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Remembered Today:

Small Books and Pay Books


Peter Doyle
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I have examples of the 'Soldier's Small Book' (i guess for soldiers with prewar service), and the Soldier's Pay book (AB64), I guess wartime issue. Can anyone confirm this and/or give any more information on these documents, both of which were carried (though, I guess, not at the same time).

Peter

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Peter,

The small book (Army Form B-50) was an essential part of a soldier’s kit before the war. Its stated purpose was to provide the soldier with a record of his service in the Army, and provide him with certain information, which he will find useful during his service. It served as his personnel file and acted as a handbook. Per paragraph 917 of the King’s Regulation:

“A small book is issued to every soldier on enlistment in which his description, particulars of service, etc., will be entered. All entries or necessary alterations will be made by the company, etc., commander. Should a soldier loose his small book, he must replace it at his own expense.

The soldier will retain his small book on discharge…”

Although, apparently this was an important book that a soldier maintained it seems to have disappeared from use during the war, although it was definately issued during at least the early part of the war. Both the Field Service Regulations and Mobilization Regulations for 1914 are silent as to what to do with the small book for a soldier going on active service. It would not be until January 1915 when Army Order 43 amended Paragraph 918 of the King's Regulation by stating, "When a soldier proceeds on active service his small book will be sent with his other documents to the officer i/c records concerned." Whether this was the death of small books or they continued in use only to be destroyed by the officer in charge of records at the end of the war is unknown, but surviving examples tend to get scarcer as the war years progress.

Pay Books

The primary documentation that a soldier would possess once mobilized or sent on active service was Army Book 64; “Soldier’s Pay Book for use on Active Service”. The origins of this document go back to Army Order 33 of 1906 as modified by Army Order 123 of 1910. Its primary purpose was to enable soldiers to draw an advance of cash on account in the field. As such it was a means to identify both soldier and the pay that a soldier was entitled too.

In peacetime, officers commanding units were to maintain AB 64’s at the rate of one for each soldier plus a 20% spare stockade. Pay books were not issued in peace. For serving soldiers pay books were to be kept in bundles, along with the identity discs, as might have been most convenient for rapid issue.

Upon mobilization officers commanding units issued a pay book and identity disc properly filled out to every soldier going on active service. On active service the pay book was to be retained by the soldier. The ramification of a lost pay book was found on page one. The designated spot for carrying the pay book was the right breast pocket of the jacket. However, there was a practice of withdrawing the pay book from soldiers going into action. Officially, this practice was to cease by General Routine Order 1895, 26 October 1916. However, the practice of withdrawing pay books apparently continued, to an extent, beyond this date in some units.

Take care,

Joe Sweeney

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Thanks Joe, very comprehensive.

I have two 'Small Books' from soldiers who joined in the early stage of the war, and several AB64s to other men. I guess from the above that it was possible for soldiers to possess both and carry both, but I hadn't come across this in practice (but then I probably haven't got a statistically significant sample).

best wishes

Peter

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My grandfathers 'small book'army form B50 is called an account book.. It also contains army form B.243 Form of will No 1, as well as army forms C 309/310 - 3rd and 2nd class certificates of education.

Army B.51 appears at the back of the book - Monthly settlements and clothing accounts. The period contained in the book was from 1885 to 1895. Why he stopped using it I don't know, as there is plenty

more room in the book for further entries.

David

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Interesting; backs up Joe's assertion that the small book was an important document. Did your grandfather serve again in teh Great war, and, if so, have you his AB64?

Cheers

Peter

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Peter,

Yes 1914-1919, he retired in 1910 and became a reservist and got caught again at the age of 48 (according to the army although he was only 46). No I don't have the AB-64, the only thing he kept from army

time was a few badges, shoulder badge (RGA) and medals. I suspect he chucked all out when he migrated to Australia in the mid 20's.

Cheers David

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Thanks David, interesting. I'll have to dig out one of my examples, which was an RFA man, and have another look.

Best wishes

Peter

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Here is a website with many of the Canadian small books and documents. Borden Battery

*The CEF Paper Trail - Brett Payne Website

An Unofficial Guide to the Official Canadian Army Service Records from the Great War

This project involves collating examples of each type of document found in a soldier's World War I Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Records. The guide shows researchers what they may expect in a soldiers' service records. It's important to be aware that you will only find a selection of these records in your particular CEF soldier's file. A very well done summary of representative documents and invaluable for any student of the Great War. [Note: Some images will be slow to load under dial-up access.][CEF Study Group - July 2005]

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~brett/cef/cefpapertrail.html#top

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I guess from the above that it was possible for soldiers to possess both and carry both, but I hadn't come across this in practice (but then I probably haven't got a statistically significant sample).

It certainly was, Peter.

My Gt.Uncle's (enlisted Sept 1914) books (Small Book - AFB50/32 (print dated Sept.1914, issued January 1915) and Pay Book - AB64 (opened February 1915)) are still in family (though not my!) possession.

Dave

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Thanks BB - I will certainly have a squint at that site!

Croonaert - great, thanks. Interesting that the Paybook follows the Small Book a month later.

I wonder when the last Small Book was issued?

Best wishes

Peter

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Peter,

Could I assume that the army form B50 (original) was discontinued/updated in 1898. Whilst there is plenty of room in the book the last entries were in July 1898. Noting that Daves

books are notated AFB 50/32 it would appears that the series was revised somewhat.

BB - What an amazing series of docos the army had to contend with. Would be a clerks nightmare trying to keep stocks of all those.

Cheers David

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I too have a number of Small Books in my collection, and not having them with me, seem to remember they come with three distinct print dates. The first one of these does however seem to incorporate the new 'Special Reserve'(formed 1908) into it's production, as previous to that there had been a seperate "Militiamans Small Book", which is illustrated on Paul Nixons website regarding regimental numbers;-

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2010/08/militiamans-small-book-1892.html

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  • 9 years later...
7 hours ago, andy1972 said:

...is there any standing order that states the ab64 should be kept in the right pocket?

 

Not a standing order as such, but the 1914 Field Service Pocket Book for both Mounted and Dismounted Men clearly states "Pay book (in right breast pocket of service dress jacket)".

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