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Frank Pollard

Frank Pollard was living in London when the war broke out in 1939. Discovering that his job as an analyst made him exempt from the draft, he quit, then went to the recruiting office. Planning to join the navy, he found the queue for the air force to be shorter, and decided to join. 

Pollard began his pilot training in the Royal Air Force (RAF) in England, then continued in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, where he received his Wings. He was then chosen for an instructors course at No. 15 Service Flying Training School (SFTS)in Claresholm, Alberta. Following this, he was posted to No. 31 Elementary Training Flying School (EFTS), De Winton, where, as he recalls in the following excerpt, love and romance, not only aircraft, were in the air.

 

Returning from Norway and out of fuel in 1944, Frank Pollard and crew were forced to land in Perth, Scotland.De Winton was staffed by civilians. The only air force personnel were pilots and students, and a few others dotted around. There were four flights with about five pilots and a flight commander in each. Each pilot had about six students...

I had noticed a civilian girl in "C" flight who allocated aircraft to pilots and checked their time in and out. I was really smitten with this girl. She was tall, slim, with long shoulder length auburn hair and very beautiful. I was in "B" flight, so I didn't get a chance to talk to her, but she was all I could think about. I would see my dream girl walking to and from the flights, but I dared not speak to her. I was in awe of her.

One night there was a dance in camp and my friend Johnnie was going and asked me to come along. My dancing left a lot to be desired, but I went anyway. When we got inside, there she was, with two or three other girls. Johnnie dared me to ask her to dance. I took the dare, and we danced to an old 1940s waltz. I was thrilled to have my arms around her, but I don't think I said a word. When the dance ended I said, "I am going to marry you," and took her back to her seat. I found out her name was Nella Bertoia.

Now, when I saw her walking, I would talk to her, and found she was as easy to talk to as she was to look at. Soon we were going for walks on the gravel road outside camp. It was a cold December with about six inches of snow. We would come back and go to the canteen for coffee and warmth. I subsequently found out that after our dance, Nella had gone back to her friends and said, "that stupid Englishman said he is going to marry me."

After a very short time I was very much in love with Nella and very jealous. She eventually said she would marry me and the date was set, the 4th of May, 1943.

Then, for a place to live. Just outside the camp gates, an entrepreneur had five or six old trailers and one chicken house that he used to rent, if he could, to people in camp. I talked to Mike Loring and asked to rent the chicken house, but he wanted me to have one of the old trailers. (I think the chicken house was his show home). I finally got it. The only furnishings were an old stove with a big hole in the side of the oven. Nella's pilots, who were very fond of her, gave her a chesterfield that made into a bed and a mantle radio.

Sometimes, I would fly to Nella's Dad's farm, near High River, and land in the pasture. Between us we would hide the aircraft by the barn then have a chat and a beer, or coffee. One day, I thought I would like to take Nella flying, but regulations did not allow us to do this. So, with the help of the pilots in her flight, we dressed her in a flying suit and helmet (hair tucked in), gave her a parachute and passed her off as a student. We flew around for a while, nice and easy. Then, came "show off time." I did a loop with her in the plane, and she never flew with me again.

Telegram from Flight Lieutenant Frank Pollard, serving with 298 Squadron in South East Asia; to his wife, Nella. Handwriting says: "Many happy returns. Letters coming in fine love and kisses"It was time to ask her Dad for his blessing, but he was in the hospital with something minor. I thought this would be a good time to ask, might be safer. He was pretty good and said he had five other daughters and could spare one.

Nella said she would like to have the inside of the chicken house painted. I talked to the camp painter, and he said he would get some. He gave me a can of paint, pale green, and I hid it under my raincoat to carry it to the chicken house. When I got there I had a pale green uniform, the paint can leaked. Lucky I still had my old uniform.

The wedding day came at last. We were at Nella's Dad's farm. We had the ring ($11.50) and we had the marriage license ($7.50). Nella was busy in the house preparing stuff for the reception, which was to be held at the farm, and I was on the back step making ice cream. We did have one problem, the Pentecostal minister said he would marry us—in his house.

When it was time to go, we piled into Dad's 1932 Chev, and although he was driving slowly, Nella said, "not so fast, Dad." Nella was dressed in yellow and brown, with a big floppy hat. I think we had some lilacs in the car, they were blooming beautifully on that day, especially for Nella. We have never seen them bloom so early in the year, since. Yellow and brown became my favorite colours that day. My friend, Johnnie, was my best man. I was wearing his best uniform and he his old one.

Halifax MV Rolls Royce Merlin Engines Some pilots from Nella's flight were at the wedding, as well as some friends of "Mom and Pop Bertoia," as they were known in High River. We had a room booked in the St. George Hotel in High River, where we would go after the reception at the farm. Dad drove us to town and we were followed by several cars. In High River someone tied a cast iron stove to the back of the car and it broke to pieces as we drove down main street. Lots of Bertoia friends were by the hotel, and the manager had to let us in via the fire escape.

We had a two-day honeymoon at Nella's aunt's place in Bellevue, in the Crowsnest Pass. We had decided not to go to Niagara Falls, as I had $10.00 and Nella had $20.00. Nella's aunt spoke mostly French. As Nella had lived with her for several years, she was also fluent in that language—I would sit and wonder what they were talking about.

Frank Pollard was eventually posted back to England (soon followed by Nella) where he joined No. 298 (fighter) Squadron, dropping supplies over Northwest Europe, and was then posted to India and Southeast Asia. Leaving the air force, he applied to emigrate to Canada. Mr. And Mrs. Pollard eventually settled in Calgary.

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