On active service | RBS Remembers

RBS remembers

On active service

Over 10,000 men from our banks served in the war. Their experiences could not have been more different from pre-war life behind a bank counter.

Joining up

Banks wanted to support the call for soldiers, and their own workers’ eagerness to put themselves forward.

Explore this topic


1914 – the first volunteers

Many clerks were already volunteer soldiers. Others rushed to join them. 

Wartime pay - in uniform

Banks paid part-salary to employees away on military service. 

The Derby Scheme

Before conscription came in, there was one last attempt to recruit volunteers. 


1 July 1916: first day of the Somme

The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest in the history of the British army.


Maintaining pre-war friendships

Some men joined up and served with friends from work.


Staying in touch

Bank staff were keen to share news with colleagues away on military service.


Serving in other armies

Some of our staff served in the armies of other nations.


Conscientious objectors

Some men refused to participate in the war on moral or religious grounds.


Serving with pals - the Bankers' Battalion

Pals' battalions were recruited from specific communities and professions, including banking.


Familiar faces in strange places

Bumping into a colleague, or a friend of a friend, was always a highlight for men serving far from home.


Staff magazines

Bank staff were keen to share news with colleagues away on military service.


Wounded staff

Around 4,000 of our staff were wounded, either physically or mentally, by their wartime experiences.


The Bankers' Company at Gallipoli

Many men from our Scottish banks served in the Bankers' Company of the 4th Royal Scots.


Christmas 1914

Many men from our banks described their first Christmas of the war in letters home.


Prisoners and internees

For men interned in neutral countries or imprisoned by the enemy, parcels from home were a lifeline.


Medals and honours

Many men earned decorations, both British and foreign, for their conduct.



After the war ended some bankers were keen to return to the work they’d left behind, while others pursued new careers.

Explore this topic


Planning for demobilisation

Dismantling such a vast army was almost as challenging as putting it together had been.

Demobilisation - deciding whether to return

After their wartime experiences some men decided not to go back to their old bank jobs.

Getting back to work

Much had changed in the banks to which the demobilised men returned.

Set Tab for lightbox