Injustice Lifted From A
This short story is how a WWII submariner, 57 years after the event, was finally exonerated from a terrible injustice.
Chief Stoker John (Chopper) Capes had always insisted that he escaped from the engine room hatch of HMS/M Perseus in December 1941 when she sank after hitting a mine in the Ionian Sea. This was from a depth of 171 feet and he told how he and three other men had cracked open a bottle of rum to fortify themselves for the ordeal of flooding the after ends and using the DSEA equipment to escape. He had helped the other three wounded stokers don their escape apparatus and physically positioned them to effect the escape.
Chopper was the only one to reach the surface and he swam for hours in freezing and rough seas, finally reaching the Greek island of Kefalonia where locals found him exhausted and unconscious, hiding him from German and Italian forces on the island by moving him frequently to different village locations. In 1943 he made his way back to the UK via Turkey, and although later awarded a BEM, his story was never widely believed by the Admiralty or senior officer's and he lived under a cloud of suspicion until his death in 1988. His story was considered far-fetched simply because nobody had ever successfully escaped from that depth before and his account of what happened was treated with disdain by the-powers-that-be.
Ten years after his death in 1998 a team of Greek divers found the Perseus, eleven miles off the island, at a depth of 170 feet. The engine room hatch was open. The skeletal remains of three bodies were found inside and an empty rum bottle was lying nearby. Nothing was disturbed by the divers as it was an official grave site for the 59 dead sailors still aboard her. Lots of video/photographic evidence was taken to support Chopper's true account of the escape; which was surely one of the more courageous acts when telling the submarine story.