Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Private George William Pope

7205 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Son of Mr Thomas and Mrs Sarah E Pope
Husband of Harriett Emily

Aged 31 years

Died 16th June 1917

Commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium
Panel 43 & 45

Memorial courtesy of Mark Hollis, 2014
Born at Aldwinkle and enlisted at Rushden.

Brother of Bernard Pope.

The Rushden Echo, 4th September, 1914, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Local Casualties - Private Pope

  Mrs. G. Pope, of 20, Spencer-road, Rushden, has received a postcard from the Chaplain of the Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hants, saying that her husband, who has been fighting on the Continent, is there suffering as a result of engagements in which he has taken part.  The Chaplain says, “He is going on well and there is no cause for uneasiness.”  Mr. Pope’s mother, who resides at 56 Washbrook-road, has received a postcard from her son to say that he is being transferred to the Northampton depot and his wife has proceeded thither to await his arrival.  Private Pope, who belongs to the Reserve Forces, has one little girl, who will be three years of age in November.  He is an employee of Messrs. Robinson Bros., boot manufacturers, Robert-street, Rushden.

  In a letter to his wife, received yesterday, Private Pope said : “I expected to be sent down to the depot but I was told I was not well enough to be moved yet.  Now I want to assure you that although I was badly knocked about I still have all my limbs intact, and I do not think but what I shall soon be all right again, so you will be doing me a favour if you do not worry about me at all as I shall be all right.  Did you see my photo in to-day’s “Daily Mirror,” on board ship playing cards.  I am the third from the left with no jacket or boots on.”

The Rushden Echo, 11th September, 1914, transcribed by Jim Hollis

More about Private Pope - Pitiable Plight of Refugees

  Private G. Pope, of 20, Spencer-road, Rushden, who, as stated in last week’s “Rushden Echo,” has been sent home from the Front, having been wounded, has been transferred from the Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hampshire, to the Northampton Depot. Private Pope, who is a Reservist in the 1st Northamptonshires, was injured in the retreat of the British forces from Mons. He is now in the convalescent stage and hopes to be able to get home during the next day or to. Speaking to a press representative, he said that the Northamptonshires acted as rearguard to the artillery at Mons. During the retreat the transports stampeded, and he was knocked down, sustaining slight concussion and injury to his body. After being picked up he was taken to the Casino at Havre, which had been turned into a hospital.

  Speaking of the nurses there, he said they had the gratitude of all the soldiers for their kindness.  The Northamptonshires themselves had up to the time Pope was wounded been very fortunate, their losses being very slight.  The refugees, he said, were in the majority of cases in pitiable plight.  There were thousands of them snatching sleep where they could, all terrorised by the advancing Germans.  Private Pope is an employee of Messrs. Robinson Bros., boot manufacturers, of Rushden.

The Rushden Echo, 18th September, 1914, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Rushden Soldier's Evidence of the Atrocities of the German Forces - Dead man Stabbed Ninteen Times -
Private Pope’s Thrilling Experiences

  “How near did you get to the Germans?”

  “Well, we got within a few yards – that was near enough!  The Frenchmen would have pulled them to bits if they could have had their way with them!”

  Private Pope, of Spencer-road, Rushden, who has just come home, wounded, related a few of his exiting experiences to a “Rushden Echo” representative this week. He told our representative that he was under strict orders not to divulge any secrets relative to the strategy of the fighting. Private Pope is attached to the 1st Northamptonshires.

  “The field ambulance to which I was attached had a narrow escape of being captured on one occasion, and at Maubenge we were amongst the last to clear out. Our regiment was very lucky – although one or two may be reported ‘missing’ they are all right. You get put on the field ambulance, perhaps away from your own men, and are reported ‘missing,’ but you get through in the end.”

  “How many Germans did you pot?” our representative asked.  “I don’t know,” replied Private Pope, with a smile, “there are a few left yet!”

  “You must not take too much notice of the reports of the soldiers in the trenches singing as if they had not a care in the world!  I heard more talk of religion – and from men from whom you would least expect it – than any popular songs!  On the other hand we are kept too busy during the time of fighting to think about personal danger.  The idea of what may happen to oneself scarcely enters one’s head.  But, with all that, it would take a very vivid imagination to picture all the scenes in a war like this which is nothing less than legalised murder!  Some of the sights are simply shocking – you could not talk about them.  The Germans were not satisfied with killing our men – they would even spit on them as they leaped over their dead bodies.  One man, after having been killed with a wound in the head, was stabbed in 19 different places!  This shows that there is some truth in the reports of the atrocious deeds of the enemy.

