'Hellish Busy'

'Hellish Busy Doing two men’s work’ [1914-1915] - cartoon by clerk at Bank of Scotland's London Office.
'Hellish Busy Doing two men’s work’ [1914-1915] - cartoon by clerk at Bank of Scotland's London Office.

By January 1915, the Institute of Bankers estimated some 7,000 men from banks across the UK had volunteered.  Though a ‘splendid response to the call to arms’, it left remaining staff struggling to maintain a ‘business as usual’ service.

This cartoon – another from Ledger No. 99  – humorously illustrates the strain felt by some.  The individual shown is Alexander Batchen, a ledger clerk at Bank of Scotland’s London office.  Dressed in traditional bankers’ garb, Batchen is pacing feverishly about, hands waving, brow furrowed with worry –‘Hellish Busy Doing two men’s work’.

Batchen was 50 when war broke out and too old to join up.  He had been at the Bank for more than 30 years, having started at its Inverness branch in 1882, at the age of 18.

Despite the stresses and strains, Batchen continued to serve at the London office, rising further through the ranks.  He eventually attained the coveted position of Assistant Accountant before retiring in 1929.

View the next item in this section, or return to the On the Homefront page.