Some bank men joined up and served with friends from work. HE Rae and his good friend Marcus ‘Streakey’ Fluck, both from Parr’s Bank’s London Bartholomew Lane office, served in the London Scottish together. On 9 May 1915 they were sitting behind a barricade with about eight other men when a shell struck them. Three, including Fluck, were killed instantly. Rae, sitting next to Fluck, was barely harmed. The unit was due to move on almost immediately, but the commanding officer gave Rae permission to stay behind long enough to see his friend buried. Four days later, Rae wrote to his colleagues at Bartholomew Lane to tell them the news, noting that ‘at present I feel quite lost.’
Other colleagues serving nearby also wrote to Bartholomew Lane with news of Fluck’s death, giving a picture of how news travelled between army units, and of how bank friends kept track of each other as the war raged around them.
The night before the Messines push, he and our old friend Lt SJ Henderson had a spree together on buns and tea and talked over old Dublin days…we can only faintly realise the joy resulting from accidental meetings of old pals in the trenches
Ulster Bank’s Passing Events magazine, July 1917
Knowing how much a link to the old bank could mean to men on active service, bank managers in charge of branches near military camps looked out for bank men passing through the camps. In the early weeks of the war, before proper facilities had been established to provide for troops, the resident clerk and his wife at London County & Westminster Bank’s Deal and Walmer branch opened up their home to provide food and bathing facilities for bank men and their colleagues from Walmer naval camp. On other occasions bank managers entertained colleagues to supper as they passed on their way to or from postings.
The urge to maintain pre-war bonds applied in sadder circumstances, too. After the death of Cecil Willis of Parr’s Bank’s Finsbury branch was announced in the bank’s staff magazine, two of his former colleagues hurried to find and visit his grave. One reported back, ‘I suppose I was the last Parr’s man to speak to him. By the way, the initials on the cross are CJ and not CG, which appear to be the correct ones according to the memoir in the magazine…’
Another man from the same bank accidentally came across the grave of Robert Horridge, the first Parr’s man to be killed, and recognised the name from the staff magazine. He sent a message back for Horridge’s colleagues: ‘It may interest his friends at head office to know that I have seen his grave…at his head is a simple wooden cross with the inscription ‘Lieut Horridge, 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. Killed in Action 17/11/14. RIP.’