Hinrich Freese


B.X. 215 Hinrich Freese







Hinrich Freese
BX 215



Hanseatische Hochseefischerei, Bremerhaven






Gruppe West
Gruppe Nord

Hinrich Freese


16.11.40 V

19 crew
5 meteorologists


20.3.1940 - medio April 1940
Schiff 16 - Atlantis

North of Iceland (OG 2) - WBS

WBS in OG 2 (Operations Gebiet) northeast of Iceland in support of Schiff 16 - Atlantis.

Departed Wilhelmshafen on 20th March for Operation Area 2 (North of Iceland), began sending weather reports on 30th March. Returned to Wilhelmshafen in medio April. (App. 25 days at sea).

During Operation "Weserübung" in April 1940 did Hinrich Freese observe the ship movements off Bergen (Norway) as a "Sonderfischdampfer"

Marinegruppe-Kommando West

In same operation: WBS 3 and WBS 5


24.5.1940 - ?

Iceland area (OG 2) - WBS

Departed Trondheim to relieve WBS 5 near Iceland.

Marinegruppe-Kommando Nord


18.8.1940 - (13.9.1940) - ?
Adm. Hipper & Adm. Scheer

North of Jan Mayen (OG 3) - WBS

WBS in OG 3 (Operations Gebiet) north of Jan Mayen in support of Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper.

Departed Bergen on 18th August for Operation Area 3 (North of Jan Mayen) to relieve WBS 5. On station in OG 3 until 13th September, then returned to Norway. (Min. 30 days at sea).

Marinegruppe-Kommando Nord

In same operation: WBS 3 and WBS 5


19.10.1940 - 5.11.1940
Seaplane Base: Jan Mayen
Admiral Scheer

Jan Mayen - Seaplane supply ship + WBS (OG 2)

Support and supply ship. German seaplane base (Seeflugzeug-Stützpunkt) on Jan Mayen (Maria Musch Bukta or Rakved Bukt) in support of Admiral Scheer's passage through Denmark Strait into the Atlantic. Recon- and Weather flights of two Heinkel He 115's from Küstenfliegergruppe 506. (S4+BK? & S4+EL).

Departed Trondheim on 19th October for Jan Mayen (fuel/supply + 2 Luftwaffe personnel & Oblt. Gosodarek). Arrived Jan Mayen on 22nd October. Send on weather-observation in Marine-Planquadrat AE33 (OG 2) north of Iceland, due to delay on departure of the seaplanes from Norway. Returned to Jan Mayen two days later. Arrival of He 115's in Maria Musch Bukta on 29th October, where seaplane (S4+BK?) was wrecked during landing - crew saved by WBS 4. Seaplane (S4+EL) refuelled and moored in the bay, wrecked same night in heavy storm. Mission called of after the lost of both seaplanes. WBS 4 incl. the two Luftwaffe crews returned to Norway on 30th October - arrived Trondheim on 5th November 1940. (16 days at sea).

Marinegruppe-Kommando Nord

In same operation: WBS 3


12.11.1940 - 16.11.1940
"Graf Finckenstein"

Jan Mayen - Transport of weather party

Transport of Abwehr (German Intelligence Service) sponsored weather troop - Sonderkommando "Finckenstein" - to Jan Mayen. Departed Trondheim on 12th November, arrived at Jan Mayen 16th November. Same day discovered by Royal Navy cruiser HMS Naiad near Jameson Bukt and chased at high speed, before HMS Naiad came up to the trawler, the latter rounded Søraustkapp and ran herself aground. WBS 4 wrecked and two from her crew drowned. German personnel (5 officers and 17 men) rescued from the shore by RN trawlers HMT Wistaria and HMT Elm and later transferred to HMS Naiad who returned to Scapa Flow - arrived 18th November.

Expedition members (Total 24 men):
Captain of WBS 4 - Lt.Sonderführer Wilhelm Kracke
Crew of WBS 4 - 13 men (civilian crew)
Weather troop (Luftwaffe) - Lt. Harald Bruhn + 3 men
Abwehr-funker - 2 Intelligence service W/T men
Sonderkommando "Graf Finckenstein"

* * * * * Ulrich Graf zu Finckenstein
* * * * * Kurt Carlis Hansen (Danish Abwehr member) + 3 men.

