboteurs near Point Vedera Beach, Florida. The two groups were to use explosives to destroy railroad bridges, defense plants and factories crucial to U.S military aircraft production. The Long Island group made their way to New York City where the team leader George John Dasch decided to turn himself in. Because of his cooperation the FBI was able to round-up the remaining saboteurs. All eight men were convicted of espionage by a military tribunal in Washington,DC.. Six were electrocuted by electric chair on August 8, 1942. The other two were ultimately deported back to Germany in 1948.


The fourth landing occurred during the night of November 9, 1942 when U-518 surfaced in Chaleur Bay in Eastern Quebec and put Abwehr agent Werner von Janowski ashore near the village of New Carlisle. With his unusual clothing and foreign accent, Janowski stood out among the Quebecois like a sore thumb, resulting in his arrest by Royal Canadian Mounted Police the next day.


The fifth ad perhaps most interesting landing began early in the evening of October 22, 1943, when U-537 anchored in Martin Bay just south of Cape Chidley on Canada's Labrador Coast. The following morning, personnel from the U-Boat assembled an automated weather station on a hill overlooking the bay. The station functioned for only a day before mysteriously falling silent.


The final North American landing occurred when U-1230 put ashore Abwehr agents Erich Gimpel and William Curtis Colepaugh at Hancock Point on Frenchman's Bay, Maine shortly after midnight on November 30, 1944. Gimpel and Colepaugh were given the ambitious task of infiltrating the aviation industry and the Manhattan Project. The agents made their way to Portland, Maine and then to New York City where Colepaugh lost his nerve and turned himself in to the FBI. Gimpel was arrested soon thereafter bringing Germany's final attempt at espionage in North America to an unsuccessful conclusion". End Quote


I am also aware of a couple other atures of saboteurs not chronicled here


Top/Sgtleo SgtleosRank-1.gif:armata_PDT_37:

Excellent topic. I myself was aware of this, but MOST people are not, and it lends itself for very interesting discussion. Let's see what others have to say regarding this.


Two thumbs up!



Excellent topic. I myself was aware of this, but MOST people are not, and it lends itself for very interesting discussion. Let's see what others have to say regarding this.


Two thumbs up!




This American sure didn't know about this. I thought u-boats were just for

sinking ships. Top Sarge, this sure is an eye opener. Rocky

I was intrigued by the line "The station functioned for only a day before mysteriously falling silent." It didn't say if the U-boat was still there or not trying to operate it or not. Looking it up I found the following:


Unterseeboot 537 (U-537) was a Type IXC/40 submarine of the Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down on 10 April 1942 by Deutsche Werft in Hamburg. She was commissioned on 27 January 1943 with Kapitänleutnant Peter Schrewe in command. Schrewe commanded the boat for nearly two years, until her loss.


U-537 conducted three patrols, and holds the distinction of making the only armed German landing in North America during the Second World War — installing the automatic Weather Station Kurt in Martin Bay, Labrador in September 1943. She was then sent to the Far East. On 9 November 1944 in the Java Sea east of Surabaya, U-537 was sunk with all hands — 58 officers and men — by torpedoes from USS Flounder (SS-251).


The weather station installed in Labrador was not discovered by Canadian authorities until 1981.


So then I got intrigued by that last line and found the following on


Weather station Kurt erected in Labrador in 1943

The U-537 made the only armed German landing on North American soil in WWII.


U-537 left Kiel, Germany on September 18, 1943. She made a brief stop in Bergen, Norway and headed out to sea again on 30 Sept. The boat went on patrol in the western North Atlantic under Kptlt. Peter Schrewe. Its task was to set up an automatic weather station on the coast of Labrador. U-537 carried a scientist, Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer, and Wetter-Funkgerät (WFL) number 26 (the sixth in a series of 21 such stations) manufactured by Siemens. It consisted of various measuring instruments, a 150-watt Lorenz 150 FK-.type transmitter and ten canisters with nickel-cadmium and dry-cell high-voltage batteries.


On October 22 U-537 arrived at Martin Bay at the northern tip of Labrador. For the next 48 hours U-537 lay at anchor while the crew manhandled the 220-pound canisters, along with a tripod and mast, into rubber boats and then onshore. The weather station was set up 400 yards inland on a 170 feet high hill. At 5:40 P.M. on October 23, having ensured that the station was functioning properly, Schrewe weighed anchor and set off for an anti-shipping patrol off Newfoundland. His patrol was uneventful and on December 8 U-537 returned to Lorient, France.


Reports indicate that the weather station sent out normal transmissions for a few days, but then there was apparent jamming on that frequency (about which nothing is known; no evidence has yet turned up that the Allies learned about the equipment).


U-537 was transferred to the Far East and sunk with all hands on board in late 1944 - only Dr. Sommermeyer and crew member, who had left the boat prior to the its transfer to the Far East, survived the war.


The station remained unknown until ...

Thus the station was a secret known only by a handful German seamen and scientists. The story became known in the late 1970s, when an engineer named Franz Selinger after his retirement from Siemens decided to write a history of the German weather service. Among Dr. Sommermeyer's papers he found photographs of one weather station and a U-boat that did not fit in with the eastern Arctic installations he had previously been able to identify (Greenland and Svalbard). He identified the Labrador coast, but neither Canadian nor American authorities could provide evidence. Via Jürgen Rohwer and the son of Dr. Sommermeyer he then identified the U-537 and located the logbook at the archives in Freiburg.


