Arthur Edwin Anstey, known as Fred and later Arth, a member of the Batheaston Ansteys, was born in Bath in q3 1896, baptised at the Union Workhouse in Bath on 12 November 1896, to single mother Mary Ann Anstey of the Bath Union Workhouse – he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero William Thomas Frederick Anstey.
In the 1901 Census he was living at a foster home at 1 Westmoreland Terrace, Bath, and by the 1911 Census he was boarding at 31 Eastbourne, Bath with the ‘Webb’ family, working as a ‘gardener apprentice nurseryman’.
Right at the outbreak of World War One Fred volunteered for active service. It is likely that he had already been serving as a ‘Boy’ with the 12th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry (Service Number: 295582) since 1913. He was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private (Service Number: 1532 & 208540) embarking for Bombay in November 1914 (see the below obituary for more details of his war service).
Note: It is possible we have confused some elements of this war story with Albert Edward Anstey
The ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ on 14 November 1914 reported “Bath Wesleyan Methodists: We publish this month names of those Wesleyans from the Bath circuit who have joined the Army or the Navy since the outbreak of war…New King Street: Arthur Anstey…“
In addition to the below obituary, we know that Fred was wounded on 4 April 1916 whilst with the 4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry (Service Number: 1532) with a “gunshot wound to the leg“, he was admitted to “Hm Hospital Ship Assaye” on 17 April 1916 a “Private with 1st ‘C’ Company 1/4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry“. At this time he had been in service 3 years and with the “field force” for 2 months.
He was also admitted to ‘19th General Hospital‘ on 25 July 1917 with ailment “489 influ stomach” whilst serving with the 1/1 West Somerset Yeomanry, having served 58 months of service, with 5 months “in the field“. He was transferred out to another hospital on 6 September 1917 after 44 days of treatment.
After the conflict was over, and certainly by New Years Eve 1920, Fred was living back in Bath, again working for the ‘Webb’ family at Nightingale Nurseries, Grosvenor Place. On that evening a burglary occurred and, according to the ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ 8 January 1921 edition “Mr William Webb of Nightingale Nurseries, Grosvenor, died just after New Year…the occupants of the house on New Years Eve were Mr and Mrs Webb, one of their sons Arthur Webb, their daughter Josie Webb, and an assistant Mr Arthur Anstey, known as Fred…at ten minutes past twelve Mr Anstey went to the fuel house to get some wood for the fire..suddenly (he says) he was struck over the left temple [by a burglar] and he fell stunned to the ground. Before falling he had time to shout ‘Arthur’ and this brought Mr Webb Junior running out the house armed with a heavy poker…he nearly fell over Fred [Anstey] who was lying just outside the door. Nobody else was about so the intending burglar had hurriedly decamped… Mr William Webb, asked by his son to help him carry Fred into the house, stooped down to do so but exclaiming ‘Mother help me’ dropped dead next to Anstey…Arthur Anstey, gardener, said he resided at Nightingale Nurseries…[a policeman] spoke to Anstey, who told him he served with the 4th Somersets in India where he had heart trouble, and if he ran far now or got a little excited he would see stars floating about before him…“
Fred married Edith V. M. Roberts in q4 1921 in Bath, having children Neville A. Anstey (b 1923) and Peter Anstey (b 1925). He continued to live and work at Nightingale Nurseries throughout the early 1920s.
Fred died of pneumonia on 22 January 1930 at Forbes Fraser Hospital, Bath. He was buried on 27 January 1930 at Lansdowne Cemetery in Bath, grave reference ‘3. C2. 9‘.
The ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ on 1 February 1930 reported “Comrade of the Somersets.: Death of Ex-Corporal A. Anstey. Ex-service men who served with the Somersets in India and Mesopotamia during the Great War will be grieved to learn of the death from pneumonia of A. Anstey, at Forbes Fraser Hospital on Wednesday last week. Volunteering for Active Service on the outbreak of war, Pte. Anstey landed at Bombay in November, 1914, and served with his battalion at Madras, Amritzar and Peshawar. He left India early in 1916, when the Regiment was sent to Mesopotamia, and was wounded on March 8th in front of the Dujailah redoubt. From here he was invalided to India, and thence to Egypt. He afterwards saw service in Palestine, where he was promoted Corporal, and was once again wounded, being finally demobilised in May 1919. Many an old comrade who reads this will think back to those old barrack days in India and remember Anstey of ‘A’ Coy..”
A year later the ‘Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette‘ on 24 January 1931 reported “IN MEMORIAM. ANSTEY.—In loving memory of my dear husband (Arth) Arthur Anstey, who passed away at Fraser Hospital, January 22nd, I930. Sadly missed by loving wife and children, Neville and Peter.“
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