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:The 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:Going further into the book we discover his next of kin is his mother, Edith, who lived at high Pittington in County Durham:He clearly accomplished his training as he is recorded as having passed his PE tests and his annual rifle classification in 1952:Much of the book is blank, however tucked into the back are a leave pass for Gunner Gallimore from Fayid:Fayid 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:The inside of this form confirms that he served 3 years and 173 years in the army:There 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:
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.