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Wallington First World War hero commemorated with special paving stone

2nd Lieut. A.O. Pollard receiving his Victoria Cross in 1917.

A.O. Pollard receives his Victoria Cross

On Saturday 29 April the bravery of Wallington war hero 2nd Lieut. Alfred Oliver Pollard will be remembered at a special ceremony starting at 11am at the Wallington Library Memorial Garden.

A commemorative paving stone, provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), will be laid by Mayor of Sutton Cllr Richard Clifton to mark the centenary of the action for which A. O. Pollard was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) – the highest honour that can be awarded to a British soldier.

The Mayor of Sutton Cllr Richard Clifton said:

“I am looking forward to attending the commemoration event in Wallington where we will honour the memory of war hero A. O. Pollard by laying a paving stone. This stone will bear witness to the bravery shown by 2nd Lieut. Pollard in action during the Battle of Arras for generations to come. It is fitting we remember the borough’s sole recipient of the Victoria Cross on the anniversary of the action for which he was decorated.

“We should always remember the sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors and airmen during the First World War. May the memories of those who served their country live on for evermore.”

2nd Lieut. Alfred Oliver Pollard, VC MC and Bar DCM, 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) was one of the most decorated soldiers to serve his country in the First World War. He was awarded the VC for bravery for his part in an assault to recapture the village of Gavrelle on 29 April 2917 during the Battle of Arras.

He was born in 1893 and grew up living on Belmont Road, Wallington. Following in the footsteps of his elder brother James Frank he joined the Honorable Artillery Company four days after the outbreak of war in 1914.

Sadly, Alfred’s brother died in action during the War. The loss hardened his resolve. In his own words, Alfred was a “fire-eater” – a natural soldier who believed himself to be invulnerable, and who claimed to enjoy going into combat.

A Victoria Cross medal as awarded to A.O. Pollard, 1917.

A Victoria Cross medal.

After the war Alfred went on to become a professional author, writing over 60 books including many crime thrillers. He died on 4 December 1960 in Bournemouth.

If you’d like to learn more about Alfred Pollard, there are two titles available to borrow from Sutton Library Service: Fire-eater: The memoirs of a V.C. by Alfred O Pollard, and Valour in the Trenches, ‘Bombo’ Pollard VC MC DCM HAC in the Great War by N. S. Nash. You can find more information on Alfred’s regiment the Honorable Artillery Company on their website here.

Mrs. Alex Page, Civil Engagement Officer at the Armed Forces Covenant, said:

“The London Borough of Sutton signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant on 28 June 2012. Since the signing, the borough have worked closely with Defence and have built an excellent working relationship benefiting both the military and civilian communities.

“It is an honour to be working with The London Borough of Sutton in commemorating the 100th Anniversary for when Second Lieutenant Alfred Pollard VC was awarded his Victoria Cross being supported by his Regiment, The Honourable Artillery Company.

“We are extremely grateful to all those who have provided support to this commemoration.”

The DCLG are running a national scheme to honour the VC winners of the First World War by providing local authorities with commemorative paving stones for VC winners in their borough. The event in Wallington is being coordinated by Sutton Council’s WW1 Commemorative Steering Group chaired by Lord Graham Tope, with the support of the Honorable Artillery Company (HAC).

The flagstone ceremony is one of a number of events taking place to mark the centenary of the First World War. On 15 July a special play will be premiered at Carshalton High School for Girls that tells the story of the Men of the Wrythe, the centrepiece of a day of activities that will tell the poignant story of the sacrifices made amongst that community.

You can learn more about the Armed Forces Covenant and the work they do here. You can also read a clipping of an original news article about A. O. Pollard from 1917 here.