Ralph Stanley Anstey, a member of the Bradninch Ansteys, was born in 1899 in Topsham to parents Samuel Anstey and Emma Murphy. He was the brother of fellow Anstey Heroes Edgar Hubert Anstey, Robert Warwick Anstey, and Wallace Anstey. Ralph grew up with his family at White Street, Topsham, though at the time of the 1911 Census he was a patient at the Whipton Sanatorium in Pinhoe, Exeter.
At some point after the outbreak of World War One, Ralph signed up for active service. Unfortunately we cannot locate any enlightening documentation, and thus have only a sketchy understanding of his war story.
We know that he served with the following regiments as a Private:
- Somerset Light Infantry (Soldier Number: 38794);
- 1/17 London Regiment (Soldier Number: 57532?); and
- Devonshire Regiment (Soldier Number: 01794).
Combined with his year of birth, the above would suggest that he signed up some time in 1916. We also know that per the War Office Daily List No. 5695 (14 October 1918) Ralph was reported as “wounded” and entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe“. His ‘Primary Unit’ at the time was the London Regiment, though his Service Number was given as 38794.
Assuming that he was with the 1/17 London Regiment at this time, then he was likely wounded in August/September 1918 during the Second Battle of Bapaume, part of the Battle of Albert which occurred during the Hundred Days Offensive, which eventually ended the war.
Ralph’s injuries were clearly not too serious because in January 1919, when his mother died, he was unable to attend her funeral because, per the ‘Western Times‘ (21 January 1919 edition), he was “on active service and leave [was] not granted“.
After his formal discharge later in 1919 or early 1920, Ralph returned to live in Topsham with members of his family at 19 Fore Street. For his services, he was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
In 1923 Ralph married Mary J. Widger in Exeter. They had a son Ronald A. Anstey (b 1925). Unfortunately a year later in 1926 Ralph died; he was buried in the ‘Non War Cemetery, Exeter – Higher Cemetery Plot: Sec: D Div: 413F Plot F713‘ on 10 November 1926. His widow Mary was also buried there in 1941.
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