James Pope was born in Melness in 1982, son of John Pope of Talmine and Jane Gordon . They were married in Fraserburgh in 1889. In 1911 Census he is with his family at Lower Talmine. His occupation is listed as Fisherman. He was employed by The White Star Line, sailing from Glasgow and Liverpool to the United States of America. He was a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, at the outbreak of war he joined up immediately.
After training at Whale Island Royal Navy gunnery school Portsmouth, he was posted to the torpedo destroyer H.M.S. Maori. On the 7 of May 1915, the same day that the Lusitania was torpedoed of Southern Ireland, H.M.S. Maori was ordered to carry out observations off Ostende in Belgium. The Maori commanded by Captain Commander B. W. Barron Royal Navy, was accompanied by H.M.S. Crusader.
As H.M.S Maori approached the Belgium port she hit a mine and sank. The crew managed to abandon ship, as they were making their way to safety a German U-boat crew captured them in their lifeboats.
The crew was first interred at Giessen, Seaman Pope was then sent to a Prisoner of War camp at Mannheim and finally to a camp at Henberg. At that camp he was employed doing farm work, remaining there until the end of the war.
A few days before leaving Germany for home, he was struck down with influenza and died after six days. He was buried in the civilian cemetery in Hansack, with full military honours, his funeral was attended by his fellow British, French and Russian Prisoners of War. James Pope was 26 years of age.
A comrade wrote to James’s invalid mother, speaking of him in the highest terms and told her in his letter how James always shared his parcels from home with other prisoners.
James Pope’s brother, Hector also served in the Royal Naval Reserve on H.M.S. Valiant, he survived the war and returned home to Melness.