Seaman Isaac John Soper survives the Dardanelles

Reprinted from The Packet, September 20, 2018
by Lester Green

Seaman Isaac Soper survives submarine attack on January 9, 1917 during Dardanelles Campaign and marries Beatrice Hudson of Pouch Cove six months later in a ceremony at St. John’s while on furlough.

Seaman Isaac John Soper and his wife, Beatrice. Courtesy of Dale Soper

Isaac John was born in December 18, 1886 to Edward and Elizabeth (Benson) of Old Shop, Trinity Bay. Edward moved his family to House Cove, an abandon community near Little Heart’s Ease sometime around 1891. His family moved again to North Harbour for a short period of time before finally settling at North West Brook.

Naval records indicate that Seaman Isaac John Soper first enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve during December 1910 at the age of 24. He spent the next four years serving during the winter months, completing a total of 112 days of training. He received orders by Royal Proclamation to report to the HMS Calypso on October 30, 1914 and deployed for overseas duties onboard the S.S. Franconia on November 6, 1914.

He was appointed to the naval base HMS Pembroke, England and received further training. His first assignment came a few weeks later when he was transferred to the ship HMS Cornwallis. Also assigned to the same ship was his first cousin, Alexander Peddle of Hodge’s Cove.

They spent the next year participating in the Darnelles campaign, a naval operations designed to open a sea route to Constantinople. Their ship was struck by a torpedo fired by U-32 on January 09, 1917 and sank. Isaac was rescued along with his cousin, Alexander.

Royal Naval Service Ledger. Source TRPAD_ GN 182.3

He returned to St. John’s after he was granted leave on May 25. It was during his leave that he married Annie Beatrice Hudson of Pouch Cove in a ceremony performed on June 20, 1917 at the Wesley United Church, St. John’s. Three months later he reported for duty and received orders that he was being assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy.

His first assignment was to the submarine decoy ship or Q-ships, the Pinta. The Pinta was a schooner designed to look like an unarmed ship in hopes of luring a U-boat to the surface. If the U-boat surfaced, the crew would uncover hidden guns and then attempt to outgun the submarine. He spent about two months performing this duty.

Leading Seaman Isaac John Soper’s medals. Courtesy of Dale Soper

On November 23, he reported to the naval base, HMCS Niobe where he received a promotion to Leading Seaman. He spent 13 months with Royal Canadian Navy and likely was assigned to the Coastal Drifters (CD-77). He received orders of his transfer to HMS Briton on December 26, 1918 and was demobilized at St. John’s on April 10, 1919.

Leading Seaman Isaac John returned to North West Brook and raised his family. His wife died during childbirth on June 10, 1933. He continued to raise his family as a widower and passed away in 1970 at the age of 84. He is buried at Emmanuel United Church cemetery, North West Brook next to Beatrice, his beloved wife of 16 years.

Leading Seaman Isaac John Soper’s headstone at North West Brook