Harold Anstee, a member of the Coventry Ansteys (sub-branch of the Swanbourne Ansteys), was born on 5 May 1897 in Foxon Street, Leicester to parents John Anstey (born in Bedworth, Warwickshire in 1865) and Mary Ann Russell, who married in 1887 in Leicester. He was baptised 31 August 1897 at Leicester, St Mary de Castro, living in Leicester during his childhood and becoming a printer on leaving school.
At the outbreak of World War One, Harold signed up for active service, joining the 4th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment (4/2003). He then joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 13 July 1915 as an Ordinary Seaman (Nbr Z/6079), and on 5 December 1915 he was drafted from the 7th Reserve Battalion at Blandford to the ‘Hood Battalion’ (part of the 63rd Royal Naval Division) Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, joining them at Mudros, Greece on 8 January 1916. He served at Tenedos until 1 June 1916, by now an Able Seaman (Nbr ‘TZ/6079’).
Harold arrived back in England on 22 August 1916 and was drafted for the British Expeditionary Force at Base Depot, Etaples from 26 September 1916 to 9 November 1916, then to the 6th Entrenching Battalion, rejoined the ‘Hood Battalion’ on 25 November 1916.
Harold likely fought at the Battle of Cambrai in Northern France in early December 1917, then on 30 December 1917 he was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War at first ‘Le Quesnoy’ camp and then ‘Cambrai’. At the time of his capture he was described as “Rank: Airman Basic” and he was reported to be “not wounded“.
In War Office Daily List No. 5484 on 5 February 1918 Harold was reported as a “prisoner of war in German hands“. War Office Daily List No. 5669 on 13 September 1918 reports that he “was prisoner of war in Germany, now arrived in Switzerland for internment“. Then War Office Daily List No. 5763 on 4 January 1919 reports that he was “released prisoner of war from Germany, arrived in England“.
In fact Harold had arrived back in England on 9 December 1918 “repatriated to Military Hospital Paddington, suffering from serious illness, Tubercle of Lung“. On 23 April 1919 he was “discharged invalided at RN Hospital Chatham, disability 100%, Tuberculosis of Lung. Attributable to service“. Finally on 7 August 1919 Harold “died after Discharge (Invalided) at The Sanatorium Isolation Hospital, Leicester, from Pulmonary Tuberculosis“.
Harold was buried at Gilroes Cemetery, Groby Road, Leicester, on 9th August 1919, plot number CC504, which had been purchased by his father John. Harold was accepted for commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in February 2007 and the inscription on his gravestone now reads “H. ANSTEE Able Seaman TZ/6071 Royal Naval Vol. Reserve 7 August 1919 Age 22“.
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