Frank Anstey, a member of the Exminster Ansteys, was born in St Thomas, Exeter on 12 September 1893 to parents Henry Charles Anstey and Mary Jane Martin. He was brother to fellow Anstey heroes William Philip Anstey, Frederick Charles Anstey and Stanley Leonard Anstey
Frank grew up in Cowick Street, St Thomas, Exeter then on 15 February 1911 in Exeter he signed up for twelve years of service with the Army (Royal Tank Corps) as a Private (Service Number: 388233, later 5694). His trade at the time of enlistment was “engine cleaner” with the Great Western Railway. By the 1911 Census Frank, an unmarried Private, had begun his service with the 1st Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Dragoon Guards at Wellington Lines in Aldershot.
At the outbreak of World War One, Frank was actually serving in Cairo, Egypt with the 3rd Dragoon Guards, so he was recalled to England, arriving at Liverpool on 18 October 1914. Then on 31 October 1914 he landed in France and on 4 November 1914 Frank and his battalion came under the command of the 6th Cavalry Brigade.
Frank’s military documentation confirms that he was with the British Expeditionary Force from 31 October 1914 to 2 January 1917 and then again from 10 April 1918 to 12 January 1919. As such, we know that he fought at the First Battle of Ypres on the Western Front in early November 1914, and the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 (where was seen the first mass use of poison gas by Germany on Allied soldiers).
In the ‘Western Times‘ on 30 October 1916 appeared an article entitled “URGENT Appeal Socks, Helmets, Scarves wanted for Devons at the Front”, in which can be found the following note from Frank “Thank you for the parcel. The kindness of those in the home country in sending us such tangible expressions of their thoughts and wishes is very gratifying and a real help to us – F. Anstey, an Exonian on active service.”
On 13 November 1918, according to War Office Daily List Nbr 5721, Frank, by this time a Lance Corporal, was entitled to wear a wound stripe, as he had been wounded serving with the Dragoon Guards – we have no further details on this injury, or how/where it occurred.
We do know that for his services Frank was awarded the 1914 Star “with clasp“, as well as the British War and Victory medals. From this we can further add that Frank had “served under fire or operated within range of enemy mobile artillery in France or Belgium during the period between 5 August and 22 November 1914“, which confirms that he certainly took part in the First Battle of Ypres in early November 1914.
After the war was over, Frank continued his twelve year service with the 3rd Dragoon Guards, where he was transferred to ‘Section B’ on 10 March 1919. He was mobilised on 12 April 1921 and sent to serve in India, and he was finally discharged in Canterbury on 14 February 1923 after completing 12 years of service, which was considered “exemplary“. He returned to live at Knowle Farm, Copplestone, Devon.
Frank married Jessimen Elizabeth Veitch (born 21 February 1902) in 1926 in St Thomas, Exeter and they had at least two children, Geoffrey D. Anstey and Phyllis J. Anstey (both born in Exeter in 1927 – presumably twins). By the 1939 Register, Frank and his family were living at 4 Sandy Lane, Liverpool where Frank was a “male nurse (mental)“
Frank was also involved in World War Two, discharged on 22 August 1943 at Barnet?, where he had been a “W. S. Sergeant” – he died in Bideford, Devon in 1982.
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