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Friday, 21 February 2020

1940 and All That by Bobby Malseed (7905067)

1940 and All That by Bobby Malseed (7905067)


The following article appeared in the Staff Magazine, The Link (Winter 1985).



It all started in 1936 or so when my generation, who were brought up on the old saying that the sun never sets on the British Empire and saluting the flag on Empire Day, had only two thoughts in mind, i.e. get a job and then join up if war came.

I joined the Bank in May 1940 just before Dunkirk and after six months of dipped pens, passing irregular endorsements on cheques, failing to copy letters correctly and losing the National Insurance Cards I heard the call of King and Country very clearly. 

New Year’s Eve was spent behind a desk writing up Pass Books.   With the pile of books growing higher and the singing of the soldiers outside getting louder as they welcomed in the New Year I knew my place was with them. 

After five years of hostilities I spent a final year in the Army of Occupation in Germany where there was a thriving Black Market with twenty cigarettes fetching 100 Marks and a bottle of Scotch costing 17 Marks.   A good life was had by all. (The immorality was deplorable). 

At this stage it is only right to mention that during our service in the Forces the Officials at home were kind enough to subscribe to a Tobacco Fund organised by the late Hubert McManus (Hugh’s father) and I think we got 500 cigarettes per month and, believe me, they were very welcome.   We never thought as we practically ate them in the tank that smoking was bad for our health and there were many other things around at that time that should surely have had a Government Health Warning.   I remember going on leave from Italy and leaving instructions that my cigarette parcel was to be opened and shared leaving me 100 for myself – when I returned I was very surprised to see a lady whose character reference would surely be ‘trustworthy for any business engagement she would be likely to enter into’ smoking Gallaher Greens. 

On return to Markets Branch in October 1946 dressed in my demob suit (which everybody was given on demobilisation) it was difficult to adjust to the new life. 

You can imagine my predicament at 24 years of age just about being able to differentiate between a lodgement docket (white) and a cheque (pink) with the stale joke in my mind regarding the accountant who had a note on his desk about the Credit side being next the window which never struck me as being very funny as it was too near home for me. 

However, the staff were all very kind to me and took great patience to explain many times how to do my daily tasks. 

There were Welcome Home parties given by the churches and I will always remember Malone Rugby Club’s Welcome Home Dinner held in Thompson’s Restaurant where we received free Guinness which was very important to us in those days when ‘little things meant such a lot’.   We also had our own annual Ex-Service Dinner which was very much enjoyed and, strangely enough, those “informal” occasions did not appear to affect our careers.  I think that when we came home everybody hoped that we would blend into Society as soon and as painlessly as possible. 

As most of us are now well over 60 the meaning of ‘they shall grow not old as we that are left grow old’ becomes much more vivid.   Those of us who parade on Armistice Sunday look round at our grey-haired comrades and think of how smart they once looked in the various uniforms and how the great bond of understanding and friendship has blossomed over the years between us and a great feeling of thankfulness to be alive is always prevalent.

Mathews, William Frederick Alexander




Private William Frederick Alexander Mathews
was born in 15 Windsor Road, Dublin on 16th November 1893 to Marcus Beresford Mathews, Bank Clerk and Annie Mathews nee Henry.

In 1901 William is living in house 31.1 Henry Street, North City, Dublin with his parents and 6 siblings, Ada, Annie, Helen, Richard, Alfred and Marcus.  Two servants, Mary Smyth and Sarah Nicholson are also living in the house.  Marcus Beresford Mathews is described as a Bank Manager.

On 6th August 1910, Mathews joined Northern Bank at Ball’s branch, Dublin.



[Northern Bank, Ball's branch, Upper O'Connell Street, Dublin]


By 1911, William is living in house 115 Grafton Street, South City, Dublin. (Northern Bank House) with his parents and 6 siblings, Adelaide, Annie, Alfred, Helen, Reginald and Mary.  Marcus is recorded as a bank manager and William is recorded as a bank official.
 


[Northern Bank, Grafton Street, Dublin]


A transfer to Head Office followed in 1914.


[Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast]


On 15th April 1914, Mathews volunteered and enlisted into the 7th Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a Private (M.G.S.) with Service Number 14199.

Mathews fought in battles at Suvla Bay Landing and Chocolate Hill before he was Killed in Action on 13th September 1915 aged 21.

Mathews was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.


[Mathews, W F A - Medal Index Card]


He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey and in the family church, St Werburgh, Dublin.
 
