Council launch appeal to find descendants of Victoria Cross winner Alfred Pollard

Sutton Guardian: Military honour: The Victoria Cross Military honour: The Victoria Cross

The hunt is on to the find the relatives of a highly-decorated war hero.

Sutton Council are seeking descendants of Alfred Pollard, the borough’s only winner of a Victoria Cross (VC).

To mark 100 years since the start of the First World War, commemorative paving stones will be laid up and down the country.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has introduced the programme to remember soldiers who were honoured with a VC.

Commemorative slabs will be presented to councils from August 2014, and the laying of Mr Pollard’s stone is set for April 2017.

The date marks the anniversary of the battle for which he was handed the honour.

Between April 9 and May 16 1917, the British troops and their allies launched an attack on German defences on the Western Front.

The assault became known as the Battle of Arras.

On April 29 Mr Pollard was fighting in Gavrelle, France, when his troop came under heavy shellfire.

The men were thrown into disarray and their order fell apart.

Second Lieutenant Pollard got four men together and launched an audacious counter attack which defeated the enemy assault.

He managed to gain a huge amount of ground and the troop were regrouped.

The Victoria Cross recognises bravery in the face of an enemy, and is the highest military decoration a soldier can receive.

 

Andrew Arnold, a Sutton-based historian, said: "Pollard was decorated many times and received other honours as well as the VC.

"From what I have heard he was a soldier who relished the war, who actually enjoyed the fighting.

"I think he had an older brother who died in the war, so maybe that had something to do with it.

"Usually I would say the likelihood of finding his relatives is slim, because it depends on direct links through his family.

"However with all the publicity and press around the First World War, perhaps now there is as good a chance as any."

Born in Wallington in 1893, Mr Pollard worked as a clerk for an insurance company, before volunteering for service on 8 August 1914.

When the First World War broke out on July 28, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion Honourable Artillery Company.

He was wounded twice in the conflict but returned to his unit both times after recovery.

The MP for Carshalton and Wallington Tom Brake, said: "Mr. Pollard is not just a local hero but also a national hero.

"His bravery and courage must never be forgotten and with commemorations like these, not only we will never forget, but generations to come will learn of Alfred Pollard."

In 1918 Mr Pollard married, and went on to serve as a pilot officer in the RAF until the mid 1920’s.

He also became a writer of fiction and non-fiction after the war, publishing over 60 books.

In 1932 he released his autobiography ‘Fire-Eater: the Memoirs of a VC.'

Mr Pollard died in Bournemouth in December 1960.

Sutton Council is trying to track down his relatives so they can share ideas on a location for the paving stone.

They also plan to hold a commemorative event.

Are you a relative of Mr Pollard? Do you know any of his descendants? Contact the news desk on 020 8722 6358 or email tom.gillespie@london.newsquest.co.uk


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