Fl/Lt. John Robert (Bob) Pollock, DFM. CD.
Born, Saskatchewan, Canada. Wednesday, 26th March 1919 - Died Wednesday, 21st September 2005
Page written and sent to Aircrew Remembered by his daughter, Carol:
John Robert (Bob) Pollock was born to parents John and Elizabeth Pollock, on Wednesday 26th March, 1919 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and later grew up in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. With the beginning of World War II, it became apparent that the commonwealth countries would be aiding Britain in the fight against the Germans. Like most young men, Bob was eager to be part of the campaign and enlisted at first, with the 2nd Battalion, Winnipeg Grenadiers in September of 1941. After a month’s training there, he transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Bob completed his training in Brandon, Manitoba and then trained at No. 7 ITS in Saskatoon, SK. and received his Gunner’s Badge on the 14th August 1942.
While in training in Saskatoon, he and some of his buddies were on leave, and happened to attend a basketball game. Unbeknownst to Bob at the time, he would meet his future wife Ruth, at this game, a lovely girl from Saskatoon.
With his training as a gunner now successfully completed, his next assignment was overseas, attached to the Royal Air Force.
The trip across Canada from Saskatoon, to the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia was by train; a total of 2,664 miles.
Accompanying Bob on this trip was his fiancée, Ruth and once they reached Halifax, they were married on the 31st August, 1942. With the uncertainty of life in that war-torn era, the goal he kept in mind was that he would return home safely, to his new bride.
Like so many of those who served and survived the war, Bob rarely spoke of those times. Yes, the funny stories were told, but I, as his daughter, never heard about the harshness and the sadness. I was too young to understand and unfortunately did not have enough knowledge at the time to ask the right questions. It is only in the last couple of years, through my research and reading, that I have come to better understand some of what he and thousands of airmen like him in Bomber Command, endured during the war. Who, but another airman, could truly understand the effects this epic event had, not only on their physical lives, but also the toll it took on their emotional and mental well-being.
Having requested copies of his partial military records from the Government of Canada, I have pieced together an outline of his proud service which follows…
Bob and the many other troops reached the UK. In September 1942, he was with 16 OTU, then on to 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit where he completed further training as an Air Gunner. After completion of training, the men “crewed up” in no particular manner; it was up to the pilots to form their crew and so it was that another Canadian from Alberta, P/O. James Hubert Mason formed his valiant crew. Written on a baseball which is now in my possession, are the words: “First Tour – 50 Squadron – Skellingthorpe, Lincoln” and the crew …
Pilot - F/O. James Hubert Mason J/17624 DFC.
Flt/Eng. - P/O. W. Donald Tildsley 160627 DFM. MiD.
Navigator. - Fl/Sgt. Norman Stott 1097284 DFM.
Wireless/Op/Air/Gnr - Fl/Sgt. Don “Jock” Grant
Air Bomber - Fl/Sgt. Lenard Reginald “Cookie” Cook 752215 (175996 as P/O) DFM.
Mid Upper Gunner - Sgt. Fred “Tweedy” Tweedale 1063624
Rear Gunner - W/O. John Robert (Bob) Pollock R/134264 DFM.
Bob served with RAF Bomber Command, 50 Squadron, from 25th September, 1942 to 5th December, 1944. He flew as P/O. James H. Mason’s Rear Gunner, at times trading duties with Sgt. Fred Tweedale in the Mid Upper Gunner’s turret.
Above left: Bob Pollock. Right: Lenard Cook
Bob successfully flew a complete tour of 30 sorties, which included some harrowing events over Berlin, Peenemunde, Friedrichshafen and Hamburg.
At the completion of his tour he began his second tour as a Gunnery Instructor and was posted to Syerston Conversion Unit, then on to Scampton Battle School in “the study of Gun Turrets, Gyro Sight, Hydraulics, Armour, a variety of Guns and Ballistics” and he “also instructed in same”. From the records, Bob states that he had been “posted as a general instructor but I eventually specialised in sports and drill, also in charge of all range firing. I organised and refereed all hockey games between all classes at the battle school. We also organised a very smart gym drill and precision squad.” Bob had always had a keen interest in sports and had played baseball, hockey, cricket, water polo, speed-skating and was the brakeman on a four-man bobsled team that won a Canadian Bobsled Championship.
