Rear-Admiral Michael Kyrle Pope Wartime submariner whose exploits as a PoW were a constant irritant to his captors. Rear-Admiral Michael Kyrle Pope, who has died aged 91, was a wartime submariner whose attempts to escape as a PoW were a constant irritant to his Italian captors. He fell into enemy hands in 1940 when he was serving as third hand of the submarine Oswald. The boat was on patrol east of Sicily and was charging its batteries on the surface when, just before midnight on August 11, a look-out spotted an enemy destroyer about four miles away. The captain, Lieutenant-Commander David Fraser, was called to the bridge, but his vision had still not adjusted to the darkness when the Italian destroyer Ungolino Vivaldi tried to ram; she glanced off Oswald's starboard side and disappeared into the dark, firing her guns wildly. Fraser prematurely gave the order to abandon ship. Kyrle Pope, who was below, discovered that Oswald was not mortally wounded and that its gun and torpedoes were intact. He thought to himself: "What a bloody silly thing," as Oswald circled slowly on one engine and a jammed rudder. Meanwhile, Fraser ordered everyone into the water and the submarine to be scuttled. Kyrle Pope was the only officer left inside the submarine, which he carefully inspected before climbing the conning tower. There he found one man who could not swim, and Kyrle Pope tried, but failed, to pull him off the rail as Oswald disappeared in a swirl of bubbles beneath his feet. Three men died. Sir Arthur Hezlet remarked in his history of the submarine service that "the loss of Oswald marked the nadir of the fortunes of the British submarines in the Mediterranean". For Kyrle Pope, and for most of the 52 survivors who were picked up and taken prisoner, it marked the beginning of a four-and-a-half-year campaign to test the patience of their guards. Kyrle Pope's first prison was on an island off Venice where he and three others, including the future naval historian Willie Waters, hid in the roof space of the Italian officers' mess for several days; they came down one night to steal a boat which they hoped to sail to Yugoslavia, which was still neutral. But they were caught, and were sent in handcuffs to another prison, at Sulmona, where Kyrle Pope dug his first tunnel Â which was detected. Meanwhile, he learnt how to pick locks, a skill which enabled him to move about the camp easily collecting useful items, including maps and Italian uniforms, and in January 1941 he and two RAF officers escaped by climbing over a fence. They followed a railway line through the snow and across the mountains Â only to be arrested after five days at the mouth of the river Sangro. Kyrle Pope was punished with 30 days' imprisonment in the castle of Aquila, where during his exercise on the battlements he borrowed his guard's binoculars "to look at the pretty girls in the square below" while at the same time examining the possibilities for escape. After being returned to Sulmona he continued to plan break-outs. His next venture was a tunnel, but this was discovered when a donkey fell into it. During the scuffle which ensued with the guards a shot was fired, the bullet grazing Kyrle Pope's hand. He was now moved by train, with other prisoners, to the 14th-century monastery of Padula, where he spent many hours exploring the old sewers for a possible escape route. Eventually he coolly crept past guards sleeping in their barrack room, and with two others escaped over several walls and fences. This time he was caught after only one day. Kyrle Pope was next sent to the medieval fortress of Gavi, the Italian "Colditz", where he and four South African miners spent a month tunnelling through the walls. His particular role was to close the breach in the outer wall behind the first wave of escapees, but the alarm was given. Kyrle Pope was punished with 30 days' solitary confinement. After the Italian surrender Pope and his fellow prisoners were shipped to Germany by trigger-happy German field police, eventually reaching Marlag O, near Bremen, in the summer of 1943. Opportunities for escape were few, but Kyrle Pope continued to plot, even after the Germans brought in a water-diviner to detect his tunnels. Once a week the officers were marched to a bath house, offering yet another opportunity to escape. While one of their number hid, his comrades assembled a dummy which was carried back from the bath house between two men, thus fooling the Germans in their count. In 1953 this exploit was used in a film, Albert RN. As Germany collapsed the prisoners were marched away from the advancing Allies, but gradually Kyrle Pope and others took control; they disarmed their guards, enlisted the help of the Red Cross and established order among the Russian prisoners, who had begun to riot and loot. Kyrle Pope commandeered a German staff car loaded with prison camp records, and eventually reached England via Ostend. He was appointed MBE for his conduct while a PoW. Michael Donald Kyrle Pope was born on October 1 1916 into a family which traces its ancestry back to the Tudor manor of Homme in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. He was educated at Wellington before going to the cruiser Frobisher as a cadet in 1934. He served on the China station before joining "the trade" in 1938. After the war Kyrle Pope's evidence at an inquiry into the loss of Oswald and the subsequent mutinous behaviour of its crew was cautious and circumspect. Nevertheless, at a court martial Fraser was severely reprimanded for the loss of his submarine; and his first lieutenant, who had followed him up the ladder to the bridge, was dismissed the service for conduct unbecoming the character of an officer. Kyrle Pope's conduct was found to have been exemplary, and it was adjudged that ratings in the more inaccessible compartments of the boat owed their lives to his cool inspection after the order to abandon ship. He did not, however, serve in submarines again. Kyrle Pope served in the battleship Vanguard on the Royal tour to South Africa in 1947 and he was a member of the British Joint Services Mission to Washington (1951-53). Thereafter his career was mainly in intelligence. In Germany, from 1955 to 1957, he helped run agents into the Soviet Union under the cover of the German-manned British Fishery Protection Squadron; he was Chief Staff Officer (Intelligence) in the Far East (1958-1960), and deputy director of Naval Intelligence in London from 1964 to 1967. In between (1962-64) Kyrle Pope was Senior Naval Officer Persian Gulf, where he kept peace throughout the region with the support of some old wartime frigates, landing craft and minesweepers, and with the help of a miscellany of Army personnel and Royal Marines attached to an amphibious warfare group. His last appointment was as rear-admiral and Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief Far East (1967-69). He was appointed CB on his retirement. From 1971 to 1977 Kyrle Pope was general manager of the Middle East Navigation Aids Service, based in Bahrain. On returning to Britain he was administrator of St Albans Abbey (1977-80) and a director of the Jerusalem and East Mission Trust (1978-92). He was also the longest-serving of the 300 Younger Brethren of Trinity House. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Hertfordshire in 1983. Michael Kyrle Pope died on September 14. He married first, in 1940, Elizabeth Kelso. The union was brief, and he married secondly, in 1947, Suzanne Parlby (nÃ©e Layton), who recorded many of the incidents of his post-war career in The Same Wife in Every Port (1998), a book which offers a unique record of life as the wife of a naval officer in the late 20th century. She survives him with their son and daughter and a stepdaughter.