Thomas George Anstee, a member of the Houghton Regis Anstees, was born on 22 January 1882 in St Olave, Bermondsey to parents James John Anstee and Susan Blackburn. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Samuel Anstee and Harry Anstee.
Thomas grew up living at at Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth, and by the 1901 Census he was a “general labourer” living with his family at 10, Waverley Road, Paddington. A few months later, on 22 October 1901, he decided to enlist with the Army. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was currently residing at 16 Strutton Ground Westminster; that he was previously residing at 10 Westbury Terrace, Harrow Road, Paddington; and that he was Church of England by religion.
[Note: His Service Record also confirms that his father was “John Anstee of 10 Westbury Terrace, Harrow Road, Paddington” and that he had older brothers Samuel, William (living at 15 Walworth Road) and James, and a younger brother Harry.]
Thomas was embodied with the 5th Battalion of the (Prince Consort’s Own) Rifle Brigade (Service Number: 6025) on 9 December 1901 and embarked for South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War on 19 December 1901. He received a “war gratuity of £5” on 31 July 1902 and he was disembodied on 3 October 1902 having arrived back in England on the ‘SS Avondale Castle‘ (or ‘SS Harlech Castle‘) with the rest of his regiment. Thomas was not wounded during this conflict and for his service he was awarded the “South Africa Medal with three clasps”
Thomas remained with the 5th Battalion of the (Prince Consort’s Own) Rifle Brigade until he was discharged on 16 August 1907 for misconduct. Meanwhile, he married Ethel Maude McDowall in 1904 in Paddington and they had at least two children, Thomas George Anstee (b 1905 Marylebone) and James Edward Anstee (b 1920, died an infant – see below). By the 1911 Census the family were living at 40 Inworth Street, Battersea where Thomas was again a labourer.
During World War One, Thomas once again signed up for active service, this time as a Private with the 7th Battalion of the (Prince Consort’s Own) Rifle Brigade (Service Number: B2656). He entered the ‘France’ Theatre of War on 19 May 1915 at Boulogne as part of the British Expeditionary Force, heading straight for the Western Front. A couple of months later in August 1915, almost certainly whilst taking part in the Actions at Hooge, he received a gunshot wound to his left forearm “Slt“, and was taken to “C. C. Camiers ex 20 G. H.” on 18 August 1915.
We have no further details of Thomas’ war story, except that he was awarded the 1915 Star, as well as the Victory and British War medals for his service.
The ‘South Western Star‘ on 14 May 1920 reported “BULLEN STREET INFANT’S STRUGGLE FOR BREATH.—On Tuesday Mr. Oddie held an inquest at Battersea Coroner’s Court concerning the death of James Edward Anstee, aged ten weeks, son of Thomas George Anstee. a labourer, 6 Bullen-street, Battersea. The mother stated that formerly she fed deceased on Nestle’s milk and barley water. Recently she changed the food to glaxo. On Thursday and Friday the child was cross and cried. On Saturday while she was bathing him, she found he was struggling for breath. She sent for a doctor but the child was dead when he came.-Dr. F. C. Kempster said death was due to suffocation from convulsion.–The coroner recorded ” Death from Natural Causes.“
By the 1939 Register Thomas and his family were still living at 6 Bullen Street, Clapham Junction, Lambeth, Battersea where he was living off a “disability pension” (possibly related to his wounding in World War One).
Thomas died on 21 June 1944. He is commemorated at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ‘Battersea, Metropolitan Borough, Civilian War Dead‘ with additional information given as “of 26 Rosenau Road. Husband of Ethel Maud Anstee. Died at 26 Rosenau Road.” As such, it is likely that he died whilst performing some role during World War Two – research continues into this point.
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