Charles Morgan Anstee (full name Charles Frederick Morgan Arding Anstee – see below), a member of the Dyrham Anstees, was born on 2 October 1885 in Clapham to parents James Morgan Anstee and Sarah Sherman. His mother died when he was very young and by the 1891 Census he was living with his father and stepmother at Gauden Road, Clapham.
By 1901 Charles was still living at home, at 4 Amyand Park Road, Beaconsfield Terrace, Twickenham, working as an errand boy, then on 2 October 1903, his 18th birthday, he signed up for twelve years of service with the Royal Navy (Service Number: 227276) – at the time of his enlistment he described himself as a ‘boat boy’ by trade.
Whilst serving with the Royal Navy, Charles married Flora Frederica Wallace in Portsmouth in 1908 – they had children Flora Frederica Anstee (b 1909 Portsmouth, died an infant); Joyce F. O. Anstee (b 1911 Portsmouth, alive in 1921); Kenneth M. Anstee (b 1914 Wandsworth, alive in 1921); Eric Vincent James Anstee (b 1918 Portsmouth, alive in 1945); and Thomas C. Anstee (b 1922 Portsmouth).
At the time of the 1911 Census Charles, an “Able Seaman in the Royal Navy“, and Flora were living at 52 Delhi Street Landport, Portsmouth. In December 1913 Charles was “invalided“, however the ailment could not have been too serious because right at the outset of World War One, on 2 August 1914, he was remobilised by the Royal Navy, spending almost the entirety of the war (from December 1914) aboard the ship ‘HMS Excellent‘ – see below for more details of his war story.
Charles was demobilised a few weeks before the end of the war, on 16 October 1918 – for his services he received a ‘War Gratuity’ as well as the Victory and British War medals (which were received by “Chas M. Anstee ‘diver’ ‘Victory 1’ Mercantile Marine Reserve“).
What happened next is slightly confusing – Charles’ wife Flora and their children were living in Portsmouth at the time of the 1921 Census, and his “widow” Flora died on 8 December 1945 living at Nightingale Road, Southsea – effects were to her son Eric Vincent James Anstee “motor engineer“.
Charles however moved to Canada to start a new life, marrying Emma Armstrong on 20 September 1924 at the Mission & Seamen Chapel in Seaton Street, Vancouver – on the marriage license he gave the following details:
- Full Name: Charles Frederick Morgan Arding Anstee
- Occupation: Diver
- Age: 42
- Religious Denomination: United Methodist
- Place of Birth: Newport Monmouthshire Wales [Note: this was actually his father’s place of birth]
- Residence: 1846 8th Avenue West Vancouver
- Name of Father: James Joseph Anstee (born Wales)
- Maiden Name of Mother: Unknown, born Suffolk
Charles died on 24 October 1943 in hospital after an extended illness – he was living at East 10th Avenue, Vancouver at the time and still married to Emma Armstrong. He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver with gravestone inscription “Royal Navy Diver Charles M. Anstee Oct. 24, 1943 ‘Lest we forget’“.
Various Canadian newspapers gave an obituary, a summary of which appears courtesy of ‘Findagrave‘:
“On BC Coast: since shortly after WWI
Military: WWI Veteran, Royal Navy, Admiralty salvage service
– well-known deep-sea diver; over 40 yrs of experience
– worked on Pacific coast for over 20 yrs
– held on retainer by West Coast Salvage & Contracting Co. Ltd.
– 1918-1921, worked on Belgian coast, Ostend and Zeebrugge, raising ships sunk during WWI.
– previously a diver for the British Admiralty
– 1906, compete for world diving record; achieved depth of 204 feet, 91 pounds pressure
– first diver to reach the sunken Laurentic (cargo of gold and silver ingots)
– worked on submarine K-13, Gairloch
– involved in raising of U-44; Waterford, Ireland
– part of salvaging the Ben Lee; off Holyhead
– also, the Vindictive (Ostend); the Iphegenia, Thetis and Intrepid (Zeebrugge); 3 German torpedo boats sunk at the Mole; others.
Funeral service: 27 Oct 1943, Vancouver, BC
Interment: Soldiers’ Plot, Mountain View Cemetery“
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