After almost 18 months’ service, including a year away, Joseph Pope returned home with malaria which he may have contracted in England.
Joseph was a clerk from Logan Village and, at 19 years and eight months old, enlisted on January 13, 1916, with the permission of his parents, Henry and Isobel Pope.
A Driver in the 11th Field Company Engineers, Joseph left Australia from Adelaide on the HMAT Suevic on May 31.
He arrived in Devonport on July 21, and was to train in England before heading to France. However, on October 24, he was admitted to the brigade hospital at Lark Hill, suffering bronchitis, and from there was transferred to the Number 4 Command Depot, Wareham, on December 4.
In early March, 1917, Joseph was sent to the AIF’s Weymouth depot, which accommodated troops who were not expected to be fit for duty for at least six months. However, a month later, Joseph was marked for return to Australia, suffering from malaria.
According to the Malaria Journal of 2014, there was a malarial epidemic in southern England, with hundreds of cases reported during 1917 – even among troops who had never been out of the country – after the disease had been brought back by soldiers returning from the Middle East and the Western Front.
Joseph boarded the Barambah at Plymouth on April 9, for return to Australia, but the trip home was not all smooth sailing. When the ship pulled in at Adelaide, Joseph and Lance Corporal RG Reynolds of the 15th Battalion went ashore and the Barambah had sailed without them.
The pair caught a train to Melbourne where, according to a memo to Army Records from a staff officer in Brisbane, they joined the “balance of the invalids” from the Barambah bound for Queensland.
After arriving home on June 9, Joseph was discharged from the Army on July 17 with a pension and a British War Medal which he received at the war’s end.
On November 2, 1930, Joseph, then living at Drummoyne, in Sydney, wrote to Army records requesting the Victory Medal he thought he also should have received.
He was informed, in a letter, dated November 11, that he was ineligible for the medal as “you did not serve on the strength of a unit in a theatre-of-war”.
Geographic distribution of malaria transmission in theatres of World War 1.