  “But the heroism of the French is just as noble as the Germans are brutal.  One little French chap carried his pal for two days on his back and was successful in getting through the lines to the ambulance.  It was a staggering piece of work, as the poor wounded man must have weighed at least 14st., and the one who carried him was only a little fellow.

  “We English had to get used to carrying heavy loads.  Our baggage, including rifle, etc. weighed over 80 lbs., and each man had to march with that dragging on him all the time.  There was no stopping to change the kit about to get a little relief, either! It made it all the worse that the weather was so terribly hot, too.  After marching long like that, we don’t trouble about a blanket or waterproof rug to lie down on.  As soon as we were allowed to settle down for the night we rolled straight on to the ground and went off to sleep without the slightest difficulty.

  “We might be sleeping peacefully like that when, in the dead of night, we should have a call to be ready, and in a few moments we should be in the thick of the fight.  On these occasions there was such a fearful din and mix up that little real slaughter could take place – Germans, French, and English would be close to each other in the darkness, and none dared to fire for fear of killing his own comrades.  It was on such a night as this that we saw six villages on fire all at the same time. The Germans seem to know France as well as the French know it.  They cleverly evaded our strong points and pegged away at our weakest places.

  “It is no use saying the Germans cannot fight.  They were the picked men of the German Army who so nearly reached Paris.  We got a view of them one Sunday, right in the distance, hopping in and out of cover like a lot of rabbits.”

  “How did you manage to get injured?” asked the “Rushden Echo” representative.

  “I was in the hottest part of a stampede and was knocked down by a wagon.  For a time there was utter confusion; horses galloped madly about, the firing of guns and the yells of the enemy making the scene anything but pleasant.  It was every man for himself.  The wagon was fortunately not loaded or I should have been killed outright.  One man made a frantic endeavour to either steady the horses or board the vehicle – I could not tell which.  He met his death in the attempt.  I shall never forget the sight of him – he was a splendidly built chap.  I saw him a little later on, his head crushed in.  He had been caught between the hubs of two vehicles which came together in the mad rush.  It was mere good luck that I didn’t meet with a similar fate.  We should have gone back if possible to give him, with others, a decent burial after the battle, but the Germans got possession of the place.

  “It was with difficulty that I could let my friends know of my condition. They could not tell whether I was alive or not. However, the chaplain in one of the hospitals I was sent to insisted on writing to my home. That, I told him, would lead them to think that I should come home with a leg under my arm or something equally horrible. I wanted to write myself, if only one line, just to satisfy them I was at least well enough for that. However, I had a lucky escape and I am thankful to say I am now about right again.”

  Pte. Pope told an amusing story of how he “set the back up” of a doctor. The doctor went to the bedside and started questioning Pte. Pope, who, not knowing his visitor refused to admit that he knew anything about the war worth speaking of. The doctor went off in a “huff,” but returned with an officer of the army. This time he was more successful with his cross-examination!

  Asked what was the spirit prevailing among the French and English, Pte. Pope said they were on the friendliest of terms and would do almost anything for each other. He managed to pick up a few words of French, but says he was better able to ask for what he wanted than to pay for it. The price of food stuffs was very high.

Rushden Argus, 25th September, 1914, transcribed by John Collins

Under Fire - Rushden Soldier’s Thrilling Story

Private Pope, whose injury we reported some days ago, has now returned from France to his home in Rushden. He tells a very exciting narrative of his experiences in the fighting line, for he got close enough to the Germans to look into their eyes. He tells of the heroism of the French individually and collectively, and of their keenness to get at the enemy. One incident he talks of is that of a small French soldier who carried his "€œpal" on his back for two days, and ultimately succeeded in getting him through the fighting line to the French ambulance. The courage and comradeship of this act will be better understood when one realises that the wounded man weighed at least 14 stone.

Talking of the singing in the trenches, Private Pope says that, although the men are cool under fire, there is more talk of religion than of singing comic songs. Indeed, he was very surprised at the manner of men several of his comrades were. One did not think of what would happen to oneself when under fire; there was too much to do. But war was a very horrible affair, the scenes and sights being - €”well, things one could not talk about.

