Alfred Oliver Pollard

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Alfred Oliver Pollard
Alfred Oliver Pollard VC.jpg
Born 4 May 1893
Wallington, Surrey
Died 5 December 1960 (aged 67)
Bournemouth, Dorset
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
 Royal Air Force
Rank Captain
Unit Honourable Artillery Company
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
Military Cross & Bar
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Other work Author

Alfred Oliver Pollard VC MC & Bar DCM (4 May 1893 – 4 December 1960) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He later became a prolific author of crime and mystery books.

Military Service[edit]

He was educated at St Olave's Grammar School and Merchant Taylors' School 1906–1908. Pollard had volunteered for service on 8 August 1914. Up to that date, he had worked as a clerk at an insurance company.[1] He was wounded twice, but showed exceptional courage in returning to his unit after recovering from wounds. His bravery earned him the highest (and largest number of) awards awarded to a soldier in his unit during the war.

He had entered the war as a private, but was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company, British Army during the First World War when the deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 29 April 1917 at Gavrelle, France, the troops of various units had become disorganised owing to the heavy casualties from shell fire and a subsequent determined attack with very strong forces caused further confusion and retirement. Second Lieutenant Pollard realised the seriousness of the situation and with only four men he started a counter-attack with bombs, pressing it home until he had broken the enemy attack and regained all that had been lost and much ground in addition. This officer's splendid example inspired courage into every man who saw him.[2]

His Victoria Cross is held by the Honourable Artillery Company in London, and a copy is on display in its Medal Room.


His elder brother, Frank, was also a member of the HAC, but when he believed he would not be sent to the front, deserted and joined the Grenadier Guards. He was killed in action in September 1916, just before he was to be sent back to England on a commissioning course.[3]

Later life[edit]

In 1918, Pollard married Mary Ainsley of Trefilan, Purley.[4] He served in the Royal Air Force in a short term commission as a pilot officer in the mid-1920s.

Pollard's autobiography, Fire-Eater: the Memoirs of a VC published in 1932, recounts his experience of the war, from joining the HAC on the outbreak of war up to the armistice. It depicts a man who was able to deal with the violence and huge loss of life by rationalising it as a necessary evil to destroy the enemy. Pollard became a professional writer post-war and published more than 60 books, fiction and non-fiction.[5]

Pollard died in Bournemouth, where he was cremated and is buried.[6][7] [8]


From British Library catalogue (Accessed August 2010).

  • Rum Alley (1931)
  • Murder. Hide-and-Seek (1931)
  • Fire-Eater. The memoirs of a V.C (1932)
  • The Death Flight (1932)
  • The Cipher Five (1932)
  • The Havenhurst Affair (1933)
  • The Riddle of Loch Lemman (1933)
  • The Royal Air Force. A concise history ... With 24 illustrations (1934)
  • The Phantom 'Plane (1934)
  • The Secret of Castle Voxzel (1935)
  • The Boy's Romance of Aviation. (1935)
  • Murder in the Air (1935)
  • The Death Game (1936)
  • Unofficial Spy (1936)
  • Romantic Stories of Air Heroes (1937)
  • The Murder Germ (1937)
  • Hidden Cypher (1937)
  • Air Reprisal (1938)
  • Black Out (1938)
  • Flanders Spy (1938)
  • The Secret Formula (1939)
  • Murder of a Diplomat (1939)
  • The Boys Romance of Aviation...New Edition Revised (1939)
  • The Secret Pact (1940)
  • Leaders of the Royal Air Force (1940)
  • Epic Deeds of the R.A.F. (1940)
  • A.R.P. Spy (1940)
  • Bombers Over the Reich. [An account of the work of the R.A.F. Bomber Command and the Fleet Air Arm]. (1941)
  • The Secret Weapon (1941)
  • Wanted by the Gestapo (1942)
  • The Death Squadron (1943)
  • Invitation to Death (1944)
  • Gestapo Fugative (1944)
  • The Fifth Freedom (1945)
  • Blood Hunt (1946)
  • Double-Cross (1946)
  • A Deal in Death (1947)
  • The Iron Curtain (1947)
  • The Death Game (1947)
  • The Murder Gem (1947)
  • The Death Curse (1948)
  • David Wilshaw, Air Detective, Investigates (1949)
  • Dead Man's Secret (1949)
  • The Secret Vendetta (1949)
  • Red Hazard (1950)
  • The Poisoned Pilot (1950)
  • The Golden Budda (David Wilshaw Investigates) (1951)
  • Death Intervened (1951)
  • The Death Parade (1951)
  • The Dead Forger (1952)
  • Counterfeit Spy (1952)
  • The Buckled Wing (David Wilshaw Investigates) (1953)
  • Criminal Airman (1953)
  • Homicidal Spy (1954)
  • The Missing Diamond (1955)
  • Sinister Secret (1956)
  • Smuggler's Buoy (1958)
  • The Secret Pact (1958)
  • Wrong Verdict (1960)
  • Forged Evidence (1962)


  1. ^ A. O. Pollard: Fire-Eater. The Memoirs of a VC. London 1932
  2. ^ "No. 30122". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 April 1917. pp. 5703–5704. 
  3. ^ "Casualty Details: Pollard, James Frank". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 October 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2004. 
  8. ^ Valour in the Trenches! 'Bombo' Pollard VC MC* DCM HAC in The Great War by N S Nash, Pen & Sword Military, 2011

External links[edit]