Charles Ernest Anstey, a member of the Dyrham Anstees, was born in Dodington, Gloucestershire in 1893 to parents John Anstey and Emily Hooper. In the 1901 Census, the family were living at Gravel Hill Cottage, Rodborough, Stroud, and by the 1911 Census, Charles was an unmarried draper’s clerk living at 334/348 Oxford St, St Marylebone, London.
Right at the beginning of World War One (in the first week in fact), Charles enlisted for active service, joining the 12th Battalion of the Lancers as a Private (Service Number 7218). In July 1915 he was transferred to the newly formed 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards (3rd Company) at Warley Barracks, then on 17 August 1915 he was mobilised for war and landed at Havre, France before proceeding to the Western Front. In September 1915 Charles took part in the Battle of Loos, emerging unscathed.
At some point he was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant, then right at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, on 2 July 1916, Charles was seriously injured undergoing a mission, for which he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
His injuries were described as a “Gunshot wound IX (1) left thigh and axilla“; he was admitted to hospital on 5 July 1916, then transferred to the Military Convalescent Hospital in Eastbourne on 30 August 1916. On 21 July 1916 Charles was listed as “Wounded” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office and entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe‘.
In ‘The Gazette‘ of 25 July 1916 appears “Issued No. 29684. Distinguished Conduct Medal. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to this man [Sergeant Charles Ernest Anstey] for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field. For conspicuous gallantry. As second in command of a raiding party, he led his men forward into the enemy trenches under heavy machine gun fire after he had been wounded. He was wounded a second time during the withdrawal.“
The ‘Kentish Express‘ 05 August 1916 reported “AWARDED THE D.C.M. Sergeant Charles Anstey, of the 2nd Irish Guards, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Anstey, of Sunnyside Bridge, near Canterbury, has been awarded the D.C.M. for gallantry displayed on July 2nd in France. Previous to the war be held the positions of clerk to the Bridge Parish Council and assistant overseer, but joined up the first week of the war at the age of twenty-two and enlisted in the 12th Lancers, but transferred to the 2nd Irish Guards previous to going to the front in August last. Two months later (October 21st 1915) he received the written commendation of his commanding officer for an act of gallantry near Loos, when he led a second attack against the german barricade and drove the german’s back with great bravery and determination and afterwards assisted another N.C.O in the clearance of the wounded from the trench and under heavy bomb fire, which greatly assisted in the consolidation of the position. Full details for which he won the D.C.M are not yet known, but it seems that on July 2nd he led a volunteer party of bombers in a night raid on the German trenches for the purpose of gaining useful information and bringing back some prisoners. The raid had successfully accomplished its purpose, but not without the loss of some valuable lives. Sergeant Anstey was himself badly wounded in the left shoulder and left leg by shrapnel on the return journey. He was then complimented by his officers and the D.C.M. promptly, rewarded him. He now lies in a hospital near St. Albans, It is regretted that his process is slow: but it is hoped that his arm will be saved. In his civilian days Sergeant Anstey was well known and popular in Bridge and Canterbury football circles, and he had also played for London West-end teams. He was captain of Bridge Football Team and Vice captain of the Cricket club.“
The ‘London Gazette‘ on 27 October 1916 (Supplement: 29805 Page: 10475) noted “War Office, 27th October, 1916. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned Non-Commissioned Officers and men:- …… 7218 Cpl. (now Sjt.) C. E. Anstey, I. Gds.“
The ‘Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald‘ on 12 August 1916 reported “A Bridge Man Gets the D.C.M. – Sergeant Charles Anstey, of the 2nd Irish Guards, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Anstey, of Sunnyside, Bridge, has been awarded the D.C.M. [Distinguished Conduct Medal] for gallantry displayed on July 2nd in France. Previous to the war he held the positions of clerk to the Bridge Parish Council and assistant overseer, but joined up the first week of the war at the age of twenty-two and enlisted in the 12th Lancers, but transferred to the 2nd Irish Guards previous to going to the front in August last. He was severely wounded recently and now lies in a hospital near St. Albans, making but slow progress. In his civilian days Sergeant Anstey was well known and popular in Bridge and Canterbury football circles, and he had also played for London West End teams. He was captain of Bridge football team and vice-captain of the cricket club.“
The ‘Dover Express‘ on 18 August 1916 added “BRIDGE D. C. M Sergeant Charles Anstey, 2nd Irish Guards, son of Mr and Mrs Anstey Sunnyside, Bridge who, previous to the war held the position of clerk to the Bridge Parish Council and Overseer has been awarded the D. C. M. for conspicuous gallantry on July 2nd in France.“
Charles evidently recovered from his injuries, for ‘The Sportsman‘ on 09 May 1917 reported that “Sgt C. E. Anstey DCM MM of the Irish Guards” played in a Army soldier’s football match in Essex.
He was made Second Lieutenant of Essex Regiment on 17 December 1917 and on 10 January 1918 we find “7218 Cdt Anstey C Sgt Irish Guards – Essex Regiment“. He had been further promoted to Temporary Lieutenant of the Machine Gun Corps by 22 September 1919.
After the war was over, Charles returned to Bridge, Kent to live with his parents at ‘Sunnyside’. In 1925 he married Mary E. Gander in Petersfield, Hampshire – we find no evidence of any children of this union. In 1935 when his mother Emily died, Charles was described as a ‘Company Director’. In the 1939 Register Charles was a master butcher, living with his wife at Restholme, The Avenue in Petersfield.
Charles died in 1974 in Petersfield, Hampshire, still living at the same address.
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