Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 26, 1880
Place of BirthMoncton, New Brunswick
CountryCanada
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinChristina Pollard (wife), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number198755
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceArmy
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 11, 1916
Age at Enlistment35
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 12, 1970
Age at Death89
Buried AtWoodstock Rural Cemetery, Woodstock, New Brunswick

Pollard, George Melvin

Private George Melvin Pollard signed up with the 94th Battalion in January 1916. He was wounded at the Somme and he suffered from illness for much of his time overseas, but he survived the war and returned to Canada in March 1919.

George was born on 26 September 1880 in Moncton, New Brunswick. He moved west as a young man and around 1910 he settled in Kenora, Ontario where he found work as a teamster. He was married in Kenora on 19 November 1912 to Christina Young. On the marriage registration his parents were listed as Franklin Pollard, a farmer, and Margaret McLeod. Christina was the daughter of John Young and Ellen Thompson of Lac Seul. John was born in Scotland and he’d worked as a fisherman and trapper in the Lac Seul area in northern Ontario. He died in 1904 and Ellen moved to Kenora with her second husband, Charles Flett.

By the fall of 1915 the war was in its second year. A new unit, the 94th Overseas Battalion, was being recruited in northwestern Ontario and George signed up on 11 January 1916. He was 35 years old by then but he passed himself off as 29. The volunteers trained in the Kenora area during the winter and spring and on 25 May they were sent to Port Arthur to join the rest of the unit. The recruits had a huge sendoff from family and friends when they left the Kenora train station that day. Two weeks later they headed to the east coast and after a short time at Valcartier Camp in Quebec they embarked from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic. They arrived in the UK on 6 July and a week later George was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion. He trained with them for about a month.

On 24 August George was attached to the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders) and sent to France. The Canadians were at the Somme that fall and George joined his new unit there. On 20 September the 43rd attacked the Zollern Graben Trench, suffering 150 casualties in the operation. They were relieved on 21 September for two weeks of rest and refitting and it was during that time that George joined them in a draft of reinforcements. He served as a bomber in the grenade section of Company D.

Early in October the battalion had a two day rotation in the front trenches then on 8 October they were back in action, taking part in the assault on Regina Trench. They ran into problems during the early morning advance when they encountered uncut barbed wire and strong German counter-attacks. The unit suffered 360 casualties and by the end of the day their rifle strength was reduced to about 70 men. George was wounded in the back and shoulder and he was admitted to No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Boulogne on 9 October. Two days later he was evacuated to England. He spent five weeks recovering at the University College Hospital in London followed by a week at the Convalescent Centre in Bromley.

On 23 November 1916 George was discharged to the Canadian Corps Depot for physical training. He served in England for the next year with the Manitoba Regiment Depot, the 11th Reserve Battalion and the Canadian Forestry Corps. On 27 November 1917 he developed appendicitis and he had an appendectomy at Cambridge Hospital in Aldershot. After his recovery he was sent to No. 1 Canadian Corps Depot. George suffered from occasional seizures and in July 1918 he was admitted to Bearwood Convalescent Hospital and diagnosed with epilepsy. In early October he was transferred to No. 5 General Hospital in Liverpool to await his return to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool on the hospital ship Neuralia on 30 October, landing at Halifax on 10 November. The following day the Armistice ended hostilities in Europe.

George was given two weeks landing leave that he planned to spend in Kenora. From early December until March 1919 he was a patient at the Manitoba Military Convalescent Hospital in Winnipeg, due to his seizures. He was discharged from the army on 27 March 1919, listed as medically unfit for further service. George said he planned to live in New Brunswick after his discharge and he may have settled there permanently. By the early 1950s he was retired and living in Woodstock in Carleton County. He passed away on 12 July 1970, at age 89, and he’s buried in Woodstock Rural Cemetery in New Brunswick.

George is commemorated in Kenora on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

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