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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Pope, Charles (1883–1917)

by John Burridge

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Charles Pope (1883-1917), by unknown photographer, c1916

Charles Pope (1883-1917), by unknown photographer, c1916

Australian War Memorial, A02648

Charles Pope (1883-1917), soldier, policeman and insurance agent, was born on 5 March 1883 at Mile End, London, son of William Pope, a constable in the Metropolitan Police, and his wife Jane, née Clark. He was educated at Navestock, Essex, and after migrating to Canada was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railways. In 1906 he returned to London, joined the Metropolitan Police Force, Chelsea division, and on 13 December, at St Luke's Anglican Church, Chelsea, married Edith Mary Smith; they had a son and a daughter. Pope resigned from the police in 1910 and migrated to Australia where he was employed as a furniture salesman with Blain & Co., Beaufort Street, Perth. He then worked on the staff of the Temperance & General Insurance Co., Perth. Before leaving England he had married, and his wife Edith Mary and their son and daughter had accompanied him to Australia.

Pope enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 August 1915 and on 10 February 1916 was commissioned second lieutenant from the rank of sergeant in the 11th Battalion (18th Reinforcements). On 15 July he embarked at Fremantle in the transport Ajana and reached England in September. On 10 December he joined the 11th Battalion in France and on 26 December was promoted lieutenant.

On 15 April 1917 Pope was killed in action at Louverval and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. He had been placed in command of a picquet post in the sector held by his battalion, his orders being to hold this post at all costs. The post was attacked and surrounded by Germans. Pope, finding that he was running short of ammunition, sent back to headquarters for supplies but the ammunition party could not get through. In the hope of holding his position Pope ordered his men to charge a large enemy force and they were overpowered. His body and those of his men were found among eighty enemy dead—sure proof of the gallant resistance which had been made. Pope was buried in Moeuvres communal cemetery extension, France. His wife and their two children survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1917 (Syd, 1933)
  • W. C. Belford, Legs-Eleven: Being the Story of the 11th Battalion (A.I.F.) in the Great War of 1914-1918 (Perth, 1940)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily (Canb, 1963)
  • London Gazette, 8 June 1917.

Citation details

John Burridge, 'Pope, Charles (1883–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 24 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Charles Pope (1883-1917), by unknown photographer, c1916

Charles Pope (1883-1917), by unknown photographer, c1916

Australian War Memorial, A02648