by Gary. M. Anstey, chief researcher of the Anstey story project.
See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Stoke Gifford Ansteys. In addition to biographies of various Anstey individuals who make up this sub-branch, the book contains a plethora of Anstey research and statistics, including an analysis of how the Stoke Gifford Ansteys fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.
SG 35. Alfred Richard William Anstey: Known as Dick, he was born in Falfield (Thornbury) on 22 November 1893, baptised on 6 February 1894, to parents Alfred Henry Williams Anstey (SG 25) and Mary Louisa Jenner.
As a young man, he lived at Buckover Farm in Falfield, where in the 1911 Census he was working as a ‘farmer’s son’. He was very close friends with his second cousins Tom Anstey (SG 30 – one of the chief researchers of this project) and Ted Anstey (SG 31). In January 1913, he signed up with the Territorial Army then, at the outbreak of World War One in 1914, he volunteered for active service abroad (Regimental Number: 235103) and was embodied as a Private in the ‘Royal Gloucester Hussars’.
[Note: the ‘Gloucester Journal‘ 12 September 1914 lists “Private Anstey A. R. W. 2006” as already with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars when embodiment took place.
Further Note: he is the only Anstey to our knowledge to have been badly wounded three times on three separate occasions during World War One]
Whilst training at Heacham in the winter of 1914 he met his future wife, Kathleen Mallett, who he later married in 1918 (see below).
Together with his unit he embarked for Egypt in April 1915 and by May 1915 he was on active duty as Acting Corporal. In August 1915 he found himself fighting in Suvla Bay in Gallipoli, Turkey, at exactly the same time as Tom (SG 30) and Ted (SG 31). Even more coincidentally, he was seriously injured the day before Tom‘s brother Ted (28 August 1915), while both regiments were held in reserve behind the very same hill (Chocolate Hill).
In fact he was extremely lucky to survive because, according to newspaper reports, he and three colleagues were in the act of cooking their breakfast when a shell came among them and killed two of the four men. The third man (Trooper Bridgman) was uninjured and helped Dick by tending him and binding up his wound. The ‘Gloucester Journal‘ 18 September 1915 reported “KILLED WHILST COOKING BREAKFAST. SERGEANT INJURED IN BOMB EXPLOSION. Among the wounded soldiers. from the Dardanelles who arrived at Southmead Hospital Bristol, On Friday night was Sergt. Gilbert Bridgman, son of Mr. Bridgman, of Stoke Bishop. Sergt Bridgman did not receive his injury in the actual fighting, but he had a very narrow escape from death. Writing to the sergeant’s father, one of the officers says: ” When Biss and Pearce were killed and Anstey wounded, he (Sergt. Bridgman) helped Anstey, though still under intermittent shell fire.” It appears that the four men were in the act of cooking their breakfast when the shell which killed Biss and Pearce came among them. Trooper, Bridgman escaped without injury. but rendered invaluable assistance to Anstey by carefully tending him and binding up his wound. For this courageous conduct he has been promoted to sergeant. The following day Sergt. Bridgman, with others, was undergoing instruction in bomb throwing when a bomb burst prematurely just after it had left the instructor’s hand. Sergt. Bridgman was hit by fragments of the bomb, two pieces penetrating his knee. Though in considerable pain,” writes his officer. “he is quite self-possessed, as usual. It is a great loss to us,and his coolness and cheerfulness under fire have been a, very great example for the troops to follow“
[Note: The same newspaper on the same day also stated that Dick was “shot through the thigh” so it is somewhat unclear precisely what happened. Anecdotes from the family state that he was “shot in the leg whilst rescuing a comrade” – however as he was wounded three times in total during the war this could be referring to one of the other two injuries described below]
He was taken to the same field hospital in Gallipoli as Ted, and they were shipped back to England together, remaining very close friends throughout the rest of their lives – indeed Ted was his best man in 1918 (see below). They both arrived home on 10 September 1915 which tallies with an anecdote from George Benjamin Anstey (DY 79), who wrote that he “met up with Dick when he enlisted” at the end of September 1915.
After recovering from his injuries, he rejoined the war effort, and was again wounded on 4 August 1916, this time in Egypt fighting the Turks. In a letter he wrote, which was published in the ‘Western Daily Press’ on 24 August 1916, he stated:
“I have been at it again. I got it through the right thigh about six inches above the knee, cut down the back of the leg and through the top of the left foot. I should be alright again soon. The fight is what they have been waiting for, and preparing for, for several weeks. We had a nice trap set for the Turks and they walked into it. There were very few wounded; I happened to be one of the few.”
By 1917, he had risen to the rank of Colonel, however he was again “badly wounded in March 1917” and so he once again returned to England for recuperation.