He gives a reassuring story to anxious friends regarding the "€œmissing." The field ambulance, to which he is attached, had a narrow escape of being captured at Maubeuge, for they were the last to clear out. Their regiments, the 1st Northamptons, were very lucky, and although one or two got put on a field ambulance away from their own men, and were reported "€œmissing"€, they got through alright.

He was convinced there was truth in the stories of German cruelty. He saw the dead body of a comrade killed by a head wound, stabbed in 19 places. The Germans were not content to kill, but would spit on their dead foes offer them other indignities.

Apparently it'€™s not all "€œbeer and skittles"€ to fight the Germans, for the soldiers are loaded up with some 80lb. of "€œpersonal baggage"€ each. This and the tropical weather made fighting the easiest part of the business of war, by a long shot. They were so tired generally, that when the order to "€œturn in"€ was given they would roll on the ground, without bothering about waterproof sheet and blanket, and fall right off to sleep directly. But they were not always allowed to finish the snooze, for suddenly there would be a call to be ready, and in a few minutes they would be in the middle of a fight. French, German, and English would be mixed up in such a manner that they dare not fire for fear of hitting a comrade. In one such surprise fight they saw no fewer than six villages on fire at the same time. He paid a tribute to the German intelligence department, and said they seemed to know all the weak spots of the Allies, at which they always directed the attack.

It is foolish, Private Pope avers, to say the Germans cannot fight. He saw the army which got so close to Paris, and they were the picked men of the Prussian Army. He got his injury in a proper mix-up. There was a stampede of horses and waggons, and he was in the thickest part of it. A waggon knocked him down and put him "€œout of action."€ One man, a splendidly built fellow, made an attempt to steady the frightened animals, but got his head crushed between the hubs of two vehicles. The Germans got possession of the spot, so they couldn'€™t give the poor fellows who fell a decent burial, as they would have liked. Personally, he had a lucky escape, and was thankful to say he was practically fit again.

The Rushden Echo Friday 1 January 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Wounded Once More - Rushden Soldier Injured a Second Time
Indians Up To Knees in Water - Private Pope's Experiences

Private G Pope (Rushden), who is again wounded, was the first Rushden soldier to return from the front, and the interview with him - the first of its kind published in the locality - was published exclusively in the "Rushden Echo."

He considers himself very lucky to have been to the front twice and to get back with comparatively slight injuries. Writing to a neighbour, Mr and Mrs Palmer, of Spencer-road, Rushden, from a hospital at Cambridge, he says:- "I sent a Field Service card from France last Wednesday to let you know I had been wounded. I was hit in the wrist, and was very lucky to get off as lightly as that, as I had two more holes in my clothing without hurting me at all. It was a charge we were making in the dark, and I am very sorry to say that we lost heavily, but I shall be able to tell you more about it when I can have a personal chat.

"I hope you had a good Christmas - I myself had a fine Christmas Day lying in a nice clean bed once more. And as we got here only on Christmas Eve, thoroughly done up, you can understand what a bath and bed mean. We were alongside the Indians - Gurkhas, Sikhs, Sepoys, etc. It is a marvel how they stick it as well as they do, as they were up to their knees in water, and where the 'coal-box' shells have dropped it is like having a bath in full kit. I had to go along about three miles like that to get my wound dressed, so I lost a lot of blood. But I begin to feel fine now, except for the cold. I think I shall get out in a week's time, as it is healing up extraordinary well. The boys out here think most about their favourite football team, and you often hear the old shout 'Go on, Cobblers!' We shouted that to our Yeomanry. We saw them in a village about six miles from the firing line when we were going into it."

Kettering Leader, Friday, 1st January 1915, transcribed by John Collins.

Twice Wounded - Rushden Private Again in Hospital

Private G. Pope, of the Northants Regt., of Rushden, has again been wounded. He was home some time ago, shot by the Germans. He returned to the front after his convalescence and has had the misfortune to be again shot. This time, he has a bullet through the left wrist. He is now in the 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge, and going on as well as can be expected.

The Rushden Echo Friday 29 June 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Death - Private George Pope Killed in Action - First Man to Return to Rushden After the Retreat of Mons

We regret to report that Mrs Pope, of 56 Washbrook-road, Rushden, has received news indirectly that her eldest son, Pte George Pope, of the Northants Regt, has been killed in action.

Mrs Pope has received no information concerning her son's death beyond that sent by comrades in letters to their relatives, and she is anxiously awaiting information, and will be grateful to any of his comrades who can send her any further news.

