The Perseus Tragedy: How John Capes Survived the Submarine Disaster in WWII
During World War II, the submarine HMS Perseus was on a mission to disrupt German shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. However, on December 6, 1941, the submarine struck a mine and sank. Only one crew member, John Capes survived the disaster. The story of the Perseus Survivor is a docudrama that reveals the events leading up to the submarine’s sinking and the intense investigation that uncovered the mysteries buried in the dark waters of the Mediterranean.
The Perseus was a T-class submarine with a crew of 61 men. It was on a mission to lay mines in the Gulf of Corinth when it struck a mine and sank. John Capes was the only crew member to survive. He was in the control room at the time of the explosion and was able to escape through the torpedo hatch. However, he was only wearing a shirt and shorts and had to swim for over five hours in the cold waters of the Mediterranean before reaching the shore.
Capes was able to survive thanks to his training and experience as a Royal Navy sailor. He was able to keep his head above water and navigate by the stars. When he reached the shore, he was exhausted, hypothermic, and covered in oil. He was found by a local shepherd who took him to a nearby village. Capes was eventually rescued by the British Consul in Argostoli and returned to England.
The sinking of the Perseus remained a mystery for many years. The Royal Navy had assumed that the submarine had been lost in action and had not conducted a search for the wreckage. However, in 1997, a team of divers led by the famous underwater researcher Richie Kohler discovered the wreckage of the Perseus off the coast of the Greek island of Kefalonia.
The discovery of the Perseus sparked an intense investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the submarine. The investigation revealed that the Perseus had been on a secret mission to deliver an undercover agent to Crete. The agent, Captain Tomkinson, had been tasked with establishing a radio station on the island to gather intelligence on German shipping in the Mediterranean.
The investigation also uncovered evidence that the Perseus had struck a mine that had been laid by a British submarine, the HMS Porpoise. The Porpoise had been on a mission to lay mines in the Gulf of Corinth at the same time as the Perseus. The investigation revealed that the Porpoise had accidentally laid a minefield in the path of the Perseus and had not notified the Perseus of the danger.
The investigation also revealed that the Perseus had been using a new type of battery that was highly unstable and prone to exploding. The battery had been installed just before the submarine left port and had not been properly tested. The investigation concluded that the battery had exploded, causing the submarine to sink.
The story of the Perseus Survivor is a testament to the bravery and skill of the men who served in the Royal Navy during World War II. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of war and the importance of proper training and equipment. The investigation into the sinking of the Perseus serves as a reminder that even in times of war, mistakes can be made and lives can be lost.
After the war, John Capes returned to civilian life and worked as a miner in his hometown of Barnsley, England. He rarely spoke about his experience on the Perseus and only shared his story with his family and a few close friends. In fact, his wife and children didn’t know the full extent of his experience until after his death in 2003.
Despite his heroic actions during the sinking of the Perseus, Capes never sought recognition or awards for his bravery. It wasn’t until after his death that his family received a letter from the Royal Navy acknowledging his service and bravery during the war.
Capes’ story became more widely known after the discovery of the Perseus wreckage and the subsequent investigation into its sinking. The investigation uncovered the role that Capes played in the survival of himself and his fellow crew members. His actions under such extreme circumstances were a testament to the training and bravery of the men who served in the Royal Navy during World War II.
Today, John Capes’ legacy lives on through the Perseus Survivor docudrama and the ongoing research into the events leading up to the submarine’s sinking. His story serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women who served in the armed forces during times of war and conflict.
In conclusion, the Perseus Survivor is a remarkable story of courage and survival in the face of overwhelming adversity. The discovery of the Perseus wreckage and the subsequent investigation into its sinking have shed light on the events leading up to the disaster and the mysteries surrounding it. The Perseus Survivor is a tribute to the men who served in the Royal Navy during World War II and a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for their countries during the war.
Moreover, it is a story that should never be forgotten and serves as a reminder of the human cost of war. The bravery and sacrifice of men like John Capes and the crew of the Perseus should inspire us to strive for peace and understanding in our world today. We owe it to them to remember their story and the lessons it teaches us about the importance of courage, honor, and sacrifice in the face of adversity.