Home - Boats - On This Day


On This Day - December 06

1940Regulus (N88)HMS Regulus had left Alexandria on 18th November 1940 for a patrol in the Adriatic. Her failure to return on 6th December signalled her loss with all hands. It is believed that she stuck a mine in the Straits of Taranto, although the Italians claimed to have sunk a submarine on 26th November; the former explanation is believed more likely.
1941Perseus (N36)HMS Perseus sunk 7 miles north of Zante (Zakinthos) Island, west coast of Greece in Ionian Sea - by Italian mines.

Originally attributed to contact with Royal Italian Naval forces, probably a submarine was based on Mediterranean Fleet intelligence estimates. However, these estimates came into question in 1943 when the then 33 year old John Capes showed up at Alexandria via the British consulate in Turkey, claiming to be a survivor of His Majesties Submarine Perseus.

He stated that the ship had been mined on the night of 6/7 December 1941, and that it sank in 170 feet of water with the stern section holding air. He had been in the Petty Officer Stokers mess with several others at the moment of the mining sharing a bottle of rum. He and three others made it into the stern section alive, sealed it off, and after coming to rest on the sea floor in pitch darkness, donned their DESA escape gear and commenced flooding the after spaces in preparation to making a free ascent escape.

All four left the submarine, with Capes being last. Before departing, he polished off the remaining rum, and then left through the after escape hatch. He came to the surface alone and then was faced with swimming 7-9 miles to Cephalonia. He did so, met up with Greek partisans, and then spent 20 months with them before successfully reaching Turkey. The other three survivors of the mining did not make it to the surface alive, most probably due to a failure to exhale completely throughout the ascent, which was made, as it turned out, from 20 feet deeper than it was thought possible.

To say that Capes story was thought to been overly remarkable by many is an understatement. Many did not believe it, nor did they believe Capes was in fact himself, though those making those conclusions had to admit that, the crew list being classified, it was unlikely an imposter could have come up with the facts he had. None the less, his statements concerning the location of the sinking did not jive with Admiralty estimates, and many considered him a fraud to the day he died.

However, in 1996, Greek divers located HMS Perseus on the ocean floor, exactly where Capes said it would be. It was in 170 feet of water, and the rear escape hatch was open. Upon looking into the open hatch, the divers clearly saw on the floor below the rum bottle emptied by Capes just before his departure. All of this was photographed. Though Capes had been dead for some 15 years when the sub was discovered, it can truly be said that he had the last laugh on those that doubted his story. It is probably the single most remarkable survival story to come out of WW II.
1941Tempest (N86)Completed
1942Tigris (N63)The Italian submarine Porfido was torpedoed and sunk about 90 nautical miles north-north-east off Bone, Algeria by the British submarine HMS Tigris.
1943Uproar (P31)HMS Uproar torpedoes and damages the German troop transport Virgilio north-east of St. Tropez, southern France.
1945Sidon (P259)Sidon arrived at Portsmouth after the completion of her war service in the Far East.

LossesSubmarine Badges