Thomas Lloyd Anstey, known as Lloyd, a member of the Stoke Gifford Ansteys, was born in 1889 in Shire Newton to parents Thomas Anstey and Georgina Cox. In the 1911 Census, he was a farm labourer living at Goose Green Farm, Yate, then as World War One was raging, Lloyd was conscripted into the Army in around April 1917 (by which time he was living at Crowthers Farm, Yate). He joined the ‘99th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery’ (Regimental Number: 152187) and proceeded to training. On 16 August 1917, stationed at Hilsea near Portsmouth, Lloyd wrote an exquisite letter to his mother, stating that:
“We are off on Sunday, or so they tell us. Well dearest mother it is rather sooner than we expected…they have never said anything to us about making our wills, but supposing anything were to happen to me you must remember that I want Betty [his fiancée?] to have Beauty [his horse?]…Don’t think because I write this that I am not coming back for I am, but it is just as well to put things straight before going out.”
On leaving England, they headed straight for Ypres in Belgium, where the Third Battle of Ypres was raging. Just over a month later on 28 September 1917, according to the 99th Siege Battery War Diary:
“Gunners. T. L. Anstey and G. Caley were killed in action and Cpl J. R. Procter, Gnr T. Hawkins and W. Holland were wounded near St. Jean [Sint-Jan, Ypres]”.
On 14 October 1917, Lloyd’s sister Fanny wrote the following letter to Kate Anstey (aunt of T. J. Anstey (Tom)), giving more details of Lloyd’s demise:
Crowthers Farm, Yate near Bristol, 14 Oct 1917.
My dear cousin Kate, Mother wishes me to write to thank you for your very kind letter sent on hearing of dear Lloyd’s death. It was a great blow for us especially for mother as I daresay you could see what a lot he meant to her. However she is bearing it very bravely and I am thankful to say is keeping very well. We haven’t a good photograph of Lloyd (I wish we had). The best we have is just a snapshot & we are having some postcards done from that. I will send you one on directly we get them. Up to the present we have received no particulars of his burial; all we know is that he with nine others were wounded by a shell while on duty at their gun, and that Lloyd died a few hours after admission to 47 Casualty Clearing Station. The sister who wrote from there to Mother said that he was mortally wounded in the head, neck, forearm, leg and thigh; that everything possible was done for him, he suffered very little pain and passed very peacefully away. While there she said he mentioned no-one at home. Poor dear boy there’s something so awful in the thought that he died amongst strangers, none of his own people near. His letters from the Front were so cheerful never complaining of anything. In fact he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the life. I hope you are all well & that whenever you are this way you will call and see us. Mother sends her love to all & with the same from myself.
Believe me your affectionate cousin Fanny Anstey
PS We were led to think that Lloyd was at or near Ypres
Lloyd was buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Belgium (plot reference ‘VII. E. 13’); the inscription there reads “He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow”. His sacrifice is also commemorated at the Yate Parish Memorial, unveiled in January 1921.
Lloyd is also commemorated on the family headstone at St Mary’s Church, Yate, plot reference ‘E6’. It reads “Treasured memories of Thomas Anstey interred at Llandenny, Mon 1854-1896, Georgina Anstey 1851-1927 at rest. In loving memory of Alice Anstey 1884-1898, Elsie Mary Anstey 1886-1900, George Frederick Anstey 1881-1908, Thomas Lloyd Anstey 1889 Killed in Action 1917”
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