Henry Anstey, a member of the Yangan, Queensland Ansteys of Australia, was born in Yangan in 1892 to parents John W. B. Anstey and Sarah Rigby. He attended Swanfels School in 1897, and lived at the family farm in Swanfels, working as a labourer once he attained adulthood.
Around a year after the commencement of World War One, Henry enlisted for active service, on 29 November 1915. On his Attestation Paper he stated that his next of kin was his mother Mrs Sarah Anstey of Yangan, and that he was a natural born British Subject. Henry was first assigned to the ‘Nbr One Depot Squadron’ as a Private (Regiment Number: 2306) and then on 31 March 1916 his unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A16 ‘Star Of Victoria‘ on as part of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, 16th Reinforcements (AWM Roll number: 10/7/4).
After their arrival in Egypt in May 1916, Henry was assigned to the 1st Light Horse Training Regiment, then on 23 June 1916 he was transferred to the 1st (Light Horse) Double Squadron. His principal duty during this time was to help defend the Suez Canal. In September 1916 Henry marched out to the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, then in November 1916 he was transferred to the 4th Australian Camel Regiment in Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt (from the 2nd Light Horse).
In February 1917 Henry was transferred to 17th Company I. C. C. (Imperial Camel Corps), where he remained for the next 16 months in and around Palestine. Though we do not possess specifics of Henry’s battles, he would certainly have been involved in fighting the First Battle of Gaza in March 1917; the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917; the Battle of Beersheba in October 1917; the Third Battle of Gaza in November 1917; the Battle of Mughar Ridge in November 1917; and the First Battle of Amman in March 1918.
In July 1918. Henry marched into the “Lsol Camp” in Moascar, Egypt and then marched out to the 4th Light Horse Regiment in July 1918. He then marched out to the 11th Light Horse Regiment in Palestine, where he would have participated in the Battle of Samakh in September 1918.
On 20 October 1918 Henry was taken to hospital in Abbassia, “dangerously ill with pneumonia“. His mother Sarah in Yangan, Australia was kept in touch with his condition by the Australian Imperial Force:
- On 13 November 1918 she received a message saying “Private Henry Anstey dangerously ill, progress report expected“;
- Again on 13 November 1918 she received a message saying “Now reported Private Henry Anstey admitted 6 November 1918 31st Stationary Hospital Abbassia dangerously ill pneumonia“
- On 20 November 1918 she received a message saying “Private Henry Anstey out of danger and condition stationary“
- Finally on 29 November 1918 she received a message saying “Dear Madam I now beg to advise you that Private H. Anstey has been reported condition improving“
Henry returned to Australia on 23 December 1918 from Suez, Egypt aboard H. T. ‘Leicestershire‘ ship. In the ‘Brisbane Courier‘ 11 March 1919 it stated “A very large gathering assembled in the Oddfellows Hall, Yangan, to give a suitable welcome to Driver R. M Maguire. Trooper H. Anstey, and Pte. W Schilt. Mr. W. Smith (Chairman of the Yangan Patriotic Committee) extended a hearty greeting to the returned boys on behalf of the people of Yangan and Swanfels. Messrs. A. J. Neal and Anstey also added words of welcome. Driver Maguire was taken prisoner by the Turks in the Palestine campaign. Trooper Anstey, of Swanfels, marched with the Dungarees from Warwick, and served in Palestine. Private Schilt was a member of a Lewis Gun Company“.
Henry was also commemorated on an ‘Honour Board’ at Yangan, unveiled 20 March 1919. Per the ‘Warwick Daily News‘ 21 March 1919 “The honour board, which is a very beautiful specimen of its kind, is of silky oak, and contains the names of 66 Yangan men, who volunteered for active service. It stands out in front of the School of Arts, and on it is inscribed the following names: … H. Anstey …”
After the war, Henry returned to live at the family farm in Swanfels, Yangan. In 1932 he married Lilly Nelson, unfortunately she passed away in 1937, buried at Yangan Cemetery. The Warwick Daily News on 4 October 1937 reported “FUNERAL NOTICE ANSTEY.—The friends of Mr. Henry Anstey, of Swanfels, and Mr. and Mrs. S. Nelson, Swanfels, are respectfully Iinvited to attend the funeral of his wife and their daughter, Lily, which will leave the Warwick General Hospital THIS DAY at 3 p.m. for the Yangan Cemetery.”
In the 1939 Electoral Roll, Henry was a “farmer of Swanfels” living together with his parents, and his brother Charles and his wife. We have no evidence that Henry had any children; he died in Yangan in 1978 and was cremated at the Toowoomba Garden of Remembrance.
Henry is mentioned in ‘(1919). Australia’s fighting sons of the empire : portraits and biographies of Australians in the Great War‘, where can also be found a photo of him in military uniform.
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