1128 – 3rd Tunnelling Company

Henry George Pollock was born in Elmore, Victoria in 1877 the son of Alexander Wynne and Anne (nee Gerber) Pollock. The family were living at Numurkah, Vic in 1902 where as a twenty-five year old he was active in organisations in the town. He was Lieutenant in the local Fire Brigade and wrote a letter in defence of his Brigade to the:

A year later he was instigating the formation of a local brass band which was reported in the:

At the end of 1904 he was treasurer of the Band Committee and minutes of their meeting were reported in the:

In the same edition an appointment to his Lodge Committee was announced through minutes in the:

He was a partner in Pollock and Duthie, grocers who had their business destroyed by a fire in 1905 which was reported in the:

Debts arising from his business partnership summoned him to the local court where proceedings were published in the:

He left for the goldfields of Western Australia where in early 1907 he was Secretary of the Midland Junction Fire Brigade who were desirous to start a Brass Band applying to the Midland Junction Municipal Council for loan of brass instruments held by the Council.

Application details were reported in the:

In 1906 he was working at Karridale, W.A. and on the anniversary of his mother’s death on July 7 he placed a bereavement notice in the:

In 1908 he was residing at the Perth Coffee Palace, Perth and was a pall-bearer at a funeral reported in:

In 1909 he was a clerk while residing at the Perth Coffee Palace, William Street, Perth. From 1912 to 1913 his occupation was a mill hand at Jarradene, W.A. While there his name appeared in a list published in the:

In 1914 he is recorded in the Swan District Electoral Roll.

At the recruiting depot in Perth on November 20, 1915 the thirty-eight year old general merchant applied to enlist for active service abroad and passed the preliminary medical examination.

Personal particulars taken show he was 103cms (5ft 4ins) tall with a chest measurement of 90cms (35½ins). His address was given as 81 Parry Street, East Perth and recorded his mother had died but his father was still alive. Declared fit his application was accepted by the recruiting officer.

Attestation Forms were completed and describe him further was weighing 52.7kgs (116lbs) with a chest expansion of 85-90cms (33½-35½ins) having a fresh complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair. Distinctive marks were four vaccination scars on his right arm.

Church of England was his religious faith. Next-of-kin nominated was his father Alexander Wynne Pollock of Queenscliff, Vic. Swearing in took place the same day.

He was to be allotted to the 37th Depot Battalion for basic training on November 25, 1915 but was transferred to the Miners’ Unit on December 3.

Recruiting for the Miners’ Corps officially began on December 1st, 1915 therefore Private Pollock was placed for basic training at the Helena Vale camp at Blackboy Hill, W.A. with the newly forming Corps. The Unit’s title was the No. 3 Company with a major portion of No. 3 Company recruited by 2nd Lt. L.J. Coulter, A.I.F. who was sent from N.S.W. to W.A. for that purpose.

They were made up to strength with 1 Officer and 274 Other Ranks and embarked from Fremantle, W.A.

On December 18, 1915 the company sailed for Sydney, NSW on board the troopship SS Indarra. His name appears on the passenger list which was published in:

On Boxing Day (Dec 26th), 1915 the Unit arrived in Sydney and marched into Casula Camp, near Liverpool, NSW. They were joined by the 4th Section of the Tasmanian Miners, bringing the establishment strength up to 15 officers and 349 Other Ranks under the command of 2nd Lieutenant L.J. Coulter.

Mining Corps Units from all Military districts came together at Casula camp, near Liverpool, NSW to complete training as a Corps. Pollock was assigned the regimental number 1128 in the rank of Sapper and remained in No. 3 Company.

At a civic parade in the Domain, Sydney on Saturday February 19, 1916, a large crowd of relations and friends of the departing Miners lined the four sides of the parade ground. Sixty police and 100 Garrison Military Police were on hand to keep the crowds within bounds. The scene was an inspiriting one. On the extreme right flank, facing the saluting base, were companies of the Rifle Club School; next came a detachment of the 4th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, then the bands of the Light Horse, Liverpool Depot, and the Miners’ on the left, rank upon rank, the Miners’ Battalion.

The Corps boarded HMAT A38 Ulysses in Sydney, NSW on February 20 and sailed for the European theatre. Arriving in Melbourne, Victoria on February 22 the Miners camped at Broadmeadows for a stay of 7 days while further cargo was loaded.

Another parade was held at the Broadmeadows camp on March 1, the Miners’ Corps being inspected by the Governor-General, as Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth military forces.

Leaving Melbourne on March 1, Ulysses arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia on March 7 where a further 53 members were taken on board.

On Wednesday March 8, 1916 the whole force, with their band and equipment, paraded at Fremantle prior to leaving Victoria Quay at 9.30 o’clock.

The ship hit a reef when leaving Fremantle harbour, stripping the plates for 40 feet and, although there was a gap in the outside plate, the inner bilge plates were not punctured. The men on board nicknamed her ‘Useless’. The Miners were off-loaded and sent to the Blackboy Hill Camp where further training was conducted.

The Mining Corps comprised 1303 members at the time they embarked with a Headquarters of 40; No.1 Company – 390; No.2 Company – 380; No.3 Company – 392, and 101 members of the 1st Reinforcements.