At the battle school, Bob “was interested in drill and discipline and studied under Major Antsy of the Irish Guards, who was at that time in charge of discipline at the battle school”. While there, Bob “gave lectures on tactics and hydraulics. I was also chief marker of all written exams for air gunners at the battle school”. Again from the records, he states that, “Before coming back to Canada I flew as tactical instructor at a conversion unit.”
On Monday the 10 January 1944 Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), which was presented to him by King George Vl, at Buckingham Palace, and the RCAF Operational Wing. On the 21st January 1944 - Mentioned in Dispatches, London Gazette; Friday the 16th February 1945 awarded the 1939-45 Aircrew Europe Star, CVSM and Maple Leaf clasp. Also, the Defence Medal, The War medal and later in 1958, he was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration. On the 26th April 1944, he received his commission as Pilot Officer and on the 26th October 1944 was promoted to Flying Officer.
Above: Flight 1, Course 28. Rob Pollock shown from row, fifth from left.
Toward the end of November, 1944, Bob was posted home to Canada and to his beautiful wife, Ruth in Saskatoon. While in Saskatoon he was with No. 4 Service Flying Training School for a brief time and was discharged in February, 1945 having successfully completed his obligation for which he had volunteered.
Bob went back to civilian life and attained the position of Costing Clerk, with Ashdown’s Hardware in Saskatoon but, eventually, he realised that civilian life was, as he stated, “unsatisfactory”.
On the 29th April 1949, Bob re-engaged to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) - Regular service, and took the oath to “… sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty.”
Through his years of service from 1949 to 1966, Bob and family (including daughter Carol and son Terence) were stationed in Aylmer, Ontario; St. John’s, Quebec; Winnipeg, Manitoba; 26th March 1966 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
On 19 March 1968, Bob was awarded clasp to his CD medal.
Bob and his family made a move from their last base, Station Centralia, to the “Steel Town” of Hamilton, Ontario where he joined the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications (OMTC), as a Driver Examiner. Bob always had goals in mind; to keep moving ahead. In a short time, he was promoted to Driver Examiner Supervisor, in charge of the Smiths Falls, Ontario office. Two years later, Bob was interviewed and promoted to the Director of Driver Examiners for the province of Ontario, Queen’s Park in Toronto. He enjoyed the pace and energy of Toronto government as well as the opportunity to travel and meet with Supervisors in various parts of the province. He displayed his lecture skills (first experienced at the Scampton gunnery school) when he was invited on several occasions to speak at the Ontario Police College, located at the former RCAF base Aylmer, where Bob had initially trained new aircrew, after the war. He had come full circle.
Bob’s life was one of service, dedication and loyalty. When he retired from OMTC, he and Ruth had a chance to travel a little and to enjoy more time with friends.
Sadly, his life’s partner and sweetheart, Ruth, passed away on Tuesday the 16th December 1986 in Toronto. Before Bob’s passing on Wednesday the 21st September 2005, he was able to spend time with their grandchildren, Michael and Robert, who now live in Brampton, Ontario.
Bob was a generous, kind soul and wonderful father and I wish I had known enough when I was younger, to ask questions about his time of service with Bomber Command.
I am so grateful for websites such as “Aircrew Remembered” for providing not only research information, but also a platform through which these men of courage can be remembered.
Never, will we forget their service and the part they played in history. We owe so much to their bravery and spirit.
I am forever grateful; thank you Dad. I love you.
F/O. James Hubert Mason J/17624 DFC. - Seriously injured on the 31st January 1944 - died from injuries received. Serving as an instructor with 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit. Further details here.
P/O. W. Donald Tildsley 160627 DFM. MiD. - survived the war, no further details. Perhaps you are able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Norman Stott 1097284 DFM. Missing believed killed on the 21st March 1945 whilst serving with 189 Squadron. On an operation to Bohlen on Lancaster I RF132 CA-K when all 7 crew were lost without trace.
Fl/Sgt. Don “Jock” Grant - survived the war, thought to have passed away around the year 2000, no further details. Perhaps you are able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Lenard Reginald “Cookie” Cook 752215 (175996 as P/O) DFM. - survived the war, no further details. Perhaps you are able to assist?
Sgt. Fred “Tweedy” Tweedale 1063624 - Killed on the 05th October 1943 whilst with 50 Squadron. Further details here.
W/O. John Robert (Bob) Pollock R/134264 DFM. - survived the war, details within.
If you have additional information or photographs to add to this Obituary please contact us.
We seek to commemorate all and would be pleased to receive your contributions.