3615-private-frederick-john-pollard-image15.jpg
Pte Frederick J. POLLARD
1891-1916
Julie Warner

Frederick John POLLARD

Regimental Number
3615
Rank
Private
Known As
Fred
War Service
Egypt and Western Front
Prior Military Service
Nil
Enlistment
12 Jul 1915 at Melbourne, VIC
Embarkation
05 Jan 1916 from Melbourne, VIC, on the HMAT A19 Afric
Next of Kin
Wife - Clarice Myrtle Pollard (nee Williams)
Date & Place of Birth
June 1891, Richmond, VIC
Parents
Rosina (Rose) Amelia (nee HODGES) and Frederick John POLLARD
Marital Status
Married, with one son
Siblings
2 brothers 2 sisters Brother Pte Thomas Pollard served with 14th Battalion AIF 1914-19
Occupation
Coach painter
Physical Description
5 feet 7 inches, 140 pounds (170.2cm, 63.5kg)
Eyes blue, Hair brown, Complexion fresh
Religion
Church of England
Fate
Killed in Action, 19 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France - aged 25
Place of Burial
No known grave
Commemorated
V.C. Corner, (Panel 22), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified
No

The Pollard family: - Two Boys Went to War, One Came Home

Freddie

Frederick John Pollard was the second child and eldest son of Rose and Frederick Pollard. They lived at 346 Mary Street, Richmond. He had an older sister Henriette (Hetty), a younger brother Thomas, who enlisted in 1914, and younger sister Minnie and brother William.

Freddie (as he was known) was single at the time of his enlistment in July 1915, but he married Clarice Myrtle Williams not long before being deployed to Europe.

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Three young recruits at the training camp in Geelong, 30 August 1915. Frederick is believed to be the man on the right.
source Ancestry.com, Dwyer Family Tree

He was originally allocated to the 22nd Battalion 8th reinforcements. While at his Geelong training camp, Freddie sent the following photo to his older sister:

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Troopship HMAT A19 Afric
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The reverse side of the previous picture postcard with the inscription from Freddie to his sister.
source Ancestry.com, Dwyer Family Tree

Freddie left Australia with the 22nd Battalion on board HMAT A19 Afric on 5 January 1916.

Once in Egypt, the new arrivals were caught up in the re-organisation of the AIF that followed Gallipoli and all the recruits that were streaming in. Freddie was transferred first to the 57th Battalion, but then he went on to the newly formed 60th Battalion in mid-March 1916. This new Battalion was part of the 15th Brigade. It consisted primarily of Victorians with about half of them veterans of Gallipoli and the other half fresh recruits like 24-year-old Freddie. The next few months saw regular route marches and training in the desert before they left for France at the end of June.

On arrival in France, Freddie travelled with the 60th by train towards the Western front. As described by the AWM, “the 60th became embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front on 19 July, without the benefit of an introduction to the trenches in a "quiet" sector.”

On the 13 July they were in the trenches for the first time. On the 19th, they were in position to attack at 4.20 pm. There was heavy artillery from both sides. The first wave of Aussies went over the parapet at 6.45 pm with the last wave going over at 7.00.

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Scene at Fromelles on 19/20th July 1916
source FFAIF

Freddie’s Battalion was in a very difficult position, with the ongoing bombardment, facing fire from the German trenches and crossfire from the machine gun emplacement on the Sugar Loaf salient, just a short distance away.

One soldier said that their unit only got to within 90 yards of enemy trenches, but another said he “believed some few of the battalion entered enemy trenches and that during the night a few stragglers, wounded and unwounded, returned to our trenches.”

Fighting continued through the night. With the known heavy casualties in the 60th, they were relieved by the 57th Battalion at 7 am.

The battle of Fromelles was a disaster for the battalion. In a single day, it was virtually wiped out, suffering 757 casualties. These losses meant the battalion saw little further offensive action in 1916.

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Corporal Edward Mitchell’s evidence given to the Red Cross on the fate of Pte Frederick Pollard.
source AWM: Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – POLLARD, Frederick John, page 4

Freddie’s records show he was killed on 19 July 1916. His body was not recovered, but Corporal 3182 Edward Mitchell later gave evidence via the Red Cross that he had seen Pollard lying dead as Mitchell was crawling back to their trench after the charge. He described Freddie as a fine man who was very popular with his mates and that he “talked to me of his wife, of whom he evidently thought a great deal.”

Clarice, the Sweetheart Left Behind

When Freddie was going into battle, Clarice was awaiting the birth of their first child, due in September. She is unlikely to have known she was already pregnant when Freddie had sailed to Egypt, just days after the New Year.

