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Friday, 5 February 2016

Roll of Honour - February

Roll of Honour - February

It is with much sadness that the following bank officials died or were reported missing during either the Great War, World War II or the Northern Ireland Conflict.

08/02/1944 - Anderson, Norman Alexander

12/02/1918 - Collier, Reginald John C

Friday, 22 January 2016

Unpublished Danske Bank Staff Magazine (Insight eZine) Article - April 2013

The current decade holds centenaries that are of huge importance to the people of Ireland both North and South. Amongst the commemorations are Titanic (2012), Ulster Covenant (2012), the Great War (2014 to 2018), the Easter Rising (2016) and the creation of Northern Ireland (2021).

The Great War is one event that affected the lives of many bank officials from all the banks in Ireland.  In 1914, our bank was actually two banking institutions; the Belfast Banking Company Limited and the Northern Banking Company Limited.  The Northern had branches all over Ireland whilst the Belfast had branches in the north of Ireland and Dublin.

War was declared in August 1914 and from then on, many young men of each bank together with some who were considerably older volunteered for active service.   It must be recognised that all were volunteers apart from one Northern messenger who was already an army reservist. Altogether, nearly 200 men left their banking roles and went off to war.  Before the war was over, 33 men were either killed in action, reported missing or had died on active service.  Many were wounded in action, some being injured 2 or 3 times.

Following the armistice in 1918, the remaining men were repatriated back to Ireland and back into banking life. Some decided on careers away from banking.

Memorials to the men who died or were reported missing were made.  With those memorials, Rolls of Honour were drafted recording the names of the men who served during the war.  These memorials were paper based and incorporated photographs of each official.

At the onset of the Second World War in 1939 and for the period to 1945, nearly 100 officials from both banks again volunteered for active service. 13 of these men were either killed in action or were reported missing.

Following the end of the war, each bank drafted and created memorials / rolls of honour and cast them in bronze.  They contained the names of the officials from each conflict in the style of surname and initials.

These memorials were installed in each Head Office; Waring Street (Belfast Banking Company) and Victoria Street (Northern Banking Company).  In due course, following the closure of each building, they were installed in their current location, outside the ‘Vault’ staff restaurant in the basement of Donegall Square West, Belfast.

Over two years ago, I decided that the time was right to try and identify all those officials named on the memorials.  I wanted to take away the anonymity that just a surname with initials gives.  Each name represents a former colleague and someone who also had family and descendants.  Some of those descendants may also have worked in the bank.

In all, I researched and drafted nearly 300 mini-biographies with associated articles, and whilst my initial idea had been to publish a book, it quickly became obvious that fresh details for each man can come to light very quickly and for the ease of updating, I decided on an external website.   Each mini-biography may contain information from a variety of public sources e.g.

· National Archives of Ireland – 1901 & 1911 Irish Census, Soldiers’ Wills

· The National Archives – Medal Index Cards

· Public Records Office for Northern Ireland – Ulster Covenant

· Commonwealth War Graves Commission

· London Gazette

· Belfast Newspaper Library – cuttings from the Belfast News Letter (courtesy of Nigel Henderson)

· The Link – staff magazine of Northern Bank

During my research, I wanted to bring the story up to date and include the mini-biographies of the 3 Northern Bank officials who were killed as a result of the Northern Ireland Conflict.

The website address is: or just Google ‘Northern Bank War Memorials’.  It has been running since November 2012 and has followers throughout the world.  Most pleasing has been when a descendant of one of the men contacts me and gives more information or photographs.  Please feel free to circulate this address to former colleagues.

Gavin Bamford

April 2013

Friday, 1 January 2016

Roll of Honour - January

Roll of Honour - January

January is the only month that there were no casualties amongst the bank officials during either the Great War, World War II or the Northern Ireland Conflict.

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Following the completion of extensive building works in the Northern Bank Head Office in Donegall Square West, the following important pieces of Northern Bank Heritage were re-installed in a new location on walls in the basement of the building:

The Great War & World War II – Roll of Honour / War Memorial – Belfast Banking Company & Northern Banking Company

These memorials, consisting of either Bronze plaques or pictorial posters feature those officials from each bank who served, went missing in action, died or were killed in either of the two conflicts. 