Uniformed personnel were send to a PoW camp in England - (later transferred to Canada) and the civilian crew of WBS 4 to a civilian internment camp. Luftwaffe Lt. Harald Bruhn was killed on 28th January 1941 during a German air raid on Woolwich (London).

Ulrich Graf zu Finckenstein of the Sonderkommando was send to internment as a civilian - but the Danish member of same kommando - Kurt Carlis Hansen went to a PoW camp !

Marinegruppe-Kommando Nord + Abwehr (Norway)


Douglas Liversidge:
"The Third Front"
page 23/24.



"With Jan Mayen abandoned tension grew. Certain British warships were ordered to watch the approaches for the German landing. Their patience was soon repaid. On the 13th November, while patrolling the channel between Greenland and Iceland, called Denmark Strait, the HMS Repulse and other naval units were warned that the Germans were already sailing to "Island X" [Jan Mayen]. "They are expected to land between the 15th and 17th". The 15th passed without event, but on the following day naval vigilance was rewarded: a trawler steamed up from the south. A former hunting vessel which the Germans had commandeered in Norway cautiously wended her way through the reefs searching for a safe landing point. To the Germans success was in sight. Soon, they told themselves, they would be secretly landing their cargo, then, with good fortune, the Allies would be unaware of their presence until it was too late to attack; they would delay weather transmissions until winter offered complete security.

These thoughts were brusquely dispelled when the lean lines of a British destroyer suddenly hove in view. The shocked Germans stubbornly tried to escape, but the chase was soon over; as the destroyer churned through rough seas, the German skipper saw the hopelessness of trying to evade the enemy warship. With capture inevitable, it is difficult to fathom his odd reaction: He turned the bows of the trawler shore wards, obsessed with a crazy desire to wreck his ship. As the Germans waited tensely for the crash, they saw the grim bleakness of the island growing larger. They could see and hear the heavy surf pounding its inhospitable sides, fearfully aware that in a brief span of time they and their ship would be subjected to the same relentless battering. The crash came all too soon. The heaving ship rose on the swell, then smashed sickeningly on to the rocks which cruelly ripped open her bottom.

While waiting for the impact, the men had stood anxiously by the davits, some paralyzed with fear. As the ship now ground to her doom, they scrambled frantically into the lifeboats which were lowered with difficulty. In the frenzied seas the boats shot up and down alarmingly alongside the hull. And scarcely had they pulled away when waves surged and engulfed them, swamping the boats, and stifling the shouts and cries of the frightened men. They floundered in the icy water, struggling desperately to reach safety. Gasping in the freezing sea the men struck out for the shore, terrified lest they were sucked down in the whirlpool of their sinking ship. Almost on the point of collapse, they hauled themselves on to the polished rocks - all save two. Their lifeless bodies floated at the whim of the truculent waves, stretched out, face downwards, their hair streaming like seaweed. They drifted in another world impervious to the biting cold. For them neither the elements nor the war held fears any more. How different from the lot of their comrades whose freezing bodies shivered as if palsied by the petulant wind. At heart they were glad the British moved in and took them off; the prison cage was certainly mere inviting than the torturing cold."

Possibly letter from WBS 4 Hinrich Freese crew member during stay in Trondheim
(5th - 12th nov. 1940). From Matros Hubert Schrader
Feldpost M 29275 = Admiral der
Norwegische Nordküste
(Trondheim) + Briefstempel: Dienststelle F.-P.Nr. 35650 =
Kommandant der Seeverteidigung Drontheim (Trondheim)

Dated 6th nov. 1940: "(...) Ich been nun wieder zurück(...).
Ich laufe nun morgen - den 7. - wieder für 3 Wochen aus

Feldpost Nr.


From: "Die deutsche Feldpostübersicht 1939-1945" by Norbert Kannapin.

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Update: 28.10.2005