1919: ‘To Our Soldier-Dead’
The First World War hostilities on the Western Front ended in 1918, ‘at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’, soon after the Armistice with Germany was signed.
A year later, King George V dedicated the 11th November as a day of remembrance to all members of the Armed Forces who died in the conflict.
Six hundred and eighty-six of them were Lloyds Bank staff. In its November 1919 issue, the staff magazine, The Dark Horse, published this poem to remember them.
‘To Our Soldier-Dead’ was written by Herbert Eyres Britton, who was employed at the Harborne branch. Herbert had started working for the Bank in 1899 at the age of 16. He did not serve during the war – our records do not specify why. Perhaps, like Harold Sumsion, he was unable to enlist due to poor health. Instead Herbert joined the Volunteer Training Corps, the First World War equivalent of the Home Guard. After the war, he went on to become manager of the Ashby-de-la-Zouch branch, where he remained until his death in 1940.
The poem was later included in Diane, and other poems. This was his third volume, following Visions of a Dreamer and War Poems. Herbert’s father, John James Britton, was also a poet.
In total, 4698 Lloyds men served in the First World War. In February 1921, the Bank dedicated a memorial to those who lost their lives. It stands today in Canons House, Bristol.
You can find out more about the impact of the First World War on the constituent companies of Lloyds Banking Group in our online exhibition.
Or see further items from This Month in History.