Following the devastating German attack on PQ17 during July 1942 when 35 Allied ships were sunk, Admiral Klüber (Flag Officer Northern Waters) expected a second convoy to pass en-route to Russia. When this failed to materialise he released for active duty one of his powerful surface units - the Admiral Scheer. In an operation code-named "Wunderland" the Scheer was to proceed from Narvik to attack Soviet shipping within the Kara Sea.
Preparations for Operation Wunderland were begun with the 4th August sailing of U255 from Bergen. Oberleutnant zur See Erich Harms took his boat to reconnoitre Spitzbergen in company with a BV138 flying boat. On 17th August Harms and his crew saved the same flying boat's crew when it crashed into the sea. (Harms later in company with U209 shelled the Soviet radio installation on Novaya Zemlya on Cape Zhelania).
Meanwhile on 9th August 1942 Kapitänleutnant Peter Ottomar Grau aboard U601 and five days later Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Timm on U251 both slipped from northern harbours (Kirkenes and Narvik respectively) to patrol the route north of Novaya Zemlya in advance of the Scheer. Both U-boats were to scout ahead and ensure that the passage was free of both ice and enemy forces, and on 16th August the Admiral Scheer departed Narvik in the two U-boats' wake.
Unfortunately for the Scheer there was little enemy shipping to engage. The Soviet icebreaker Sibiryakov was attacked and sunk on 25th August. Two days later the Scheer bombarded the Russian Port Dickson for two hours - sinking the patrol vessel SKR10 "Deznev" and damaging the freighter Revolutsioner and tanker Valerian Kuibischew.
By 30th August the Admiral Scheer was back in Narvik.