George Benjamin Anstey, a member of the Dyrham Anstees, was born in May 1894 at Village Farm in Caldicot, Monmouthshire to parents William Philip Anstey and Ann Keene. In around 1900, the family moved to a farm in Rogiet, Monmouthshire, where George was working as ‘farm help’ by 1911. After the outbreak of war, George enlisted with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry for training in 1915 as a Private (Regimental Number: 235732), coincidentally meeting up with Alfred Richard William Anstey, known as Dick, during enlistment.
In June 1916, George arrived in Egypt to join his regiment. On 4 August 1916, he was “wounded in action” during the Battle of Romani in Egypt, stating that after a battle lasting over two hours he had been shot, the bullet going through his left cheek, out the right side of his neck and into his right shoulder.
By early 1917, George had recovered and was back with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (Egyptian Expeditionary Force) fighting in the Second Battle of Gaza in Palestine in April 1917. By September 1917, George was in Cairo, Egypt, then on 28 November 1917 he was reported missing while on duty at a relay post with three other men, the post being overrun by the Turks.
The official date of George’s death given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is 16 December 1917, but this is surely incorrect because there exist numerous letters and documents appearing to confirm that George was still alive in 1918 (at one point in a hospital in Aleppo, and later possibly in a place called “Gillibach“).
As late as 20 December 1918 in a letter sent to George’s family home in Roggiet, a fellow soldier stated “I suppose you will have had a decent few Prisoners of War home by the time you receive this letter including George Anstey who set sail from Alexandria somewhere about three weeks ago from information which I had off an old pal“.
However on 4 January 1919, another letter stated that no trace of George could be found at Aleppo, then on 1 February 1919, in a letter to George’s mother it was stated that Captain Howard of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars had not been able to find any news at the hospital in Aleppo, and that George was now “on the missing list“.
As such, it is highly likely that George actually died in 1918, not 1917, though it remains unclear precisely how and where. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Al Basrah, Basra, Iraq (Panel 60).
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