Reg Pollard (general)

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Reginald George Pollard
Head-and-shoulders portrait of moustachioed man in military uniform with peaked cap
Major General Reg Pollard
Born (1903-01-20)20 January 1903
Bathurst, New South Wales
Died 9 March 1978(1978-03-09) (aged 75)
Wyrallah, New South Wales
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1925–63
Rank Lieutenant General
Service number 214 (NX70398) [1]
Commands held 2/31st Battalion (1941)
Eastern Command (1957–60)
Chief of the General Staff (1960–63)
Battles/wars

Second World War

Korean War
Awards Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Other work Australian Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II (1970 Royal Visit)

Lieutenant General Sir Reginald George Pollard, KCVOKBECBDSO (20 January 1903 – 9 March 1978) was a senior commander in the Australian Army. He served as Chief of the General Staff from 1960 to 1963. Born in Bathurst, New South Wales, Pollard graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1924. He served as adjutant and quartermaster in several battalions of the Citizens Military Forces before undertaking a staff course in England. The course was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War, and Pollard subsequently joined the Second Australian Imperial Force, seeing action with the 7th Division in the Middle East, where he was mentioned in despatches. Promoted to colonel in 1942, he became senior staff officer of the 7th Division in New Guinea, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions.

In 1953, Pollard was promoted to brigadier and took command of the Australian Army Component of the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. He joined the Military Board as a major general in 1954, and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire the following year. In 1957, he was promoted to lieutenant general and took charge of Eastern Command; he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1959. Knighted in 1961, as CGS he presided over the Army's reorganisation as a pentropic structure, and worked towards making Duntroon a degree-granting institution. In 1962, the first team of Australian military advisors deployed to South Vietnam. After retiring from the military in 1963, Pollard became Honorary Colonel of the Royal Australian Regiment, and also served as Australian Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II on the 1970 Royal Visit; he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order the same year. He died at Wyrallah, New South Wales, in 1978.

Early life[edit]

Born on 20 January 1903 in Bathurst, New South Wales, Reginald George Pollard was the third son of Albert Edgar Pollard, an English accountant, and his Australian wife Thalia Rebecca, née McLean.[2] After completing his schooling, Reg entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1921, and graduated with the Sword of Honour for "exemplary conduct and performance" in 1924.[2][3] Pollard and fellow graduate Frederick Scherger, winner of the King's Medal, applied to transfer to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under a scheme designed to augment the RAAF's officer corps, but only Scherger was accepted.[4] The previous year, Pollard and Scherger had inaugurated a Duntroon tradition when they found a horse's jawbone during a field exercise, declared it a lucky charm on the basis of the Biblical tale of Samson slaying the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, and brought it back to the college as a mascot; it became known as "Enobesra" (reportedly because "jawbone seemed so commonplace, an arsebone sounded much more interesting and spelt backwards sounded both mysterious and respectable").[5]

Ranked lieutenant, Pollard joined the 51st Infantry Brigade in March 1925.[2][6] In July he was appointed adjutant/quartermaster of the 17th Battalion (Citizens Military Forces), headquartered at North Sydney.[2][7] He married Daisy Ethel Potter, a typist, at St Andrew's Anglican Church, Strathfield, on 31 October; The Bathurst Times reported that Daisy cut the cake with her husband's Sword of Honour.[2][8] Pollard departed for India on attachment to the British Army in September 1927, serving with the Royal Fusiliers and the York and Lancaster Regiment.[2][7] He returned to Australia in November the following year and was posted as adjutant/quartermaster to, successively, the 18th (September 1928) and the 44th Battalions (CMF) (September 1932).[2][6] In December 1932, while serving with the 44th in Western Australia, he was promoted to captain.[9] Pollard was camp commandant of the National Rifle Association of Western Australia from 1934 to 1936.[10] He was transferred to Army Headquarters, Melbourne, in October 1936.[2] In November 1938, Pollard was posted to England to attend Staff College, Camberley; he graduated in September 1939, the planned two-year course having been curtailed owing to the outbreak of the Second World War.[2]

