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Perseus (N36)

Built By: Vickers (Barrow)
Build Group: P
Fate: On 6th December the boat was mined off Cephallonia. The sole survivor was L/S John Capes whose extraordinary escape has become a legend within the Submarine Service

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Ex 36P Served in China and in 1940 she went to the Mediterranean.

Roll of Honour

Name Rank Number Hons Age
Burford, William Joseph  Able Seaman  P/SSX 28802    22
Bury, Alfred  Leading Stoker  C/KX 85297    27
Carpenter, Henry John  Able Seaman  C/KX 91062    22
Caselton, Herbert Robert  Able Seaman  D/JX 200382    24
Chetham, Percy Charles Hugh  Leading Seaman  P/J 92112    38
Codrington, Thomas Michael Geoffrey  Lieutenant (RNR)    DSC  24
Craig, Thomas Fraser  Able Seaman  D/SSX 17358    25
Craig, Thomas Henry  Able Seaman  D/JX 136197    26
Craw, Andrew Mackie  Able Seaman  D/SSX 29779    20
Deacon, Harry Jeffrey  Petty Officer  C/J 113765    32
Dickerson, Ronald Frederick Francis  Ordinary Telegraphist  D/JX 159406    18
Dickson, John McDonald  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 89139    25
Dobson, Gordon  Leading Seaman  C/JX 127847    30
Duell, George Albert  Petty Officer Cook  P/MX 50439    27
England, GeorgeArthur  Able Seaman  D/JX 183994    22
Francis, Claude  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  P/MX 60192    24
Gilbert, William Albert Edward  Leading Seaman  P/JX 136821    25
CWGC has Gilbert, William A E.
Griffin, Jack Stanley  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  P/MX 69988    26
Gunter, Robert Frederick  Stoker 1st Class  P/KX 112291    24
Hammond, Norman Frank  Able Seaman  P/SSX 28564    21
Hartley, Albert Ernest  Steward  D/LX 23842    28
Henderson, Crawford  Able Seaman  D/JX 143656    22
Hodson, Raymond Edward  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 105140    20
Holden, James William  Telegraphist  C/JX 151775    21
Hull, William  Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class  P/MX 53813    26
Johnson, Alexander  Warrant Engineer    DSM  40
Jones, Cyril  Able Seaman  P/SSX 22128    21
Kearey, Frederick Albert  Leading Stoker  C/KX 89086    23
King, Roland Francis  Leading Stoker  D/KX 77851    33
Lattimore, Stanley George  Stoker Petty Officer  P/KX 75890    27
Law, Alexander Storrie  Stoker 2nd Class  C/KX 116859    27
Lehane, Francis  Leading Stoker  C/KX 85218    27
Lillford, Charles  Leading Stoker  D/KX 88705    25
Lloyd, Abbot Moore  Able Seaman  C/JX 159457    21
Luckham, Horace John  Ordinary Seaman  D/JX 208475    20
Mapstone, Alistair Arthur Beresford  Able Seaman  P/JX 148951    28
McDonald, Daniel  Able Seaman  P/JX 131771  MID  20
Mead, Charles Ernest  Able Seaman  P/SSX 28326    20
Meek, Reginald Charles Fisher  Petty Officer  P/JX 129408    30
Neale, Peter Thomas  Leading Signalman  C/JX 143914    22
Nicolay, Edward Christian Frederick  Lieutenant Commander    DSO  34
O'Riordan, Denis  Leading Stoker  P/KX 88597    24
Oldridge, Frederick William John  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 90881    22
Oxley, Eric George  Petty Officer  C/J 110824    32
Peacock, Charles Cranston  Leading Stoker  D/KX 86396    27
Plant, Douglas Frank  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  P/SMX 22    23
Preddy, Thomas Norman  Stoker Petty Officer  D/KX 80586    30
Rees, Thomas John  Stoker 1st Class  D/KX 85461    26
Render, Jack  Telegraphist  C/SSX 29326    21
Richardson, Cyril George  Leading Seaman  C/J 114005    31
Robertson, Andrew Spence  Sub Lieutenant      23
Robertson, Frank Sangster  Able Seaman (RNR)  LT/X 10053    34
Stanley, Sidney James  Stoker 2nd Class  C/SKX 165    22
Symons, Leonard Henry  Leading Seaman  D/JX 140715    23
Tait, Joseph  Lieutenant (RNR)    MID  28
Wardrop, Henry Vallance  Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist  D/J 72812  DSM  40
Whalley, John  Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class  D/MX 48772    32
Whyte, Andrew Moffat  Engine Room Artificer 4th Class  D/MX 60091    32
Wotherspoon, John William Jackson  Engine Room Artificer 1st Class  P/MX 45661    30


02-07-1928 : Laid Down
22-05-1929 : Launched
15-04-1930 : Completed
06-12-1941 : 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.

1 comment

Hello, I would like to provided you with some information that you may find helpful, regarding the location of the wreck: Please consider thwt the wreck of Royal Navy submarine "HMS Perseus" lies closer to Kefalonia Island (around 4 Km off the coast) compared to Zakynthos (11 Km), therefore technically it should be referred to as a wreck off Kefalonia Island.
   Tilemachos Beriatos Tue, 13 Oct 2020

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