[Note: George Benjamin Anstey (DY 79) in September 1917 wrote in a letter that Dick had been given permission to return to England “because both of his parents had died, and also because he had been wounded twice in the same leg“.]
By 20 December 1917 he had been issued the ‘Silver War Badge’ and been honourably discharged from service due to his injuries. For his service he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
On 5 June 1918 in Heacham Norfolk, by now described as a “farmer of Thornbury“, he married Kathleen Mallett (who he met in 1914 per above). The ‘Lynn News & County Press‘ 08 June 1918 “The Wedding took place at the church on Wednesday, the vicar officiating of Mr. Äifred Richard William Anstey, only surviving son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Anstey Buckover Farm, Falfield, Gloucester-shire, and Miss Kathleen Mallett, seventh daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. Mallett. of Heacham. The bride has spent her life at Heacham and the bridegroom made his acquaintance with the village when he came as a member of the Royal Gloucestershire, Hussars in the winter of 1914-15. Pte. Anstey in April, 1915, went overseas to Alexandria and shortly afterwards took part in the Gallipoli compaign. In August., 1915, he was badly wounded and in August, 1916, was again wounded in operations. in the Sinai peninsula. After recovery he again went into action and was once again badly wounded in March 1917, and he was discharged from the Army in December,1917. As a testimony of the interest in the wedding there was a large congregation at church. The bride given away by her father, was attired in dress of cream satin with veil hand embroidered by the bridegroom’s aunt. She also wore a gold and diamond pendant, the gift of the bridegroom. She was attended by Miss Girue Mallett as bridesmaid, attired in a dress of white silk, white. hat with pink roses, and wore a sold penaant, the gift of the bridegroom. The “best man” was Mr. Edward A. Anstey [SG 31]. (London), who was lately discharged through wounds from the City of Land of London leomanry. Mr. Suter presided at the organ and played appropriate music, and many of the choir were present to lead the singing. The holiday Is being spent at Ilfracombe. Mr. and Mrs. Anstey will settle down at Falfield (Glos.), where the bridegroom will carry on the farm previously occupied by his late father.“
They had children in Thornbury and Worcester:
- Ronald Anstey (b 6 October 1919, an articled pupil civil engineer in 1939 and living at Broomhall Farm in 1947 with his family);
- Martin H. Anstey (b 1923, married Doreen R. M. Jenkins in 1946 in Upton on Severn and they had a son Colin Anstey in 1953 who was still living in Broomhall Farm in 2020 – in 1992 the son was described as “a dairy farmer with 140 pedigree Freisians and 225 acres of land. Their beautiful 150-year-old farmhouse [Broomhall Farm] has been in the Anstey family for three generations” and in 2020 the ‘Broomhall Business Centre’ described him thus “Owner Profile – Colin Anstey Born at Broomhall Farm, many moons ago, and continues to live at the farm house on site. This enables Colin to react quickly to needs as they arise, for example taking in deliveries or fixing leaky taps! Colin has overseen many changes at the farm in his lifetime. This includes increasing the dairy herd from 30 to 200 cows and introducing cheese making and retailing. Over the past 10 years, since the sale of the cows, Colin has project managed and been heavily involved practically in the project of the conversion of the farm buildings. Throughout the restoration great attention was paid to retaining existing features and ensuring that the Victorian buildings were sympathetically preserved for future generations. Colin is married to Alyson, who is also available to assist. They are parents to Lawrence, Naomi and Issy who can be seen on the farm from time to time.”); and
- Elizabeth Anstey (b 1933 Worcester)
The family moved from Thornbury to (presumably) Broomhall Farm in Kempsey near Worcester in 1926 – the ‘Western Daily Press‘ 25 September 1926 reported “Buckover Farm, Falfield… received instructions from Mr A. R. W. Anstey (who is leaving the neighbourhood) to sell by auction on the premises on Monday 27 September 1926 41 head well bred horned cattle, 44 pigs, 100 head of poultry, agricultural implements etc…“
After arriving at Broomhall Farm he began raising Fresian cattle after chatting about it with George James Anstey (MA 1). He was certainly at Broomhall Farm by 1933 and in 1939 he was a ‘mixed farmer’ at Broomhall Farm living with his family. In 1947 he travelled to America for a month to visit relatives in Cumberland, Iowa – he was still living at Broomhall Farm near Worcester.
In 1952 “‘I am sorry but I didn’t see the sign’ was the explanation given by Alfred Richard William Anstey, farmer, of Youngwood Farm, Nailsea, when stopped by P.C. Hebditch for failing to comply with the Halt sign in Downside-road Wrington”
He died on 7 January 1974 in Twyning – the family were still running Broomhall Farm in 2020 (see above).
Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.