Memorial being unveiled at Whitechapel to 1917 VC war hero Charles Pope
- Credit: [archive]
A new memorial stone to remember a First World War hero born in Whitechapel who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously is being unveiled by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets today.
Lieutenant Charles Pope was awarded the VC for bravery after he was killed on the Western Front in 1917 making a last stand charge against overwhelming German forces.
He was commanding a picquet post with orders to “hold at all costs” when it became surrounded by superior enemy numbers.
Lt Pope was running short of ammunition and sent for further ammunition supplies from his battalion HQ. But the supplies couldn’t get through—so he charged with his men into overwhelming enemy numbers, yet inflicting heavy losses.
His body and those of his men were found close to 80 enemy dead—proof of his gallant resistance which won him the top military honour.
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Today’s unveiling at 1pm by Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs is at Sidney Square in Sidney Street, Whitechapel, close to Pope’s birthplace.
“It’s hard to imagine the horrors of war and the incredible sacrifices soldiers underwent for democracy and freedom we enjoy today,” the mayor said.
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“I hope these specially-commissioned paving stones serve as a poignant reminder of our past and encourage people to pause and reflect on our history. Lt Pope richly deserves this honour.”
Pope, a one-time London bobby, was born in Mile End in March, 1883. He emigrated to Australia with his wife and two children in 1910.
He enlisted in the Australian Infantry Battalion when war broke, serving at Gallipoli, then transferring to northern France in 1916 commissioned as an officer.
His battalion was able to hold their sector of the front line largely thanks to his last stand. Charles Pope is buried at Moeuvres in France, his VC being displayed at Canberra’s Australian War Memorial.