As people looked back on the war after the armistice, there was a widespread feeling that the past four years had been truly historic; that in a hundred years' time, future generations would still be remembering them. Many of our banks looked for a way to express pride in their men who had served in the war, both for posterity and as a mark of gratitude to the men themselves.
Some of our medium-sized banks published rolls of honour; books naming all their men who had served, with details of their rank, regiment, decorations and the bank branch from which they had come. Commercial Bank of Scotland’s roll (PDF 6.5MB) recorded 578 names, including 99 who had died; National Bank of Scotland’s roll (PDF 2.8MB), in a similar format, recorded 436, of whom 78 had died. Copies of the books were distributed to all branches.
In London, Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co also published a roll of honour. A much smaller bank, it only had 163 names to record, including men who had served as special constables or other civilian volunteers. 18 men from the bank had lost their lives. The Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co roll of honour devoted a whole page to each of the 163 men. The details available clearly varied, but the fullest entries give information about bank career; age and family background; date of joining up; details of military service, rank, injuries and decorations; and date of demobilisation. An open copy of the roll was displayed in a small glass case in the partners’ room at head office for many decades afterwards, as a lasting reminder of the contribution made by the bank’s men in 1914-1918.
Some banks were so large that a book naming every man who had served would have been too big. From London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, for example, over 3,700 men had served. It published a roll naming only the 544 men of its staff who had been killed.
Our next-largest constituent, National Provincial & Union Bank of England, had seen over 2,500 of its men go on military service, of whom 388 had died. In addition to a roll of its Fallen, it published a commemorative declaration of gratitude to all who had contributed to the war effort, whether in uniform or by staying behind to run the bank in their absence.
The declaration took the form of a set of resolutions adopted by the bank’s board on 28 November 1918, reproduced in full with rich surrounding illustrations. Printed copies were sent to each branch, and to every man who was still away on active service.
For our smallest banks, a more personal recognition was possible, and necessary. In commemoration of its men who had served, the small private bank of Child & Co compiled an extraordinary scrapbook, called Children In Arms. It was a labour of love by one man. He began gathering material for it as early as 1915, and by the time it was finished it contained not only details of each man and what had happened to him, but also photographs, presscuttings and letters they’d sent to colleagues back home while they were away. Leafing through its pages nearly a century later, it’s still possible to gain a sense not only of the people behind the names, but of the great depth of feeling that connected them to their colleagues.