George Alexander Anstey (1888-1915)

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

George Alexander Anstey was born on 29 February 1888 at the Curragh Camp, County Kildare, Ireland to parents William Frederick Anstey (Captain Wilfred Anstey) and Isabella Frances Whitla; he is a member of the Bampton Ansteys, elder brother of fellow Anstey Hero Chisholm Wilfred Anstey, and a grandson of George Alexander Anstey. By the time of the 1911 Census George was already in the Army, a Lieutenant in the 1st Devonshire Regiment stationed at Mooltan & Lucknow Barracks in North Tidworth.

The ‘British Army, Bond Of Sacrifice: Officers Died In The Great War 1914-1916‘ (page 11) gives the following information, together with a photo of George:

Captain George Alexander Anstey, 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment, who was born at the Curragh Camp, Ireland on the 29th February 1888, was the elder son of Major W. F. Anstey, late of the 71st Highland Light Infantry, of Lismoyne, Fleet, Hampshire and was educated at Wellington and the R. M. C. Sandhurst. He joined the Army on the 4th November 1908, being promoted to Lieutenant in June 1911 and Captain on the 10th June 1915. On joining in 1908, Captain Anstey was posted to the 1st Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Walter, which was serving in Rangoon, and which was under orders to return to England. On its arrival he served with it at Tidworth and in Jersey.

When [World War One] hostilities commenced the battalion was under orders for Aldershot, and, proceeding with it to the seat of war, Captain Anstey was wounded in the severe fighting in October 1914 and was invalided home. He rejoined the regiment in January 1915, and early in June was temporarily attached to command a company to the 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, which had suffered heavily in officers. He returned home on short leave on the 12th June, rejoining the 2nd Cheshires on the 17th and was killed in the early morning of the 24th June [1915] while in the trenches replying to the enemy’s fire.

He had wished to give some of the latest joined lads in his company confidence in manning the parapet, and was himself firing over the parapet when he was struck down at 1:45am, being shot in the head and neck and died immediately. He had heard of his advancement to the rank of Captain a few hours before he was killed, the announcement having only appeared in ‘The Gazette’ of 21st June, but his promotion was dated 10th of that month, as stated above. He was buried in the cemetery at Dickebusch. The General Officer commanding the 2nd Army wrote:- ‘The General who commands the Division to which he was attached, told me that in the few days that he had served with the Cheshires he had shown himself a really first-rate officer’.”

More details are given in ‘The Roll of Honour, Volume I, De Ruvigny‘, which adds that George was “wounded at [the Battle of] La Bassee [in Northern France] and invalided home in October 1914“. It also notes that “[George] was killed in the trenches in Flanders…these infernal [German] snipers have rifle batteries sighted and clamped on certain spots for night firing and [George] must have been most unluckily struck in one of those places, as he had two bullets in head and neck. The trenches were roughly 150 feet apart (German and British) where he was hit, and it was a fairly dark night, with little or no moon

George is buried at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery in Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium PLOT “II. B. 2.” He is commemorated on the Wellington College World War One Roll Of Honour (WMR 18721) in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

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