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M.16

Grave photoJohn Copeland Aris C/JX 207145 Ordinary Telegraphist HMS Nigeria, Royal Navy. John Copeland Aris was the son of Ernest Aris and his wife Margaret Bird nee Copeland. His father served on HMS Queen Elizabeth during the Great War and subsequently spent much of his life serving as a naval reserve in Australia. John (or Jack, as he was known) was born on 5 April 1921 - sources vary as to whether he was born in Stoneleigh or in Dunfermline, Scotland. He had an older brother Ernest and two younger siblings, Gordon and Jessie, all of whom emigrated to the USA with their mother in later years. He served with convoys providing supplies to Russia in 1941; then served on HMS Nigeria, a flagship light cruiser which on 10 August 1942 left Gibraltar as part of a large escort for an important convoy carrying supplies - particularly fuel - to Malta. Operation Pedestal, as it was known, supported Malta as a base from which Allied ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys to their forces in Libya and Egypt during the North Africa Campaign. On 12 August the air attacks started with Nigeria leading the port column of the convoy. Concerted attacks from both German and Italian aircraft and submarines lasted all day until at 1956 hours a torpedo from the Italian submarine Axum struck the ship on the port side abreast the forward funnel. A list of 17° developed in a few minutes. John was one of the 52 casualties: 4 Officers and 48 Ratings were killed, and 15 wounded. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.

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