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Need to know

I would appreciate if anyone can tell me something I need to know:

A) In the army in the 'fifties was our only identification our Paybook? Which we carried in our breast pocket.
B) was it a two-part document: "PB1" and "PB2".
The PB1 contained personal identification data and PB2 actually contained the amount of pay received on each Pay Parade.
(I think my pay was 35/- , is this right?).



Re: Need to know

Jim, the numbers you give ring a bell of sorts, but I don't remember having possession of the pay books. At the same time I think of a booklet about the size of a playing card with a soft white cover, but as I said I do not remember keeping it on my person.

We were paid I think on a Thursday, an officer sat at a table with the money and we marched in gave our name and number, to an officer who probably knew us quite well, gave us the money we saluted done an about turn and marched out. Your estimate of pay seems about right, but in Egypt I think I only drew about seventy five piastres , an allowance being paid to my mother, and the rest going to savings. I was really glad of that when spending my post Suez time in london

I also strain memory to recall that we wore our identity discs, (now known as dogtags) again in Suez. In London we were issued a photo I.D with relevant information including unit etc.

Is it do you think possible that our pay books were kept for us for safety and security reasons.

Re: Need to know

Greetings Old Comrades!

Cannot add anything definite, but my close friend of the Blue persuasion - a mine of information - tells me that his paybook had a blue cover (natch!) and was in two parts as Jim describes. Also, he agrees with my own recollection that he kept his paybook himself at all times. He claims the RAF also issued I/D cards, small size not unlike a credit card.

I do recall that the only occasion where pay entries were made in Part 2 was when attending a 'Casual Pay Parade', if on detachment, for instance. Another memory just came flooding back was that jabs, etc., were entered in Part 1 which also included a 'Last Will' form.....

Have you filled YOURS in yet?


Re: Need to know

Bob, Bill:
Thanks for the replies, what you say is very close to my renewed recollection:

They actually were called "Part 1" and "Part 2". I think they were about passport size - only the Part 1 had a decent cover. The Part 2 was more of a little notebook for pay entries.
We carried them on our person, e.g., when an M.P. stopped you he would ask for your "Part 1". It happened to me often in Suez in winter - I had the world's worst looking greatcoat and Garrison M.Ps were always stopping me ( I looked like the "Hunchback of Notredame").
The Part2 was your pay record.
I too had put some money away and it came in handy when "I got out".
I assigned some of my weekly pay to my mother - I faintly recall that if you didn't do that, and something happened to you, they couldn't claim death benefits.

Thanks again,


On the greatcoat story,
I mentioned on the last Forum actually being charged ( a "252"?) for being in an unpressed uniform. It never dawned on me to take my coat as evidence - I got five days CB.
However, I worked in REME Workshops in Suez and inspecting and repairing the MPs bikes and Jeeps was part of my job. The MP who charged me brought in his "Matchless 350" for inspection and I got the task.
Gawd! Talk about vehicle neglect - I was shocked at what I found . . . Dry battery, dangerously low oil level, under inflated tyres. Absolutely shocking!.
Maybe I should have reported it before fixing it but I had it all fixed and ready to go before I reported it to my squad leader, Sgt. "Jock" Wilson -- of course he was Shocked when I told him what I had found.

Re: Need to know

Jim writes:
"I assigned some of my weekly pay to my mother..."

Me too!

On enlistment my pay was four shillings a day. I allotted one shilling per day to my mother and there was also a 'Barrack Room Damage' deduction. Result: my weekly pay was barely £1, if that!

I recall that in the Zone, our 'Overseas Allowance' was quite generous, especially for those guys who were able to bring their wives and kids over during the pre-1951 period before it all hit the fan. Married Quarters being in short supply, most families (several thousand*) 'lived out' in privately rented property, mainly Jerry-built flats in Arashia, etc., where they appeared to exist very comfortably, most being able to afford employing an Egyptian cook, nanny or other domestic aid.

*The estimate of 'several thousand' is based on my own knowledge that at each of the three bases where I served there were 10 or a dozen Bedford QLs, Dodge or Chevvy trucks ferrying 'living out' personnel to and from each day, say 250 bodies at a conservative estimate. Multiply this by at least 20 bases in the Zone (count 'em!) and we arrive at a figure in the region of 5000 - those Egyptian and Greek builders and landlords must have wept buckets to see us leave..!

Now see what you started Jim..!

Mustapha el Shufti
(Aka BB)

Re: Need to know

Greetings all.

During WW2 my soldier father wore "meat-tags", one black, one brick-red, hung on a coarse string round his neck. As an A/C plonk of the Royal Airworks, I wore none, but at induction was issued with blue identity card "R.A.F. Form 1250".

It had my photo (ugh) at its top left-hand corner, and bore personal details including my service number (4090531). In the interest of R.A.F. efficiency it also had its own unique number (810081) - we had to memorise both.

