Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient Charles Pope

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Charles Pope.

Charles Pope
Credit: Australian War Memorial A02648

66 men from Australia received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. The plaque is now displayed at the Australian War Memorial. This archive tells their stories.

Name: Charles Pope

DOB: 5 March 1883

Place of Birth: Mile End, London, England

Date of Action: 15 April 1917

Place of Action: Louverval, France

Rank: Lieutenant

Regiment: 11th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Charles Pope was born in Mile End, London on 5 March 1883. He first emigrated to Canada, where he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railways. Returning to London in 1906, he became an officer in the Metropolitan Police before moving to Perth, Australia, with his wife and two children in 1910. Pope was working in the insurance industry when he enlisted in the 11th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. In February 1916, Pope was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant; promoted to Lieutenant he was sent to the Western Front later that year.

Lieutenant Pope was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage on 15 April 1917 at Louverval, France during the Battle of Lagnicourt. He was in command of an important picquet post with orders to hold it at all costs during a German counterattack. Pope’s citation in the London Gazette tells what happened:

After the picquet post had been heavily attacked, the enemy, in greatly superior numbers, surrounded the post. Lt. Pope, finding that he was running short of ammunition, sent back for further supplies. But the situation culminated before it could arrive, and in the hope of saving the position, this very gallant officer was seen to charge with his picquet into a superior force, by which it was overpowered. By his sacrifice Lt. Pope not only inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, but obeyed his order to hold the position to the last. His body, together with those of most of his men, was found in close proximity to eighty enemy dead, a sure proof of the gallant resistance which had been made.

Lieutenant Pope was buried at Moeuvres Communal Cemetery Extension in France.

Published 20 June 2016