Many thanks to the facebook group Royal Dublin Fusiliers for posting this family memorial from the church.



The Register of Soldiers Effects records that William's pay and war gratuity was paid to his father, Marcus.


[Mathews, W F A - Soldier's Effects Ledger]


Mathews was commemorated in a Gallipoli Centenary event [video] at the Northern Banking Company exhibit, Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra in April 2015.







Kennedy, William


Private William Kennedy
was born on 13th November 1892 in Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland, the son of the Rev'd Samuel Guiler Kennedy and Christina Lary (maiden name unknown).

In 1901 William lived in house 5, Crescent Gardens, Windsor, Belfast with his parents and 3 siblings, Christina Lary, J A Chancellor and James.  A servant, Helena Jane McCready also lived in the house.

Following his education at RBAI (Inst), Kennedy joined Northern Bank on 4th January 1910 at Head Office.


[Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast]


Transfers followed to Shaftesbury Square (1910), Magherafelt (1911), Shaftesbury Square (1912) and Head Office – relief (1912).  



[Northern Bank, Shaftesbury Square, Belfast]


[Northern Bank, Magherafelt]

William's bank staff ledger records "Willing to deliver passbooks to private houses".

In 1911 William was living in house 31, Cromwell Road, Cromac Ward, Belfast with his parents and 5 siblings, Christina, Josias, James, Samuel and Herbert.  A servant, Annie Trainor was also living in the property.  William's occupation is recorded as a Bank Clerk. 



On 9th September 1914, whilst based in Head Office, he volunteered and enlisted into the 14th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles as a Private (Rifleman) with Service Number 14/16657.   His unit is also recorded as the Young Citizen Volunteers (11th Bn. R I R).  His first theatre of war is recorded as France from 5th October 1915.

William was killed in action on 7th June 1917 and is buried in the Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery, Belgium. 

In the July 1917 edition of the Inst School News it was announced that Kennedy had been awarded a Certificate for Gallantry in the field.

He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.



[William Kennedy, Medal Index Card]




Administration of the Estate of Kennedy was granted at Belfast to Reverend Samuel G Kennedy.  Kennedy's effects were £200.



*  Thanks must go to this website for some of the photographs - Kennedy Genealogy.

Also see S G Kennedy who was a cousin and worked for the Belfast Banking Company.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Andrews, Arthur Alexander



Lieutenant Arthur Alexander Andrews
was born at Stuart Place, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone on 27th August 1894 to Alexander Andrews, Tea Merchant and Violet Andrews nee Morrison. 

In 1901 Arthur lived in house 1, Chapel Road, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone with his parents and 3 siblings, Jim (*), May and Fred.  3 servants were also in the house; 2 were also described as Tea Travellers.

In 1911 Arthur, his parents and 2 siblings, Annie May and Fred Stanley were living in the same property.  2 servants also described as Tea Travellers were also in the house.

Arthur probably joined the Belfast Banking Company between 1912 and the war years.  His father, Alex Andrews signed the necessary indemnity for the bank.  Arthur saw service in Portaferry, Coleraine and Bangor branches. 



[A A Andrews - Belfast Banking Company - Bankers Guarantee Ledger]



[Belfast Banking Company, Portaferry branch]




[Belfast Banking Company, Coleraine branch]


[Belfast Banking Company, Coleraine branch - interior]



[Belfast Banking Company, Bangor branch]


Arthur enlisted into the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1915 and served with their 9th and 10th Battalions first as a 2nd Lieutenant and then as a Lieutenant.

The following transcripts of newspaper articles relating to Arthur Andrews have been copied from the website Dungannon War Dead Database.  My sincere thanks go to their researchers.  This excellent link also provides extensive coverage of the war actions of Arthur's two brothers, 2nd Lt Wm James M Andrews (RFC) and 2nd Lt Fred S Andrews (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers).

The Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th 1915 reports:

"Mr Arthur Andrews, who was home for the weekend, is the second son of Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon. Educated at Dungannon Royal School, he obtained an appointment in the Belfast Bank after public competition. He served in the company’s offices in Portaferry and Coleraine and also in Bangor. He has answered his country’s call on Easter Tuesday and joined the Cadet Corps of the 17th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, and is at present stationed at Newcastle, County Down." 

The Belfast News-Letter dated 13th July 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, Royal Irish Fusiliers (Armagh Volunteers), who, as already reported, was wounded on the 1st July, has now written to his father, Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, stating that he sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, but is progressing favourably."