Second World War[edit]

Head-and-shoulders portrait of moustachioed man in military uniform with peaked cap
Lieutenant Colonel Pollard in Cairo, February 1942

Following the declaration of war, Pollard served as Assistant Military Liaison Officer at the Australian High Commission, London. Promoted major, he joined the Second Australian Imperial Force in June 1940.[2] He was appointed brigade major of the 25th Brigade, an Australian unit raised in England to help combat a possible invasion by Nazi Germany.[2][11] The brigade subsequently became part of the Australian 9th Division and sailed for the Middle East in January 1941; it was transferred to the 7th Division on arrival.[11] Pollard was assigned to the 7th Division's headquarters staff under Lieutenant General John Lavarack.[2][12] On 24 April, towards the end of the campaign in Cyrenaica, Pollard led a raiding party on Giarabub, Libya, to remove Senussi civilians and destroy wells and ammunition.[12] He took command of the 2/31st Battalion at the end of June 1941, during the Syrian campaign, after the battalion's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Selwyn Porter, was wounded.[13] A cease-fire on 12 July ended the campaign in Syria, and Pollard was mentioned in despatches for his work.[14][15]

Pollard was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August 1941, and was responsible for establishing the AIF Junior Staff School in Palestine.[2][16] He was raised to temporary colonel in March 1942 and posted to the AIF Staff in Ceylon, where the 16th and 17th Brigades had been garrisoned while on their way back to Australia from the Middle East.[2][17] Returning to Australia in August, Pollard was appointed General Staff Officer Grade 1 of the 6th Division; he served on its headquarters in Papua from September until mid-November, when he became Major General George Vasey's senior staff officer at the 7th Division.[2][18] Pollard received the Distinguished Service Order for his actions in operations at Gona and Sanananda, during which he "displayed unlimited energy and ascertained vital information for use in future operations"; the award was promulgated on 21 December 1943.[19][20] At the conclusion of the Papuan campaign in January 1943, Pollard was posted to Queensland with the 6th Division, which was undergoing training and reinforcement.[2][21] He was Chief Instructor of the Staff School at Duntroon from December 1943 until February 1945, when he become Deputy Director of Military Operations at General Sir Thomas Blamey's Allied Land Forces Headquarters, based in Melbourne.[2][22]

Post-war career[edit]

Pollard was given command of the Army's Recruit Training Centre at Greta, New South Wales, in February 1946.[2] He was posted to England in August to undertake a course at the Royal Air Force's School of Air Support in Old Sarum, and following his return in February 1947 was allotted to instruct at the soon-to-be-opened RAAF School of Air Support at Laverton, Victoria.[2][23] It was redesignated the School of Land/Air Warfare in March 1948 and relocated to RAAF Station Williamtown, New South Wales.[2][24] Pollard was appointed Director of Personnel Administration at AHQ in January 1949.[2] One of his tasks was to prepare the ground for the reintroduction of compulsory national service; the new scheme was enacted in 1951 and remained in force until 1959.[2][25] Pollard attended the Imperial Defence College, London, throughout 1951, and in April that year was appointed aide-de-camp to the King.[6] In January 1952, he succeeded Colonel John Wilton as Director of Military Operations and Plans at AHQ, and became Chairman of the Joint Planning Committee.[2][26] That August he was one of the Australian delegates joining the Minister for External Affairs, Richard Casey, for the inaugural meeting of the ANZUS Council in Honolulu; the US and New Zealand delegations were led, respectively, by Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Minister for External Affairs Clifton Webb.[2][27] Pollard also took part in planning for the atomic test at Montebello in October 1952.[28]

Outdoor half-portrait of moustachioed man in summer military uniform with peaked cap
Brigadier Pollard as Commander of the Australian Army Component, British Commonwealth Forces Korea, in July 1953