For those who may be unaware of the history of each bank, the Belfast Bank & the Northern Bank merged in 1970.   The Belfast Bank memorials were previously installed in their former Head Office in Waring Street prior to their removal and re-installation in the Donegall Square West building in 2000.   The Northern Bank memorials were re-installed at the same time.   They had been in storage since their removal from the old Victoria Street Head Office.   In 2000, Northern Bank took the opportunity to have the memorials re-dedicated by the Dean of Belfast, Dr Houston McKelvey at an event attended by war pensioners, officials and their families.

As it is many years since the memorials were in the public view, the opportunity is being taken now to catalogue the information thereon and make that information public.

In 1925, Northern Bank published a centenary volume (1824 to 1924) that listed in great detail the members of that Bank who had either served, went missing in action, died or were killed in the Great War.   As very few volumes of that book are currently in existence, this information has effectively been out of the public gaze since then. 

For the deceased staff of each bank, further information has been retrieved from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website.  Great War  data has also been enhanced by using information from the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census website and other free on-line databases.

There have been many conflicts since the end of World War II; Northern Ireland, Iraq & Afghanistan to name a few.   A number of Northern Bank staff have volunteered and have served in some of those locations. 

One official, who was in the forces, paid the supreme sacrifice and another two officials (civilian) were killed as a result of incidents during the Northern Ireland conflict.

Their names are no less important than those who fell during the World Wars.
Northern Bank – The Great War
99 officials volunteered for service
  1 Reservist was called up for service
of which
11 were killed in action

  3 were reported missing

  1 died on active service
  7 were rejected for military service

Belfast Bank – The Great War                  
93 officials volunteered for service
of which
16 were killed in action

1 was accidently killed on active service

1 was reported missing

Northern Bank – World War II
44 officials volunteered for service
of which
3 were killed in action

1 was reported missing

Belfast Bank – World War II
52 officials volunteered for service
of which
9 were killed in action

Northern Bank – Northern Ireland
Many volunteered for service
of which
1 was killed whilst off-duty
 2 civilian bank officials were killed

Northern Bank – Afghanistan
1 Territorial Army (TA) Reservist was called up for service

I trust that you will find the site both interesting and informative.

Thank you.

Gavin Bamford

Sunday, 1 November 2015

We Will Remember Them

The following section of text is taken from page 203 of the Northern Bank Centenary Volume 1924 as it best describes those men who volunteered for war.

War Record
We have included in this volume a reproduction of the War Memorial, which hangs in the hall of the cash office at Head Office.  A perusal of the record of those who served will, we feel confident, engender a feeling of pride in the part the officials of the Bank took in the operations of the Great War.  Many banks have published separate war volumes recording the service of the members of their staffs.  In the case of kindred institutions across the water the numbers of those who so served run into figures larger perhaps by comparison than those we shew.  But it must be remembered that, with very few exceptions, every man who went from an Irish bank was a volunteer.  In the case of the Northern Bank there was but one such exception – William Pattenden, Head Office porter, a reservist of the Royal Sussex Regiment.  He was called up on the outbreak of war and went with the British Expeditionary Force, only to fall a few days after landing – the first casualty we had to record. Ninety-nine officials in all, or 25 per cent. of staff, volunteered; seven of the number were rejected on medical examination, and, of the remainder, fifteen made the supreme sacrifice.  We honour the names of those who volunteered, and, we hold in reverence the memory of those who fell, - many, alas, of whom were but lads on the threshold of life.

The following poem is by Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Acknowledgements to The Western Front Association website.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Chrysanthemum Day

Chrysanthemum Day

Before the poppy was the symbol of Remembrance, the Chrysanthemum was the flower used to remember the men and women who were serving (and died) during the Great War.  These advertisements are from the Northern Whig, September 1916.