The late Pte George Pope was called up as a reservist at the outbreak of war, and from the commencement has been in the thick of the fighting. He was wounded during the fighting at Mons, and was the first Rushden man to return home after the famous retreat. Returning to the front he was again injured at La Bassee, and was sent to hospital in Cambridge at Christmas, 1914. Since then, up to this death he had escaped further injury, although he had voluntarily taken risks and had many narrow escapes. On one occasion he volunteered to carry up a supply of bombs and succeeded in this enterprise under very heavy fire, being commended on the field by his officer.

The late Pte Pope, who was 31 years of age, gave a representative of the "Rushden Echo" the first account of the Mons retreat that was published in any paper. He leaves a widow and one little girl to mourn their loss. Prior to being called up he was employed by Messrs. Robinson Brothers, boot manufacturers, Grove-road, Rushden. His period of service with the colours, counting his reserve duties, amounted to 13 years.

Kettering Leader, 6th July 1917, transcribed by John Collins.

A Rushden Hero - First Wounded Man Lays Down His Life

Unofficial news is to hand that Pte. George Pope, of 56, Washbrook-road, Rushden, has been killed in action. The deceased was a Mons hero, and was the first soldier to arrive in Rushden from the front wounded. He received wounds at la Bassee, but passed through considerable fighting afterwards unscathed. The deceased hero was 31 years of age, and leaves a widow and one child to mourn their loss. Pte. Pope had served 13 years.

The Rushden Echo Friday 20 July 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Officer's Tribute to Rushden Soldier - The Late Pte Geo W Pope - 'A Splendid Man in the Trenches' - 'Always Cheerful and Cool'

About three weeks ago we published the news that Pte George William Pope, of the Northants Regt., son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Pope, of 56 Washbrook-road Rushden, had been killed in action. Official confirmation has since been received and the deceased soldier's widow has also received the following letter from his captain:

"You will have heard by now from the War Office that your husband was killed in action on June 16th. I have not written to you before as we have been having a very busy time, and I have had a lot of letters to write to parents, etc., and as your husband was such a favourite, I felt sure you would have lots of letters from his friends, so I was writing to you later. I very much regret that none gave you any details before, but I had no officer left when we came out, so have had to do everything myself. Your husband and two others were killed by a shell not far from Hill 60. Death was instantaneous, so he suffered no pain whatever. We buried him near where he fell, and a wooden cross marks his grave, the memorial erected to out heroes out here. Pte Pope was one of my best Lewis gunners, and was a very valuable man in the company. He was a splendid man in the trenches, and was always cheerful and cool, and non-one knows what that means to his companions. Unfortunately, several others in his gun were also casualties, or they would doubtless write and tell you what they thought of him, but believe me, he was a great favourite with all ranks, and your loss is shared by all in B Co. Please accept my deepest sympathy. Yours sincerely, Hugh B King, Captain, B Co."

The Rushden Echo Friday 20 July 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

POPE - In loving memory of Pte George Wm Pope, 7285, Northants Regt., killed in action, June 16, 1917, aged 31 years.

Could we have raised his dying head,
And heard his last farewell,
The blow would not have been so hard
For those he loved for well.

He nobly answered Duty's call,
He gave his life for one and all;
But the unknown grave is the bitterest blow'
None but aching hearts can know.

Deeply mourned by his living father, mother, sisters and brothers.

The Wellingborough News Friday 14 June 1918, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

In loving memory of GEORGE WILLIAM POPE, Lewis gunner, Northants Regt., who fell in action June 16th, 1917, aged 31 years.

Not lost to those who loved him,
Not dead, but gone before;
He lives with us in memory,
And will for evermore.

Still deeply mourned and sadly missed by his loving father, mother, sisters and brothers.

The Wellingborough News Friday 31 October 1919, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

In proud and loving memory of our dear boys who gave their all - BERNARD POPE, 7th East Yorks, who died of wounds, November 3rd 1918, aged 21 years; also GEORGE WILLIAM POPE, 7th Northants Regiment, killed in action, June 16th, 1917, aged 31 years.

When alone in my sorrow and bitter tears flow,
There cometh a memory of sweet long ago;
Unknown to the world they stand by my side,
And whisper, dear mother, death cannot divide.

Far and wide our thoughts do wander
To their graves so far out yonder;
Will some kind hand in a foreign land
Place a flower on their graves for me?

Never forgotten by their Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the War index
Click here to e-mail us