A 1918 letter from France by Seth Pollard

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A 1918 letter from France by Seth Pollard

Seth W. Pollard was raised in Lannon, Menomonee Falls and the Town of Lisbon. Today, his former 160 acres is Wooded Hills Subdivision south of the former Maass Farm on the corner of Plainview and Town Line Roads. The Maass Farm (80 acres) is today the Menomonee Parks Estates Subdivision.

The 1918-23 “Farm Journal Illustrated Rural Directory of Waukesha County,” has five Pollard listings with Max and Clay Pollard being in the “dept store” business in Menomonee Falls. Meanwhile there was also a James Pollard (wife Iona) with eight children as a shoemaker in Merton.

Now the Seth Pollard this feature is trailing has A.E. Pollard (wife Sarah) who has two children and is a railroad engineer for Bug Line. He is an owner of a home and lot in Lannon which is part of the Town of Menomonee (Falls). His telephone number in 1918-23 is 35 for the Menomonee Falls Telephone Company. He had graduated from Menomonee Falls High School.

On Aug. 18, 1918, as the French, English and American armies were starting what proved to be the final push to end “The Great War” or “the World War” until 1939 when it became World War I as World War II began.

In early 1918, Pollard had enlisted in the U.S. Flying Corps and received training at several American trying out fields. He got technical instructions at the Wright’s Dayton, Ohio.

He shipped out to France in late summer and by Aug. 18, he writes to those family members back in Lannon-Menomonee. The letter probably had been sent Aug. 18, 1918 and it was placed in a local newspaper on Sept. 13. The letter is as follows:

At last we are temporarily located in southern France. We are quartered in a large monastery built in the form of a square. The north side ajoins a cathedral, built in the 16th century. The other three are on continuous stone structure with large rooms. There is a very pretty court with many pretty flowers and shrubbery. New barracks are being built for us. I am striving very hard to learn French. The people find it amusing also to instruct the American called over here ‘Yank or Amex’. One of the boys who can talk French and went over the other evening to the French officers training school near here and had a real enjoyable evening with the young fellows who have spent some time at the front and who are now training officers. Remember me to all the friends.

         Seth W. Pollard

1102 Aero Squad, AAO, 725

By early October his brush up training and/or introduction to the plane he would be flying had been completed and he was into his first flight as an observer and spy from on high of the front lines. He again wrote a letter back home and it was published just as the war ended, Nov. 11, 1918.

Next week, Retrospect will publish his second letter telling of his adventures that included two landings in near no-man’s land resulting in damage to the plane in the first emergency landing but destruction of the plane in the second.


Meanwhile this feature will be tailgated with an announcement on June 28, 1918, when a north Lisbon young man became a KIA. The newspaper notices follows “Herbert Lembcke Lisbon Volunteer killing in action … Mr. and Mrs. Louis Lembcke of the North Lisbon School District received a telephone message from the government that one of their seven children, Herbert, had been killed in action in France on May 29. His mother, Mary, had birthed him in Milwaukee, March 13, 1894, and thus Herbert was 24 years old at the time of his death. He had enlisted August of 1917 and was only nine months into his Army career. He was in Co. K, 5th Wisconsin that trained at Camp Douglas. When the National Guard unit reached Waco, Texas, he was assigned to Co. H 128 Infantry. His regiment was sent to France in February 1918, and he became part of the MacArthur Rainbow Division.

Herbert had been a member of the Pewaukee Baptist Church. He was survived by two brothers and four sisters. His parents, Lewis and Mary, had an 80-acre farm, six horses and 13 cows.

More from Seth Pollard’s WWI letter

by Fred H. Keller

Last week there was a World War I letter from France back to Lannon, Lisbon and Menomonee Falls from Seth Pollard, an aviator for the United States Air Force. Today, Pollard is remembered for being the owner-developer of Wooded Hills Subdivision on Town Line Road, across the road from Menomonee Park. Pollard’s father was an engineer for the Bug Line Railroad. This letter was sent as the war was winding down.

Pollard had been in France for sometime, training for combat in France. He was a pilot and in late September, early October he was given the mission to take an observer up over the front lines, observe and then come back and report. However the duty was extended by two forced landings, the last being fatal. The letter:

Sunday, Oct. 7, 1918

Would have written sooner but have been gone for three days on a trip which I thought would last but two hours. I went up with an observer in formation practice and the pilot lost the others in clouds about 7,000 feet above the earth. We finally landed near a large town in order to get located for we had no map, when starting up a stone hit our propeller and smashed one wing which made it necessary to stay all night at a farm house, and part of the following day until we got a new part. It was my first visit with a French family and was sure interesting. They serve their meals in courses (a great many courses and a little for each course.) First we had one lonely sardine on a large plate, a loaf of bread was put on the table and we cut it as we needed it. After the sardine, a wait of ten minutes brought us beans next a boiled egg and after the egg, cheese and then after this a peach and finally a cup of coffee, of course red wine was freely offered. After getting a new propeller we started again for aero headquarters but got over near the firing line, in fact flew around at 2,000 ft., above ground recently captured by the Americans of which you have read in the press dispatches. Fearing to stay up longer for we did not want to land in German territory. The pilot again descended and we landed among some abandoned trenches and wrecked the plane entirely. However I had a very good view of wretched war torn villages, trenches and blown -up bridges which I had wanted to see for some time. It was two days before we could get help to take what good parts of the machine there was left and get back to camp. There are rumors around tonight that Germany is willing to make peace according to Pre. Wilson’s terms, now that the Americans are in Germany, and still going I guess this war is not as pleasant for them as it was when they were tearing up the soil of France. I might say that many accidents and injuries occur while aviators are ascending as well as coming down as the uneven ground makes it so, we escaped injury for which we were mighty glad. I am well and sleeping on a real home made bed which I made, after sleeping on the ground for some time. It is no piece of art but to me is a comfortable place to sleep.

S.W. Pollard

166 Aero Squadron

A.M.E.R. A.E.P.

I first met Seth Pollard in 1955 as he was living on the old Pritzloff property as he was cleaning up his estate on the 159-acre site. It was to become Wooded Hills. He was what we called “a gentleman farmer.” He had a great house on the top of the hill which shortly would become the home of Lisbon political gadfly Leo Wolf, and wife Bette Ann.

Meanwhile, he was converting the barn into a home. Today this barn is set way back off Frontage Road as a private home.

Pollard’s brush with local history included being on the Bug Line train which in late March 1923 almost took out the Mammoth Spring Canning Company as the engine jumped the track and slammed into the side of a canning company building missing the boiler by a scant inch.