The Tyrone Courier dated 13th July 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, Irish Fusiliers, wounded in the thigh, is the second son of Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, and received his commission on 23rd August 1915. Previous to this, he was in the employment of the Belfast Banking Company in Coleraine and Belfast. He was educated at the Royal School Dungannon."


The Mid Ulster Mail dated 15th July 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, Royal Irish Fusiliers, has been wounded in the thigh. He is the second son of Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, and received his commission on 23rd August 1915. Previous to this he was in the employment of the Belfast Banking Company in Coleraine and Belfast. He was educated at the Royal School Dungannon."


The Tyrone Courier dated 20th July 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, Irish Fusiliers, who as already reported, was wounded on 1st July, has written to his father Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, stating that he sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, but is progressing favourably."


The Mid Ulster Mail dated 22nd July 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Andrews, Royal Irish Fusiliers, who, as already noted, has been wounded in action, has written to his father, Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, intimating that he sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, caused by a bullet wound."


The Mid Ulster Mail dated 23rd December 1916 reports:

"Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, Royal Irish Fusiliers, returned home to Dungannon on Tuesday suffering from wounds received in the famous advance on 1st July. He is the second son of Mr Alexander Andrews, Stuart Place, Dungannon, and received his commission on 23rd August 1915, having prior to volunteering been in the employment of the Belfast Banking Company in Coleraine and Belfast. He has sustained a compound fracture of the thigh, and the sciatic nerve had also been injured causing severe pain."


Arthur was reported in the Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet as 'wounded in action'.


[Belfast Banking Company - 'Roll of Honour' booklet]

Following Arthur's demobilisation from the war, he was awarded the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.  His address as recorded on the Medal Index Card is The Royal Bank of Ireland, Letterkenny.


[A A Andrews - Medal Index Card]

The Medal Index Card records that Arthur was awarded a Silver War Badge numbered 233447 on 10th April 1918 as a result of his injuries.


[A A Andrews - Silver War Badge roll (bottom)]

On 25th July 1921 the Belfast News Letter reported that Mr A A Andrews of Belfast Bank was in a serious motor accident with injuries that may result in his leg being amputated.  This may be avoided as his other leg was injured during the war.



[Belfast News Letter dated 25th July 1921]


The Bankers Guarantee ledger records in pencil that Arthur 'left' the bank, date unknown.  

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Stewart, Eric Hilton


Corporal Eric Hilton Stewart
was born in Belfast on 15th July 1895 the son of Harry Hilton Stewart, Bank Clerk and Anna Mary Maude Stewart nee Young.

In 1901 Eric was living in house 15, (Chattenden), Chichester Park, Belfast with his parents, 2 aunts Margaret Elizabeth and Emily Alice and 2 siblings,  Percy Malcolm and Marjorie Evelyn.  The family were of  of Church of Ireland faith.  Harry's job was recorded as Bank Inspector and he worked for Northern Bank.

In 1911 the parents are living in house 20, Salisbury Avenue, Clifton Ward, Belfast with their family aged Marjorie (10), Ethel (4) and Alan (1).  There are 2 servants as well.  Eric would have been aged 15 or 16 in 1911.   He was not present in the house on Census day and was recorded as residing in house 1.2, College Hill, Armagh.  This is probably Armagh Royal School. 

On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, Stewart signed the Ulster Covenant at Cliftonpark Church Lecture Hall giving his address as 5 Salisbury Villas, Chichester Park, Belfast.

Stewart joined Northern Bank on 5th October 1913 in Head Office.  Transfers to Shaftesbury Square (1913) and Head Office (1914) followed.


[Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast] 


[Northern Banking Company, Shaftesbury Square branch]


In September 1914, Eric volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools and Universities Bn.) as a Private with Service Number FS5676.   His first theatre of war is recorded as France from 15th November 1915.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal and then to Corporal.  He served with the British Expeditionary Force ultimately ending up at the Somme (1916).


[Eric H Stewart - Medal Index Card]

Eric was serving with the 20th Bn. Royal Fusiliers when he was killed in action on 16th July 1916 aged 21.

He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

The Belfast News Letter of 25th July 1916 reports:




Following his death, Eric's final pay and benefits was awarded to his father, Harry H Stewart, Chief Inspector, Northern Banking Company.  Harry died in 1940.


