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Excerpt from The Hemingway Patrols

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Pilar was well suited to duty
chasing less menacing quarry.

Ernest Hemingway

The Enemy in the Machine, by Terry Mort (continued)

About the time that [Hemingway’s wife] Martha was returning to the warmth and rich colors of Cuba, where the ceiba tree in the finca’s front yard had sprouted eight new orchids, Hans-Gunther Kuhlmann, twenty-six years old and an officer in the German navy, reported to U37, where he would serve for the next thirteen months, eventually rising to first watch officer (second-in-command). .... 

The youthful Kuhlmann would have been less than human—or, perhaps, less than a professional naval officer—had he not wanted a share of the U-boat glory. An ambitious young officer longs for two things: command of his own ship and the opportunity to distinguish himself and his crew in action. Kuhlmann was no less ambitious than his brother officers....

But in the summer of 1942 new fields of opportunity were opening up—the U.S. coastline and, farther south, down through the Gulf Stream and into the Gulf of Mexico. Kuhlmann’s new boat was ideally suited for that sort of mission, for it was a Type IXC—a long-range submarine that was larger than his previous Type VIIC. No doubt at some point before U166 was scheduled to leave on her first patrol, Kuhlmann went back to Germany for a quick reunion with his new bride, Gertrude.... On June 17, 1942, U166 left Lorient [France] for the Gulf of Mexico. Just before they left Kuhlmann wrote to Gertrude:

“In three days it will be two years that we have been married ... Have these two years not been beautiful and we, completely lucky? How I am to be envied, my all dearest. It hurts that I cannot be with you on that day, but ‘c’est la guerre.’”

Then, on the morning of departure: “Keep me dear. I always think of you.”3


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