The Hemingway Patrols
Ernest Hemingway and His Hunt for U-boats Aboard the PilarBook - 2009
From the summer of 1942 until the end of 1943, Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana, Cuba, and spent much of his time in the Gulf Stream hunting German sub- marines in his wooden fishing boat, The Pilar . This phase of Hemingway's life has only been briefly touched upon in biographies of Hemingway but proved to be of enormous importance to him. At the time, the U-boats were torpedo- ing dozens of Allied tankers each month and threatened America's ability to wage war in Europe. Hemingway's patrols were supported by the U.S. Navy, and he viewed these danger- ous missions as both patriotic duty and pure adventure. But they were more than that: they provided some literary basis for The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream .
Terry Mort's sensitive portrait of Hemingway also brings us his wife Martha Gellhorn (who was scornful of Hemingway's patrols), a naval account of the U-boat attacks in the vicinity, and a perceptive contemplation of what the patrols meant to Hemingway the man as well as the artist. Drawing on the writer's letters, Gellhorn's memoirs, and the sailor's log of The Pilar , Mort reveals an important chapter in the life of a literary legend.