Bank of Scotland
At the outbreak of the First World War, Bank of Scotland employed almost 1,000 men. More than half were of military age.
Over the course of the war, 601 were to serve. Eighty-seven gave their lives. They include Thomas W. D. Bonner and Alexander Brook – the youngest and oldest casualties suffered by the Group in the war. They died aged 17 and 50 respectively.
In the early months of 1919, the Bank’s directors resolved to erect a ‘permanent memorial so that those who come after us may never forget the heroism and patriotism which inspired those connected with the Bank of Scotland during the great war.’
The memorial was placed in the entrance hall of the Bank’s head office on the Mound in Edinburgh, where it remains today. It was unveiled on 30th May 1921 by the then Governor of the Bank, Lord Balfour, in front of a large gathering which included relatives of the fallen. A Union Jack was flown at half mast from the dome of the Bank throughout the ceremony.
Created by Edinburgh architect Francis William Deas, the monument was admired for ‘the elegance of its design and the harmony of its colouring’. The bronze panels and embellishments are framed by a backdrop of Egyptian green marble. At the base is a replica of military arms and equipment ‘now laid aside’. At the top is a circular plaque of Victory with a sword ‘entwined with laurel and mourning over the heroic dead’. The inscription above the panels reads:
This Memorial is placed here by the Bank of Scotland in grateful appreciation of the services with His Majesty’s Forces of 601 members of the Court of Directors and Staff during the Great War 1914-1919: colleagues in peace and companions in arms, their names are recorded in a Roll of Honour treasured in the archives of the Bank, and in lasting commemoration of 87 of them who laid down their lives for their country and the cause of freedom. Their names are here inscribed that their memory may be held in constant honour.
The 'Roll of Honour' referred to is now held by Group Archives. It lists all the Bank's staff who served in the war, including 25 who received military honours. For further details please contact us.
Thanks are due to David McNay of the Scottish Military Research Group for information on Thomas Bonner and Alexander Brook.