John William Anstee, a member of the Toddington Anstees, was born on 8 December 1897 in Leagrave, Luton, baptised on 16 January 1898 in Houghton Regis, to parents John Howton Anstee and Annie Louisa Glover. He grew up living at Lewsey Farm, Leagrave, Luton and by the time of the 1911 Census he was boarding at Sibdon House School in Berkhamstead.
At some point, presumably in 1915/16 when he reached 18 years of age, John emigrated to Canada to become a rancher. Then on 1 November 1916, around two years after World War One had commenced, he signed up for active service in Vancouver with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. On his Attestation Paper he confirmed that he was born in Leagrave on 8 December 1897; that his next of kin was “John Houghton Anstee“; that he was living at 610 Linden Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia; and that he was an unmarried rancher.
He was posted initially to the’ Army Service Corps Reinforcements’, then to ‘No 1 Overseas C. A. S. C Training Depot’, before on 21 December 1916 he was classified as “having defective vision and recommended for special service in Canada Class A“. Despite this, on 9 January 1917 he was transferred to the 1st Draft 230th OS Battalion of the Canadian Forestry Corps as a Private (Service Number: 200044), then on 20 January 1917 he wrote a will leaving all his personal estate to “Miss Elizabeth Coanance?, 610 Linden Avenue, Victoria“, then on 25 January 1917 he proceeded overseas anyway, setting sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia on ‘SS Grampian‘ bound for England, arriving on 6 February 1917 in Liverpool.
On 10 April 1917 he was admitted to Westcliffe Eye & Ear Hospital, Folkestone, with “myopia“, being discharged four days later. In July 1917 he spent 4 days in hospital in Grampian with influenza. On 21 August 1917 he was admitted to the Military Hospital at Bramshott with “gonorrhoea“, being discharged 35 days later.
To the best of our knowledge, John spent the entire duration of his overseas service in England, working in various Canadian Forestry Corps depots. He was discharged from service on 12 July 1919 at the No 2 Canadian Discharge Depot in London, giving his intended future address as 39 Lyndhurst Road, Hove, Sussex.
On 24 September 1921, at Stapleton near Bristol, John married Kathleen Francis Isobel Wilkins – we currently do not know if there were any children to this marriage. By the 1939 Register he was living at 152 Flat 3 Cromwell Road, North Kensington with his wife – he was a temporary clerk at the Inland Revenue.
John likely died in 1972 in Westminster.
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