The Victorian Soldier had an Account Book which recorded every detail of his service history. It gave details of his promotion, conduct and included his school certificates. If he married this was recorded. It also gave a pro-forma will should he die in service.
The general statement at the front of the book explained its purpose thus:
The principal objects for which a Soldier is required to be in possession of this book, are, to secure to him, whilst in the Army, a proper settlement of his Pay, Allowances, and Clothing, and that he may have a Record establishing his claim to any benefits to which he may be entitled under Her Majesty’s Regulations for granting Pensions, Allowances, and Gratuities to discharged Soldiers, who have performed good and faithful Service, and to assist in the disposal of his effects, in the event of his dying intestate.
It is therefore the Soldier’s interest to take care that his Book is at all times correctly and completely kept.
When a Soldier is discharged, he is to take his Book away with him: in the event of a Soldier dying in the Service, his Book will be forwarded to his relations or representatives if they desire it; and if it contains a record of Wounds received in action, or of distinguished acts of Bravery, it will remain an honourable memorial of his character and account.
Here is a Soldier's Account Book fabricated in 1997 specially for display purposes in the barrack room at Crownhill Fort. One was produced for each of the eight beds and hand-written details were added to create a set of Victorian identities.
The facsimile book below can be printed, trimmed to size using the crop marks and side stapled to form an authentic Soldier's Account Book. Details can then be added using pen and ink.
The facsimile (click to view)
The original (click to view)