James Gregson 



Royal Navy

Died On:
19 July 1945


(Image (c) IWM A27784)

James Roper was born in Leeds on 25 February 1901, the son of John Gregson Roper and Marion Roper.  Having joined the Royal Navy as a Special Entry Naval Cadet, he was appointed to the Battleship HMS REVENGE (Captain Frederick C Dreyer, CB, CBE, Royal Navy) on 11 October 1920 in the rank of Midshipman.  Promoted to Sub Lieutenant on 15 September 1921, he subsequently moved on to complete Lieutenants’ Courses at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, where promotion to Lieutenant followed on 15 April 1923. An appointment to HMS DOLPHIN ‘for Submarine Training’ came next before moving to HMS CONQUEST (1st Submarine Flotilla) at Chatham ‘for HMS K14 as Third Hand’ to date 23 August 1924.  Just one year later, he moved on to H43 as First Lieutenant.

Like most mid-seniority lieutenants in submarines, Roper was required to return to the Surface Fleet for “big ship experience” from time to time, which he then did. Back in submarines, he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS LUCIA (2nd Submarine Flotilla) at Devonport ‘for HMS L69 as First Lieutenant’ on 28 April 1928, before completing his Commanding Officers’ Qualifying Course (COQC) based on HMS ALECTO on 20 April 1930.  His first Command appointment was to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS VULCAN (6th Submarine Flotilla) for ‘for HMS H32 in Command’ on 21 April 1930.  He was briefly appointed to HMS DOLPHIN ‘for Submarine Duties’ on 19 September  before returning to H32 on 16 October.

Promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 15 October 1931, he served in the Battleship HMS RESOLUTION from 3 October 1933 before joining the Submarine Tender HMS FERMOY on 23 April 1934.  There then followed command appointments in HMS L22 and HMS SHARK until promotion to Commander on 30 June 1935.

Commander Roper attended the RN Staff Course from 4 January 1937 before serving in HMS PRESIDENT, in the Plans Division.  On 1 November 1938 he joined the Cruiser HMS BELFAST (Captain G A Scott, DSC, Royal Navy) completing at the Belfast Works, Harland and Wolfe, as the Commander (Second in Command) on Commissioning.  He was awarded an OBE “…for exemplary conduct and cheerfulness in adversity after an explosion had occurred in his ship”.

On 18 February 1940, James Roper joined the Submarine Depot Ship, HMS AMBROSE (9th Submarine Flotilla), at Dundee in the rank of Acting Captain ‘in Command and as Captain – 9th Submarine Flotilla’.  An appointment to HMS DOLPHIN as Chief Staff Officer to Rear Admiral Submarines followed on 8 February 1942, lasting until 19 April 1945 when he joined HMS LOTHIAN ‘as Chief Staff Officer to Rear Admiral Commanding Force X, Pacific’.

James Roper died in an aircraft accident on 19 July 1945. He was the husband of Margaret (Peggy) Roper of 10 Yarborough Road, Southsea, Hampshire.  He is commemorated in the Sydney War Cemetery in the Rookwood Necropolis, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in Grave No. No 22.B.7.


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