U-600 under Bernhard Zurmühlen Bermuda patrol August 1942

U-600        Zurmühlen   5-Aug-1942 9 days

KapitänleutnantBernhard Zurmühlen in the Type VIIC boat U-600 led the next attack on the region, spending a total of nine days transiting the box around Bermuda both inbound and outbound. He entered the area on the 5th until the 8th of August 1942 southeast of Bermuda and headed southwest for the Windward Passage. After circumnavigating the island of Cuba Zurmühlen returned on the sub’s homeward leg on the first of September for five days heading northeast. By the fifth U-600 was clear of the region, also southeast of the island, and bound back to France.

U-600 then took the southern route between the Turks & Caicos Islands and the Dominican Republic. On the 10th of August he paused long enough to dispatch the Barbadian schooner Vivian P. Smith, built in Canada, about which the author has dug up a trove of information. The sinking – by gunfire northeast of Grand Turk – did not take long and the sub proceeded inwards. The crew of the Vivianmade it to the Turks & Caicos, where fishermen aided them.

Meanwhile, Zurmühlen arrived off the mouth of the passage on the 12th of August. U-600 was called to convoy TAW 12 by U-658 under Holtorff and attacked in league with U-598. This resulted indirectly in the sinking of the Delmundoand Everelzajust on the border with the Bahamas area. The following day just inside the Windward Passage between Haiti and Guantanamo U-600 sank the American passenger ship Delmundoand Latvian freighter Everlezain an attack on their convoy.

Though the Everleza was blown sky-high when her cargo ignited, several crew survived, and though the master of the Delmundo made it to shore, he later died.  For the next week U-600 began a circumnavigation of the large island of Cuba – the bedrock of the Greater Antilles.

The boat then cruised up the Old Bahama channel until the 21st of August, at which point it exited the Bahamas area between Key West and Havana. Continuing onward Zurmühlen’s chart of his patrol (retrieved from the archives) shows that he rounded the western point of the island, cruised south of the Isle of Pines, and re-entered the Windward Passage between Guantanamo and Jamaica on the 28th of August.

As to the question of whether or not U-600 could have – or actually did – sink the schooner Sande on the north coast of Cuba near Nuevitas on or about the 30th of August, this seems doubtful from the submarine’s track, as by that time it had rounded Inagua (on the 29th) and transited the Crooked Island Passage. On the 30th the boat emerged from the channels and made northeast for La Pallice (she had originally left from Kiel and this was the first of six patrols like others preceding her).


On the 3rd of September U-600 exited the area homeward bound.
The patrol had begun on the 14th of July and ended on the 22nd of September, 1942. En route to the Caribbean U-600 was refueled by U-463 west of the Azores in early August. By way of punishment, on the 23rd of August the submarine was sighted in the Windward Passage by an American Catalina and depth-charged and damaged. U-600 was refueled again on the way home by U-462 west of the Azores in early September (Wynn, Vol. 2, p.69).

          KapitänleutnantZurmühlen was a member of the Class of 1933 and worked with radios on a battleship and in signals on shore before joining U-boats in March 1941. He was serving under von Tiesenhausen on U-331 when the boat sank the British battleship HMS Barham in the Mediterranean in November 1941. He commissioned U-600 as its first (and only) commander in December 1941. The patrol to the Bahamas was its first patrol and the Vivian P Smith the boat and commander’s first Allied sinking.

Zurmühlen’s total tonnage sunk amounted to five ships of 28,600 tons and a further three ships damaged for 19,230 tons. He was 32 years of age at the time of this patrol. His highest decoration, the following year was the German Cross in Gold. He was promoted Korvettenkapitän three weeks before his death in November 1943. U-600 was sunk near Ponta Delgada, Azores by the British destroyers Bazleyand Blackwood on the 25th of November, 1943. The boat took all 54 hands with it to the bottom.

SOURCES: Gudmundur Helgason, Rainer Kolbicz, www.uboat.net, 2013, Kenneth Wynn, U-boat Operations of the Second World War, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 1997, R. Busch, and H.-J. Röll, German U-boat Commanders of World War II, 1988, Franz Kurowski, Knights Cross Holders of the U-boat Service