[Eric Stewart - Register of Soldiers' Effects]

Furniss, James


2nd Lieutenant James Furniss

was born on 13th November 1888 in Cheshire, North West England, the eldest son of English parents, John E and Ellen Furniss.  John was a Mine Manager. In 1901, the family were living in house 6, Straid, Ballynure, Co. Antrim.  He was raised as Church of Ireland along with his siblings, John Edward (b. 1891), George (b. 1893) and Herbert (b. 1897). Schooling for James was at Skerry's College, 143 Royal Avenue, Belfast.  The school is described as one that prepares candidates for the Civil Service. 

On 10th April 1905, he joined Northern Bank, firstly going to Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast.


[Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast]

Over the next 10 years, James saw service in Newry, Grafton Street (Dublin), Head Office and back again to Grafton Street.


[Northern Banking Company, Newry branch]


[Former Northern Banking Company, Grafton Street, Dublin branch]


In 1911, James is boarding in house 26, Parnell Place, Rathmines and Rathgar West, Dublin.  A Northern Bank colleague, John Andrew McNutt (b.1887) is also boarding in this house.  Both have their occupations described as Bank Officials.  Whilst working in Dublin, Furniss joined the Clontarf Cricket and Football Club, Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Co. Dublin.  There is one newspaper report of James taking part in a cricket match in 1913.  This appears to have been the only match he played in that year.  There were to be no further matches in the period 1914 to 1919.  During the war the club was closed, as most members had gone to war and the land was cultivated as part of the national food security, the war-time food economy.

On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, George, Herbert and John Furniss signed the Ulster Covenant at Straid and Ballyboley (Herbert).  Ellen signed the Women’s Ulster Declaration at Ballyclare.

Whilst the war had started in 1914, James decided to wait until 1916 before volunteering for military service.  Although he was working in Grafton Street, Dublin, James travelled to London to enlist into the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps (OTC).  

James Furniss enlisted for war service on 9th February 1916 into the Inns of Court OTC at Stone's Building, London.  This address was probably a recruiting office.  His contract would have been counter-signed by an Ensign (who would probably have been a 2nd Lieutenant), a Justice of the Peace or an Officer or other authorised person permitted to certify recruits, as well as a witness.

There was a medical examination on the same day.  It says that James Furniss’ age was 27 years and one month. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 146 lbs.  His vision was 6 / 6 and his general physical condition was described as ‘good’.  The medical examination was summarised as ‘fit for service in the Inns of Court OTC’.

James was adopted for service at the Inns of Court Officer OTC as a private with Service Number 9404.  The document states that he is unmarried, a British citizen and has shown good morals.  The latter was certified on 29th July 1916 by two people.  They were the vicar of Holy Orders in Ballynure who testified that James Furniss had a good morale in the last 25 years and a person named Logan who resided in Co. Antrim who testified that James Furniss had shown good morality throughout life.  It further says that James Furniss has sufficient civilian training to become an officer, as attested by the Principal, John W. Renshaw, Shaftesbury House, Botanic Avenue, Belfast.  This was a Tutorial College in Belfast.

9404, Private James Furniss, Inns of Court OTC was ordered to appear for service on 3rd November 1916 at No. 7 Officer Cadet Battalion in Moore Park, Fermoy.  He trained there until 28th February 1917 when he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and posted to the Royal Irish Rifles.  His training grade was rated ‘Good’.


[James Furniss - Medal Index Card]


A document from the Ministry of War (War Office) dated 2nd April 1917 appointed James Furniss to 2nd Lieutenant in the Special Reserve of Officers (4th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles).  It is signed by Colonel M D Graham, Assistant Military Secretary, with a copy to be sent to the responsible officer at the 4th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, Sunny Lands, Carrickfergus.  As is usual with officer’s promotions, the appointment is also announced in the London Gazette.

Furniss served in this regiment until the spring of 1917 when he was posted to the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, which then belonged to the 8th Division. 

The 25th Brigade, which the 1st Royal Irish Rifles was attached to on this occasion, had the task of passing through the 23rd and 24th Brigades at the height of the Westhoek Ridge, which ran between Frezenberg and Westhoek Road.  The goal was to reach the "Green" line which was an imaginary line in the terrain that ran from Zonnebeke in the west to the left edge of Polygon Wood.  This second phase of the attack was carried out by three battalions, the 2nd Lincolnshire to the right, the 1st Royal Irish Rifles in the middle and the 2nd Rifle Brigade on the left.

