William Henry Anstey, a member of the St Gluvias Ansteys, was born on 8 June 1879 in Falmouth to single mother Eliza Ann Anstey, a tailoress. He grew up living in Falmouth with his mother, where they were residing at Smithick Hill, Falmouth in the 1891 Census.
[Note: he is not to be confused with his first cousin William Henry Anstey born three days earlier on 5 June 1879, also in Falmouth.]
On 28 February 1901 William married Maude Mary Kite in East Stonehouse (his father was incorrectly noted as ‘William Henry Anstey – tailor‘) and by the 1901 Census they were living at 5 Cornwall Street, Devonport where he was working as a chef. A few months later, on 10 July 1901, William, “a cook born in Falmouth on 8 June 1879“, decided to join the Royal Navy (Service Number: 359656), serving as a cook on the following ships:
- HMS Magnificent – from July 1901 to November 1902
- HMS Northampton – from November 1902 to November 1903
- HMS Circe – from 2 January 1906 to 5 May 1907
He was then discharged for reason “Shore SNLR” – Service No Longer Required – with conduct during his service deemed “good“. At the time of the 1911 Census William was visiting/living with his mother Eliza Ann Anstey at Princes Place, Gylling Street, Falmouth where he was described as a “married butcher’s assistant“.
In the early weeks of World War One, on 26 November 1914 at Falmouth, William volunteered for active service. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was living at 14 Fish Strand Hill; that he was 35; that he belonged to the National Reserve; that his mother was Eliza Ann Anstey; and that he had served “with the Royal Navy as a cook“. He was posted to the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry 4th Reserve Battalion, No 3rd Company (Service Number: 3168), however on 18 December 1914 he was discharged in Basingstoke under “Para 156 (4) T. F Regulations 1912“.
Undeterred, on 27 October 1915, William signed up again in Falmouth. On his Attestation Paper he once again confirmed that he had served in the Royal Navy for “6 1/2 years as a cook“; that he was now unmarried (we cannot currently ascertain what became of his first wife Maud); that he was a butcher; and that he was living at 14 Fish Strand Hill, Falmouth with his mother Eliza Ann. He was posted to the Army Service Corps as a Private (Service Number: S2SR/04509).
William embarked on the ‘SS Monas Queen‘ at Southampton on 7 December 1915, disembarking at Havre in France a day later and remaining in France throughout the rest of the conflict. In 1916 and 1917 he served in Bolougne, first at the Base Supply Depot and thence “33 DUS“. On 1 November 1917, whilst with the “29 L of C Supply Company” he was court martialled and convicted for drunkenness; he was sentenced to the extremely harsh punishment of “ninety days F. P. Nbr 1” [Field Punishment No. 1, nicknamed “crucifixion” by the soldiers, entailed hard labour duties and attachment to a fixed object such as a post or wheel for two hours a day]
William finally returned to England from France on 25 March 1919, a few months after the end of formal hostilities, at which point he was demobilised and discharged. He was part of the Army Reserves from April 1919 to August 1919, then on 16 August 1919 in Falmouth, as the clean-up operations from the conflict were still ongoing, he again signed up for service for a period of one year with the Royal Army Service Corps. On his Attestation Paper he noted that he was still a butcher; that his next of kin was his mother “Mrs Eliza Ann Anstey, Old Post Office Yard, Falmouth“; and that he was single.
This time he was posted to the ‘A Supply Company’ of the Royal Army Service Corps (Service Number: ES/58963 and S/10945), serving in England until 5 March 1920, at which point he went to Rhineland, Germany until 14 August 1920, spending much of that time in Cologne (and quite a lot of it either being drunk, being reprimanded for being drunk, or being in detention as punishment for being drunk). He was finally discharged from service on 24 August 1920 at the RASC ‘A Supply Company’ base at Aldershot.
For his services William was awarded the 1914/15 Star medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
By the 1921 Census he was back living with his mother Eliza Ann in Falmouth. Then in 1924 he married Florence A. Lugg in Falmouth and they moved into 7 Old Post Office Yard, Market Street, Falmouth – they were still there in 1930.
By the 1939 Register William was living at 3 College Hill, Penryn with his wife Florence where he was a Slaughterman & Tripe Dealer. He probably died in Plymouth in 1955 – as far as we know he had no children from either marriage.
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