In 1980 he wrote to the official historian of the Canadian armed forces, W.A.B. Douglas (who has written an article in MHQ). Douglas and the Canadian Coast Guards were able to go and look and actually found the remains of the weather station. Some parts were missing, but the canisters, tripod and mast, and some dry-cell batteries was left to identify.


After the rediscovery of the station in the 1980s by the Canadian Coast Guard (following press articles etc. on the subject), it was dismantled and brought to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. This unique historical artefact from the war is now on permanent, public display (see photo) at the Canadian War Museum.


Another weather station in Labrador planned

In July 1944, the U-867 reportedly set out from Norway to erect a second weather station in Labrador but was sunk en route by RAF planes.


Here are the remains of the weather station found by the Canadian Coasties:



And here is the boat in question:



The Olympic rings indicate that the Captain of the boat, Kptlt. Peter Schrewe, was a graduate of the 1936 naval academy (the year the Germans hosted the Olympics.) He was 30 when he died.



One of my brothers who became a Navy Lifer as a "Tin Can Sailor"

(Destroyer Duty) often told us that the American public had no idea

of how close and how many U-Boats they encountered off the East

Coast of the USA.


From Maine South to New Jersey and South from the Carolinas to

Cuba they at least chased quite a few of them away after true

sightings by the sailors.


The Naval Air Station in Weymouth,MA had several fixed wing and

helicopters used to try and sight the Subs from the air. They even

had two dirigibles they used as they could/would hover over certain

areas leading to harbors.


Top/Sgt Leo :readingpaper:





Hunting New England Shipwrecks


U-Boat Facts and Legends


The Facts


Throughout World Wars I and II, German U-boats prowled the east coast of the United States and Canada in search of merchant and military ships. They sank numerous ships in World War I, but were a much more deadly threat during World War II. Early in World War II, they sank many vessels. But as time went by, the U.S. and its allies developed new equipment and techniques for foiling the U-boat attacks and destroying enemy subs. By 1944, the tables were turned, and the allies were sinking U-boats in large numbers and doing their best to protect merchant ships.


U-Boat Photo Gallery


The only documented World War II sinking of a U-boat close to New England shores occurred on May 5, 1945, when the U-853 torpedoed and sank the collier Black Point off Newport, Rhode Island. When the Black Point was hit, the Navy immediately chased down the sub and began dropping depth charges. The next day, when an oil slick and floating debris appeared, they confirmed that the U-853 and its entire crew had been destroyed. In recent years, the U-853 has become a popular dive site. Its intact hull, with open hatches, is located in 130' of water off Block Island, Rhode Island.


Far to the east of Boston (about 200 miles), lies the wreck of the U-215. That boat was sunk by depth charges in 1942. The exact location of the U-215 wreck was unknown for many years, but in the summer of 2004, it was located and identified by a group of Canadian researchers. The wreck lies at a depth of 270 feet, in Canadian territorial waters.


And about 70 miles south of Nantucket, lies the wreck of the U-550. That sub was sunk by American destroyer escorts in 1944, after it torpedoed and sank the tanker Pan Pennsylvania. The U-550 wreck has apparently never been found, but should lie at a depth of about 300 feet.


When the war with Germany ended in May 1945, all German military vessels were ordered to surrender to allied forces. Soon after that order was given, a number of U-boats patrolling our east coast surrendered to the U.S. and Canadian Navies. Since the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (at Portsmouth, New Hampshire) was the largest submarine base on the U.S. east coast, some 5 to 7 subs were towed to Portsmouth to be studied by the Navy and await their fates. The subs surrendered in May 1945 included the U-234, U-805, U-873 and U-1228, and perhaps one or two more. The U-505, captured earlier by the U.S. Navy, was later towed to Portsmouth to join the collection.


The surrendered subs remained at Portsmouth for a year or two while they were examined by the Navy. Then eventually they disappeared from the yard. Navy records of their final dispositions are lacking in details, but indicate that they were towed out to sea and scuttled in deep water somewhere off the New England coast. The only one that stayed at Portsmouth was the U-505. It remained there until 1954, when it was towed through the Great Lakes to Chicago. There it became a permanent walk-through exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Today the U-505 is the only German U-boat on exhibit in North America.


The Legends


Legends about German U-boat sinkings from Rhode Island to Maine are commonplace in New England. Over the years, a number of magazine articles, newspaper stories and Web pages have been written on the subject. None of these legends have ever been verified, but if they all proved to be true, the coastal waters would be littered with subs. It's very likely, however, that some of these legends are based on facts. And if that's the case, how can we determine which ones really happened?


The Quest


With all these German U-boats reportedly sunk off the New England coast, the question on the minds of most divers is - where are they located? And the answer is - no one really knows. Most of them are probably sunk way beyond the depth limits of scuba divers. But we'll never know for sure until someone finds them!



Location of U-Boats Off East Coast




Top/Sgt Leo

This is such an interesting topic. Netflix has a dvd called "Hitlers lost Sub" of a show originally aired on PBS's Nova series. Hits home how close they got.

Thanks for all the contributions to this great post! :armata_PDT_37: Sgt Leo and gang!

Great topic Sarge! Found this regarding the US Coast Guard Auxiliary during WWII. Don't think many people know about this vital coastal defense or that as early as Jan 12,1942 British steamship "Cyclops" sunk 300 miles off Cape Cod.

Very startling to know that in Feb '42 "432,000 tons of shipping went down in the Atlantic" and that in March of '42 "petroleum industry reps meeting with the War Dept warned that if the rate of sinking was maintained, the war effort would be crippled within 9 months."

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