POLLARD, Eric Henry
Eric Henry Pollard was born in 1898 in Sydney, New South Wales, son of John Henry and Isabella Mary Pollard, and brother to Stella. He married Sarah Beatrice Perkins of Hurstville, New South Wales, in 1925.
According to the 1933, 1936, and 1937 New South Wales electoral rolls, Sarah and Henry lived at 7 Park Avenue, Hurstville, and Pollard’s occupation is listed as wireless operator. In the 1943 New South Wales electoral rolls they are listed as living at 2 Regan Street, Hurstville and Eric’s occupation is that of Marine Radio Officer.
Pollard joined the Merchant Navy in 1921 and joined the Neptuna on 23 September 1939, in Singapore. This was the vessell's first voyage under the Burns Philp ownership. Eric, as with the other radio officers, was an employee of AWA and had served on many ships during his 20-year career.
The MV Neptuna was crewed by eighteen Australian Officers, four Cadets, and over one hundred Chinese sailors. She arrived in Darwin Harbour loaded with two hundred depth charges and a very large quantity of anti-aircraft shells for the Navy and Army.
When the Japanese air attack began the Neptuna was berthed alongside the main wharf awaiting maintenance. The first bomb hit the ship below the waterline and she began taking on water; she then received a direct hit causing her to catch on fire. When the fire entered No. 3 and No. 4 hatches, the Neptuna blew apart, creating a huge mushroom cloud caused by the explosion of the ammunition she was carrying.
Most of the surviving ship’s company were rescued from the wharf and the harbour and taken aboard HMAS Platypus, a depot ship being used as a casualty clearing station. Thirty-six of the ship’s crew were killed, including the Master, Captain William Michie.
Eric Pollard is remembered by his sister and niece in The Sydney Morning Herald notices and is commemorated on panel 12 of the Northern Territory Memorial, which stands in the Adelaide River War Cemetery.
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