Private Charles Pope joined the Royal Marines at age 18 and was sent to the Plymouth Division of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Pope was assigned to the troopship HMS Himalaya on 21 June 1878 and served aboard until 2 February 1879. During that time period "Himalaya" did not serve in South African waters and saw no service in the Zulu war.
HMS Himalaya's crew were entitled to the South Africa Medal for service in the 9th Cape Frontier wars of 1877 and 1878 for the time period of 9 March 1878 to 15 March 1878. Pope was not assigned to "Himalaya" until later that year.
The Royal Navy's medal roll for the South Africa Medal does not contain the name of Private Charles Pope, nor does his Royal Marine service record show that he received the South Africa Medal.