Pope, Cyril Montagu

Lieutenant / Worcester Regiment

1888 - 1914

Cyril Montagu Pope was born 6 August 1888, the son of Reginald Barrett Pope and Mary, daughter of Alexander Reid, of Brighton.

He came to Winchester College from Temple Grove School in September 1902 as a Scholar. He was appointed a School Prefect in 1906 and the year after won the Duncan Prize for Reading.  He played in College XV and shot for Wimbledon VIII.

Cyril left school in the summer of 1907 and went up to Brasenose College, Oxford, holding in succession a Hulme Exhibition and a Senior Hulme Scholarship, and took his degree with Second Classes in Classics and Jurisprudence (B.A. and B.C.L.) in 1913. On leaving the University, he was articled to his father's firm and was in the second year of his articles when war broke out.

He had some years previously obtained a commission in the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and in 1913 was transferred to the Special Reserve Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. He went to the front in August 1914 with the 2nd Worcesters and took part in the Retreat from Mons and the Battles of the Marne and Aisne.

Cyril fell at Polygon Wood on 24 October 1914, leading a charge.

In The Wykehamist (535, November 1914) there appeared the following letter from Pope, describing his experiences up to the time of writing: 'On Service, September 23rd, 1914
What a contrast! After three weeks of strenuous campaigning, the last eight days continually under fire, I am now washed, shaved, and properly dressed, living in luxury in a farm-house. Did I not have chops for dinner to-day? And at
the moment I am sitting in the sun, in spite of a distinct autumn chill in the air, leaning against a stook of corn still ungarnered and looking out over the beautiful valley on the other side of which we have been struggling for the last eight days. And now the enemy is trying to disturb our rest, and his two big guns, Black Maria and Little Willie, are dropping shells within about five hundred yards of our farm, but I think and. hope that is their limit and that they will soon stop.... In short, our brigade having suffered somewhat heavily has
been withdrawn into Reserve, and we are thoroughly enjoying our rest. Our own losses have not been heavy except in officers, though two companies have suffered to some extent, and the loss in officers has been due to very bad luck, as in most cases they were due to shell fire – not particularly aimed
at individuals – and were not at all due to carelessness on the part of the officers. My own platoon only has four casualties to date and those all slight wounds. The last twenty-four hours (20th-21st) we were in the front row of trenches, which was restless and anxious work... I have seen the papers of September 11th and 12th and read French’s dispatch. It will be a little difficult for you to fit my diary in but you will see that we were falling back all the time on the right or right centre (i.e. the most easterly side) of the British force, and we avoided any engagement simply because when it was our turn to do  rearguard the enemy did not attack. My diary takes you up to the crossing of the Marne on the return march and shows you, I think, how demoralised some of the Germans had become. I think however there is plenty of fight in them, and they are not going to be absolutely walked over... Here’s an aeroplane coming just over my head; we see them buzzing about all the time. They fly over to the enemy to see where our shells are landing, and he does the same to us, and they never seem to attack one another.

After more fighting, British Expeditionary Force then switched to the north, and
went into action in desperate actions around Ypres in late October, known as the First Battle of Ypres. On 23 October the Germans made a strong attack on
Langemarck, but the pressure was relieved by the French, who took over the line of 1st Division, which enabled Haig to move troops in support of the British centre. Nevertheless the Germans drove the British from Becelaere and got into Polygon Wood, which was defended by 2nd Division, of which 2nd Worcesters were still part, in 5 Brigade.

In the early hours of 24 October the British front line was attacked
throughout in force. There were no reserves; each battalion stood where it was in the flood and fought to its front, flank, and rear. Pope fell at Polygon Wood that day, leading a charge in an attempt to drive back the enemy out of the wood. Major Sweetman wrote: 'I saw him just after I was hit, leading on his men most gallantly against a strong position of the enemy. He was seriously wounded, and died whilst being taken back to 22nd Field Hospital'

He was twenty-six years old, and rests in grave E.2.8 of Ypres Town
Cemetery. A memorial service was held for him at 1215 on 27 November 1914 at St. Mary’s Church, Brighton.

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