Captain H B C Pollard
Captain H.B.C. Pollard, London England (from Auto-Ord records)
was shipped 15 guns – five on 26th April plus 10 on 5th May 1921.
The serial numbers were 121, 134, 135, 152, 175, and 178, 186, 199, 204, 205, 227, 235, 237, 240, 241.
Thompson Gun Model of 1921 serials 134 and 135 are currently in a US collection.
ooo OOO ooo
Hugh Bertie Campbell Pollard, was born 6th January 1888. He was educated at boarding school in London and by 1907 he was listed as a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He served as an Lieutenant and Captain during WW1 in 2nd Batt. County of London Enlistment Battalion (Intelligence Corps), and in 1920 was appointed as an Intelligence officer on the Staff of the Chief of Police in Ireland.
He was an authority in modern and ancient firearms and had written several notable books.
The Story of Ypres in 1917, British & American Game Birds in 1929, Shotguns:Their History in 1923, Fox Hunting in 1930, A Busy Time in Mexico in 1913, The Gun Room Guide in 1930, The Book of the Pistol and Revolver in 1917, Automatic Pistols in 1921, Gun Room Guide (1930), History of Firearms in 1926 and Secret Societies of Ireland in 1922.
In 1912 he served in the London Regiment. He was appointed Staff Officer in the Intelligence Section of the war Office from 1916 to 1918.After the war , he was made Director of Publicity at the Ministry of Labour (1918-1919).He then served at the Irish Office in London and was transferred to Dublin in 1920 at the height of the War of Independence. One of his jobs would be to contribute to the publication “Weekly Summary” which was an official organ issued to police to encourage them in their fight against the IRA – first publication was 13th August 1920 and circulated to all police.
During WW1 he was on the Staff Intelligence Directorate at the War Office and then was listed at the Irish Office 1920-1922 based at Dublin Castle. His title was Press Officer with Police Authority Information Section. [Pollard’s boss, Chief of Police in Ireland at this time was British Army’s Major General Henry Hugh Tudor who militarized the police] On May 15th 1920, General Tudor was appointed Police Advisor to the Viceroy of Ireland with advisory powers over all police forces in Ireland. On 25th May 1920 it was announced “to relieve the pressure of work in the Chief Secretary’s Office the following appointments have been made; Sir John Anderson as Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant jointly with Right Hon. James McMahon, and Mr A W (Andy) Cope to be Assistant Under-Secretary”.These positions were high rankers in the Irish Executive and their support staff included Hugh Pollard.
Back in London, Sir Basil Thomson was Director of Intelligence at the Home Office.Pollard was instrumental in putting the British side during the “black propaganda war” with the IRA and would have been under constant threat of assassination by the IRA during his Irish stay [on 21st November 1920 known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ the IRA assassinated 14 British Intelligence Officers and wounded others. Captain Baggallay was one Court Martial officer shot dead – see image].
Pollard worked alongside Basil Clarke [see photograph of Clarke and Intelligence team pictured at Dublin Castle 1920] and Major Cecil Street who were based at Irish Office London and under Brigadier-General Ormonde Winter, deputy Police Adviser and Head of Intelligence.[Winter narrowly escaped an IRA murder bid in Dublin in June 1921]. The entire Intelligence team lived in the luxurious quarters of the Royal Marine Hotel at Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) but by September 1921 all had for safety moved inside the thick walls of Dublin Castle itself, address being Number 4 Upper Castle Yard.
Another one of his contributions was dated 28th October 1920 called “The Irish Gunmen”. It dealt with the use of Dum Dum bullets. Photographs of the bullets were made available to the Press. Pollard wrote that one of the worst features of crime in Ireland was the use by the IRA of expanding or Dum Dum bullets in cold blood assassination attacks on the police. He wrote that the use of such ammunition by the IRA murder gangs was contrary to the laws of war. He argued that combatants using such ammunition should be shot out of hand while in Ireland anyone so caught is jailed.
