Rope attended school in Te Kopuru and Aratapu in Northland.2 He spent his final two years in high school as a pupil teacher, taking classes as a senior student while teaching younger pupils.3 This was a common route for bright students to enter teaching, especially those from rural areas.4
After continuing as a pupil teacher at Aratapu District High School and then Richmond Road School, Rope entered Auckland Training College (ATC) in 1909 to study towards a full teaching certificate.5
Life at Training College
While at ATC, Rope also attended Auckland University College (AUC) and would have taken classes in English, Latin, Botany, Mathematics and Art.6
His ATC activities and training were shaped in part by Principal Herbert Milnes’ philosophy that every teacher should be physically fit, have a strong command of their material and be a backbone in the local community.7 For Rope, that included being a member of the ATC Cadet Officers’ Corps, which would also have equipped him to help instruct boys in military drills as part of their junior cadet training.8
By 1911, Rope was employed as a teacher at the tiny school at Tautari (later named Pukeatua) in the Waikato. Three years later, he was the school's headmaster.9
Rope enlisted in Hamilton on 14 August 1914, ten days after the British Government declared war on Germany. Within the month he was attached to the 4th (Waikato) Mounted Rifles Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment and embarked with the Main Body in October 1914. He would have been accompanied by fellow Collegian William Henwood Johns who also initially served with the 4th (Waikato) squadron.10
After months in Egypt, the Auckland Mounted Rifles landed at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in early May 1915. On 8 August, Rope was shot in the leg and evacuated to Malta for treatment. He rejoined his unit at Mudros in November and was promoted to Corporal shortly afterwards.11
In March 1916, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR), comprising the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury Mounted Rifles, joined with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigades to form the Anzac Mounted Division. In early April, the NZMR and 2nd Light Horse Brigade crossed the Suez Canal and moved into the Sinai Desert.12
The Sinai and the Anzac Mounted Division
When Rope’s unit reached the Sinai, the flat desert must have seemed a world away from the raging guns and mud of Gallipoli and after living in close quarters, this battlefield must have seemed empty. Their primary job was to build, develop and protect supply lines, including a railroad, to support the second wave of troops which would join them for a larger push toward Palestine.13 The work was made harder by the heat, which some complained was worse than Cairo. Also, the local water supply was foul tasting and not popular among the men or the horses.14
The Anzac Mounted Division occupied the area around Romani from late April 1916, with minor skirmishes and intelligence missions characterising their first few months. However, as the railway was built and the occupying forces grew to include British troops, attacks became more frequent. By late July, there was no doubt that a battle was coming.15
That battle came on the night of 3-4 August 1916 as the combined German and Ottoman force launched an attack on Romani from Katia. The Australians first engaged with enemy fire but before dawn on 4 August they were forced to retreat. At daylight, the Australians were reinforced by more troops, including the NZMR. The Anzac Mounted Division drove the opposing forces toward the sand banks and within range of the troops defending Romani and the railway. The Turkish advance was checked and by nightfall they had been pushed back to Katia. After days of fighting, the battle ended on 12 August after the German and Ottoman force had retreated to El Arish.16
Rope was appointed temporary sergeant on 1 September.17
Rope's war ends
Charles Rope survived other battles, including at Magdhaba, before dying of wounds received at the Battle of Rafa on 9 January 1917. He was 26.18 Rope was one of four Collegians who left with the NZMR and are known to have died during the Sinai and Palestine campaign.19
While Rope’s military record notes that he died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station 25 miles from the battlefield, Rope’s captain reported to his mother that he was killed `almost instantaneously… he suffered no pain.‘20
In an obituary in Manuka, the ATC magazine, Rope was praised for his `joyous unselfish spirit’ and was called a `fine teacher’.21
Sarah Dunbar, Special Collections
- Births, deaths and marriages online, Department of Internal Affairs.
- The New Zealand Herald , 8 September 1915, p.9, accessed via Papers Past.
- Auckland Star, 8 July 1905, p.3, accessed via Papers Past.
- Louise Shaw, Making a difference: A history of the Auckland College of Education 1881-2004, Auckland, 2006, pp.37-38.
- New Zealand Herald, 26 April 1906, p.7, accessed via Papers Past; New Zealand Herald, 7 February 1907, p.7, accessed via Papers Past; The Manuka, 1917, 8, p.4.
- Rope, Charles Manfred. MSS & Archives E-2, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services; Shaw, pp.40-42.
- Shaw, pp.40-43.
- Shaw, p.43; `Turning boys into soldiers’, available online at NZHistory, updated 28 August 2014, accessed 11 August 2016; `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army', R20807660, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- Auckland Star, 25 January 1911, p.6, accessed via Papers Past; `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army'.
- `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army'; `Johns, William Henwood – WW1 13/368 – Army’, R18053615, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- Charles G. Nicol, The story of two campaigns: Official War history of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, 1914-1919, Auckland, 1921, p.33; `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army'.
- Charles G. Powles, The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine, 1922, Auckland, pp.12-13.
- Nicol, p.95.
- Terry Kinloch, Devils on Horses: In the words of the ANZACS in the Middle East 1916-1919, Auckland, 2007, pp.65-66.
- Kinloch, pp.81-84; Nicol, pp.106-107.
- Nicol, pp.108-111; Kinloch, pp.86-108.
- `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army’.
- William Henwood Johns died at the Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917, and Colin Wilmott Campbell and Rupert Whitworth McKenzie both died during the First Battle of Amman on 30 March 1918.
- `Rope, Charles Manfred – WW1 13/432 – Army’; Rope, Charles Manfred. Hamilton Probate Court Records 1917-1953. R6875796, Archives New Zealand, Wellington, p.166, accessed via FamilySearch.
- The Manuka, 1917, 8, p.4.