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Sunday, 10 November 2019

We Will Remember Them

This post is to remember our colleagues who served, died in any conflict since the Great War be it as part of the armed forces or as a civilian just doing their job.

Specifically on this day, 10th November 2019, we remember those of our colleagues who courageously left their bank roles and went off to war.  Today's Northern Bank was created in 1970 with the amalgamation of the Belfast Banking Company with the Northern Banking Company.  

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.

Friday, 8 November 2019


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, 13 October 2019

Martin, James

Captain James Martin
was born in Aghanloo, Limavady on 24th May 1880 to James Martin, Farmer and Elizabeth Martin nee McMains.  James and Elizabeth had married on 31st January 1867.

James Martin - Birth Registration - 24th May 1880

James Martin & Elizabeth McMains - Marriage Registration - 31st January 1867

My thanks go to Eileen Reid (a great-niece of James Martin) and also to Stephen McCracken for helping decipher the family name and address & also for the McMains house photo below.

The Martin family home

James joined Northern Bank on 16th June 1897 at Head Office.

Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

A transfer to Downpatrick followed in 1904.

Northern Banking Company Limited, Downpatrick

In 1901, James is boarding in house 42, Cromwell Road, Cromac Ward, Belfast.  His occupation is recorded as a Bank Clerk.

By 1911 he has moved to Downpatrick and is boarding in house 51, Saul Street, Downpatrick, Co. Down.  He is recorded as a Bank Cashier.

On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, a James Martin signed the Ulster Covenant at the Assembly Hall, Downpatrick.

Whilst in Downpatrick, James, aged 35, volunteered and enlisted into the Cadet Company, 19th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles as a Private with his colleague, F W Orr and an Ulster Bank, Downpatrick official named J R Buchanan was later to die from wounds in 1st April 1918 in a Red Cross hospital in Rouen.

James volunteered for the Officer Training Corps (OTC) based in Ballykinlar.  Martin was Gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant into the 19th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles and later promoted to Lieutenant and Acting Captain.  Later he was posted to the 10th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles and then attached to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He saw service in Messines on 7th June 1917.

He received a severe gunshot wound to his right shoulder.

Demobilisation came in January 1919 when he was invalided out.  He was awarded the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Following demobilisation, Martin rejoined the Bank on 1st April 1919 in Downpatrick.

A transfer to Castlewellan as Manager followed in 1924.  The Northern Banking Company Limited Centenary Volume 1824 to 1924 lists a J Martin as Manager of Castlewellan.

Northern Bank, Castlewellan

James Martin retired on 30th June 1941 and died on 3rd May 1953.  He is remembered on the Roll of Honour in Downpatrick Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Thompson, John

John Thompson

John was born at Doochary, Co. Donegal on 18th October 1874 to George William Thompson, General Practitioner and Bessie Anne Thompson.  [Ref: 1901 Irish Census.  Address: House 18 Derrynacarrow, Doochary, Co. Donegal]

[Further family information would be required before this can be verified with the official birth registrations.]

On 1st June 1891 John, aged 17 joined Northern Bank at Head Office.

Northern Company Limited, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Transfers followed to Ramelton (1891), Downpatrick (1893), Lisburn (1896), Head Office (1898) and Derry (1900).

Northern Banking Company, Ramelton

Northern Banking Company Limited, Downpatrick

Northern Banking Company, Lisburn - replaced in 1920s by a new building

Northern Banking Company, Londonderry

By 1901 John was boarding in house 24, Abercorn Road, South ward, Londonderry.  His occupation is recorded as a 'Cashier in Bank'.

By 1911, John is boarding in house 5, Asylum Road, Londonderry Urban, Co. Londonderry.  He is recorded as a 'Sub Bank Manager'.  A possible colleague, Robert E Olden (24 - Bank Clerk) also boards in this house.

According to the Northern Bank staff record, John married a Miss McMurray, Mount Carmel (House), Ballybay, Co. Donegal. [Date unknown].

Further transfers followed to Head Office (1912) and Shercock (1914)

Northern Banking Company, Shercock - see below

During the war years 1914 to 1919 Thompson applied for enlistment but was rejected as being over age.  He would have been aged between 40 and 45 during those years.

Further transfers followed to Head Office (1916) and Dungiven – Manager (1919).

The Northern Whig dated 20th June 1921 carries an article about Dungiven Presbyterian Church.  It mentions John Thompson of Northern Bank as treasurer.

John's staff record carries a remark dated December 1922:  "Of moderate ability - he does his best in your interest", Brown.

