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.
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
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.
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
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