Letter from a New Recruit
This letter was sent by Albert Victor Hipkiss, clerk at Lloyds’ Stourbridge branch, to his manager, Frank Ragg. Written just after the introduction of conscription in March 1916, it provides an interesting insight into the experiences of a new recruit:
46 O[x] Street, Abingdon 6/3/1916
Dear Mr Ragg,
I am pleased to tell you I have joined the Bankers Battalion and in billets at the above address. It is very pretty down here and I like it very much.
They kept me at Lichfield Barracks for three days & sent me to London on Saturday & from there to Abingdon. There are about 1000 of the Bankers in billets here and very nice fellows they are too.
I have not written you before as I have been expecting to be told my number but will let you know immediately they do. The battalion is the 31st Reserve Royal Fusilier.
I haven’t met any Lloyds men as yet but am billeted with an exceedingly nice man from the Northamptonshire Union Wellingboro'.
Should be so glad if you would be good enough to arrange for me to cash my cheque at the County & West here. Have enclosed a specimen signature.
I trust you are keeping well & have had no more visits from the Zepps. It is reported here they were over Oxford last night.
With kindest regards
A V Hipkiss
The ‘Bankers Battalion’ was the 26th Royal Fusiliers. Formed in 1915, it was set up specifically to recruit men from the financial sector. Hundreds from Lloyds Bank and other companies within the Group joined, including Norris Hallowell from the Halifax.
The 26th first saw action in September 1916 as part of the Somme campaign, where it suffered heavy losses.
In all, 28 of the Lloyds men who joined the Battalion did not make it back. Albert Hipkiss was among them. He was killed at Ypres on 12th June 1917.
The letter also mentions ‘Zepps’ (Zeppelins). Attacks from the air were a new form of warfare - find out more in our On the Homefront section.
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