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Friday, 12 July 2019

Thomson, Benjamin Black

Private Benjamin Black Thomson

was born in Fort Meade, Florida, USA in 1891 to Isbela Lyle Thomson.

Thomson would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1908.  A John Oliver Horner (1911 aged 77, Merchant) of Limavady provided the necessary surety to the bank.

[Surety Ledger, Belfast Banking Company]

In 1911 he is boarding in house 18, Scotch Street, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.  The property may have been a hotel.  Thomson is described as a Bank Clerk.  He served part of his banking career in Ballymena branch.

[Belfast Banking Company, Ballymena branch - 1918]

On 4th September 1914 Benjamin enlisted into the (North Belfast) Royal Irish Rifles with Service Number 3733.

[Army Attestation Form - signed 4th September 1914]

Benjamin Black Thomson died on 28th January 1959 and is buried in Ballywillan Cemetery, Portrush.

Monday, 1 July 2019

McElvaine, Andrew Floyd

Lieutenant Andrew Floyd McElvaine
was born in 11th January 1895 in Lisnabrague townland, Scarva to Andrew McElvaine JP and Susan McElvaine nee Poole.  They had previously married on 24th March 1894 at Banbridge Registry Office.

In 1901 he lived in house 14, Lisnabrague, Scarva, Co. Down with his parents and 3 siblings; Annie Martha, Mary Winifred and Edmund.  3 servants and a visitor were also present on census day.  

By 1911 the property was known as house 7, Lisnabraque, Scarva, Co. Down.  Living in the house with Andrew was his parents, 5 siblings; Annie Martha, Mary Winifred, Nora Dorothy, Susan Ratha, and Henry Norman.  There was also a governess and 2 servants present.  Edmund (15) was at boarding school in Lisburn (house 5.1 Lisnagarvey - Ulster Provincial School).

The Newry Reporter dated 22nd November 1911 has an advertisement for 'Stapleton's Academy'.  It quotes 'Our successes for the term just ended: Last Belfast Bank exam, Mr A F McElvaine, Scarva.

[Advertisement re Stapleton's Academy - AF McElvaine bank exam results]

McElvaine would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1912 working in Cookstown and Portadown branches.

[Security bond record taken by bank for new entrant]

[Belfast Banking Company, Cookstown Branch, 1918]

[Belfast Banking Company, Portadown Branch, 1918]

His father, Andrew died on 5th January 1914.

On 30th December 1914 McElvaine enlisted into the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) with Service Number (RNAS) was F2889.  His period of engagement was 'for hostilities'.

[Royal Navy Record Card]

His first theatre of war is recorded on his Medal Index Card as France from June 1915.  Union Lodge, Scarva Street, Poyntzpass is recorded as his address.

He served on the 'Pembroke III' and the 'President II' before becoming an Armoured Car Driver in July 1915.  A further period at sea on the 'President ?' followed from October 1915.  His rank was Chief Petty Officer.

He later served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  On 8th January 1916, he attained the rank of Temporary 2nd Lieutenant.  Transferred to HB MGC on 16th December 1916 ('D' Battalion).

He was wounded on 5th May 1917.  Later he was treated for treated trench fever at Poperinge and returned home.

The Belfast News Letter of 17th May 1917 reports:

The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet records McElvaine as 'previously wounded'.

McElvaine was awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

A 22 year old brother, Edmund (farmer) passed away on 18th November 1918 as a result of the influenza pandemic. 

The London Gazette dated 23rd April 1920 records two entries:

Tank Corps

Temp. Lt. A. F. McElvaine relinquishing the Acting rank of Capt. on ceasing to be employed as (an) Instructor - 1st October 1919.

Temp. Lt. A. F. McElvaine relinquishes his commission on completion of service, 4th January 1920, and is granted the rank of Captain.

It is not known if Andrew returned to the Belfast Banking Company.  However, from the following evidence, he may have joined a London based bank and continued his career in London, Argentina and Spain.

There are various records on Ancestry.Co.UK of an A F McElvaine departing and returning to the UK from Argentina.

On 15th August 1935, an A F McElvaine (40) arrived in London from La Plata, Argentina with Hazel (Knapp), Denis McElvaine (24) and Denis Philip McElvaine (1).  AFM is described as a bank employee with an address at 6-8 Tokenhouse Yard, London.

On 18th November 1950, an A F McElvaine departed London for Argentina.  Described as a bank clerk with an address at 25 Fifth Avenue, Baylands, Bangor.

On 25th February 1984, an A F McElvaine died in Malaga, Spain leaving the sum of £26,188 (probate, London, 4th December 1984.

