Military History

The Highest Honour #38 | Charles Pope | Reg Rattey

By The Cove October 4, 2021


Lieutenant Charles Pope VC (1883 - 1917, 34yo)

Charles Pope was born on 05 March 1883 at Mile end, London. At the completion of schooling he migrated to Canada where he was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railways. In 1906 he returned to London where he was a policeman with the Metropolitan Police Force, Chelsea Division. Pope resigned from the Police Force and in 1910 migrated to Australia where he held numerous jobs in Perth. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 25 August 1915 and in the following February was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 18th Reinforcements for the 11th Battalion.

On 10 December 1915 he joined the 11th Battalion in France and on 26 December 1915 was promoted to Lieutenant. On 15 April 1917 Charles 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.

Charles Pope was buried in Moeuvres Communal Cemetery Extension.

Corporal Reginald Roy Rattey VC (1918 - 1986, 67yo)

Reg Rattey was born on 28 March 1917 at Barmedman, New South Wales. At the completion of schooling he worked oh his father's farm and as a miner, and served with the part-time militia in the 21st Light Horse Regiment. On 10 July 1942 he volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force, joining the Queensland Lines of Communication Area.

In 1943 he transferred to the 3rd Division Carrier Company and in September 1943 was sent to New Guinea where he became an Acting Corporal. When he returned to Australia in April 1944, his rank of Corporal was confirmed and in June 1944 he joined the 25th Infantry Battalion that was posted to New Guinea in July 1944.

The battalion saw action at several locations in Bougainville from 19 March to 05 April 1945, and was involved in bitter fighting for Slater’s Knoll, adjacent to the Puriata River. On 22 March 1945, supported by air strikes and artillery fire, the battalion attacked entrenched Japanese positions but enemy fire halted the advance. Rattey, having decided that a bold rush offered the best prospect of success, led his section forward firing a Bren gun from the hip until he was on top of the nearest Japanese weapon pit. He flung in a grenade and silenced the position. Then, using the same tactics, he silenced two more weapon-pits. A short time later the advance was once more held up and Rattey, still carrying his Bren gun, again ran straight towards the Japanese machine-gun post killing one man, wounding another and putting the rest to flight. Two days later he was promoted to Acting Sergeant and in July was awarded the Victoria Cross. 

Rattey was hospitalised for malaria and following some time in hospital was returned to Australia where he discharged on compassionate grounds. He died of chronic obstructive airways disease on 10 January 1986 at West Wyalong and was buried in the local cemetery.


Portrait

Biography

The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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