William Holmes Davidson
Image: Bill Davidson, c.1973 © RBS 2018
William Holmes Davidson (1924-2011), known as Bill Davidson, was a banker who worked for National Bank of Scotland, National Commercial Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
William Holmes Davidson was born on 8 December 1924 in Musselburgh. He attended the local grammar school where he showed academic and sporting ability. As an excellent sprinter he played on the wing for his very successful local rugby team.
In May 1941 he went to work for National Bank of Scotland as an apprentice in its Edinburgh West End branch.
Second World War
Soon afterwards, Davidson was called up, joining the navy as an officer cadet. By 1944 he was a sub lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. His flotilla joined the D-day landings on the beaches of Normandy. Next he was posted to the elite Special Forces branch of Combined Operations. He served on missions in the Far East and in support of the French invasion of Vietnam. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in recognition of his 'calm courage and total disregard for danger' while landing the French SAS troops in enemy strongholds on the Mekong delta, where they came under heavy sniper and cannon fire.
When he was demobbed after the end of the Second World War, Davidson returned to National Bank of Scotland, and to Edinburgh West End branch. In 1950 he moved to Edinburgh Morningside branch, and in 1957, to Leith branch.
In 1958 he moved to the bank’s head office branch at 42 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. The following year, National Bank of Scotland merged with Commercial Bank of Scotland to create National Commercial Bank of Scotland. Davidson remained at St Andrew Square, holding the post of first teller until 1965, when he became manager of Edinburgh Goldenacre branch.
In 1969 National Commercial Bank of Scotland merged with The Royal Bank of Scotland. The ensuing years were a period of transformation, not only for the newly-merged bank, but for the whole banking sector, and indeed for Scotland. Banks were beginning to broaden their horizons, not only into new financial services for personal customers, but into whole new market areas. In Scotland, the discovery of oil under the North Sea marked the birth of a new industry; one which placed significant demands upon Scotland’s banks, but also offered them major opportunities for expansion. Davidson became a leading figure in this transformation in October 1972, when he was appointed the Royal Bank's Aberdeen area development manager. There, he liaised closely with existing and potential customers; the Royal Bank’s two permanent representatives in New York; and with the bank’s technical oil consultant. Although much of his work was connected with the oil industry, he was responsible for all aspects of business development in north east Scotland. By 1974, however, the demands and opportunities connected with oil had become so extensive that a new, specialised role was created. Davidson became business development manager (energy), still based in Aberdeen.
In 1978 Davidson returned to head office in Edinburgh as assistant general manager of business development. He continued in that role until his retirement in 1984.
Family life and leisure interests
Bill Davidson married his wife Yvonne in 1951. They were married for 60 years, until his death in 2011.
He was an ardent rugby enthusiast and enjoyed a long association with Edinburgh Wanderers, first as a player and then as a supporter and committee man.