William Anstey, a member of the Birmingham Ansteys, was born in Sheffield on 23 January 1899 to parents William Thomas Anstey and Ellen Slater, baptised a month later at St John’s Church, Sheffield, at which time the family were living at the backs of 170 Duke Street in West Riding. By the 1911 Census the family were living at 7 Court No 2 Duke St Lane, Sheffield – William was still at school.
We are not able to establish precisely when William signed up for active service during World War One as we cannot locate his Service Records, but it cannot have been much earlier that 1917 given his age. We do know that by early 1918 he was a Private with the 2nd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment B Company (Service Number: 52916 – also Service Number: 94040 with the Army Training Reserve 9th Battalion). As such, we know that William fought at the Battle of St Quentin which began on 21 March 1918, the first major battle of the German Spring Offensive along the Western Front in Northern France.
Having survived the German onslaught for five days (which included barrages of trench mortars, mustard gas, chlorine gas and tear gas) and been pushed right back to the banks of the River Somme, William’s luck partially ran out when he was captured by the Germans on 26 March 1918 at Brie, just south of Peronne. Fortunately, he was reported as “not wounded” when captured. According to a letter dated October 1918, William was held as a Prisoner of War at Limburg near the Rhine River in Germany, presumably until the Germans surrendered in November 1918.
In the War Office Daily List Number 5740, dated 5 December 1918, William was reported “Released prisoner of war from Germany, arrived in England.” For his services, he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.
After the war, William returned to Sheffield, marrying Kathleen Mary Wood in 1924 in Christ Church, Attercliffe, West Riding – he was an electrician’s labourer residing at St Luke’s in Dyers Hill at the time. They had at least two children in Sheffield, namely Kathleen M. Anstey (b 1925) and Brian W. Anstey (b 1931). By the 1939 Register the family were living at 20 Lowhouse Road, Sheffield – William was still an electrician’s labourer at a steel works.
William died in 1971 in Sheffield.
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