1935 saw the Union Lodge estate being sold.

[Belfast Telegraph, 13th December 1935]

[Union Lodge, Scarva, County Down - no date.  Courtesy Denis McElvaine]

A son, Denis survives and lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Fenton, Rodney

Rodney Fenton

was aged 23 and was working for Northern Bank in Antrim Road branch. 
On 20 December 1973, Rodney was shot and killed shortly after leaving the bank with colleagues.  It is thought that he was mistaken for and off duty policeman. 
He was a civilian bank employee.

At the time of writing (2012), there is no memorial to Fenton in Northern Bank.

The book 'Lost Lives' describes the killing of Rodney:

Rodney George Fenton, 22-year-old Protestant civilian, single and a bank clerk was from Lower Ballymartin Road, Killaloo.  He was shot in the back by an IRA gunman at the junction of Baltic Avenue and Antrim Road.  He and 3 colleagues were walking to a pub for a Christmas drink at the time of the attack.  One of his workmates was a reserve police officer and was injured in the attack. All 4 men worked at the Antrim Road branch of the Northern Bank and had been walking along Atlantic Avenue when they were attacked.  A gunman with long hair walked up behind the men and shot the reserve constable and before he ran off,  One of the men told the inquest that the attack was completely unexpected and that the only motive for the attack was to shoot the reserve police officer. A detective said there was no apparent motive for the attack in a predominantly Catholic area.  It was believed that the IRA carried out the attack.  The IRA had issued statements warning people not to be in the company of security force members.  Mr. Fenton lived in a rented room in Belfast.  He was due to go home the following day to spend Christmas with his family.  Mr. Fenton's father was a well-known orthopaedic consultant at Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital.  A room at the hospital was dedicated to the memory of Mr. Fenton.

An Appreciation from ‘The Link’ (Northern Bank staff magazine)
The list of those who have come to violent death whilst on the staff of the Northern Bank is not a long one, but one more name must now be regretfully added to that roll.  His many friends both in the Bank and from school and social life were shocked and distressed to learn of the tragic end of Rodney Fenton in an incident outside Antrim Road Branch, Belfast on 20th December.
On leaving school, Rodney went into a business house in Londonderry, not far from his home.  Thus he already had a year’s experience to his credit when he joined the staff of the Belfast Banking Company at Duncairn Gardens Branch on 1st June 1970.  Few officials make so good an impression on so many people as did Rodney from then till the end of what proved to be the short period of service allotted to him.  From his first day in the Bank he showed himself an adaptable and agreeable official.  His pleasant manner with colleagues and customers alike, and his willingness to take trouble to give special service were exemplary.
Though his banking career turned out to be brief, he experienced the extra work in which cashiers were involved over decimalisation; and also the added task imposed by the merging of two Branches of the Bank, but Rodney bore more than his share of these tasks with such good-will that he lightened the load for others.
He deserves to be, and will long be, remembered by those who knew him.  The tremendous number of expressions of sympathy received at the Branch after his death, were a tribute to his popularity with all.
J D Russell

Belfast Banking Company, Duncairn Gardens, Belfast - 1932

On 15th February 1975, The Rodney Fenton Memorial Room of Rest was dedicated at a private ceremoney at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry by the Moderator-Designate of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. George Wynne.  In attendance were his parenets, Mr George L Fenton FRCS and Mrs Fenton and his brothers David, Christopher and Nicholas. 

The Staff Magazine 'The Link' (Summer 1975) contains a photograph of The Fenton Room.

Update 1

Mr George I Fenton FRCS died on 3rd October 2014.  The late Rodney is mentioned in the Belfast Telegraph death notice.

Update 2

Gavin Bamford made a private visit to Altnagelvin Hospoital, Londonderry to remember Rodney Fenton and to see the Fenton Room.  The following photographs are from the room.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Nesbitt, William Alexander

Signaller William Alexander Nesbitt

was born on 26th August 1899 at Toberdowney, Ballynure and was the son of the Rev. Samuel T Nesbitt and Agnes Bailie Nesbitt nee Hill.

In 1901 William was living in house 7, Toberdowney, Ballynure, Co. Antrim with his parents, a nurse, a servant and a sister, Mary Evelyn.

In 1911 William was living in the same house with his parents, a servant, a visitor and 45 siblings; Mary Evelyn, John Herbert, Florence Agnes, Dorothy Sarah, and Gladys Josephine.

Nesbitt joined the Belfast Bank on 16th April 1917 working in Derry, East End and Accountants.

[BBCo, Londonderry branch]

[BBCo, East End branch]

[BBCo, Head Office, Accountants Department]

According to the BBCo records, William Alexander Nesbitt served as a Signaller (Private) with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.  However, I am unable to identify him in the on-line databases.