The Northern Whig dated 28th June 1933 carries an obituary for John's father, Dr George Thompson (confirming Irish Census parents details 1901).  Dr Thompson died at his son's residence, Northern Bank, Dungiven.  John's mother predeceased his father.

John Thompson died aged 58 on 5th October 1933.

Northern Banking Company, Shercock - see below

The Buildings of Ireland website describes the Shercock branch as:


Attached five-bay two-storey former bank manager's house and attached three-bay two-storey bank, built c.1900.  Now disused. Pitched slate roof with clay ridge tiles, roughcast rendered chimneystacks with profiled copings on gables and over dividing wall, cast-iron rainwater goods.  Roughcast rendered walls over raised plinth course, raised stucco quoins, stucco plat band between storeys on domestic quarters, signage fascia with profiled cornice over bank premises, channelled rustication to bank frontage.  Roughcast rendered walls to gable.  Window openings to dwelling arranged in two groups with one window at first floor centred over pair at ground floor.  One-over-one pane timber sliding sash windows having stone sills and raised stucco block-and-start Gibbsian-style surrounds, with prominent keystones to ground floor openings.  Replacement door to house having matching stucco surround with keystone.  Fixed casement windows to bank section, flanking replacement panelled door with glazed overlight.  Two-storey returns to bank and house, having roughcast rendered walls, domestic return having stepped three-light casement windows.  Outbuildings to rear.  Opens directly on to street.


A purpose-built former Northern Bank branch designed by Belfast architect Godfrey William Ferguson (1855-1939), architect of many of that institution's branches.  The long two-storey composition employs Classical motifs to impart a sense of solidity and permanence, but nevertheless maintains a scale and simplicity that allow it to integrate into the planned town of Shercock.  It is well detailed and of a balanced composition, retaining much of its historic fabric and character, and makes an interesting historic addition to the streetscape.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Wallace, Alexander Wilson

Alexander Wilson Wallace

was born at Bridge Street, Banbridge on 12th July 1887 to Thomas Wallace, Grocer and Jane Wallace nee Wilson.

A W Wallace - Birth Registration

In 1901 Alex was living in house 2, Bridge Street, Banbridge with his parents and 5 siblings, Mabel, Sydney, Percy, Thomas and Norman.  A servant and 4 boarders were also living in the house.

On 21st July 1905 Alex joined Northern Bank at Head Office.  Transfers followed to Ball’s Branch, Dublin (1905), Head Office (1908) and Donegall Square, Belfast (1908).

Northern Banking Company, Donegall Square

In 1911 Alex was living in house 3, Bridge Street, Banbridge with his parents and 5 siblings, Anne Mabel, Thomas, Percy, Sydney and Norman.  A domestic servant and 4 shop assistants were also living in the house but described as visitors.  His occupation is described as a Bank Clerk.

On 30th July 1912 the Belfast Telegraph carried an advertisement from an A W Wallace, Banbridge who was selling a motorbike - 3.5hp, TT Triumph, fortnight old, done 800 miles, guaranteed 55 mph, owner getting a twin.

Belfast Telegraph - 30th July 1912

It appears that the motor bike didn't sell.  On  12th September 1912 the Belfast Telegraph carried another advertisement from A W Wallace, Banbridge who was selling a motorbike - a 1912 3.5hp, TT Triumph, new July, 1000 miles, Lucas horn etc, owner getting twin.

Belfast Telegraph - 12th September 1912

Further transfers followed to Newry (1912) and Head Office – Accountant’s Department (1914).

The 1924 Northern Bank Centenary Volume records Alex as volunteering for enlistment but was rejected on the grounds of him having defective hearing.

Alex died aged 51 from bronchial pneumonia at 52 Bridge Street, Banbridge on 9th May 1939.  This is recorded on his Northern Bank staff record.

A W Wallace - Death Registration

Monday, 7 October 2019

Bamford, George William Rea

G W Rea Bamford - 1940s

Major G W Rea Bamford - 1960

Lieutenant G W Rea Bamford - 1944

Belfast Banking Company - Roll of Honour - WW2

Major George William Rea Bamford TD
was born in Belfast on 6th February 1920 to George William Bamford, Linen Salesman and Margaret Bamford nee McGowan (of Whitespots, Newtownards) of 75 The Mount, Belfast.

Rea's father, George Bamford outside 75 The Mount, Belfast

Rea was educated at Mountpottinger National School, Albertbridge Road, Belfast and later at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI).