I have another memory (probably false) of having to carry a medical document-jabs?

On the pay front, we R.A.F. lower ranks had an "L.O.A." (Local Overseas Allowance) of 1/9d a day to adjust for the difference between the purchasing power of the £E (Pound Egyptian) and the Pound Sterling.

The conversion rate then (4/52-10/55) was 1-£E = £1.0.6½, or t'other way round, £1 = 97.40 piastres.

On discharge I was handed a blue "Certificate of Service" booklet.

Amazing the rubbish you remember, while forgetting the important bits.


Re: Need to know

The tags you mention are what i mentioned and wore, they gave name and number, religion, and blood type. I would assume they were there to identify the necessary if injured or killed in action, the paybook for reasons I won't get into may not survive the results of a traumatic injury. May have been an infantry type thing.

Re: Need to know

Bob adds:
"The tags you mention are what I mentioned and wore, they gave name and number, religion, and blood type....

Agreed, officially, one tag to be worn on your wrist, t'other round your neck (think about it!!) but this was never enforced during my time. But I am very old....

Afterthought: Was one green, and one reddish-brown? One circular and one rectanglish? (I made that word up!)


Re: Need to know

I know one was red, can't remember the other just wore both around the neck, it wasn't really important because like all stupid youngsters I knew they would never be needed for me, it would always be the other guy.

Ours were round and made of a sort of fibrous material. We actually just wrote the information on them ourselves in some sort of marker pen. Funny enough of all things we had inspected all the time, I don't recall anyone ever asking to see them, or any facility made for them in kit inspections etc. it now seems it was like a forgotten issue.

Re: Need to know

I think my dog tags were metal on a string. I had forgotten that the information included religion ( CoS in my case).
The reason we were provided two tags was a bit macabre: In the event of a fatality, one tag stayed with the body and the other was removed for the records.
Equally macabre, was being issued with a Burial blanket at Induction and you carried in your kit for the duration.
In our camp in Suez we had fortnightly kit inspection and we were allowed/required to air our burial blanket on the tent guy ropes. At all other times it was folded in the bottom of our kit bag (hopefully never to be used). Glad to say I handed mine back personally on Demob Day.

I enjoy these moments on the Forum when I'm reminded of small but important parts of that other life which has never completely disappeared. I am convinced that no matter how long or short your service was it is an important part of our deep-rooted identity.
I have just joined the Canadian Legion (initiation next week) and when I was in the Legion Hall the sounds and feeling was faintly familiar.
(Joining the Legion is what triggered my need for the Paybook information).


Re: Need to know

I have in the past been a member of the Canadian Legion Jim, sadly in this area it is not the strong thing it once was. I don't go now there are a lot of newer members who never served and it is just another drinking establishment for them.

I have attended the local war memorial and marched with them, the display of medals on some is indeed impressive, I am not young as you know but there are some who are quite a bit older than me who march well and proudly as they should.

Re: Need to know

Bob, the particular branch I am joining is indeed a large handsome club-like establishment: Bar, snooker, darts etc. Just suits me fine for where I am in life at this time. I have a hip implant and don't plan too much marching. What I am looking for is affiliation, I have outlived most of my friends (and their wives).
When I was being interviewed by the Branch President, who was obviously an old sergeant-major (his moustache alone gave him away). He was reading through my application, he stopped, looked up and said, "You're an old fart aren't you?". I looked at him and asked, "What's the age limit for a Veteran?". We both laughed and recognised barrack-room humour ( I felt at home.).


Re: Need to know

Hi Lads,

My dog tags were the composite red and black, red round, black lozenge shape with number rank and name, religion and blood type, our burial blanket was carried round large pack in FSMO and folded on bed in the blanket block when in camp and carried with you on exercises etc.

Cheers Rod

Re: Need to know

Rod writes:
"My dog tags were the composite red and black, red round, black lozenge shape with number rank and name, religion and blood type."

That sounds about right, other than the 'lozenge shape' I recall might have been very dark green. By your reference to Malaya (GSM & Bar? and that cigarette tin!), I'm guessing you and I are similar vintage. On enlistment, I was informed that one tag around your neck, and t'other on wrist was to assist identification after most serious, horrific injuries... But as already mentioned, this method of tag-wearing was not enforced nor even mentioned subsequently.

Remember that 'field dressing' anyone, and its special pocket on BD trousers..?

Cor! I'm giving my age away...


Re: Need to know

Bill, I had forgotten about the field dressing but the only 'special pocket' I recall was the map pocket on the pant leg.
Another memory check:
We were all issued with a " Housewife".
Can you remember what it was?


Re: Need to know

Jim asks:

'We were all issued with a " Housewife".
Can you remember what it was?'

