Ernest John Anstey, a member of the Iddesleigh Ansteys, was born on 5 April 1899 in Plympton, baptised 9 May 1905, to single mother Alice Emily Anstey. He grew up in Plympton, attending Bridford School, and in the the 1911 Census he was living at 2 Priory Terrace Plympton with his aunt Georgina Anstey and his ‘Anstey’ grandmother.
A few months after the outset of World War One, on 6 May 1915 in Exeter, Ernest signed up for active service. He was not actually called up until 4 May 1917, by which time he described himself as an unmarried farm horseman. He has two service numbers, being with the Labour Corps (Service Number: 354555, with 143773 crossed out) and with the Training Reserve (Service Number: TR/9/30068).
His service was as follows:
- 4 May 1917 – Posted to 3rd Labour Battalion
- 9 June 1917 – Posted to 302 Reserve Labour Company at Egg Buckland
- 14 July 1917 – Transferred to 10 Training Reserve Battalion and then 46th Battalion Training Reserve
- 29 September 1917 – posted to 621 Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps in Exeter, with whom he remained until he was demobilised in Nottingham on 18 March 1919
- As far as we know, all of Ernest’s war service was in England.
In the 1918 Electoral Register Ernest was registered at Kersford, Bridestowe but as an absent voter still on military duty. He was still an ‘absent voter’ in 1919, by now registered at 16 Maidenwell Terrace, Plympton. In his Medical Report in early 1919 he reported that he had “Lost right eyesight in December 1918 strained through training”, for which he was admitted to No1 Hospital, Exeter and Plymouth Royal Eye Infirmary. However his application for a disability pension was rejected because according to the doctor “his vision on 5 December 1918 was exactly the same as on enlistment on 4 May 1917“
After his demobilisation, Ernest indicated that he intended to return to live at East Enlett? in Morchard Bishop. By the 1921 Census he was back living in Plympton, however later in 1921 he worked at Linnacombe Farm in Sourton. By 1923 he was working at Landsend Farm in Northlew and on 8 June 1928 the ‘Western Times‘ reported that “Ernest John Anstey, of Lewdown, was fined 7s 6d for riding a cycle on April 28th without lights“.
Ernest married Edith Dorothy May Woolcock in q2 1930, having a single child together Hilda P. M. Anstey (b 1930 Plymouth). Later in 1930 they were living at Ford’s Cottage in Plympton, and then at 72 Church Lane, Yealmpton.
At the time of the 1939 Register Ernest was working as a horseman on a farm, living with his wife Edith and daughter at 2 Weston Cottages, Totnes. He died in 1984 in Newton Abbot.
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