Alfred Ansty (1898-1917)

by Gary. M. Ansteychief researcher of the Anstey story project.

Alfred Ansty, a member of the Dorchester Anstys, was born in q4 1898 in Clapham to parents George Ansty and Elizabeth Ann Hall. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Thomas George Ansty and George Henry Ansty. Alfred grew up living at 4, Milton Street, Clapham and by the 1911 Census he was living with his family at 441 Wandsworth Road, Wandsworth.

On 7 April 1915 at Battersea, during the first year of World War One, Alfred signed up for active service. On his Attestation Form he stated that he was “19 years 52 days old” (he was only 16); that he was living at 31 Inglow Road, Battersea; that he was a shop assistant; and that his next of kin was his father George Ansty living at 60 Park Road, Cheriton, Folkestone, Kent. He was posted to the ‘Public Schools Battalion’ of the 16th Middlesex Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 1875).

Less than a month later however, on 7 May 1915, Alfred was discharged under Paragraph 293 (vi) (a) of the King’s Regulations for being a “Soldier under 17 years of age at date of application“.

It is somewhat unclear precisely what occurred next, but we know that Alfred moved to Cheriton in Kent to live with his parents and later tried to re-enlist in Dover, presumably once he attained the age of 17. This time he was successful, being posted to the 6th Battalion of the (Queen’s Own) Royal West Kent Regiment (Service Number: G/25324).

At some point in 1916 or 1917 Alfred left England to fight on the Western Front in France. We have no further details of his service until his death on 30 November 1917 whilst fighting in the Battle of Cambrai – he was reported as being “resident of Cheriton, born in Clapham” at the time of his death.

Battalion reports state that on the day of his death Alfred and his fellow soldiers were “defending Lateau Wood and Pam Pam Farm against an overwhelming enemy force” and they had been “holding the trenches for ten days when on 30 November 1917 at 7am a tremendous bombardment was suddenly opened along the whole British front line. It developed rapidly in intensity and within a short time all communications with the front line were severed…“. Reports also noted that Alfred and his battalion “put up a good fight against overwhelming numbers who had at first advanced against them in front and on the left, where, as one survivor writes, ‘the Germans came pouring on in masses like a Bank Holiday crowd’.

Alfred is commemorated on Panel 8 of the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral, France (“ANSTY Alfred b[orn] Clapham, London e[nlisted] Dover, Kent r[esident of] Cheriton, Kent G/25324 PRIVATE 30/11/1917“). For his services, he was posthumously awarded the Victory and British War medals.

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