Following his demobilisation after the Great War, Nesbitt returned to work.  His address is recorded as Ingleside, Browns Bay, Islandmagee.  Nesbitt was a member of the Belfast Banking Company Sports Club on 30th March 1946 paying 5 shillings subscription and was worked in Head Office.

Retirement came on 16th April 1962.

Nesbitt died on 23rd September 1978.

Oldham, Edward Garr Wesley

2nd Lieutenant Edward Garr Wesley Oldham

was born on 27th May 1887 at 43 Prospect Terrace, Belfast to Edward Garr Oldham (Clerk) and Agnes Rebecca Oldham nee Mulholland.

[43-47 Prospect Terrace, University Road, Belfast - courtesy of Albert Bridge via]

In 1901 he lived in house 111, Lisburn Road, Windsor Ward, Belfast with his parents, 3 aunts, a nurse, a servant and 4 siblings; Leslie, Thomas, Henry and John (dob 28th August 1897 - see below).

Edward would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1905 and worked in Markets branch and Head Office.

[Belfast Banking Company, Markets branch]

[Belfast Banking Company, Head Office]

By 1911 their property was now described as house 184, Lisburn Road, Windsor Ward, Belfast. Both father and son are described as Bank Officials.  The parents, a servant (*) and the 5 boys are present in the house.

On 28th September 1912, Oldham's father signed the Ulster Covenant at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast giving his address as 184 Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Edward volunteered and served with the 10th Royal Irish Rifles.  His Service Number was 10/15717.  His first theatre of war was recorded as France from 5th October 1915.  He was later promoted to Lance Corporal.

Promotion to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant was attained in August 1917.

On 15th September 1917 Edward married Emily (Emmie) Victoria Nicol of Belfast at Duncairn Presbyterian Church.  Edward is described as a military officer.

The Belfast News Letter of 1st May 1918 reports:

Following his demobilisation after the Great War, Oldham returned to work.  The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' records Oldham as having been 'previously wounded' with his last known address as 'in France'.

As an officer, Edward had to apply for his medal entitlement.  He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the Victory medal and the British War Medal.  The address recorded on his Medal Index card was 6 Chichester Avenue, Belfast.

He is remembered on the Balmoral Golf Club Roll of Honour along with his brother John Byers Oldham.  John served in the Army Service Corps (T4/149974); North Irish Horse (2665) and the North Irish Horse/Royal Irish Fusiliers (41346).

[Balmoral Golf Club War Memorial / Roll of Honour
- Courtesy of John McCormick]

[Balmoral Golf Club War Memorial / Roll of Honour
- Courtesy of John McCormick]

Oldham was a member of the Belfast Banking Company Sports Club on 26th March 1945 paying 5 shillings subscription.

Retirement came in 1948.

Oldham died on 6th November 1949 aged 63 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.  His last address was 19 Rosetta Avenue, Belfast.

(*)  1901 Irish Census - Ellen Farrell (36), Rostrevor, County Down.  Married on 16th July 1903 to Patrick McKenna at St Peter's Roman Catholic church, Belfast.  This information has been included as a descendant of Ellen Farrell is trying to source a photograph of her.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Holmes, Charles

Lieutenant Charles Holmes MC and Bar

was born at Ballybogan on 28th October 1894 to William Holmes (Farmer) and Mary Anne Holmes nee Brooks.

In 1901 Charles was living in house 1, Ballybogan, Clonleigh South, Co. Donegal with his parents and 2 siblings, Robert Brooks and William.  A servant, Patrick Cullen was also living in the property.

By 1911 the property is described as house 4, Ballybogan, Clonleigh South, Co. Donegal.  2 daughters had been born since 1901, Annie Margaret and Rebecca Mary.

Holmes would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1912 working in Lurgan and Central branches.

[Belfast Banking Company, Lurgan branch]

[Belfast Banking Company, Belfast Central branch]

Holmes served with the 13th Royal Irish Rifles and attained the rank of Lieutenant.  His first theatre of war is recorded as France from 22nd June 1918.

He later transferred to the Royal Army Pay Corps where he continued his service as a Lieutenant.

The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet records Holmes as being 'previously wounded' with his last known address as being 'in France'.

As an officer he would have had to apply for his service medals, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

He was also awarded the Military Cross twice (MC and Bar).

His first citation was published in the London Gazette on 16th September 1918 reads

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  One night this officer, with 12 men and a party of infantry, captured two machine guns, holding at bay a large body of the enemy who nearly cut them off, and successfully extricating the whole of his men with but few casualties.” 

