William John Anstey, a member of the Tarrant Keyneston Anstys, was born on 21 April 1882 in Poole to parents Thomas Anstey and Edith Emily Pearse [Pearce]. His mother died when he was very young so he was brought up in Poole by his father and stepmother Elizabeth, living at West Quay Road, Poole in the 1891 Census.
On 27 November 1899 in Dorchester, stating incorrectly that he was “19 years and 7 months old“, William joined the Army, signing up for a period of seven years of full time Army Service and five years in the Army Reserves. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was born in Poole; that his father was Thomas Anstey of ‘The Glen, Parkestone, Dorset’; and that he was a groom by trade.
William was posted to the 9th Corps of Lancers of the Line (9th Lancers) as a Private (Service Numbers: 5216 and 4527) serving in England until 10 March 1901, at which point he embarked for South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War. He remained there until the end of December 1901, returning to England on 5 January 1902. For his services during this conflict, William was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with clasps ‘Cape Colony’; ‘Orange Free State’; and ‘South Africa 1901’.
On 15 January 1903, still with the 9th Lancers, William embarked for India, serving there until 24 November 1904 (including at least some time spent in Rawalpindi), at which time he returned to England to complete his service. He was discharged slightly early, on 15 February 1905 at Woolwich, having been found “medically unfit for further service” – with character throughout his service deemed “very good” and in possession of one ‘Good Conduct Badge’. On discharge William intended to live at 1 Nelson Place, Lymington, Hampshire.
On 4 December 1907 William married Amy Thomas, having at least two children George Thomas Anstey (b 25 September 1908 Ringwood, Hampshire, died 1929 in Wycombe) and Vera K. Anstey (b 1910 Wincanton, died 1916). In the 1911 Census the family were living at 63 High Street, Wincanton where William was an ‘assurance sub-supervisor’
On 14 May 1917, as World War One was raging, William was called up for service with the Royal Flying Corps (Service Number: 80830). At the time of his call up he was living at 95 London Rd, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, working as an ‘Insurance Superintendent’. The ‘Bucks Herald‘ on 28 April 1917 had previously reported that “William J. Anstey C1 (37) insurance agent, High Wycombe [had his appeal for exemption] refused and was to be called in six weeks“.
William’s service, likely all performed in England, was as follows:
- 14 May 1917 – joined the Royal Flying Corps and posted to ‘STTHC’
- 18 June 1917 – promoted to Acting Corporal of RFC
- 1 October 1917 – became ‘Air Mechanic 2nd Class’ of RFC
- 1 January 1918 – became ‘Air Mechanic 1st Class’ of RFC
- 1 March 1918 – promoted to Acting Sergeant of RFC
- 1 April 1918 – transferred to Royal Air Force as Sergeant
- 27 January 1919 – transferred to Dispersal Station, Purfleet
- 25 March 1919 – transferred to RAF Reserves
The 1919 Electoral Register confirms that “William J. Anstey, 65 London Road, High Wycombe, 80830 Sergeant R. A. F.” was an absent voter still on active service. He was finally discharged from service on 30 April 1920. In the 1921 Census the family were living in Wycombe and by the 1939 Register William and Amy were living at Rosetta Ray Lea Road, Maidenhead – he was working as an Insurance District Manager.
We are currently unable to pinpoint precisely when William died.
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