Frederick Charles Anstey (b 1895)

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

Frederick Charles Anstey, known as Fred, a member of the Exminster Ansteys, was born in St Thomas, Exeter on 8 February 1895 to parents William Philip Anstey (an Anstey Hero) and Emily Ellen Counter. He was brother to fellow Anstey hero Percy William Anstey.

Fred was living with his mother and siblings in Corvick Street, St Thomas the Apostle, Devon in the 1901 Census, then in 1909 he decided to emigrate to Toronto in Canada (perhaps with his father William Philip Anstey, who we know was there in August 1914). However he must have periodically returned to England because in the 1911 Census he was visiting the ‘Avery’ family in Bridford, Devon.

A few months after the outbreak of World War One, in Toronto, Canada on 31 March 1915, Fred enlisted for active service with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force as a Private (Service Number: 934 – some sources say 906). He was posted to the ‘No 4 General Hospital’ Unit of the Canadian Army Medical Corps.

On his Attestation Form, Fred confirmed his date of birth as 8 February 1895; that he was a “brass finisher” by trade; that his next of kin was his father (living at 3 Prospect Place, St Thomas, Exeter, England – which was actually his mother’s address); that he was unmarried; that he was Church of England by religion; that he was involved with the “Clearing Hospital Active Militia“; and that he had previously served 3 years with the R. A. M. C. (Royal Army Medical Corps – presumably in Canada).

From Fred’s Medical Report we get his own summary of his war story, namely “I was on the strength for pay with No 4 Canadian General Hospital for 40 months and secondary allowance from March? 1918. [I spent] four months in England in June 1915 to Oct [1915] then 2 years in Salonica Oct [1915] till Sept 1917 then 14 months in England till Nov 1918“. All of this was served with No 4 Canadian General Hospital unit.

Expanding on the above, we know that Fred embarked at Montreal on 15 May 1915 on the ship ‘SS Corinthian‘, arriving in England on 29 May 1915. He was based at Shorncliffe Military Hospital until 17 October 1915 when he embarked from Devonport with the No 4 Canadian General Hospital unit (as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) to Salonika, arriving there on 9 November 1915, after a short stopover in Alexandria, Egypt.

In February 1916 Fred was himself admitted to the ‘No 5 Canadian General Hospital’ in Salonika for “trench fever” caught whilst “in Greece“; he was discharged a month later in March 1916. At this time Fred and his unit were based at Kalamaria near Salonika.

Fred was again in hospital in April 1917 with a “ruptured varicocele“. Then on 17 August 1917 he (together with his unit) was transferred from Salonika back to Basingstoke in England, arriving on 18 September 1917 where he was medically examined in October 1917. On 26 February 1918, still based at the No 4. Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke, Fred was “granted permission to marry” by his unit supervisor, which he duly did, to Gladys May Moth in Basingstoke.

Very soon after this, Fred “reported sick” on 2 March 1918, spending around 3 weeks in hospital. After performing general duties in England for most of the rest of 1918, Fred returned to Canada on 12 November 1918 on the ship ‘SS Tunisian‘, disembarking at St John’s, Newfoundland, likely leaving his wife back in England temporarily living at 62 New Road, Basingstoke.

Fred was discharged on 14 December 1918 in Toronto under category “having been found medically unfit for general service” because of “smash? ankle and flat feet [due to] prolonged standing on feet due to his service“. He was with the ‘No 2 District Depot’ at the time of his discharge. His address on discharge was 18 Macauley Avenue, Toronto, Ontario (where lived a Mrs E. Lengman – we are unsure of her connection to Fred); though he also gave an address as 687 Jane Street, West Toronto.

For his services Fred was issued a ‘War Service Badge Class B*A’

At the time of his discharge Fred stated that he had a wife “aged 20” and no children. Fred’s wife Gladys must have joined him in Toronto soon after his discharge because they had two sons together, Donald Anstey (b 1919 Ontario, known as Don); and Bruce George Anstey (b 1927 Toronto, married Helen Catherine Dewey).

In the 1921 Census the family were living at 687 June Street in West York, Toronto. We cannot currently ascertain what became of Fred after this.

[Note: Bizarrely in a 2017 obituary for Bruce Anstey, his father was stated by the family as being ‘Frederick Edward Anstey’. However we are very confident indeed that it was ‘Frederick Charles Anstey’, confirmed by (amongst others) his Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force Attestation Papers where his wife ‘Gladys May Anstey of Basingstoke Hampshire’ is mentioned. Said papers also mention that she was ‘aged 20’ in 1919 which fits perfectly with her 1899 birth in Basingstoke, where we know Fred was based in 1918.]

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