Category Archives: AB64

National Serviceman’s AB64

Update: Roy Gallimore’s granddaughter has contacted the blog and kindly supplied us with some more information on Roy’s life which I have added below. The paybook has now been returned to Roy’s family where it belongs.

The standard Army Book 64, or AB64, continued in use long after World War Two and tonight we have an example issued to a National Serviceman, Roy Gallimore. These books were issued to all servicemen and recorded both their personal details and their training history. A cut out section also provided the soldier with a basic form of will to leave his possessions and pay to a loved one in the event of the worst happening. The cover of the book is the same brown leatherette as examples from the Second World War:AB64The opening pages give a lot of details about the soldier, including that he was born on 16th December 1930, was a joiner by trade and joined up in Owestry. He was 5’6” tall, with brown hair and eyes and is described as having a ‘fresh’ complexion:SKMBT_C36416072007091_0001Going further into the book we discover his next of kin is his mother, Edith, who lived at high Pittington in County Durham:SKMBT_C36416072007092_0001He clearly accomplished his training as he is recorded as having passed his PE tests and his annual rifle classification in 1952:SKMBT_C36416072007100_0001Much of the book is blank, however tucked into the back are a leave pass for Gunner Gallimore from Fayid:SKMBT_C36416072007101_0001Fayid was an RAF base in Egypt, used throughout the Second World War and handed back to Egypt in 1956. From the pass we can see that Gunner Gallimore was posted to 71 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. Also included in the AB64 is a certificate of service issued to Gunner Gallimore when his national service was completed:SKMBT_C36416072007110_0001The inside of this form confirms that he served 3 years and 173 years in the army:SKMBT_C36416072007111_0001There are also a pair of negatives (which I have scanned, reversed and tried to enhance), but whether these depict Gunner Gallimore or his friends, I couldn’t say:14689259474906146900091361528Roy’s granddaughter tells us more of his life:

In terms of my Grandads life, he went on to marry my Grandma Joan Wilkes on the 4th August 1962. They remained in the home of 14 Norman terrace, which is the home my Grandad lived in all of his life.They had two children Anne Edith and Carol Louisa. They had 3 grandchildren, Charlotte, Rebecca Claire and Gemma Louise (myself). 

My Grandfather, after leaving the army, continued his work as a joiner. He also enjoyed playing the organ and played in the local chapel and also around care homes. He also loved gardening and grew all of his own vegetables and fruit. 

He enjoyed travelling with my Grandmother, and they thoroughly enjoyed Scotland. He lived for his family, especially us grandchildren spending his last years telling us stories of his life and teaching us everything he knew. He often talked about his time in the army, and how he lived on corned beef and mars bars when he got the chance. He commented on the conditions of Egypt and how the boiling hot sun was often unbearable for the soldiers. He often sent pictures and messages to his mother Edith to update her on how he was and to let her know that he was safe. In 2009 he was diagnosed with cancer, and he fought a hard battle which he won. However in 2012 my grandmother passed away after her 3rd battle with cancer, which broke my grandfather’s heart. They had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He was never really the same, and spent the remainder of his days in their home, where he felt close to her. 

He later died suddenly in 2014 after suffering a heart aneursym. He was buried in a double grave with my Grandmother, so they were both reunited. 

Soldier’s Pass Book and Skill at Arms Book

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.

AB64imageOn opening the book there are instructions to the soldier about security and their responsibilities as regards to their ownership of the book:imageTurning 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:imageNext we have details of the basic training all troops undertook, rifle course, sten gun course and personal endurance tests:imageOver 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:imageFurther on we have the details of the man’s leave, following his training and before he went overseas:imageNext we have his medical history and vaccinations:imageThen there is his next of kin information, his father Charles Cyril Chesters:imageTucked in the book is a certificate issued to Driver Chesters for Yellow Fever vaccination from the British Military Hospital, Gaza:imageSkill at Arms Book

This little brown book details Dvr Chester’s firearms training.imageInside the back cover he is recorded as being average at drill, weapon drill and marching:imageServices Guide to Cairo

In the same batch of documents was this guide to Cairo, presumably bought by Dvr Chesters whilst he was deployed overseas:imageIt 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:imageAs 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.