[Thanks to Nigel Henderson]

Friday, 4 September 2015

Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign - 'Last Post' Commemoration event

Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign
- 'Last Post' Commemoration event - 26th April 2015

In association with Last Post, Super Act, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Museums NI, Living Legacies, Davey Music and Michael MacBroom, History Hub Ulster commemorated the bank officials from the Northern Banking Company Limited who served during the Gallipoli Campaign.

History Hub Ulster YouTube Channel

Invitations to the event were published by Last Post, Living Legacies, History Hub Ulster via websites and social media.

Four officials were identified as having served in this campaign.  They were, in alphabetical order:

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas W Cooper - survived the war

Private Charles Kevin Fitzsimmons - survived the war

Lieutenant Thomas Richard Jenkins - survived the war

Private William Frederick Matthews - Killed in Action

We acknowledge that there may have been other officials from the Northern Banking Company Limited or the Belfast Banking Company Limited who also served in Gallipoli.

National Museums Northern Ireland (Ulster Folk Museum) were kind enough to permit History Hub Ulster to use their Northern Banking Company Limited exhibit.  This building is a replica of the Northern Bank branch in Portglenone.

The 2015 Last Post project is aimed at commemorating the Gallipoli Campaign in the form of musical events that must include the playing of the Last Post,  Patrick Davey and Bronagh Davey (Davey Music) were kind enough to play the uilleann pipes and the Irish flute.

A flyer was provided for visitors to the museum who viewed the event with remaining copies left in the bank office.

Our cameraman for the day was Michael MacBroom.  He provided the following videos for us.

History Hub Ulster - YouTube channel

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Death Announced of WW2 Veteran - R A C Stutt (Alec)

We regret to advise of the death of Robert Alexander (Alec) Crichton Stutt on 15th August 2015 aged 95.

Alec was one of 5 surviving Northern Bank / Belfast Bank officials to have served in the Second World War.

The current survivors are:
  1. Brown, Robert George - aged 91 - 06/04/1924
  2. Clarke, David Victor - aged 91 - 27/02/1924
  3. Larmour, George Edward - aged 94 - 11/11/1920
  4. Tweedie, Brian Morrison - aged 91 - 27/08/1923

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Gunning, George Cecil - Update

Frank Douglas Gunning and George Cecil Gunning in WWI

Taken from Radio Ulster broadcast by Marion Maxwell Nov 2005

Reference - G C Gunning - Belfast Banking Company official

Cecil Gunning via

The Gunning children grew up in Enniskillen with a love of sport, especially rugby, and, living by the lake, were accomplished swimmers and oarsmen.

All four brothers joined up at the outbreak of war in 1914.  Jack went into the Navy, Cecil and Douglas into the army,  Willie into the Royal Navy Reserve.  Their young sister Kathleen remained with her parents.

Cecil and Douglas, then aged 21 and 19 left jobs in the bank to join up. Douglas, then working in Sligo, cycled fifty miles on an old pushbike to be in time to join up with his elder brother in ’D’ Company, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Immortalized as the ’Pals’ it consisted mainly, though not exclusively, of young professional men, many from Dublin, all sharing a strong pride in their Irishness.  Referred to as ‘The Footballers’, many of them were bound by a passion for rugby - a large element had formed up on the rugby pitch at Lansdowne Road to volunteer.  On a point of honour, most declined commissions, choosing to serve as squaddies.  Because the Dublin Fusiliers - ’Dubs’ for short had a reputation for toughness, ‘D’ company was wittily dismissed as the ‘Toffs among the Tuffs’.  History would prove otherwise.

After training at the Curragh and Basingstoke, the two Enniskillen brothers set sail with the 7th Battalion the Royal Dublin Fusiliers for Gallipoli.  They kept a diary of their experiences, part 1 written day-about by Cecil and Douglas on the month long outward voyage, part 2 by Douglas after being invalided home.  Fused with excitement, the outward journal reads like a Boys Own adventure.

Saturday 10th July saw us steam out of Plymouth in up-beat mood aboard the Alaunia. ‘D’ company were stuck at the bottom of the boat, but-good food, salt water baths and sea air had already combined to make us feel fit.