Finally departing Fremantle on April 1, Ulysses voyaged via Suez, Port Said and Alexandria in Egypt. The Captain of the shipwas reluctantto take Ulysses out of the Suez Canal because he felt the weight of the ship made it impossible to manoeuvre in the situation of a submarine attack. The troops were transhipped to HM Transport B.1 Ansonia, then on to Valetta, Malta before disembarking at Marseilles, France on May 5, 1916. As a unit they entrained at Marseilles on May 7 and detrained on May 11 at Hazebrouck.

A ‘Mining Corps’ did not fit in the British Expeditionary Force, and the Corps was disbanded and three Australian Tunnelling Companies were formed. The Technical Staff of the Corps Headquarters, plus some technically qualified men from the individual companies, was formed into the entirely new Australian Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company (AEMMBC), better known as the ‘Alphabetical Company’.

Four sections of the No. 3 Company were dispersed to various sectors for instructional training. On May 13, 1916 Sapper was assigned to the No. 4 Section of the Company who were attached for duty to the 254th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers.

On July 26, 1916 Sapper was taken to the 1st Field Ambulance with cerebral meningitis and moved to the 7th General Hospital at St Omer on July 30.

Miss M. Martin wrote to Base Records on August 4, 1916 from 199 Union Road, Ascot Vale but only could give his name as Sapper H.G. Pollock. She had details of his place of enlistment, regimental number and the date he sailed from Australia as further identification. Base Records replied on August 11, 1916 with the address that she required and further stated that the soldier was reported by cable message from London on 2/8/16 to be dangerously ill suffering from Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis and consequently his address noted him as sick and in hospital.

Base Records sent the following telegram on his condition to his father:

On August 20, 1916 his condition became dangerously ill with cerebro-spinal fever.

Another Telegram sent to his father in September, 1916 stated better news:

His father was advised from Base Records of his son’s earlier condition and published in the:

Base Records advised his father on October 18, 1916 that his son was progressing favourably. The next advice was dated October 25 and he was pronounced out of danger. Another advice followed stating he was progressing favourably on November 8, 1916.

His name appeared in the Casualty List published in the:

When well enough to travel Sapper was admitted to the 14th Stationary Hospital in Boulogne on December 5, 1916 with cerebral-meningitis and then transported to England with debility (slight) on the hospital ship St Andrew and admitted to the Graylingwell War Hospital. On December 15, 1916 he was transferred to the 2nd Aust Auxiliary Hospital in Southall.

Meanwhile in France the No. 3 Company was officially transferred to the 3rd Tunnelling Company in the field on December 18, 1916.

On January 23, 1917 was discharged from the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital to the No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth.

Base Records received a letter dated February 23, 1917 from Miss V.M. Inglis of 199 Union Street, Ascot Vale, Vic asking if it was permissible to be informed if Sapper H.G. Pollock was coming home on sick leave as he had a very long illness. She also inquired on the age at the date of enlistment of 863 Trooper Hector MacIntosh of the 11th Light Horse, 4th Brigade and how should she address soldiers’ letters?

Records replied on February 27 saying that no advice had been received there that Sapper Pollock was returning to Australia. Continuing on the latest report to hand he was progressing favourably. His current address was enclosed for correspondence. The postal address required on the Trooper was also given along with his age registered on enlistment on 8/3/15 as 23 years 5 months.

Sapper Pollock embarked from Plymouth on March 17, 1917 on the H.T. Beltana for Australia for a change due to debility from cerebral-spinal meningitis. Base Records advised his father on April 19, 1917 that he was returning home. His name was listed with returning soldiers in the:

The ship docked at Fremantle (5th Military District) on May 5, 1917 and was transferred to No. 8 General Hospital in Fremantle for further treatment. On June 8 was sent to the Details Camp at Karrakatta.

Military Discharge was issued in Perth on June 11, 1917 as medically unfit due to cerebral meningitis. He was granted a Military Pension from June 12, 1917 to his address at 1 Austin Street, Subiaco at the rate of 45 shillings per fortnight.

On June 27, 1917 Base Records answered an undated inquiry from Mr M. Inglis, care of Mrs Herd, Carisbrook, Vic asking for information on Sergeant A.H. Matheson, Sapper G.H. Pollock and Private F.H. Earle. No advice had been received since Sergeant Matheson’s transfer on 11/5/16 to the 8th Field Ambulance replied Base Records. Sapper Pollock had returned to Australia on 5/5/17 to Fremantle after previously suffering from cerebro-spinal meningitis. Private Hearle gave his age on enlistment (19/5/16) as 18 years and 1 month. Addresses for all the soldiers were included for correspondence.

From 1917 to 1919 he was listed residing at 47 Lake Street, North Perth with his occupation as a soldier. In 1921 and 1922 his address was Nanga Brook in the Forest District working as a mill hand.

Sapper 1128 George Henry Pollock, 3rd Tunnelling Company was issued for serving his country the British War Medal (14873) and the Victory Medal (14565).

A Statement of his Service was requested by the Perth Branch of the Repatriation Commission and forwarded from Base Records on December 19, 1929.

He was living at 7 Thelma Street, West Perth in 1931 with the occupation of gardener. Charges in the Police Court in Perth in 1934 were reported in the:

In 1936 he was a site survey hand at Kalamunda, W.A. In 1937 he was shown as a mourner at the following funeral reported in the:

By 1949 he was at 282 Hay Street, East Perth with no occupation. His last address was given as 138 Stuart Street, Inglewood in 1954.

George Henry Pollock, late of Inglewood, died on March 3, 1957 aged 79 years. Cremation took place at the Crematorium, Karrakatta and his ashes were taken by the Funeral Director.

© Donna Baldey 2016