Using a flashlight, he made his way toward the engine room to look for survivors. He found corpses, instead. Water was pouring through the rubber seals, but he kept looking until he found three injured and stunned men. He led them out of the room, sealed the door, and gave them liquid courage from what was left of his bottle.
He took several Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus sets (life vests with oxygen masks and goggles) and distributed them among the men, but there was a problem. They were designed for only up to 100 feet from the surface while the depth gauge said they were 270 feet below.
Though the gauges turned out to be wrong and they were only 170 feet below, it was still too deep. Theyâd be without oxygen for the remaining 70 feet, but they had no choice. Nor could they just open the escape hatch since the pressure outside kept it shut. Capes had to flood the compartment by turning the starboard bilge valve, but it wouldnât budge.
So he tried the sluice valve where they fired flare guns to the surface, instead. Water poured in and rose around them. When the internal and external pressures had equalized, he undid the hatch bolts with a spanner. When it finally opened, Capes led the others out and swam up after them.
Somehow he did, but he was the only one. Seeing white cliffs in the distance, he swam toward them for 6 hours, made it to the beach, and then passed out. He had made it to the island of Kephalonia, again at the worst possible time.
Greece was under Axis control, and its resources were being plundered while its people were being starved to death â those who werenât killed outright. Itâs estimated that 13% of the Greek population died from hunger alone, so those who found Capes rebelled in the only way they could.
This went on for 18 months till he was finally smuggled out on a fishing boat and taken to Smyrna in neutral Turkey. He found shelter at the British consulate that finally sent him to Alexandria.
Capes died in 1985 with a pall of suspicion hanging over his allegedly heroic deeds.
It took Greek archeologist, Kostas Thoctarides, to validate Capesâ story. On 26 December 1997, Thoctarides led a dive team that discovered the remains of the Perseus.
They found the open aft escape hatch, the open sluice valve, and the rum bottle on a torpedo rack â proof that Capes deserved his medal.
tags: submarine nathan finneman breed of speed breedofspeed colorado finneman hero ww2 amazing