John Anstee, a member of the Thornborough Anstees, was born on 3 April 1876 in Stony Stratford to parents James Anstee and Betsey Ridgway. He grew up living in Stony Stratford, Potterspury, then on 25 December 1896 in Leckhampstead he married Clara Warner – they had three children together, Doris Elizabeth Anstee (b 12 April 1898 Poplar, London, died in q4 1918 in Poplar); Lillian May Anstee (b 1907 Ashton under Lyne, known as May, died in q4 1918 in Poplar); and Annie W. Anstee (b 1913 Ashton under Lyne, married Horace L. Miller in 1937 in West Ham).
On 17 January 1902 John enlisted in the Army, confirmed in the ‘Leamington Spa Courier‘ 24 January 1902 edition where it noted “Yeomanry recruiting stopped at Warwick. The recruiting for the new company of the Warwickshire Imperial Yeomanry has been stopped by order of the War Office. The recruits still continue to make applications. On Friday last week the following passed successfully and left Warwick on Tuesday for Aldershot…41207 Private John Anstee…“
On his Attestation Form John noted that he was a married 24 year old iron moulder born in Stony Stratford, currently living at Norwich Road, Bromley by Bow, Middlesex – also that he was already serving part time with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He indicated that he was willing to sign up for the duration of the Second Boer War and he was posted to the 34th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry as a Trooper (Service Number: 41207).
John left for South Africa on 14 May 1902, arriving back in England on 27 November 1902 – as he arrived in South Africa after the conflict was formally over, he was not awarded any medals. He was discharged on 8 December 1902, at which time his wife and family were living at Linnis End, Leckhampton.
In 1904 John was summoned to provide support to his father – The ‘Buckingham Express‘ on 9 July 1904 reported “John Anstee of Rugby, iron moulder, was summoned to show cause why he should not contribute towards the support of his father James Anstee, who was an inmate at the Potterspury Union Workhouse – [John’s] average earnings for the past three months amounted to £1 11s per week – the medical officer for the workhouse said that James Anstee was quite incapacitated from doing work. He was ruptured in addition to other disabilities. the Bench made an order to [John] to contribute 2s per week.“
By the 1911 Census John and his family were living at 11 Denton Road, Audenshaw, Lancashire where he was working as an iron hollow ware moulder.
Just after the outbreak of World War One, on 5 September 1914, John once again signed up for active service, this time with the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 4552). We do not know much about his war story, but we know that he entered the ‘France Theatre’ of War on 6 March 1915.
The ‘Lancashire Evening Post‘ on 22 June 1915 reported “Kings Own Royal Lancashire Regiment 2nd Battalion Wounded Anstee 4552 J“, which was confirmation of the ‘Casualty List issued by the War Office‘ on 5 June 1915. Presumably therefore he was wounded fighting in the Battle of Frezenberg (8 – 13 May 1915), part of the Second Battle of Ypres.
We also know that John was not discharged until 3 September 1917, still a Private, but “no longer physically fit for active service“. He was issued with a Silver War Badge in Preston on 27 March 1918 (by which time he was “aged 41“). For his services John was awarded the 1915 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
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A catastrophe occurred in q4 1918 in Poplar when John’s wife Clara died along with two of their daughters – we do not know any specific details of what occurred. However, a few months later, in q2 1919, he remarried to Lydia M. Taylor, having further children Doris C. Anstee (b 1920 Poplar) and Leslie J. Anstee (b 1922 Poplar).
In the 1921 Census the family were living at Poplar and by the 1939 Register they were living at 3 Manbey Park Road, Stratford, West Ham where John was still an iron moulder.
John died in 1942 in Romford, aged 65.
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