Harold Anstey, a member of the St Gluvias Ansteys, was born on 18 November 1886 in Falmouth to parents Alfred John Anstey and Anna [Ann] Maria Spargo; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Alfred Anstey, growing up living at Killigrew Street, Falmouth. Both of his parents died in the mid-1890s, so by 1901 he was a servant working as a carter on a farm run by the Gluyas family at Treocase, Constantine, Falmouth.
On 18 November 1904, his eighteenth birthday, Harold decided to join the Royal Navy (Service Number: 223194), signing up for a period of twelve years at Devonport and working his way up from “Boy 2nd Class” to Able Seaman by 1907. He “passed educationally for Petty Officer on 3 March 1908” and his “Date of Passing was 4 May 1914“. In the 1911 Census he was visiting Mary Ann Rise at 22 Wesley Street, Weymouth, Dorset – described as an “Able Seaman in the Royal Navy“.
At the outbreak of World War One, Harold was still with the Royal Navy – we have the following details of his service during the conflict:
- He was serving on Vivid II at the outbreak of war in August 1914
- ‘Defiance’ – September 1914 to October 1914
- ‘Vivid I’ – November 1914 to February 1915
- Promoted to Acting Gunner on 9 February 1915, confirmed 8 February 1916
- “Pembroke for Havelock (T)” – 14 April 1915 to 17 June 1916
- “Zealandia (T)” – 17 June 1916 to 30 April 1917
- “Dido for Radiant (T)” – 5 May 1917 until 1920
Notes written on his Service Report regarding his war service include “As Gunner (T) he carries out his work with ability – has very occasional lapses – he is somewhat bad tempered – capable watchkeeper, efficient and shows considerable ability“.
After the war Harold remained with the Royal Navy – his Depot was changed from Devonport to Portsmouth in 1920 (presumably it was at this time he signed up for another stint). The ‘Gloucester Citizen‘ on 25 January 1922 reported “Naval Gunner Dismissed His Ship: At a Court Martial at Portsmouth, Harold Anstey, a torpedo gunner of HMS Vernon, was ordered to forfeit six months seniority, be dismissed his ship, and be severely reprimanded, for attempting to smuggle opera glasses, binoculars and clocks at Dover on November 7th. In his own defence Anstey said that he had lost a great deal of money owing to the exchange rate and purchased the binoculars and glasses with a view to recouping himself. He made no attempt at concealment because previous to purchase he had examined the Customs tariffs lists and thought that the articles in question were not dutiable. It was admitted by the Customs Officials that binoculars and glasses had only become dutiable in October.“
Whilst still with the Royal Navy, Harold married Marion Collingwood Leech on 6 January 1923 at St James Church, Milton, Portsmouth, having children Dacia M. Anstey (b 1925); John D. Anstey (b 1928); and Alan D. C. Anstey (b 1940).
Harold became a ‘Commissioned Gunner’ on 1 February 1925 then on 24 August 1932 he was “placed on the Royal Navy retired list at his own request“. On 24 September 1939, just after the outbreak of World War Two, he was again called up for Royal Navy duty, on HMS Drake. This is confirmed by the 1939 Register (taken on 29 September 1939) where he was listed as at 11 Tamar Terrace, Plymouth a “married Torpedo Officer on HMS Drake“.
Harold served throughout World War Two – he was promoted to Lieutenant on 5 May 1941 and he was discharged on 9 October 1945, reverting back to the ‘Retired List’ on 5 December 1945. He died on 5 January 1951 in East Preston, Littlehampton, Worthing, Sussex, aged 64.
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