One of the most informative documents on an individual soldier is his AB64 book. This little russet brown book recorded the soldier’s personal details, the courses he had been on and his medical and leave history. As you might expect, with this sort of information you can start to build up a picture of an individual’s military career. Tonight we are looking at a set of three documents all relating to a single soldier; Charles Chesters.
AB64On opening the book there are instructions to the soldier about security and their responsibilities as regards to their ownership of the book:Turning the page we discover that Charles Chesters was born on 27th October 1927 and was an apprentice tool maker before he enlisted. He was a member of the Oddfellows Friendly Society and was enlisted as a national serviceman in Carlisle on 3rd January 1946 for 6 years. We also have a description of the soldier, he was 5’8 1/4″ high, with blue eyes and brown hair:Next we have details of the basic training all troops undertook, rifle course, sten gun course and personal endurance tests:Over the page we discover he finished primary training on 13th February 1946, equating to 6 weeks. After this we can see details of his specialist training as a Royal Army Service Corps Air Dispatcher:Further on we have the details of the man’s leave, following his training and before he went overseas:Next we have his medical history and vaccinations:Then there is his next of kin information, his father Charles Cyril Chesters:Tucked in the book is a certificate issued to Driver Chesters for Yellow Fever vaccination from the British Military Hospital, Gaza:Skill at Arms Book
In the same batch of documents was this guide to Cairo, presumably bought by Dvr Chesters whilst he was deployed overseas:It lists useful information for troops like services welfare clubs, times of sightseeing tours, trams and out of bounds areas. In the back is a fold out map of the city:As can be seen a picture of Dvr Chesters and his military career can be picked up from these documents and is a good springboard for further research.