At 06.00 hours in the morning, the battalion moved from the Halfway House and half an hour later there came reports that said that the 23rd and 24th Brigades attack had been a complete success. Furniss’ battalion was then ordered to advance towards Westhoek Ridge in so called artillery formation.  This was a formation that meant that the battalion was advancing according to a specific pattern in which squads were scattered in order to be less vulnerable to artillery fire.

When they approached the Westhoek Ridge at 08:30 hours, it quickly became apparent that the situation was not what they expected.  The advancing brigades had in itself made a successful advance, but they had not managed to occupy positions in "The Black Line" on Westhoek Ridge adjacent to the Polygon Wood, as the officers had previously thought.

Whilst the British artillery opened the new barrage against the German positions, Furniss’ battalion went into the attack in perfect formation.   t was then just after 10:00 hours (Zero hour + 6 hours 20 minutes with zero hour being 03:50 hours).

The Battalion's left company, D Company, had met with declining fire from machine guns and snipers, both directly in front of them and from their right flank, when they began their advance from the Black Line.  D Company was forced soon after to the ground by the enemy machine-gun fire that came from German positions just west of the area that had recently been exposed to the barrages.  The D Company Commander then gave orders that they would attack in sections, but losses the first minute were so terrible that they immediately had to stop the attack and retreated to their original positions and hold them. This company got in touch with the 2nd Rifle Brigade which at that time was on their left. ‘A’ Company to the right had been stopped by the same reason.  The Battalion middle Company, B, managed to move up all the way to Hannebeke Brook, a truly magnificent feat under the circumstances.  But it turned out after a while that it was impossible for them to defend these new positions as the enemy worked their way around their right flank, so even this company was forced to retreat.  The Company Commander gave orders to retreat until each flank was secured and had established contact with each company off both their right and left side. Colonel Reid, who had command of the battalion only a short time had won the affection and confidence of officers and ranks at all levels, was killed shortly after the attack began. 2nd Lieutenant James Furniss also died at this time and at the same place as Reid.

They managed to beat back a few minor counterattacks on the German side, but at 15:00 hours the situation became more serious when the Germans brought up reinforcements.  It was later reported from their observers that the Germans brought in new fresh troops by truck from Zonnebeke.  The entire weight of the counter case fell on the Lincolnshire and Royal Irish Rifles middle Company, B, and in some places reached the enemy in their trenches.  The surviving soldiers who had been pushed back rounded up by the few remaining officers and soldiers and went to counterattack.  They managed to push back the Germans in a powerful counter-attack, which left behind lots of dead.  A machine-gun was also captured.  The German counter-offensive was definitely broken and the ground gained by the 23rd and 24th Brigades during their past successes, could be held.

2nd Lieutenant James Furniss died on Tuesday, 31st July 1917, on the first day of the Third battle of Ypres. The weather report that day was overcast and the temperature was nearly 70 degrees Fahrenheit with nearly 1 inch of rain falling late in the afternoon.  Earlier in the day had been overcast with fog in the morning, but dry. [This data was derived from notes in the Meteorological Office archives].

The Belfast News Letter of 9th August 1917 reports:




The Belfast News Letter of 10th August 1917 reports:




When James Furniss died, the army advised the family that he had saved a total of £6 18s 1d. The money was sent to his brother, the Rev. George Furniss through a law firm based at 9 Chichester Street, Belfast.

His body was never found.

His brother, George Furniss married Miss Elizabeth Mary Chapman in 1923.  She was the daughter of William Chapman from the Magheralave area in Lisburn. George ministered at Christ Church, Derriaghy; St. Paul’s, Belfast; Drumgooland and St. Patrick's, Newry before retiring in 1936.  He died the following year, 1937.

Another brother, Herbert also worked for the Belfast Banking Company.  

2nd Lieutenant James Furniss is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.   He was also awarded the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.   He is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour of the Clontarf Cricket and Football Clubs. During the Great War, 129 members of the club served with 24 paying the supreme sacrifice.

The other brother, Captain John Edward Furniss MC served with the 12th Bn. and the 4th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.  He was a recipient of the Military Cross and survived the war although badly wounded.
















The Belfast News Letter of 24th April 1916 reports this of his brother, J E Furniss:




The Belfast News Letter of 13th June 1916 reports this of his brother, J E Furniss:



The Belfast News Letter of 28th July 1916 reports this of his brother, J E Furniss:



Probate of the Will was granted at Belfast to The Reverend George Furniss, Clerk.  Furniss' effects were £356 17s.