Promoted to temporary brigadier in March 1953, Pollard acted as Australian military advisor to Prime Minister Robert Menzies at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London that June.[2][29] From July to November he served as commander of the Australian Army Component of the British Commonwealth Forces Korea; the role was responsible for managing the turnover of Australian troops in the theatre and the upkeep of their personal records.[2][30] Pollard was subsequently appointed Deputy Adjutant General at AHQ. In September 1954, he was promoted to major general and appointed Quartermaster General and Third Military Member of the Military Board.[2] At fifty-two, he was the youngest member of the Board.[31] Inspecting conditions for Australian troops deployed to Malaya in December 1955, Pollard was quoted as saying that there were "one or two" serious complaints but that he was "amazed how few there were, considering that the average soldier complains considerably all the time".[32][33] In August 1957, he was promoted lieutenant general and succeeded Eric Woodward as General Officer Commanding Eastern Command.[34][35] Headquartered in Sydney, Eastern Command covered the state of New South Wales and was the superior headquarters for the 2nd Division.[36] Pollard was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1955 Queen's Birthday Honours,[37] and a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1959 Birthday Honours.[38]

On 1 July 1960, Pollard succeeded Lieutenant General Sir Ragnar Garrett as Chief of the General Staff (CGS), and was raised to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1961 Queen's Birthday Honours.[39][40] Although favoured by Garrett, Pollard's succession had not been a foregone conclusion. The Minister for the Army, John Cramer, attempted to appoint Major General Ivan Dougherty, a retired CMF officer, but the proposal was defeated in cabinet on the advice of the Minister for Defence, Athol Townley, who feared the antagonism it would likely engender among the senior ranks of the Regular Army.[39][41]

As CGS, Pollard oversaw a major restructure of the Army.[2] Following the lead of the US Army, in 1960 the Australian Army replaced its "triangular" divisional structure of three infantry battalions under brigade headquarters, with a "pentropic" organisation consisting of five larger battalions without a brigade layer between division and battalion headquarters.[42] According to historian Chris Clark, Pollard was "personally ambivalent" about the change,[2] which had been sponsored by Garrett and agreed to by Townley in December 1959.[39][43] The US abandoned the system in June 1961, and the Australian Army ultimately returned to the triangular formation following a review commissioned by Pollard's successor as CGS, Lieutenant General Wilton, in October 1964.[44][45] Another of Pollard's focus areas as CGS was the academic qualifications of Army officers. Concerned that Duntroon graduates would begin to fall behind their tertiary-educated peers in the community, he worked to make the college a degree-granting institution, though this did not come to fruition at the time.[46]

In December 1961, Pollard told the Secretary for Defence that he considered the Army's strength inadequate to support the government's policy of "forward defence", which involved meeting Communist aggression in South East Asia, well away from the Australian mainland. The CMF, he contended, was not properly equipped to provide relief for regular forces deployed overseas, and conscription "would appear to be politically and economically out of the question".[47] In the event, the government reintroduced conscription in 1964.[48] As the threat of South Vietnam falling to a Communist takeover became more apparent, the Army began in 1962 to exercise specifically to combat counter-insurgency operations, a type of warfare Pollard characterised as "frustrating groping at an elusive enemy"; he added that "no purely military solution to a Communist insurgency situation is possible".[49] When, in May that year, the Federal government agreed to South Vietnam's request for military instructors, Pollard was responsible for laying down guidelines for the team of thirty advisors led by his friend Colonel Ted Serong; the team deployed to Vietnam in August.[50][51]

Retirement[edit]

