Spitsbergen is a bleak Norwegian island group only 965 km from the North Pole. It became strategically significant in WWII when Germany attacked the USSR in June 1941. Weather reports broadcast from the island were inadvertently useful to the Germans in the northern USSR, and a German occupation would have threatened the vital arctic supply route to the Russian port of Murmansk. Consequently, some 600 Canadian troops were sent from Britain in a top-secret raid to evacuate the 2800 inhabitants and lay waste the island's 4 settlements. Between 25 August and 3 September 1941 the raiders disabled Spitsbergen's coal mines and machinery, destroyed the power house, set fire to 450 000 tons of coal and wrecked wharves, loading tipples and railway spurs. The raiders also broadcast false weather broadcasts, halting German reconnaissance flights. However, both German and Anglo-Norwegian weather stations were subsequently established there.