Henry Anstey (also known as Harry), a member of the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, was born in Falfield, South Gloucestershire in 1887 to parents Alfred Henry Williams Anstey and Mary Louisa Jenner. He was the elder brother of Alfred Richard William Anstey, known as Dick, who also fought in World War One.
Henry attended Thornbury Grammar School as a child. In 1911, he married Dorothy Lydia Joslen in Falfield, and they had a daughter together called Joy; they lived at Elm Tree Farm in Tortworth. At the outbreak of World War One, Henry joined the Mechanical Transport; he was promoted to Sergeant Major and transferred to the Scotch Regiment, fighting in the Battle of the Somme. Henry was later serving as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the ‘7th Rifle Brigade’ when he was killed in action on 11 April 1917 at the Battle of Arras. A fellow officer wrote a letter to Henry’s widow, which reads:
“Dear Mrs Anstey:- it is with very deepest regret that I have to write this letter; you will have received by now news from the War Office of your husband’s death. He was in my company and we were always very friendly and I cannot tell you how deeply I sympathise with you in your loss. I am pleased to be able to tell you that he was killed instantaneously, which is one great mercy, though I did not see him after his death. It was a machine gun bullet. One thing I feel sure will make you feel proud and in some ways alleviate the suffering is that he did his duty nobly and had behaved with the utmost coolness throughout the Battle of Arras in which we were taking part. Up to yesterday (Friday) the news had not been officially confirmed and the War Office, when applied to, stated that the casualty had not been reported. Lieut Anstey is so well known and so extremely popular in the district that the news of his reported death has caused profound gloom to prevail and the utmost sympathy is felt for the relatives in their sore trial.”
Henry was buried at, and is commemorated on, the Tigris Lane Cemetery Memorial at Wancourt, Pas de Calais. He is also commemorated on the Thornbury Grammar School War Memorial. There is also a plaque at St Leonard’s Church in Tortworth, unveiled on 10 January 1921 by his daughter Joy, which states:
“To the Glory of God and in the Memory of Henry the Dearly-Loved elder son of A. H. W. & M. L. ANSTEY also Husband of D. L. ANSTEY 2nd Lieutenant 7th Battalion Rifle Brigade Killed in Action at the Battle of Arras April 11 1917 aged 29 years.”
On the wall next to his memorial in the church appears to be the original grave marker placed on his grave in France.
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