The second citation was published by the London Gazette on 1st February 1919.  It reads:

“For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership south-east of Dadizeele in September, 1918.  He led a platoon against a wood strongly held by machine guns and about 100 men, clearing it at the point of the bayonet and accounting for at least fifty men and three machine guns.  Although wounded himself, he continued encouraging his men against heavy odds.”  

McManus, Hubert

Hubert McManus

[Photo courtesy of Jennifer Riley McManus]

was born on 27th May 1888 at Market Square, Dungannon to Samuel McManus (Draper) and Jane McManus nee Booth.  

In 1901, Hubert was living in house 14, Market Square (East Side), Dungannon, Co. Tyrone with his parents and 6 siblings, Samuel Edgar, Anne Gertrude, Louisa Euphemia, Harold, Winifred and Randal Edmund (see below).  2 shop assistants, Nellie Keer & Jane Gullfillan and 2 servants, Annie Bates & Cathleen Dunlop also lived in the property.

In 1911, a Herbert McManus is boarding in house 59, Willowbank Street, Clifton Ward, Belfast.  He was aged 23 and a Bank Official Accountant. 
Based on his age, McManus may have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1905.

In 1914 Hubert enlisted into the North Irish Horse with Service Number 1267.  Later he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps with Service Number 104215 where he was promoted to Corporal.  

His first theatre of war is recorded as France and Flanders from 2nd June 1915.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 26th October 1917.

An injury occurred making Hubert eligible for the Silver War Badge (SWB).  The Medal Index Card records the number incorrectly as 183889.  The SWB Roll records the badge number as 383889.  He was invalided out of the army in 1917.  

He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory Medal.

A descendant (via a cousin of Hubert's), Alastair McManus (Canada) has sent me this information:

" .... Hubert emigrated to Canada in 1911 (or 1912) with his younger brother Randal (killed in WW1), probably going to stay with their older brother Harold.  Hubert worked in the North Bay, Ontario, branch of the Imperial Bank of Canada, 210 miles north of Toronto.  However, on the outbreak of war, both he and Randal returned to Ireland in 1914.  Hubert enlisted in the North Irish Horse.  He was later commissioned and was invalided from service in 1917.  He returned to the Belfast Bank in 1918 and remained in Belfast for the rest of his life. ...."

McManus was a member of the Belfast Banking Company Sports Club in April 1947 paying 5 shillings subscription and was recorded as being in Head Office. 
The Staff Magazine ‘The Link (Summer 1984)’ contains a photograph of McManus in a 1947 Belfast Banking Company Cricket Team.

Hubert's brother, Randal Edmund is detailed on the Commonwealth War Graves website as follows:

Son of Jane McManus, 6 Howard Terrace, Dungannon; Lance Corporal, Army Number 41505, died 19/04/1918 aged 26, 9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers, commemorated on Pane 140 to 141, Tyne Cot Memorial.

[Newspaper image courtesy of Mrs Gemma Crutchley
via Lives of the First World War website]

McMahon, Patrick

2nd Lieutenant Patrick McMahon
was born on 8th November 1886 in Irish Street, Armagh City, Co. Armagh, the son of Patrick McMahon (Flax Merchant) and Annie McMahon nee Quinn.

In 1901, Patrick resided in house 3, Edward Street, Armagh with his parents, 6 siblings (Charles, Josephine, Francis, Mary, Harry and Joseph) and a servant, Susan Dolleghan.

Around 1904-1906 McMahon (18/20) Patrick joined the Belfast Banking Company and served in Newry and Buncrana branches.

[Belfast Banking Company, Newry branch - 1918]

[Belfast Banking Company, Buncrana branch - 1918]

In 1911, McMahon is recorded as boarding in house 102, Main Street, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.  He is described as a Bank Clerk.  There are 2 other Bank Clerks also boarding in this house; Norman A Anderson (17) and James Wright (27). 
McMahon volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Highlanders with Service Number 2171.  

Following his training, he sailed for France on 19th November 1915.
He was serving with 4th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles as a 2nd Lieutenant when he was killed in action on 11th June 1917 aged 29. 

The De Ruvigny Roll of Honour (see picture below) records:

".... was wounded in the Somme battle ...... was wounded at Messines receiving gunshots in the left side and arm ...... died the same day in the grounds of the casualty clearing station ......"

[De Ruvigny Roll of Honour - McMahon Excerpt]

McMahon is buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

Patrick was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  As he was an officer, a relative applied for these on 23rd March 1923.

The full page of the De Ruvigny Roll of Honour:

[De Ruvigny Roll of Honour - Full Page]