b. 03/06/1890 Tillycoultry, Scotland. d. 10/05/1958 Ballochmyle, Ayrshire, Scotland.
James Dalgleish Pollock (1890-1958) was born at 24 Ochil Street, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, Scotland on 3rd June 1890. His father was Hugh Pollock, a wool sorter and later a journeyman dyer. His mother was Margaret “Maggie” Helen nee Dalgleish, a factory worker before her marriage on 11th September 1885 at 56 Albert Place, Stirling. When James was two, the family moved to Montgomeryshire in Wales, where four of the children were born between 1892-1899. Sadly, James’ father died in 1900, and his mother and the children returned to Tillicoultry. In all, James was one of six children, and two of his brothers also served in the Great War, though sadly his youngest brother George was killed in action in 1918 and is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
James was educated at Tillicoultry Public School and served an apprenticeship with Messrs J & D Paton, textile manufacturers of Tillicoultry. He moved to Glasgow in 1910 where he worked for Messrs Stewart & McDonald. In 1912, he moved to Paris where he worked for London based company Messrs Porter & Co. While there he was a member of the Anglo/American branch of the Paris YMCA. He travelled widely through France, Belgium and Holland and, although an excellent linguist, failed to gain employment as an interpreter when war broke out.
James enlisted in Glasgow on 5th September 1914, declaring two and a half years previous service with 5th Cameronians, a Territorial Force unit, presumably when working in Glasgow from 1910-1912. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 24th October and Corporal on 18th November and went to France on 10th May 1915.
On 27th September 1915 near the Hohenzollern Redoubt, France, at about noon the enemy’s bombers in superior numbers were successfully working up “Little Willie” Trench towards the Redoubt. Corporal Pollock, after obtaining permission, got out of the trench alone and walked along the top edge with complete disregard for danger, and compelled the enemy bombers to retire by bombing them from above. He was under heavy machine-gun fire the whole time, but contrived to hold up the progress of the Germans for an hour before he was at length wounded.
His second cousin, Corporal James Lennox Dawson, was also awarded the VC for his actions at Hohenzollern Redoubt just sixteen days after James. While recuperating from his wounds at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, he was held on the strength of the Depot from 2nd October and transferred to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Invergordon on 17th November. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4th December 1915. Having recovered from his wounds, he attended the Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes in Ayrshire. He was commissioned into the 8th Reserve Battalion on 7th July 1916 and served in 6th Battalion.
Appointed a Regular 2nd Lieutenant on 6th April 1917, he lost his left eye when a rifle grenade exploded prematurely later that month. He was promoted to Lieutenant the following January and was attached to the War Office in the Army List May 1918 to September 1919.
James married Margaret Bennett on 26th February 1919 at St Andrew’s Church, Ayr. They had met while he was at the Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes in 1916. They had one daughter, Clara, born in 1928 in Hampstead, London. James paraded at Inverness when the Duke of York (later George VI) presented Colours to 7th and 9th Cameron Highlanders in September 1920. He worked for the Ministry of Munitions for a period before returning to France with the body responsible for disposing of war stock. He moved to Ayr and then to London in 1923, becoming a director of an importing company. He returned to Ayr in 1940 and around 1950 moved to Leicester, where he was secretary and director of Midland Hosiery Mills. He was a freemason, a member of St Mary’s Caledonian Operative Lodge No 339.
During World War Two, he served with the Royal Observer Corps as an observer lieutenant and was appointed Duty Controller in No 33 Aberdeen (Ayr) Group. He is understood to be the only ROC Officer to have held the VC. James died suddenly at Ballochmyle Hospital, Ayrshire on 10th May 1958, just three weeks after returning from a biannual business trip to Canada. He is buried in the Bennett family grave in Ayr Cemetery.
In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. When he died, the medals passed to his daughter, now Mrs Clara Cottam, for her lifetime and then went to the Regiment. They are held by the Highlanders Museum, Fort George, Inverness-shire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QUEENS OWN HIGHLANDERS, FORT GEORGE, SCOTLAND.
BURIAL PLACE: AYR CEMETERY, AYR, SCOTLAND. LAIR 103.
Thomas Stewart – Images of the Pollock VC Medal Group, reverse of his VC medal and the VC Stone in Tillycoultry, Scotland.