A letter published in the Irish Independent pointed out that such bullets were first manufactured under British control at Dum Dum near Calcutta, that Britain was the only power at the second conference of the Hague to object to the probibition of the bullets, and that the British army had used them against the Boers, the Germans and the Irish.
In November 1920, the Dublin Castle Press Office put out a story which was carried in the press that “American Gunmen” were aiding the IRA.
Same month, another press story reported that the public were to be banned from Parliament for fear of IRA outrages in London – a ‘mysterious stranger’ had been arrested lurking.In January 1921, Dublin castle announced that the British would destroy homes in the vicinity of IRA outrages which are known occupied by sympathizers.
With Pollard working in the Press Office Dublin Castle and feeding his propaganda to the sympathetic British press on a daily basis, Britain was accused in the US House on May 12 1921 of threatening American journalists who were reporting British atrocities and of not affording US press the same courtesy and consideration given to British pressmen.
By May 21st 1921, another story from Dublin Castle had hit the headlines. It was reported that IRA had plotted to kidnap the young children of Chief Secretary to Ireland Sir Hamar Greenwood.
On 12th May another Dublin Castle supplied story was carried in the press that the IRA was out to destroy food and seeds with the aim of bolstering Famine stories in the US.
Life in Dublin working at the Castle was extremely dangerous in Pollard’s posting there. Numerous contemporaries of his were assassinated by the IRA whose intelligence under Michael Collins was first rate. To bring it home, Captain Cecil Lees was shot dead in a Dublin street on March 29th 1921 having been identified as attached to the Dublin Castle administration.
During his working career, he also worked as a reporter for the Daily Express.
He saw British army service in both World Wars and wrote his book “The Story of Ypres” in 1917.
He wrote the ‘small arms’ section of the official War Office textbook during WW2.
In his book “Secret Societies in Ireland” in 1922 he wrote;”the Irish problem is a problem of the Irish race, and is rooted in the racial characteristics of the people themselves”. The Irish he wrote were “ racially disposed to crime”.
In his work “Secret Societies of Ireland” published in July 1922 fresh from his stint as Press Officer in Dublin Castle, he made reference on several pages to the Thompson gun in Ireland. He described it as “no longer than a carbine, and weighing only 8lbs, is to all effects a short range machine gun, capable of firing one thousand rounds a minute. It is extremely portable and very easily concealed”. He refered to the capture by the British of IRA documents in May 1921 outlining the deployment of the gun around Ireland and identifying of targets.He recorded that the British had been interested in the gun too and had confronted John Thompson and manager Morgan when they were in Britain demonstrating the gun.The two denied all knowledge of the Irish shipment and as a result the interest was dropped.He said that it was the British who blew the whistle on the East Side shipment.He was aware that serial numbers could be traced. Of the 600 purchased, only 495 were seized on the ship, the balance he wrote, had made their way to Ireland before and after the July 1921 Truce.
Several times Pollard wrote that the first use of the Thompson Gun in Ireland was during the IRA burning of the Customs House in Dublin on 25th May 1921 which resulted in large scale capture of IRA men and materials. He said the gun ‘jammed badly and inflicted no casualties on the police engaged’. At the Military Inquiry, in place of a Coroner’s inquest,(Irish Times 1st June 1921) into the eight deaths that day, a Crown Forces witness gave evidence that the IRA were using a ‘machine gun’ from a bridge. IRA Commander, Oscar Traynor who led the raid recorded later that he had placed men on a bridge with a ‘machine gun’ but no mention of what type it was. At that time, the IRA were using Lewis and Hotchkiss guns captured from the British.
While working under IRA threat as Press Officer in Dublin Castle from 1920, one of his reports to the press, which was carried in the London Times 13th November 1920, was when he was ambushed the day before along with a party of English Pressmen [including two cameramen from Pathe Freres] by the IRA at Ballymacelligott, County Kerry, He recorded this attack as a British success with two IRA killed and seven wounded. No Pressmen injured. It is thought that this event was embellished to enhance British credibility. Interestingly on 30th November 1920, a Commission sent to Ireland by the British Labour Party [who were in opposition at the time] to enquire into British “reprisals” arrived in the country and stayed until 15th December. The Labour Report referred to the “Dublin Castle Circus” that day of the County Kerry ambush and the “hectic imagination” of Dublin Castle. To say the ambush was a “battle of Tralee” was a figment of the imagination and action reports of numbers and fatalities were embellished.
