Private Charles Pollard

Regiment: 13th (3rd South Down) Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment
Service No: SD/4073

Date & place of birth: 1st qtr. 1898 in Singleton, Sussex
Date & place of death: 12 May 1918 (aged 20) in captivity in Germany

Charles Pollard was one of two brothers, originally from Singleton, who lost their lives during the war; he died of the effects of gas poisoning in a German prisoner of war camp.

Family background

Charles Pollard was born in Singleton in early 1898, the eleventh and last child of George Pollard (1846–1930), an agricultural labourer, and his wife Emily Jemima née Tupper (1850–1918). George Pollard had been born near Petersfield, but his family moved to Heyshott shortly after his birth. In early 1871, he married Emily Tupper from Cocking and their first child, John, was born a few months later. Over the next 27 years, the couple had eleven children, of whom one died as a child.

By the time of Charles’s  birth in 1898, the family were living at Singleton, although they later moved to Bepton. At the 1911 census, the family’s address was recorded as Lower Grounds, Bepton, when Charles was described as a schoolboy. At the time of his death, his parents’ address was recorded as Manor Farm, Bepton.

Emily and George were buried in the churchyard at Cocking.

Military service

Charles enlisted at Hastings, joining the 13th Battalion of The Royal Sussex Regiment. The battalion was originally known as the 3rd South Downs Battalion and was one of three “pals” battalions which had been raised by Lieut. Col. Claude Lowther M.P. in November 1914.

After initial training in Sussex and at Aldershot, the battalion was shipped to France, arriving at Le Havre in March 1916. The battalion’s first engagement came on 30 June 1916 at the Battle of the Boar’s Head, Richebourg l’Avoue. This had been planned as a diversionary tactic, the day before the allies launched a major offensive on the German lines in the Somme, 30 miles south. The Southdowns Brigades lost 17 officers and 349 men killed, with over 1000 men wounded or taken prisoner. The 13th Battalion was all but wiped out, and 30 June 1916 became known as “The day Sussex died”.

Charles Pollard survived the battle and remained with the 13th Battalion which was reinforced and went on to fight in the Somme in 1916 and at Ypres the following year. In early 1918, the battalion was again in action in the Somme, suffering further heavy losses resulting in it being disbanded.

Death & commemoration

At some point, presumably in 1918, Charles Pollard was captured but on 12 May 1918, he died in captivity of the effects of gas poisoning. He is one of about 700 allied soldiers buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Hamburg, Germany. His headstone bears the inscription: “His mates all say he saw no fear”.

Other family members

Charles’s brother, Arthur, served with The Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed in France in July 1916.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project