THE GREAT WAR created numerous selfless heroes. Among these were two cousins who were born in Tillicoultry and fought in the same battle on the Western Front in 1915.

Their bravery saved many lives and for this they were awarded the highest accolade for their actions by King George V.

James Dalgleish Pollock had been born in Tillicoultry in 1890. Before the outbreak of World War I, he had been working for a large manufacturing firm, before signing up with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and heading out to the continent.

By sheer coincidence he and his cousin James Lennox Dawson ended up fighting in the same battle at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, a German defensive fortification near to Auchy-les-Mines – a coal mining town in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, which had to be rebuilt following the war.

On the September 27, 1915, two days after the British attacked the Redoubt in what became known as the Battle of Loos, Pollock asked for permission from his superior officers to leave his trench and began walking along its edge. The Germans continued to bombard the young corporal with heavy machine gun fire as their bombers made inroads up the ‘Little Willie’ trench towards the Redoubt.

He ‘compelled the enemy bombers to retire by bombing them from above,’ with a complete disregard to the danger he was in and managed to hold the enemy fighters up for an hour before he was wounded. It was one of the last days of heavy fighting in the Battle of Loos although it continued until October 13.

The Devon Valley Tribune reported that Pollock was given the Victoria Cross for ‘conspicuous bravery.’

He returned to Tillicoultry on Saturday December 11, 1915, for a reception in the town hall. A large procession took place from the railway station up to the hall.

The whole town turned out for him and he was hailed a hero for his actions. According to the local paper it was, at that time, ‘the greatest public function ever held in Tillicoultry’.

Pollock became an observer officer with the Royal Observer Corps during World War II and later a duty controller in No33 Aberdeen (Ayr) Group. Following the cessation of hostilities in 1945, he stood down. He died on 10th May 1958 at Ballochmyle in Ayrshire.

A memorial to him was unveiled next to his cousin’s on Tillicoultry High Street on September 27, 2015 – on the 100th anniversary of his heroics at the Battle of Loos.