During 1936 Pollard was personally involved in the Spanish Civil War by flying General Franco to Spain. During WW2 Pollard served as a British M16 office chief in Madrid in 1940 and also was an SOE officer.
Captain (later Major) Hugh Bertie Pollard died aged 78 in March 1966.
His Obituary in the London Times recorded his passing and described him as “an authority on modern and ancient firearms”. He was renowned for firing off shots from a revolver in any office he visited. He spent time in Mexico 1910-1911 during the revolution and wrote his memoirs in 1913 “A busy time in Mexico, an Unconventional Record of a Mexican Incident”.
In 2003, his nine military medals were sold at Bohhams Auction House in London. He was described as Intelligence Officer, late 25th London Regiment. Bonhams recorded the following;
1914-15 Star (Lieut H.B.C.Pollard 25-Lond.R.); British War and Victory Medal (Capt H.B.C.Pollard); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; Efficiency Medal with Territorial suspension, G.VI.R., erased; Russia, Order of St.Anne, 3rd Class neck badge, in silver-gilt and enamel; Spain, Order of the Yoke
B.C.Pollard was born on 6.1.1888, he was educated at
School from 1897-1903. He joined the 25th Cyclist battalion
London Regiment on 9.5.1912; Lieutenant 6.11.1914; Captain
1.6.1916; Lieutenant 1.3.1940 General List; Temporary Captain 25.6.1942
He was an authority on modern and ancient firearms and was involved as Special Correspondent to the Daily Express 1912-1920. Director Publicity Department, Ministry of Labour Appointments Department 1918-1919; Staff Intelligence Directorate War Office 1916-1918; Irish Office 1920-1922;
He was a man of spirit of whom his friend Douglas Jerrold wrote that he had a habit of letting off revolvers in any office he happened to be visiting . He had had first hand experience of revolution in Mexico and in Ireland and in July 1936 was dramatically associated with the flight of General Franco from the Canary Isles. The story is graphically described by Jerrold in Georgian Adventure. Jerrold was asked by the Spanish writer and journalist Luis Bolin to find a man and two girls to fly to Africa the next day. Pollard was approached, accepted and with his daughter Diana and another girl left Croydon in a chartered aircraft piloted by Captain C.Bebb. They called at Bordeaux, Oporto and Casablanca and finally reached Las Palmas as honest to goodness tourists, free from suspicion. Not many days later the same aircraft, still piloted by Captain Bebb but without the three English tourists, landed with General Franco at Tetuan in Spanish Morocco. The Spanish Civil War was about to begin.
Medals contained in box, also with Identity bracelet etc.
Major General Staff War Office 1940. He was formerly Sporting Editor of Country Life; Order of St.Anne 2nd Class; Chevalier Imperial Order of Red Arrows of Spain.
He produced a number of books on firearms, wildfowl and related subjects.
One of Pollard’s colleagues in British Intelligence Irish Office in London was Major Cecil John Charles Street (MC,OBE), another WW1 Intelligence veteran. He wrote several books on his time in Ireland. In 1922 he penned “Ireland in 1921” with references to the arrival of the Thompson Gun into Ireland. The year earlier he had written “ The Administration of Ireland 1920” under sous de nom “0”.
Street started his military career as an Artillery Officer and during WW1 became a propagandist for M17 with the rank of Major. After the war, he travelled between Dublin and London as an Information officer for the British Administration in Dublin Castle.
In “Ireland in 1921”, Major Street writes about the first ever combat use of the Thompson Gun on a troop train at Drumcondra, Dublin on June 16th 1921.
Written IRA report on the day are quoted verbatim. The attack unit comprised an OC and 11 volunteers, 2 Thompson Gunners, 8 bombers, one car driver.
