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The BMB during World War II
 
Miscellaneous
 
The first reference to the 1939-45 war in the Bank's Annual Reports, is in the 1940 Accounts, dated June 4th 1940:

The war has produced many problems, and the Committee of Management are pleased that the Bank has been able to render assistance in dealing with some of them. In this connection the Bank has undertaken the weekly payment of wages to Civil Defence personnel, involving 188,600 payments up to the end of March, 1940. Arrangements were also made for evacuation fees to be paid at Bank counters, and 62,013 contributions were dealt with up to the end of the financial year.

(NOTE: Evacuation Fees were the fees payable by parents of wartime evacuees towards the cost of keeping their children, as noted in this article [right] from the Birmingham Mail dated November 24th 1939)

Although, through the years, the Bank's Annual Reports contained a huge variety of statistics, some of the publications during the war provided very few. The available statistics relating to the above were as follows:
                      Civil Defence &
                     Fire Service Wages            Evacuation Fees
 
 
 No
 
 No
 1940 
 496,484
 188,600
 28,794
 62,013
 1941
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 1942
 1,076,578
 368,675
 104,158
 140,363
 1943
  n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 1944
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 1945
 47,260
 n/a
 28,778
 n/a
 1946
 -
 
 8,679
 21,261
The 1940 Annual Report continued:
On the inauguration of the War Savings Campaign the Bank at once arranged for the sale of Savings Certificates and Defence Bonds at all offices. The available statistics relating to these were as follows:
                                  National Savings           Defence Bonds
                                      Certificates                    & War Bonds     
 
 
 No
 
 No
 1940 
 308,361
n/a
 57,950
n/a
 1941
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 1942
 981,068
 198,978
 156,775
 1,783
 1943
  n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 n/a
 1943 & 1944
1,992,625
 n/a
 244,065
 n/a
 1945
831,593
 n/a
 108,830
 n/a
 1946
619,105
 94,958
 205,050
 830
The Bank's Committee agreed, that for the duration of the War, the amount of 'Excess Deposits' (ie the increase in total deposits) should be invested directly with the Government.
 
At March 31st 1945, the amount raised for the War Savings Campaign by the three methods detailed above amounted to 37,412,274:
 
     Excess Deposits...................31,572,000
     Sale of Certificates................. 5,010,174
     Defence Bonds etc.....................830,100
 
The 1945 Annual Report commented that
Birmingham has played a worthy part in the special savings campaigns, and the Bank has been a substantial factor in the great success achieved. In the last effort for "Salute the Soldier" week, the contribution by the Bank to the high figure attained represented nearly 20% of the total amount passed on to the Government.

A letter of appreciation for the BMB's efforts was received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
(In order that depositors would not be discouraged from keeping their savings in the Bank during the war, savings up to a limit of 375 were disregarded in assessing the needs of an applicant for unemployment assistance, supplementary pensions, etc under the provisions of the Determination of Needs Act, 1941.)

As a further means of increasing the total amount of savings available for the war, a coupon deposit scheme was introduced, similar to the one adopted by the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank during the First World War.
 
Prior to the declaration of war, and during the period of conflict, the Bank's Committee considered various Emergency Arrangements.
Newspaper notice: April 11th 1942
 
Other Wartime Newspaper Items
The Bank's 1940 Annual Report also commented that The call upon the male personnel of the Bank for service with HM Forces has been heavy, and further calls are likely to be made. The position has so far been met by obtaining the services of ex-officers of the Bank and the engagement of female clerks for the duration of the war. The Committee of Management hope that this policy will enable the normal hours of business to be maintained at all branches.

Similar sentiments were expressed in the 1942 Annual Report: The call-up of men for the Forces has created a staffing problem, but the burden has been cheerfully borne by those of the permanent staff still available, assisted by temporary officers. The nation's man power requirements are such that the work will have to be carried out by more and more women, but the Bank is fortunate in having secured the services of many former employees who are well acquainted with the work. The Committee are pleased to testify to the manner in which all have discharged their normal bank duties, and desire to express their thanks to those of the staff who voluntarily undertake Fire Prevention duties and Civil Defence duties.

On a similar theme in the 1943 Report, the Committee refer to the ready response to the appeal for help which was made to former members of staff who resigned on marriage, has enabled the Bank to make up the shortage with the certain knowledge that the standard of efficiency would be maintained. (NOTE: Before the outbreak of the war, married women could not be employed by Birmingham Corporation.) The satisfactory nature of the work done by temporary staff was acknowledged in the Auditors' Report for the financial year 1943/44:
We are pleased to report that although experienced Staff have been called up, necessitating the employment of temporary officials, the Books and Records of the Bank are being maintained in an efficient and satisfactory manner.
 
The use of temporary and inexperienced staff, however, did result in some difficulties in relation to verifying the signatures of depositors. As a result, the Bank's procedures were tightened, as detailed in a report dated December 20th 1944 (entitled Proceedings at Court) by the General Manager to the Bank's Committee.
 
