The secret weather station the Germans built in Labrador during WWII

The Nazis had landed in Labrador at the height of the Second World War, and nobody knew about the brief incursion for decades.

Nazi U-boat brought weather equipment and installed it in Labrador in fall of 1943

The secret weather station

42 years ago
Duration 1:54
In 1981, The National reports on the recovery of a weather station secretly built in Labrador by the Germans during the Second World War.

The Germans had landed in Labrador at the height of the Second World War and it seemed nobody knew about the brief incursion for decades.

In October 1943, a U-boat had brought a crew to the northern tip of Labrador, so they could complete an important task.

"Within hours, the crew set up a prefabricated, automatic weather station — a very sophisticated piece of equipment, even by today's standards," reporter Michael Vaughan told viewers on the Nov. 23, 1981 broadcast of The National, a few months after the untold wartime story had finally made its way into the public realm.

Vaughan said the machine made "automatic transmissions back to Germany," providing information on the weather patterns emerging in the North Atlantic shipping lanes targeted by German submarines.

Rusty remnants remained

By 1981, parts of the German weather station that still existed had rusted. (The National/CBC Archives)

Thirty-eight years after it was placed near the Quebec-Labrador border, the weather station was still around — though some media reports noted it had been vandalized at some point — as was proof the Germans had taken steps to ensure it would stay in place as long as possible.

"It carried labels — false labels, of course ... to mislead anyone stumbling upon it," Vaughan said.

But nearly four decades of outdoor exposure had taken a toll on the German equipment, which Vaughan said had been discovered in Labrador a few months earlier.

"Just a few rusty drums and corroded batteries on their way to a museum in Ottawa," said Vaughan, as viewers saw images of the rusted remnants of the weather station.

"But to war veterans, to historians, to sailors, a fascinating reminder that a Nazi U-boat did land in [what is now] Canada and it got away with it for 38 years."

Today, the recovered pieces of that weather station are located inside the Canadian War Museum.

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