News was sent back to Australia in the first week of September that Freddie was missing in action. On 18 September – just as Freddie’s name was being published in the latest casualty lists - Clarice gave birth to a son, naming him Frederick John Pollard.

Like so many other families, Clarice desperately sought information about her husband’s fate, even advertising for returned soldiers to contact her if they had information about her missing husband.

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The memorial notice published by Clarice on the second anniversary of her husband’s death.
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The advertisement Clarice placed in November 1916 eager for news of her husband. Similar pleas are made by two mothers whose three sons went missing that same day in July 1916 – sadly all met the same fate as Freddie.

Eventually, an official court of enquiry on 4 August 1917 declared him killed in action. He was 25 years old and about to become a father when he was killed.

Clarice continued writing to authorities to enquire about any personal effects to be returned to herself and her son, but she was advised that none had been recovered. She also wrote the following letter seeking information about her husband’s grave and offering to pay for his headstone inscription. She was, however, realistic and acknowledged that it was unlikely ‘that his remains could be in a decent grave.’

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A Letter from Clarice
source NAA: B2455, POLLARD, Frederick John – First AIF Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, page 15

Authorities wrote confirming that they had no burial particulars – and, sadly, this remains the case to this day. Clarice did however eventually receive Freddie’s military service medals as well as the memorial plaque and scroll issued to families of soldiers who died in the war.

Clarice and Frederick’s only child, Frederick John Pollard (1916-91) – named for his father and his grandfather – was brought up by Clarice on her widow’s pension and work as a machinist, as she never remarried. Frederick enlisted and served during the second World War.

Tom

Freddie’s younger brother, Tom, had a very traumatic war, but survived. As a 21-year-old, Tom enlisted in October 1914 (service number 1408) and left Australia in February 1915 with the 14th Battalion. He served in Egypt and Gallipoli before being struck down in August with enteric fever, a common cause of casualties at this time. He was returned to Australia in October 1915 for what was eventually almost 12 months of recuperation. The timing of his return was fortuitous in that he probably had the chance to catch up with his older brother before Freddie left for Egypt in January 1916.

In October 1916, not long after the news of Freddie being missing had been received, Tom was sent back to the 14th Battalion (with a new service number 1500), joining them in France in January 1917. During 1917, he was hospitalised twice with gunshot and shrapnel wounds and once with trench fever. In August 1918, Tom was wounded a third time and returned to Australia in February 1919.

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Tom Pollard pictured in AIF uniform on his wedding day in 1919 to Nellie Cole.
source Ancestry.com, pollard Family Tree

Shortly after his return, he married Nellie Cole in 1919 and in 1939, Tom died aged just forty-five. His obituary (The Duckboard April 1939) made note that Tom had served throughout the War including taking part in the Gallipoli landing and doing splendid work as a stretcher-bearer after Bullecourt. His family evidently took great pride in their father’s war service as at least two of his four children applied for his ANZAC / Gallipoli medal during the 1960s.

Still Seeking a ‘decent grave’ for Freddie

The current day Pollard family are keen to fulfil Clarice’s wish for a ‘decent grave’ for her young soldier husband – the one who never got to meet his son.

Julie Warner, a descendant of the Pollard family, commented:

“Whilst researching family history we learned of Frederick John Pollard and his ultimate sacrifice. Our family felt great pride and sadness for Frederick, his wife and family - great sadness that he never met his only child, a son, and sadness that his wife lost the love of her life as did so many other widows.”

Julie Warner

Julie’s family were pleased to be able to contact the Australian Defence Force and provide a DNA sample from Freddie’s elderly cousin in the hope it could help with identification - but to date Private Frederick John Pollard has not been formally identified.

DNA is still being sought for family connections to

SoldierFrederick John POLLARD, 1891-1916 m. Clarice Myrtle WILLIAMS, 1889-1972 One child - Frederick John POLLARD, 1916-91 m. Loretto C. WOODLOCK
ParentsFrederick John POLLARD, b 1848 Geelong, d 1931 Northcote, Vic
Rosina Amelia HODGES, b 1863 Plymouth Eng, d. 1948 Sth Yarra, Vic
Grandparents
PaternalFrederick POLLARD b 1828 London, England and Agnes EVANS
MaternalThomas Mabour HODGES b 1843 d 1917 and Mary LYNDON, b 1832 Plymouth, Eng, d 1913 Richmond, Vic

Seeking DNA Donors

Fromelles Association of Australia

Contacts

The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).

Donations

The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).