The arctic wastes of Spitsbergen were in 1942 the scene of a great Allied adventure – it was disclosed on June 9, 1945 – when a small meteorological party, established there to obtain vital weather information for the North Russian Convoy system, waged a five-months' “war” against Nazi meteorologists carrying out a similar task in a neighbouring fjord. For months they carried on, using a disused coalmine as shelter against ceaseless enemy air attack; while R.A.F. Coast Command flying-boats kept them alive by dropping frequent supplies and evacuating wounded, as well as themselves carrying out valuable meteorological flights. Eventually, the enemy left the area, and the Allied scientists secured the all-important data.
The “Met” force arrive at Barentsburg, in Ice Fjord, on May 13, 1942 – under the enemy's noses. The following day, while they were breaking the ice in Green Harbour, their ships were viciously attacked by four Focke-Wulf 200s. Only two of the 40 men sheltering behind tiny hummocks on the ice were, hit, however; although heavier casualties were sustained on the ships. Food, arms and clothing were lost, but the party managed to make do with old padded jerkins left behind by former Russian mineralogists, with dentists' white coats and bed-lines from the same source as camouflage.