Rea's School Jotter

Rea joined the Belfast Banking Company Limited in 1938.  His father signed the Bankers Guarantee and also supplied a letter to the bank on 30th May 1946.

BBCo Bankers Indemnity Ledger - George William Rea Bamford

It is probable that Rea worked in the East End branch from the start of his career up to his enlistment in the army.

On 10th October 1939 Rea volunteered and enlisted at Clonaver Park, Belfast into the '3 Anti-Aircraft Brigade Company Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)' [Territorial Army] as a Driver with Service Number T103793.  On his attestation form, Rea gave his date of birth as 6th February 1919 indicating he was 20 years old, not 19 as he really was.  [The family are not sure why he did this as he was over the age permitted to enlist].  On that day, Rea was 5' 5.5" tall and weighed 116 lbs.

Army Attestation Form (page 1) - G W R Bamford - 10/10/1939

As a soldier, Rea served at 'home' from 10th October 1939 to 24th November 1939 before being posted 'overseas' to France until 19th June 1940.  His time overseas lasted until 19th June 1940 when he was returned 'home'.

Rea was promoted to Lance Corporal on 9th August 1941 and back to Driver on 27th December 1942 when he was transferred to 202 Officer Cadet Training Unit, RASC to train as an officer.

1941 WW2 Xmas Christmas Card (Courtesy EBay)

On 19th March 1943 Rea was 'discharged' as a soldier having been appointed to a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with Service Number 268452.

The Army 'Record of Service - Officers' form records Rea's 'Actual DOB' as 6th February 1920 against a 'Declared DOB' of 6th February 1919.  His civilian occupation is recorded as an Accountant, Belfast Banking Company.

As an officer, his training record during war included a Waterproofing Course of Vehicles at Salop (Shropshire), 1943; weapon training course at Altcar (Merseyside), 1943 and a 3" Mortar Course at East Africa, 1944.

Rea was transferred to the Royal Ulster Rifles from the RASC on 14th June 1944 following his promotion to Lieutenant.  He embarked overseas to East Africa and was posted to the 2nd Battalion North Rhodesia Regiment.

Rea's overseas service is recorded on another army document as:

France - 6th December 1939 to 18th June 1940
East Africa - 16th July 1944
S.E.A.C. - 8th June 1945 (possibly the South East African Command)
East Africa - 17th January 1946

Rea records his army service in pencil in his 'Officers Record of Service Army Book 439' in this picture:

'Officers Record of Service Army Book 439'

Rea was discharged from the Royal Ulster Rifles on 12th April 1946 to his home address, 17 Cyprus Gardens, Belfast.

Belfast News Letter - 20th December 1946

Following the war, Rea was awarded the Defence Medal, the War Medal, the 1939-45 Star and the Burma Star.

Medal Ribbon

Rea with his father, George Bamford

After demobilisation in 1946, he returned to work for the Belfast Banking Company but also continued his army career in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), Territorial Army (TA).

Based on his wartime and TA service, Rea was later awarded the Territorial Decoration (TD) and Bar.

Rea worked in the following branches; East End (1946), Bangor (1947), Warrenpoint (1950), Markets (1952), North End (1953), Castle Place (1955) and Upper Newtownards Road (1960).  Whilst based in this last branch, Rea also worked as a Pro-Manager in the small sub-branch at Dundonald.

East End branch (Albertbridge Road, Belfast)

Ballyhackamore branch (Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast)

Rea married Edith Malcomson on 7th September 1953 at Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  They had 3 children, Paul (1954), Gavin (1956) & Linda (1961).

Rea died on 28th December 1961 and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery.  He  is remembered on a Roll of Honour in Bloomfield Presbyterian Church.

Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson

Service in the Territorial Army

Having been discharged from the army after the war, Rea wanted to continue as an officer in the Territorial Army.  He applied for an 'Appointment to a Commission in the Territorial Army' on 15th March 1947.

Army form 
'Appointment to a Commission in the Territorial Army' (page 1) 
- G W R Bamford dated 15th March 1947

The Interview Board recommended Rea for a TA commission at the rank of Lieutenant and to be posted to 931 (Ulster) Company RASC (TA).

The Army 'Record of Service - Officers' form records Rea's TA career as follows:

1st September 1947 - Lieutenant
1st April 1948 - Captain
1st November 1952 - Acting Major
6th February 1954 - Major

Rea attended his final Annual Camp  from 20th May to 5th June 1961.  He died on 28th December 1961.