“One of the machine guns that was engaged, one failed to come into action. The reason being that the original gunner turned up late, and the substitute man never handled the gun before and he perhaps made some mistake. The second Thompson gun checked when four bursts had been fired. The 50 or 60 rounds that were fired appeared to take good effect. I know that the enemy had casualties in four carriages. We suffered no casualties and all our men and guns returned safely….signed O/C Guard IRA, 12.30pm 16th June 1921.”
Major Street went on to write that after the July 1921 Truce between the British and the IRA, “actual proof exists that arms have been landed in Ireland……fifteen separate cases…including Thompson sub-machine guns”.
He wrote that the IRA news sheet An t’Oglach dated 22nd July openly referred to the Thompson gun and how a large number were now in IRA hands. The paper, only one week after the Truce agreed between the IRA and the British, boasted in an article headed “Our latest Ally” that a “large number” of guns are now in IRA hands and extolled the attributes of this “quick firing” weapon which can be concealed under a coat (see picture) . Street recorded that arms were landed at Arklow on August 21st, Liscannor Bay, Bantry on 5th and 6th September and Thompson guns at Donnemark on 5th September.
He went further to state that “In an unofficial Sinn Fein estimate, the number of Thompson sub-machine guns landed during the month of September was 2250.” (!)
Pollard, himself a journalist, carried an Appendix in his book on the IRA newspaper An t’Oglac where he described it as a “little seditious paper” possession of which in law resulted in a sentence of nine months hard labour.
Another of Pollard’s colleagues in the Press Office Dublin Castle was Colonel Charles Foulkes, the officer in charge of British chemical warfare during WW1. He wrote to a friend in 1921; “You may remember me in connection with chemical warfare in France. I am now running a variation of this sport, ie propaganda in Ireland”.
Interestingly on April 15th 1921, the US State Department asked US Congress for a blanket prohibition against the shipment of all arms and ammunition to any country where they might be used for revolutionary purposes – the Press reported that some foreign powers (Britain) had requested same and that the situation in Ireland was a factor.
Who’s Who entry for Hugh B C Pollard reads;
POLLARD, Major Hugh B. C.
died 17 March 1966
late London Regiment; authority on modern and ancient firearms
Special correspondent and staff, Daily Express, 1912–20; Director Publicity Department, Ministry of Labour Appointments Dept, 1918–19; Staff Intelligence Directorate WO, 1916–18; Irish Office, 1920–22; Major, General Staff, War Office, 1940; Formerly Sporting Editor, Country Life; Order of St Anne, 2nd Class; Chevalier Imperial Order Red Arrows of Spain
A Busy Time in Mexico; The Book of the Pistol; Story of Ypres; Automatic Pistols; Modern Shotguns; Secret Societies of Ireland; Sportsman’s Cookery Book; sections of the official Text-Book of Small Arms; A History of Firearms; Wildfowl and Waders; Game Birds; The Biology of the Pheasant; Hard up on Pegasus; The Gun Room Guide; The Mystery of Scent; and numerous articles on scientific subjects
2 West Lavington Hill, Midhurst, Sussex
Bizarely, Pollard was named in the hunt for the identity of Jack the Ripper when he presented two blood stained “Ripper” knives to his secretary when he was editor of Sporting Life newspaper in 1937. This was reported in the book “The Complete Jack the Ripper” published in 1968. It was thought that he got the knives from his association with Scotland Yard. Pollard was described as a Firearms expert during WW1 specializing in self-inflicted wounds. Years later he worked with Robert Churchill on high profile criminal cases in London.
(County of London) Cyclist Battalion
Formed at Fulham on 31 August 1914 and moved in November to the Sussex coast.
Moved in April 1915 to Norfolk, April 1916 to Bungay, October to Halesworth, summer 1917 to Saxmundham. Then to Peasenhall for winter, returned to Saxmundham in March 1918, then to Wickham Market in August 1918 and finally by November at Rendlesham.