Each day began with a run at-the-double round the deck.  They relished the luxury of ice-cold oranges from the refrigerator, took part in swimming races, witnessed splendid sunsets and saw porpoises swimming by moonlight.  Typical of the close camaraderie among the ‘Pals’ Battalion the two brothers and their best friend Guy feature in the diary under their nicknames Golly, Mollie and Gertie. 13 platoon quickly developed a reputation for schoolboy-like rascality.

The voyage opened up a whole new world - one highlight was a route march round the magnificent harbour at Alexandria, the ‘Dubs’ taking their leave with a rousing rendering of ‘Tipperary’.

However, the sight of Red Cross boats returning from the Dardanelles full of wounded soldiers gave a hint of what was to come.

The 7th Battalion landed at Suvla Bay on 7th August 1915. Provided neither with maps nor clear orders, their artillery guns sent to France by mistake, they arrived to a barrage of Turkish fire from the towering heights above the bay. On those slopes, ‘D’ Company - the ‘Pals’- would earn a lasting reputation for bravery, but at a terrible cost: of its 239 men who landed, only 79 remained after 8 weeks.

Douglas later described the scene:

At 4 a.m. I awoke off the Gallipoli coast.  We could hear the boom boom and see the flash from Turkish guns coming from the big ridge of mountains, shells bursting, our men landing from the lighters and stretcher bearers bringing down and collecting wounded on the beach.  The whole bay was quivering with the vibration.  Mind you, just before this, Gertie and Mollie had been up playing a little tune on the small piano in the saloon - I’m sure that was quite a unique event to have occurred in the Gallipoli campaign.

Somehow, we got on to the beach safely. It was remarkable how quickly you got used to it and soon we never bothered ducking unless the shell was quite close.  I must say the discipline stood to us marvelously, for we were more or less stupefied.

We got on past stretcher bearers, wounded, dying and dead, and arrived at a long strand, shells dropping, men groaning and the medical corps bandaging like fury. We lay like sardines under the cliff. The Inniskillings were there also and who was with them only our uncle Captain Bob Stevenson from Moygashel!

After one frightening near miss, the brothers separated to minimize the chance they would both be killed.

Respite came at nightfall, as the Turks were, for the moment, driven back over the summit.

We were so tired; some of us didn’t eat as much as a biscuit or take a sup of water.  It was absolutely miserable in the dark to hear the moaning of the wounded and dying, both of our own brave men and the Turks.  I slept for an hour and woke, my teeth and knees shivering cold.

Despite the efforts of a human chain passing buckets up and down the mountainside, thirst soon became a torture.  Nearby was a big lake of dry salt for all the world like frozen snow.  The hot air rises off it in the daytime and you could see a rim of white scum formed on our lips by it.  In this state, you could drink anything and it was a maddening thirst,  I’m sure, that helped me to get dysentery.  After a few days, the wells dried up we were drinking mud and gravel as well; our teeth used to be black with the dirty water.

Reunited during a lull in the battle, the trio, Golly and Mollie and Gertie exchanged experiences and shared a ‘gloriously sweet’ tin of condensed milk. Someone had found the body of a young Turkish girl sniper with fourteen chilling trophies round her neck - identification tags mostly from the Munster Fusiliers. Another find was a bag of clothes: they all bagged a Turkish waistcoat and one joker put on a Fez and peeped into the next trench for a bit of crack!

Anything that brought a bit of cheer helped to alleviate the sense of horror: Responding to the constant call for stretcher bearers, there to the fore would come their good-humoured friend Fatty Clements, a clergyman’s son from Moira, leading the way with a broad grin on his face.

Day after night passed in a blur of exhaustion: Just when they thought they were going to base for a rest, they were ordered to undertake a five hour hike to reach the beach where they had landed. Stumbling over make-shift burial mounds in the dark, the two brothers found each other again and slept for two hours under a rock.  Rubbing sand over their bodies to remove the dirt, they surveyed the scene: shells bursting, mules shifting supplies, a steamer condensing seawater into fresh.  Then, off up the slopes again. It was exhausting carrying dixies of water, then having to dig themselves in.

