Henry Benjamin Anstee (not to be confused with Henry Benjamin Anstee b 1887 Hendon), known as Harry, a member of the Swanbourne Ansteys, was born on 22 November 1890 in Hammersmith to parents George Edward Anstee and Anna Andrews. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes John Edward Anstee and James Anstee, growing up in Hammersmith. By the time of the 1911 Census Harry was living with his family at 11 Standish Road, Hammersmith, working as a railway employee.
We know very little about Harry’s World War One story as we can locate none of his Service or Medical Records. What we do know is the following:
- He served with the 7th London Regiment as a Private (Service Numbers: 1291 and 350106);
- He entered the ‘France Theatre of War’ on 17 March 1915;
- He was still a Private with the 7th Battalion of the London Regiment in August 1919; and
- For his services he was awarded the 1915 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
From these somewhat meagre facts we can be pretty certain that Harry was already part of the 7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment Territorial Force before the outbreak of war. As such, he would have been in Eastbourne for annual training on 2 August 1914 when news reached them of the mobilisation of the Continental Powers. The battalion immediately entrained for London and the men returned to their homes, with mobilisation coming on 5 August 1914. The Commanding Officer then asked if the men would volunteer for foreign service, and practically the whole battalion did so, including Harry, making it eligible to be sent overseas as the 1/7th Battalion.
Harry and the rest of the 1/7th spent the winter of 1914/15 at Watford and then entrained for Southampton, disembarking at Le Havre on 18 March 1915 and heading straight for the front line trenches. After spending the summer holding the line near Loos in Northern France, the battalion was withdrawn for intensive training for the Battle of Loos in which they then participated. During the winter of 1915/16 the 1/7th Londons carried out regular tours of duty in the Loos sector, losing a steady stream of casualties to artillery and mine attacks
We can only suppose that Harry was wounded at some point in 1915 or early 1916 because he was back in England by q4 1916 when he married May Edith Hill in Hammersmith. They had at least two children, Helen Irene Anstee (b 1918 Wandsworth) and Henry P. Anstee (b 1921 Kensington).
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In the 1921 Census Harry and his family were living in Kensington, and by the 1923 Electoral Register they were living at 17 Miles Street, Hammersmith – they were still living there in 1929.
In the 1939 Register Harry, May and their daughter Helen were living at 79 Byron Avenue, Hounslow where he was an Electric Arc Welder at a Railway Engineering company
Harry died in 1950 in Uxbridge.
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