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Herbert Roy Pollock Gollan (1892–1968)

by Philip Dorling

This article was published:

Herbert Roy Pollock Gollan (1892-1968), journalist, soldier, trade commissioner and diplomat, was born on 29 August 1892 at Gawler, South Australia, son of Robert Harper Gollan, evangelist, and his wife Harriett, née Wilson. Educated at Bendigo Central School, Victoria, Roy served an apprenticeship in the printing trade before working as a journalist, first with the Hamilton Spectatorand then the Geelong Advertiser.

On 26 October 1914 Gollan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force; he was posted as a corporal to headquarters staff, 3rd Light Horse Brigade, and embarked for Egypt on 1 February 1915. At Gallipoli (May to September) he was promoted staff sergeant and employed as brigade clerk. Struck down by fever, he was evacuated to a hospital in Wales, but by February 1916 was back in Egypt. In June he was commissioned, transferred to the 58th Battalion and sent to France. Moved to the 54th Battalion, he was wounded in January 1917 and hospitalized in Britain. He rejoined his unit in April.

Promoted captain in May 1917, Gollan spent most of the remainder of the war on the 15th Brigade's headquarters. He won the Military Cross for his efforts as staff captain, particularly in the Polygon Wood offensive, near Ypres, Belgium, in September-October. While acting as brigade major in 1918, he prepared orders for the September attack on the Hindenburg line, near Bellicourt, France, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and his A.I.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 5 October 1919. In the 1920s and 1930s he was active in the Militia, rising to major (1928).

Gollan had returned to the Advertiserin 1919 as chief of staff, but left Geelong for Melbourne to be a reporter on the Argus. At the Baptist Church, Bendigo, on 17 April 1920 he married Muriel May Hyett, a music teacher. Having been employed as a sub-editor on the Evening Sun, he joined the publicity office of the Victorian Railways in 1925. Next year he transferred to the Victorian Government Tourist Bureau; by 1927 he was its manager. Two years later he became assistant general manager of the Argus and the Australasian. In 1931 he was president of the Victorian Travel League. He was managing editor (1933-36) of the Melbourne Starand manager (1936-37) of the Argus and the Australasian.

In 1937 Gollan went to India as representative of the Australian National Travel Association; he and his wife lived at Bombay. After nominating himself, in 1940 he was appointed Australian government trade commissioner in India. He was stationed at Calcutta until early 1941 when he moved to New Delhi to take on the additional function of advising Sir Bertram Stevens, Australia's representative on the Eastern Group Supply Council. In 1942 he succeeded Stevens and—based at Simla—held the post until 1945. Promoted senior commissioner, Gollan returned to Calcutta in October that year and moved to Bombay in July 1946. 'He believed in the positive, direct approach and in his highly egotistical way' did much to foster his country's interests.

Appointed Australian high commissioner to India in October 1948, Gollan proved to be a competent diplomat. From his office in New Delhi he worked hard to develop Australian-Indian relations, but was sometimes disappointed at a lack of response from both countries: on one visit to Australia he remarked that his service in India was 'a long sentence'. Following his retirement in April 1952, he settled at Emerald, Victoria. He died there on 28 March 1968 and was cremated. His wife survived him; they had no children.

Select Bibliography

  • Herald (Melbourne), 5 Nov 1927, 22 Jan 1931
  • Newspaper News, 2 Sept 1929
  • Argus (Melbourne), 4 May 1937, 20 Nov 1948
  • A. R. Taysom, History of the Australian Trade Commissioner Service, vol 3 (typescript, 1983, National Library of Australia)
  • AWM 43, item A306 (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Philip Dorling, 'Gollan, Herbert Roy Pollock (1892–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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