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Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - George Pollard

Died 21st June 1917, aged 23
Lens, France

Early years

The Pollard family moved from Northamptonshire to Barrow upon Soar in the late 1890s, then in about 1900 they moved to Quorn. By the time they settled on Sarson Street, James and Emily Pollard already had nine children, including George, who had been born in 1894.

The 1911 census shows George living with his family at 7 Sarson Street (see photograph below), and employed as a postal telegraph messenger for the Post Office. It also shows that James and Emily had had twelve children, two of whom had died.

When the war came, George, along with many lads from the local area, went to Mountsorrel and enlisted into the 1/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.

Finding a photograph of George
Initially it was thought that no photograph of George had survived, but a cut down version of the postcard image below was mounted in a rose gold brooch, owned by his elder sister Elizabeth. Her granddaughter, (George’s great niece), discovered the brooch in Elizabeth’s old jewellery box, and the postcard, which had been previously hidden away, confirmed his identity. The unusual design of the piece of jewellery, means that the circular ‘frame’ in the centre, can swivel round, and the other side contains this picture of Elizabeth (photograph next to that of George).

So many losses in a row of cottages
Below the pictures of George and Elizabeth is a modern photograph of the row of four cottages on Sarson Street where George grew up. His family occupied number 7, which is on the right (with the brown door and windows). Next door at number 9, in 1901 lived the Stevensons. Silas Stevenson spent much of his childhood there until his father died. Silas himself then died on the Somme in 1916 (Artefact 2281). At number 11 (with the white door), lived the Brewins, who also lost their son Louis (Artefact 2330). In the next house, number 13, (far left, brown door), lived the Lockwood family, whose son George was also killed in action at the very end of the war (Artefact 2297). The boys were similar ages, attended the same school and would have played together in the street. They had their whole lives in front of them, but all died in France within two years of each other.

A terrible miscalculation
On 21st June 1917, George was in a trench with ‘C’ Company on the front line in France. It was dusk and the young men were aware that the Special Brigade Royal Engineers were going to carry out a gas bombardment of mine buildings about 150 yards away. The wind was fine and no problems were anticipated as they heard the projectors go off. They waited to hear them land on their target, when suddenly the trenches were filled with deadly phosgene gas. Hundreds of gas cylinders had accidently landed in British trenches. 94 men were gassed by this ‘friendly fire’, and 22, including George, died a painful death. ‘C’ Company was so badly hit that it was wiped out and temporarily ceased to exist.

 view larger image
 Submitted on: 2020-01-12
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman with many thanks to Brenda and Frank Middlebrook
 Artefact ID: 2288
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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