James Henry Anstey, a member of the Castle Cary Ansteys, was born in 1894 in Birkenhead to parents William John Anstey and Ellen Owen. He grew up in Slough, living at 83 The Crescent, Slough in the 1901 Census, and by the time of the 1911 Census he was still living with his family, at 115 Regina Road, Norwood, working as a printer’s boy.
At some point fairly early in World War One, James signed up for active service. We do not have his Service Records, but we know that he enlisted in Southall, and that he was first posted to the Middlesex Regiment (Service Number: 4404). At some point he was then transferred to the 1/13th Battalion (Kensington) London Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 6396).
We have no specifics of James’ war story apart from his being “killed by a sniper in France October 8 1916″ per below, however given that for his services he was posthumously awarded the Victory and British War medals (and not the ‘1915 Star’), we can be sure that he joined his Battalion on the Western Front near Somme in France in early to mid-1916, and we can be equally sure that he was killed fighting in the front line trenches during the Battle of the Somme.
According to the ‘Somme Roll Of Honour‘ website, on which James is commemorated, his final months in Somme were spent fighting thus: “1st July 1916: Attack of the Gommecourt salient. 2nd July 1916: Foncquevillers. July-August 1916: Tours in line in Hebuterne sector. 4th September 1916: Fricourt area. 6th September 1916: Leuze Wood. 8th September 1916: South of Montauban. 11th September 1916: Billon Farm. 22nd September 1916: Maltz Horn Farm. 28th September 1916: Morlancourt. 30th September 1916: Fricourt area. Early October 1916: Lesboeufs sector. 9th October 1916: Trônes Wood“.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that James is commemorated at “Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 9 D 9 C 13 C and 12 C. France” – additional note “Son of William John and Ellen Anstey, of 115, Regina Rd., Southall, Middx“
Three years after his death, on 10 October 1919, his family placed the following in the ‘Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette‘ – “In Memorium: Anstey – In loving memory of Private James Henry Anstey, the only son and brother of Mr and Mrs W. J. Anstey of 115 Regina Road Southall who was killed by a sniper in France October 8 1916… Never forgotten by his father, mother and sisters“
In Heston, St Leonard can be found the following gravestone inscription also remembering James: “In loving memory of a devoted wife and mother ELLEN ANSTEY who fell asleep Aug 8th 1943 aged 71 years. Also JAMES HENRY beloved son of above who died on active service Oct. 8th 1916 aged 22 years. Also WILLIAM JOHN ANSTEY husband of the above who died Dec. 9th 1955 aged 85 years.“
James was clearly well loved by his family because almost 50 years after his death on 17 October 1964 the following appeared in the ‘Middlesex County Times‘: “In Memoriam: ANSTEY – In Loving Memory of James Henry Anstey killed in France October 8 1916 – From his sisters“
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