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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