 Major G W Rea Bamford
[Front row, 4th from left, with possibly 931 (U) Company RASC (V)]

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Callaghan, Richard Marcus

Lieutenant Richard Marcus Callaghan
was born on 17th March 1895 at Killyquinn to Robert Callaghan and Mary Jane Callaghan nee Stevenson. The surname on the birth registration is spelt Callaghan.

In 1901 Richard (*) was living in house 51, Loughgall Town, Loughgall, Co. Armagh with his parents and 3 siblings, Robert, Lillian and Eileen.  His grandmother, a visitor and a servant are also present in the house. 

(*)  His name was written as Marcus.

By 1911 the property was known as house 53, Loughgall Town, Loughgall, Co. Armagh.  Richard, his parents and 3 siblings Robert, Lillian and Eileen.

On 28th September 1912, Callaghan signed the Ulster Covenant at Loughgall giving his address as Royal School, Armagh.

Richard would have joined the Belfast Banking Company sometime around 1913 working in Donegal.  His father signed the Bankers Guarantee and later on, his wife Gwendoline Iris Callaghan also signed it.

Bankers Indemnity Ledger - R M Callaghan

Richard enlisted into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.  He was attached to the Royal Army Service Corps.

Medal Index Card - R M Callaghan

The newspaper 'Northern Whig' dated 24th March 1917 reports Officer Cadet R M Callaghan as being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.  His first theatre of war is recorded as France from May 1917.

The newspaper 'Londonderry Sentinel' dated 10th August 1920 reports Lieutenant R M Callaghan, Special Reserve of Officers, as relinquishing his commission but retaining his rank of Lieutenant.

Following his demobilisation after the Great War, Callaghan returned to work.  Richard was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

The 'Belfast News Letter' dated 24th December 1932 records the death at the Hospital for Sick Children of Marcus on 22nd December 1932.  Burial at family burial ground, Loughgall.  The family address of Marcus and G Callaghan was 1 Madison Avenue, Belfast.

November 1933 saw a transfer for Richard from Head Office to Banbridge.

BBCo Head Office, 2 Waring Street, Belfast

BBCo Banbridge branch

R M Callaghan was a member of the Belfast Banking Company Sports Club in March 1948 paying 1 shillings subscription and was recorded as being in Banbridge branch.

Retirement came in 1956.

He died on 2nd September 1959.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Dougan, Roland Hamill

Cadet Roland Hamill Dougan
was born 19th February 1897 at 40 Carlisle Street, Belfast to James Alexander Dugan, bread-server and Susan Dugan nee Hamill.  The surname is spelt Dugan on the birth registration with Dougan being crossed out.

In 1901 Roland was living in house 40, Carlisle Street, Court Ward, Belfast with his parents and a brother Earnest.

By 1911 the family had moved to house 9, Albert Terrace, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry.  A further 3 siblings were in the house, Delia, Kenneth and Lina.

On Ulster Day, 28th September 1912, Dougan signed the Ulster Covenant at the Town Hall, Coleraine giving his address as Coleraine.

Dougan would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1914 aged around 17.  His father signed the Bankers Indemnity for him.  At later dates, his mother, brother and one other were recorded in the ledger.

BBCo Bankers Indemnity Ledger - R H Dougan

On 19th October 1914 Roland enlisted into the RAF as a Clerk.  He records his fathers address as 14 Ferryquay Street, Londonderry. 

RAF Airmen Records - R H Dougan - page 1

RAF Airmen Records - R H Dougan - page 2

A month later Roland was transferred to 247 Squadron RAF,  The BBCo record his rank as a Cadet.  Wiki records this about the squadron:

"No. 247 Squadron was first formed in World War I on 20 August 1918 by the amalgamation of No. 336 and 337 Flights of the Royal Naval Air Service.  The squadron was equipped with Felixstowe F2A flying boats and its role was reconnaissance and anti-submarine work in the North Sea.  With the cessation of hostilities, the squadron was disbanded on 22 January 1919."

Roland was transferred to RAF Reserves on 21st February 1919.  He had served 4 months in the Great War.

Following his demobilisation after the Great War, Dougan returned to work in Head Office and Rathfriland.

BBCo Head Office, 2 Waring Street, Belfast

Belfast Banking Company, Rathfriland

Roland died on 8th March 1956.  PRONI Wills Calendar record:

"Dougan Roland Hamill of 64 Downpatrick Street Rathfriland county Down bank official died 8 March 1956 Probate Belfast 15 June to Vera Hamilton Dougan the widow. Effects £2402 3s. 1d."

Also see Howard Kennedy Harris who joined the RAF at the same time as Roland Dougan.