Sure can!

Your Housewife, often referred to as a 'hussif', was a pouch (about the same size as the field dressing) made of white cloth with ties. It contained all required to make repairs to your clothing when necessary. Inside was a thimble, grey darning wool (for socks), cotton thread, needles, spare buttons, etc.,.

Regarding the 'expanding' pocket on thigh of BD pants that Jim and I mentioned was, I'm pretty **** sure intended for the field dressing. After all, ORs didn't need to carry maps - we went where we we told!

A bone of contention, circa 1948/50, vague memories only, was differences in overseas kit, which in the case of Squaddies included blue Aertex type jammies, not issued to Erks??? To make up for this deficiency the latter were issued with sun glasses, a clasp knife, and of course, they got issued with SHOES..!

Did we all receive with our KD, extra underwear, heavy woollen, that I never wore..?

Or am I getting confused having consumed far too many salt tablets..?


Contrary to public opinion, STELLA was NOT made from onions.

Re: Need to know

I remember the field dressing in its paper package, I know there was a pocket again memory fails where it was. I also remember well the housewife, with much sorrow.

At Caterham we were in former WW2 barracks , a form of hut, above each bed was a window. On kit inspections as I said previously the green blanket was laid out on the bed spring. Various articles of issue equipment were laid out in prescribed order on the blanket, one of these was the housewife. On one inspection the officer inspecting found something wrong with an article on my bed. He then examined the laid out articles from my housewife, the needles laid out in the form of a K for the company identification. The kit had I think about six trouser type buttons, brass buttons, one of these was examined scrupulously and found to have a spot of Bluebell polish in a hole, that was two bad marks three needed for, bad order, murder being two offences below bad order, an inspection of one of the needles proved it to not be thoroughly polished, the bells knelled, all was silent, the crowd dropped their eyes in fear, the accused saw the inevitable opening of the window over his bed, the sergeant taking a firm grip of the bottom corners of the green blanket, and with a practised flip sent all out the open window into the earth outside.

That night I spent a long time recovering in darkness the kit, and searched diligently before finding it all including the needles and buttons.

Company officers charges followed the next day for Bad Order kit, sentenced to three show parades to show polished buttons, and needles.

Re: Need to know

Hi Lads, For what it's worth and from memory, that at times is under great stress. National Service discharge document was a piece of paper folded with only the basic information on it. Army Regular Discharge book was red and had every thing in it, Time of service in every place you served, courses you attended, qualifications you obtained, promotions and demotions, medals awarded etc etc. It also had a reference from your last Commanding Officer in it.
"Dog Tags", mine were aluminiun, one round the other oval, both were worn around the neck. If you were killed the oval was attched to your marker for information when it came to headstone, or whatever. The round one was sent back for records.
Pay Books, AB64 Pt 1 and AB64 Pt 2. Pt2 was, as has already been said, was for pay. Fines were also recorded there, only in red ink. Pt1 carried all sorts of info. Height Weight, Distinguishing Marks, proficiency with weapons and other things required of an Infantryman. You had your pulheems recorded there, this was cut out on discharge, don't ask why. You did have some Will forms at the back and after those came a spot for Permanent Passes. You always had to carry your Pt1 with you unless you were in a situation where the enemy could get valuable information if you were killed or captured. I believe it was carried in your left breast pocket. If you were pulled up by the MP's that was the first thing they asked for, your Pay Book.
I think that's enough, memory has shut down, like a computer, only good for so much. Cheers, Taffy.

Re: Need to know

Gwynn/ Rod, thanks for filling several gaps in my memory.
The big one for me was the Paybook short names "AB64 parts 1 and 2". I was calling them "PB parts 1 and 2.". I felt it wasn't right and was hoping somebody would provide the right name - thanks.
Either you or Rod mentioned National Service discharge papers (which was the focal point of my "Need to Know") . . . I have absolutely no memory of receiving discharge papers.
I thought they simply stamped our AB 64 and we walked through the gates and out.
Not completely free, as I was assigned AER (Army Emergency Reserve) for 3 1/2 years - three annual camps. I think I preferred that to the alternative - TA (Territorials). I also think we kept our uniform for the camps.


Re: Need to know

Hi Bill/Lads,

I remember the Field Dressing Pocket was on the Left Side top of thigh height, the Map pocket on early issue BD trousers were in the left side front knee height(a menace when pressing in creases) on later issues the were on the left side on side a much better position, as regards lower ranks not using them, I must say in the Royal Engineers there was a strong chance you would and did, as every Sapper had to be able to read a map, as some Marines would know you never gave a map to an Officer unless you knew him capable.

Yes Bill it does sound we're the same vintage. I did 2 years National Service, 5 years Regular Service and after a year on Reserve joined TA and was with them 11 years until retiring through age.

Cheers Rod