Rating is available when the video has been rented.
This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
Published on Apr 22, 2010
Underwater Video : Vaporidis Giannis, Oleg Swacki, Kostas Thoctarides
The British Submarine PERSEUS set-off on November 24, 1941, from Malta towards the gulf of Taranta in the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea for for an offensive patrol mission.
On December 6, 1941 she struck a mine off the coast of Kefalonia and went down taking with her 60 officers and lower rank men.
The British crew member (stoker) John Capes was the sole survivor, as he managed a daring last minute escape from the sunken submarine. Using a special escape apparatus named DAVIS, he performed a "second to none" effort to succesfully ascent from the Perseus shipwreck, to the surface of the cold Ionian sea water and also to his saviour...
He swam to the nearest shore of Kefalonia, a beautiful island which was then under the Italian occupation. There, the villagers found him in an extremely distressed condition, treated him medically and took him into shelter. Having been in good hands for more than 18 months, he was helped to escape to safety in Smyrna.
John Capes extraordinary survival adventure was difficult to be taken seriously. No one believed his story, as it seemed too far fetched. No one ever understood what this man had really gone through, as this seemed to be a journey from hell to paradise. To escape from such a depth, it was actually a first.
Unfortunately John Capes is no longer with us and back then, his superhuman escape story could not be verified ...
From the sixty men that were drifted along with the submarine on the seabed of the Ionian Sea, an English rating managed to accomplish something unique in the Naval History. The stoker John Capes was resting at the aft compartment just before the explosion occurred. He was going through some letters, drinking rum. When H.M.S PERSEUS began going down, the aft compartment did not flood until the submarine touched the bottom of the Ionian Sea.
Although injured, Capes started to search for other survivors and found three other stokers alive in the debris who were very seriously injured. Without wasting any time, Capes found the Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus and helped his wounded companions to put them on. Then, he had to find a way to open the hatch of the aft compartment. That could be only done by balancing the pressure in the compartment with that in the sea. First, he lowered the collapsible canvas escape trunk and secured it by lashings to the deck. Unfortunately, when he found the valve which he had to use in order to flood the compartment, he saw that its spindle was bent and immovable. So he had to find another way to do it, otherwise they would be trapped. And he did. He flooded the compartment using the underwater gun, which, under normal circumstances, is used for sending smoke signals to the surface. Immediately he helped his shipmates duck down under the water, came up inside the trunk and got out to the sea through the escape hatch. Then he followed the same procedure and from 52 meters depth, he began his own ascent. Straining through his painful ascent, he managed to surface and started looking around for his companions, but alas, in vain. No one else had survived the sinking of H.M.S. PERSEUS that became an underwater grave for fifty-nine men.
Despite being badly worn out, Capes summoned up all the energy he had and started swimming towards the dark mass he could discern in the horizon. After many hours struggle with the cold sea, he reached a rocky beach. With great effort he crawled over the rocks and finally came ashore onto one of the most impressive beaches of Kefalonia Island. Exhausted as he was, he lapsed into unconsciousness.
The next day, he was still lying there when Miltiades Xareras and Xaralabos Valianos, two fishermen from the nearest area, Mavrata village, found him...