This photograph was taken at army agency Cox & Co.’s main branch in Charing Cross, London. On the left, an officer stands waiting to be served.
During the war, the branch was open all day, every day, cashing cheques around the clock for officers returning from the Front. It had around 250,000 men on its books. At the height of the conflict 50,000 cheques a day were cleared and up to 20,000 letters dealt with.
This enormous turnover reflects the massive increase in demand for Cox & Co.’s services. Branches were established behind the lines in France. Supplies of money were sent to meet hospital ships arriving back in Britain, so that wounded officers could cash cheques.
But the firm did much more than issue pay and manage officers’ bank accounts. It could provide insurance, deal with tax returns, even ensure a tailor was paid on time.
Not surprisingly, staff numbers shot up from 180 in 1914, to 4,500 by 1918.
‘Uncle Cox’, as the bank was affectionately known in the trenches, became part of Lloyds Bank in 1923.