Due to the staffing problems referred to in the Annual Reports, various schemes were implemented that attempted to maximise the use of the limited number of staff available. One action taken was the pairing of branches in combinations.

The Bank's 1941 Annual Report contained a notice exhorting depositors to 'SAVE & SAVE HARD'. This notice also requested depositors to keep a separate record of their account number and account balance - presumably in case their passbook was destroyed as a result of enemy bombing.

The 1945 Report refers to the fact that 81 members of staff were called-up for war service. In the same Report (dated June 1945) it is stated that: Some of our branches have suffered serious war damage, and we have had to conduct business therein under difficulties. Depositors have accepted the inconveniences with good grace, and we appreciate their continuous support during the troublesome period. Now the tension has eased, we look forward to those premises being restored to their pre-war state.

The Income and Expenditure Accounts for this period show that payments were made under the heading of War Damage Contributions, as follows:
    1942....5,386 (The Auditors' Report dated May 19th 1942 stated that: The first instalmemt of the Insurance Premium under the War Damage Act due on the 1st July, 1941, has been debited in the Income and Expenditure Account for the year to 31st March, 1942)
    1943....5,894
    1944....3,952
    1945....2,523
    1946....2,267

These payments (totalling 20,022) appear to have been a form of Damage Insurance, with the Bank receiving sums of 'War Damage Reimbursements' in the years 1943 to 1946 inclusive. Bank Committee reports regarding War Damage indicate that 9,685 was claimed in respect of major work required at four branches: Alum Rock; Balsall Heath; Bordesley Green; and Moseley. Less severe damage was sustained at Head Office; Acocks Green; Hay Mills; Pype Hayes; and Stechford.
 
No expenditure was made on Fixed Assets in the five years ended March 31st 1946.
 
During the war, members of staff inspected aircraft parts as their contribution to the war effort. This work took place in the Head Office Stationery Department, and a commemorative plaque recorded this fact on the door (number 12) to that department:

On the outbreak of hostilities, the Bank decided to abandon evening hours of business (Mondays and Fridays 18:00 to 20:00) but extended Saturday afternoons until 16:00 (instead of 13:00). The background to this decision (which reduced the Hours of Business from 27 to 26) is detailed in Hours of Business - 1939 to 1945

The decision was made because of the difficulties of transport arrangements etc during the 'black-out' hours. With the return of longer daylight hours in the summer of 1940, the normal hours of business were resumed, including evening openings on Mondays and Fridays. The two sets of hours (one for the winter months; one for the summer) were then maintained for the remainder of the War. However, with effect from November 1st 1940, the 2:30pm closing time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays was changed to 3pm - this arrangement provided 28 banking hours in the winter and 29 each summer.

After the War (from January 1st 1946), 29 banking hours were provided, with 2 hours of evening opening on Fridays, and 2 hours on Saturday mornings.

With reference to staff shortages, a report to the City Council dated June 1st 1943 stated that .... your Committee have been able to continue the fixed hours of business of all Branches except four, where a merging has taken place. It is impossible to forecast the future national requirements, but every effort will be made to avoid further mergings. Further details are given at World War II - Combination of Branches.
Another plaque (in the Head Office Assembly Room) recorded the names of the three members of staff who gave their lives during World War II. The plaque was unveiled by the Bank's Chairman (Councillor G P Achurch, MBE) and dedicated by the Rector of Birmingham (The Reverend Bryan S W Green, BD) at a ceremony held on Saturday, March 31st 1951. This date was selected in order that the many members of staff working in Broad Street that day (for the Annual Balance) could attend. This plaque is now held by the Savings Banks Museum at Ruthwell in Scotland; the names of these three members of staff were R W Bird; D Boraston; and G D Savage

A number of circulars issued by Head Office to Branches illustrate some of the aspects of the War that affected branch procedures:
- July 6th 1940: If you have on exhibition at the Branch any photographs showing the Works, etc. of the Electric Supply Department or the Gas Department, please have same removed from the walls, and placed out of sight for the duration of the War.
- September 20th 1944: this circular referred to the changed circumstances of the War, and stated that ledger cards may now be kept in their bins, instead of in the branch strongroom, and that ledger machines may now be returned to their normal place.
- April 9th 1945: on a similar theme, this circular stated that Card Index Cabinets may now be taken out of the strongroom and placed in their original position.
- August 14th 1945: an imminent Public Holiday was advised, as upon the cessation of hostilities in the Far East, an official announcement was to be made. For the two days following that announcement the Bank was to be closed for a Public Holiday. (NOTE: the announcement was made on August 15th 1945 (VJ-Day) and the two-day holiday was celebrated in the UK, the USA, and Australia)

NOTE:
Birmingham suffered 77 air raids between August 9th 1940 and April 23rd 1943; the 2,241 citizens who were killed are commemorated by a memorial located in Edgbaston Street, near to St Martin's Church in the Bullring. The memorial, sculpted by Lorenzo Quinn, is entitled The Tree of Life.