A mailbag from home brought a letter that made them terribly home sick.  Also enclosed was the Punch Summer Annual

I thought it awfully tragic for people at home to be laughing over such silly things while we were in a game of life and death. Sunday.  Our hope of sharing divine service with our Catholic friends and good old Father Murphy, vanished before dawn as we came under Turkish shell fire that lasted all day.  At one point, a cheer went up in front - the gallant Munsters had taken a ridge of trenches at bayonet point and were yelling like madmen.

Often, the men in the front line were to be seen catching the bombs and throwing them back but their heroism was never recorded because their officers were practically all killed.  The brothers witnessed terrible woundings, but actually only a third of casualties at Gallipoli were due to injuries: the rest contracted illnesses caused by extremes of heat and cold, plagues of flies and lack of clean water.

By roll call on 17th August, over 100 of ‘D’ company was absent.

That evening we sat looking at the sun setting in the west and thinking of home. Although we couldn’t, I’m sure a ‘blub’ would have made us feel better.’

Next day, Douglas felt the symptoms of dysentery and joined the line of men being sent down to the field hospital. - a rough and rocky journey.  In daylight, they were brought down to the beach and labeled like parcels.  They lay under a shelter until put on board the Alaunia - now refitted as a hospital ship accommodating 2,000 cases.  The attention of nurses and luxuries like hot milk brought comfort and as he improved, Douglas helped the hard-pressed medics.  There were 68 burials at sea.

Back in London, Douglas spent a week in hospital, but, determined to get back to Ireland, he discharged himself.

I was up since dawn for a first glimpse of Ireland, then to Enniskillen to my dear, dear Father and Mother who met me at the station with open arms.

Just weeks later, Douglas helped shoulder the coffin at his father’s funeral. Cecil was still far from home, by then invalided to a hospital in Alexandria.

To the distress of the family and against medical advice - for he was still traumatized - Douglas answered the appeal for trainee officers and took a commission as a sub lieutenant in the 6th Inniskillings.  They left for France on 16th June 1916.

Writing two days later to his mother, Douglas assured her:

As long as I left you without any tears, dear, my heart did not ache. I did feel proud at Charing Cross to be one of that noble lot going out.

On 30th June, the eve of the battle of the Somme, he wrote:

Dearest,Well, here I am in the thick of it all and talk about Suvla Bay, why this is a thousand times worse. The noise would put you astray in the head. For the sake of us all, pray for a speedy and victorious peace. Mizpah.

The next communication came from the War Office:

Deeply regret to inform you that your son is reported missing, believed killed in action, 1st July.

According to the official citation, Douglas was leading the Enniskillen platoon when a bullet took off one of his fingers. As he was binding it up, his men urged him to go back to the dressing station. Insisting that his place was with them, he refused and went on until a shell extinguished his bright and noble spirit.

Douglas’s name appears on the Thiepval memorial along with those of more than 72,000 men who died at the Somme and have no known grave.

Cecil survived to resume his career in banking. He talked little of his experiences, but retained a strong dislike of barbed wire.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

World War 2 Veterans Wanted for VE Day 70th Anniversary

World War 2 Veterans Wanted for Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) 70th Anniversary

The Royal British Legion have announced a scheme by which WW2 veterans can apply for funding to attend a commemoration event in London over the weekend of 8th to 10th May 2015.

".... The Royal British Legion will join the nation in marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day over the weekend of 8-10 May.  A series of national commemorative events will take place in London, and community events and celebrations are being organised across the country.

The Second World War generation will be at the heart of all activity and, as part of this, the Legion is now making a call out to veterans of VE Day, who would like to take part in the national commemorations in London.

To ensure representation across all those who played an active role during the Second World War, the invitation is for those who served in the military, the Home Guard or in any one of the reserved occupations, including medics, police and the 'Bevan Boys'.

To be eligible, veterans must be 85 years and over (by 8 May 2015). All veterans can bring one nominated carer with them. ...."