Having reached the mandatory retirement age of sixty and recommended Wilton to succeed him as CGS, Pollard left the military on 20 January 1963.[39] He became a grazier on a farm at Wesburn, Victoria. In 1974, he moved to a new property, which he christened Duntroon, at Wyrallah, New South Wales. He was made Honorary Colonel (later Colonel Commandant) of the Royal Australian Regiment in July 1965, in which capacity he visited Australian troops in South Vietnam.[2] He served as Australian Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II for the Royal Visit in 1970, and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of his services; the honour was promulgated on 29 May 1970, backdated to 3 May.[2][52] Pollard died suddenly at his Wyrallah home on 9 March 1978. He was survived by his wife and two sons, and cremated.[2][53]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Pollard, Reginald George". Department of Veterans' Affairs. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Clark, Chris. "Pollard, Sir Reginald George (1903–1978)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Royal Military College, Duntroon". The Queanbeyan Age. 12 December 1924. p. 6. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Moore, Duntroon, p. 64
  5. ^ Moore, Duntroon, pp. 69–70
  6. ^ a b c The Army List, p. 185
  7. ^ a b "Biography: Lieut-Gen. Sir Reginald Pollard". The Western Herald. 1 February 1963. p. 7. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Weddings". The Bathurst Times. 7 November 1925. p. 7. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "Personal". The National Advocate. 17 December 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Annual meeting". The West Australian. 3 October 1936. p. 18. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "25th Brigade". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Long, To Benghazi, p. 303
  13. ^ Dexter, Greece, Crete and Syria, p. 464
  14. ^ Dexter, Greece, Crete and Syria, p. 513
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35396. pp. 7339–7358. 30 December 1941. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  16. ^ "AIF men on staff". The Advertiser. 23 January 1942. p. 9. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  17. ^ McCarthy, South-West Pacific Area, pp. 118–119
  18. ^ McCarthy, South-West Pacific Area, p. 414
  19. ^ "South-West Pacific". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 December 1943. p. 7. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36297. p. 5574. 21 December 1943. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  21. ^ Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives, p. 55
  22. ^ Long, The Final Campaigns, p. 593
  23. ^ "Personal". The Argus. 19 February 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  24. ^ Stephens, Going Solo, p. 308
  25. ^ "National Service, 1951–59". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  26. ^ "Australian for artillery talks". The Advocate. 9 January 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  27. ^ "Pact talks in Hawaii". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 July 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "New type of weapon experts believe". The Canberra Times. 4 October 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  29. ^ "PM will speak on world situation". The Mercury. 4 June 1953. p. 2. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  30. ^ O'Neill, Combat Operations, p. 238
  31. ^ Horner, Strategic Command, p. 200
  32. ^ "Check-up on Malaya force". The Argus. 6 December 1955. p. 22. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  33. ^ "Malaya force has complaints". The Canberra Times. 23 December 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  34. ^ "General Pollard new Army chief of staff". The Canberra Times. 18 February 1960. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  35. ^ "NSW Governor farewelled". The Canberra Times. 1 August 1957. p. 1. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  36. ^ Palazza, The Australian Army, pp. 224, 238
  37. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40498. p. 3298. 3 June 1955. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  38. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41728. p. 3735. 5 June 1959. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  39. ^ a b c d Horner Strategic Command, pp. 194–195
  40. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42371. p. 4180. 2 June 1961. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  41. ^ Grey, The Australian Army, pp. 199–200
  42. ^ Grey, The Australian Army, pp. 204–205
  43. ^ McNeill, To Long Tan, p. 13
  44. ^ Grey, The Australian Army, pp. 209
  45. ^ Dennis et al, Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, pp. 419–420
  46. ^ Moore, Duntroon, pp. 269–275
  47. ^ Horner, Strategic Command, pp. 198, 396
  48. ^ McNeill, To Long Tan, p. 25
  49. ^ McNeill, To Long Tan, p. 12
  50. ^ McNeill, To Long Tan, pp. 38–39
  51. ^ Horner, Strategic Command, p. 215
  52. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45110. pp. 6039–6040. 29 May 1970. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  53. ^ "In brief: General dies". The Canberra Times. 11 March 1978. p. 3. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 

References[edit]


Military offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Sir Ragnar Garrett
Chief of the General Staff
1960–1963
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Sir John Wilton