Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Pollard, Sir Reginald George (1903–1978)

by Chris Clark

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Reginald George Pollard (1903-1978), by unknown photographer, 1942

Reginald George Pollard (1903-1978), by unknown photographer, 1942

Australian War Memorial, 023756

Sir Reginald George Pollard (1903-1978), army officer, was born on 20 January 1903 at Bathurst, New South Wales, third son of Albert Edgar Pollard, an accountant from England, and his Australian-born wife Thalia Rebecca, née McLean. Educated at the local primary and high schools, Reg entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, in 1921; he graduated in 1924 with the sword of honour for exemplary conduct and performance. In March 1925 he was allotted to the 51st Infantry Brigade. Four months later he was made adjutant and quartermaster of the 17th Battalion (Militia). At St Andrew's Anglican Church, Strathfield, Sydney, on 31 October that year he married Daisy Ethel Potter, a typiste.

In September 1927 Lieutenant Pollard sailed for India where he trained with British regiments. Returning to Sydney in November 1928, he served as adjutant and quartermaster of the 18th and then the 44th battalions (Militia) before being posted to Army Headquarters, Melbourne, in October 1936. He was sent to England in November 1938 to attend the Staff College, Camberley, for a two-year course. Due to the outbreak of World War II, he graduated early (September 1939) and was posted to the Australian High Commission, London, as assistant military liaison officer.

On 21 June 1940 Pollard was transferred to the Australian Imperial Force and promoted major. He was appointed brigade major, 25th Brigade, but on his arrival in the Middle East in March 1941 was detached to headquarters, 7th Division, in Libya. In June-July he commanded the 2nd/31st Battalion during the Syrian campaign and was mentioned in dispatches. Promoted lieutenant colonel in August, he raised and commanded the A.I.F. Junior Staff School.

Pollard was appointed temporary colonel on the A.I.F.'s staff in Ceylon in March 1942. Back in Australia in August, he joined the 6th Division's headquarters (as a general staff officer, 1st grade) and moved with it to Papua in September. He was temporarily attached to the 7th Division from November. For his work during operations (from December 1942 to January 1943) against the Japanese he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. From January 1943 he trained with the 6th Division in Queensland until being posted in December as chief instructor of the senior wing of the Staff School (Australia), Duntroon. He was appointed to Allied Land Forces Headquarters in February 1945 as deputy director of military operations.

Between February and August 1946 Pollard commanded the Recruit Training Centre at Greta, New South Wales. Sent to England to study air support for land operations, he returned in February 1947 and became an instructor at the Royal Australian Air Force School of Air Support (School of Land/Air Warfare from March 1948) at Laverton, Victoria. In January 1949 he was posted to A.H.Q. as director of personnel administration; next year he was given responsibility for handling a new national scheme of compulsory military service. After attending the 1951 course at the Imperial Defence College, London, he was appointed director of military operations and plans, and also chairman of the Joint Planning Committee. He accompanied Richard Gavin (Baron) Casey, the minister for external affairs, to Honolulu in August 1952 for the inaugural meeting of the Australia New Zealand United States Council; he also attended the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in London as Australian military adviser. In March 1953 he was promoted temporary brigadier.

From July to November Pollard commanded the Australian army component of the British Commonwealth Forces, Korea. He was later deputy adjutant general at A.H.Q., Melbourne. Promoted temporary major general in September 1954, he became quartermaster general and third military member of the Military Board. In 1955 he was appointed C.B.E. He was transferred to Sydney in August 1957 as head of Eastern Command. In June 1959 he was promoted lieutenant general and appointed C.B. Five ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, trim and neat-looking, he had a no-nonsense approach and a likeable manner. He was the embodiment of the professional Staff Corps officer. On 1 July 1960 he became chief of the General Staff. He was appointed K.B.E. in 1961. His term as C.G.S. coincided with a major reorganization of the army's Field Force into a 'pentropic' division, but he was personally ambivalent about this innovation.

Sir Reginald retired on 20 January 1963. He spent his time gardening and raising cattle on a small farm at Wesburn, Victoria, and (from 1974) on a property at Wyrallah, New South Wales, which he named Duntroon. In July 1965 he was appointed honorary colonel (colonel commandant 1968-71) of the Royal Australian Regiment. He visited troops in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) several times. In 1970 he was Australian secretary to Queen Elizabeth II during her Australian visit and was appointed K.C.V.O. that year. Survived by his wife and their two sons, he died on 9 March 1978 at Wyrallah and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Long, To Benghazi (Canb, 1952)
  • I. McNeill, The Team (Canb, 1984)
  • C. D. Coulthard-Clark, Duntroon (Syd, 1986)
  • D. M. Horner (ed), Duty First (Syd, 1990)
  • I. McNeill, To Long Tan (Syd, 1993)
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 3 Aug 1950, 13 Sept 1954
  • Age (Melbourne), 14 Sept 1954, 19-20 Jan 1963
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Clark, 'Pollard, Sir Reginald George (1903–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pollard-sir-reginald-george-11442/text20393, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 2 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Reginald George Pollard (1903-1978), by unknown photographer, 1942

Reginald George Pollard (1903-1978), by unknown photographer, 1942

Australian War Memorial, 023756