Post-war rolls of honour

In the aftermath of the First World War, some banks published lists of men from their staff who had served or died.

As banks and their staff looked back on the First World War after the Armistice, many wanted to find a way to express their pride in colleagues 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 5.5 MB) recorded 578 names, including 99 who had died; National Bank of Scotland’s roll (PDF 2.8 MB), 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 man. 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, although some entries are much briefer. An open copy of the roll was displayed in a 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 1914-18.

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. Instead, it published a roll naming only the 544 men of its staff who had been killed. 

For our smallest banks, in contrast, a more personal recognition was possible. 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 had sent to colleagues back home while they were away. Leafing through its pages more than 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.