Daily Mail 18.2.1998
Found on the seabed the vessel where time has stood still.
Sub that tells the story of an astonishing escape'
With a photo of the doomed submarine Perseus the Daily Mail reports:
It was all just as he had said it would be. Divers finally found the wreck of the Perseus 170 ft under the Ionian Sea yesterday -and any doubts about John Capes' wartime story of surival were finally laid to rest.
The 31-year old sailor was the only survivor when the British submarine was sunk as it patrolled the waters off the Greek island of Kefalonia on 6 December, 1941. He became the only person ever known to have escaped from a shipwreck at such a depth.
The discovery of the wreck yesterday backs up the account the stoker filed with the Navy at the time. He was one of a crew of 60 on board the Perseus, which sank minutes after a mysterious blast ripped a hole in its bow.
Capes, who died in 1988 told how the compartment he was in near the submarine's tail flooded last, although the vessel had already settled on the seabed.
Accompanied by 3 injured crewmen he managed to open the hatch by activating an escape mechanism which flooded the cabin to equalise the pressure.
After boosting their courage with a bottle of rum, he used a device known as the Davis submerged escape apparatus to try to float himself and the others out of the submarine. But when he surfaced in the icy waters, his crewmates had disappeared.
After swimming for several hours he managed to reach Kefalonia and collapsed on the beach at Skala. Locals found him there next day and hid him from Italian and later German occupation forces until 31 May 1943 when he was smuggled by ship to Turkey and freedom.
Yesterday a research team led by Greek diver Kostas Thoctarides found the 2040 ton submarine where it had lain undisturbed for more than half a century. 'It was a feeling of awa, because it was the most impressive wreck we have ever seen,' said Mr Thoctarides, who had scoured the seabed for 20 days before finding the Perseus by sonar. 'Everything was in lace. It was if time had stopped.'
An Italian mine anchor nearby provided the answer to the sinking that had baffled the Navy. Apart from atear caused by the mine on its left side, the sbmarine was intact.
The gun and wheel on the bridge were still in place, while the compass was sill working. Capes's hatch was open, as he had described, while an empty bottle of rum lay just inside the compartment.
'We didn't enter the submarine, said Mr Thoctarides, 'It's a war grave and we didn't want to disturb anything.'