The Historical Journal



Communication

MAJOR HUGH POLLARD, MI6, AND THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR


GRAHAM D. MACKLIN a1
a1 The National Archives, Kew

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The recently released Special Operations Executive (SOE) personal file of Major Hugh Bertie Campbell Pollard (HS 9/1200/5) sheds new light on the man who helped fly General Franco from the Canary Islands to Morocco, leading ultimately to the overthrow of the democratically elected republican government and thirty-six years of brutal dictatorship. Contrary to the previous portrayal of Pollard, a genial, rough-and-ready gung-ho ‘adventurer’ who flew the future Caudillo to Morocco on a whim, the files reveal Pollard to have been an experienced British intelligence officer, talented linguist, and firearms expert with considerable firsthand experience of wars and revolutions in Mexico, Morocco, and Ireland, where he had served as a police adviser in Dublin Castle during the ‘stormy days’ of the Black and Tans in the early 1920s. Pollard, who listed his hobbies in Who's Who as ‘hunting and shooting’, was the sporting editor of Country Life and a member of Lord Leconfield's hunt. He was also a renowned and passionate firearms expert having written numerous books on the subject including the section on ‘small arms’ for the official war office textbook. His friend Douglas Jerrold, who himself later served in British intelligence, recalled that Pollard ‘looked and behaved, like a German Crown Prince and had a habit of letting off revolvers in any office he happened to visit’. Once Jerrold plucked up the courage to ask Pollard if he had ever killed anybody.