Alfred Richard John Anstey (1898-1917)

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

Alfred Richard John Anstey, known as Fred, a member of the Doynton Ansteys, was born on 13 July 1898 in Weston, baptised 25 September 1898, to parents Alfred Anstey and Sarah Lewis Cumper. He grew up in Weston, living with his family at 65 High Street, Upper Weston, Bath in the 1911 Census.

Due to his age, Fred was not able to enlist during the early years of World War One. He finally joined up on 17 February 1917 in Bath – at the time he was a bookbinder’s apprentice. He was posted to the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Portsmouth Division) as a Private (Service Number: 1987/S).

From February 1917 to April 1917 Fred was at the Depot in Deal, then he was transferred to ‘HMS Victory V for R. M. Bdg‘. On 16 July 1917 he was posted to the 2nd Royal Marine Battalion (R. N. Division) and headed straight for Ypres in Belgium where he was killed in action three months later on 26 October 1917 fighting at Passchendaele.

De Ruvigny’s Roll Of Honour 1914-1918‘ has an entry for Fred which reads “ANSTEY, Alfred Richard John Private No. 1987 R. M. L. I., R. N. D., eldest son of Alfred Anstey of 65 High Street, Upper Weston, Bath by his wife Sarah, daughter of Richard Cumper of Chepstow. Born Upper Weston aforesaid 13 July 1898, educated Church of England school there, enlisted 23 Feb 1917. Served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 16 July and was killed in action at Passchendaele 26 October 1917; unmarried“.

A photo of Fred appears in the ‘Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette‘ on 17 November 1917 with caption “Private A. Anstey of 65 High Street, Weston – Killed in Action“.

Fred has no known grave – he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 1) in West-Vlaanderen Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website gives additional information “Son of Alfred and Sarah Anstey, of 65, High St., Upper Weston, Bath

Fred is also commemorated on the Weston War Memorial, a large cross made of Cornish granite, which is located in Weston High Street and bears the following inscription – “In glorious memory of the men of Weston who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-1919.” – Col. A. G. Johnstone [sic]; Capt. V. Newman, Capt H. H. Lean, Lieut. R. Newman, Lieut. E. F. Bond, Lieut. S. Butler, Sergt. H. W. Humphries, Bomb. E. G. Humphries, Bomb. F. Blackmore, Corpl. G. E. Bond, A.-M. W. J. Bond, Lce-Corpl. A. Pickett, Pte. F. Pickett, Pte. F. Anstey, Pte. A. Andrews, Pte. R. C. Bourne, Pte. H. Frankham, Pte. A. Gillard, Tpr. F. Gillard, Pte. A. Hawkins, Pte. H. C. Higgins, Tpr. W. Hobbs, Pte. E. Holbrow, Pte. G. Kite, Pte C. Lewis, Pte. A. Lewis, Dvr. W. Lewis, Tpr. E. Lewis, Pte. [T.] Marshall, Dvr. W. Old, Pte. W. Perry, Pte. A. Richards, Rfln. H. N. Russell, Pte. J. Sheppard, Pte. W. Slee, Pte. J. Toogood. “They died that we might live.” 

The ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ reported on the 26 July 1919 Weston Peace Celebrations honouring Weston residents such as Fred who had fallen during the war. The procession was headed by his cousin “one of Weston’s heroes, Lieutenant W. Anstey, R.A.F., who lost a leg in the fighting at Hill 60“.

The report added that “The day commenced with some bellringing: At seven o’clock the ringing of the church bells proclaimed the coming of the festal day, and at one o’clock another peal was rung. At 1.15 the procession assembled at the village green in readiness for the open-air service at the Recreation Ground, for it was rightly intended that the rejoicings should begin by an act of remembrance of the gallant dead. The service at the Recreation Ground included the singing of ‘O God, our help in ages past’ and ‘Old Hundreth’ Then the Vicar (Rev. F. A. Bromley) read the name of twenty-eight parishioners who had died: … Fredk. Anstey … After singing the National Anthem, the procession moved on to the Manor Park field, where there was a programme of sports events, performances by the ‘Comrades’ Band, a fancy-dress competition, tea (of course!), and an evening dance. Another peal by the ringers gave tidings of the ending of a day memorable in Weston’s parochial annals.”

For his services, Fred was posthumously awarded the Victory and British War medals.

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