George Anstey, a member of the Kennford Ansteys, was born on 24 October 1896 in Sidmouth, baptised 9 December 1896, to parents William Anstey and Louisa Selley – he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes William Arthur Anstey; Arthur John Anstey; and Harry Anstey. He grew up in Sidmouth and by the 1911 Census he was living with his family at 2 The Crescent, Temple Street, Sidmouth working as a paper boy at the railway station.
Just over a year after the commencement of World War One, on 6 November 1915 in Axminster, George signed up for active service – at the time of his enlistment he indicated that he was a “19 year old baker” (it was also noted that he was a “dairyman” on some forms), giving his father William as his next of kin. He was posted to the Army Service Corps as a Private (Service Number: S4/157112), and just over a month later, on 7 December 1915, he embarked on the ‘SS Monas‘ from Southampton, disembarking a day later at Havre and thence joining the British Expeditionary Forces in France. [The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ on 7 December 1915 noted that “George was in the Army Service Corps“].
He worked first in the Base Horse Transport Depot in Havre, and then was soon posted to the 9th Field Bakery. In September 1916 he was posted to the Nbr 13 Field Bakery, then he had home leave from 23 March 1917 to 2 April 1917.
On 16 October 1917 George was “compulsorily transferred in the interests of the Service to the Notts & Derby Regiment [Sherwood Foresters] for posting to the 1st Battalion” as a Private (Service Number: 72670). He joined them “in the field” on 12 December 1917 and then he had another home leave from 29 January 1918 to 12 February 1918.
On 27 May 1918, still with Company B of the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) George was “reported missing“. In actual fact he had been killed in action that morning because “In the early hours of 27 May 1918 the Germans launched a ferocious artillery barrage which signalled the start of the Third Battle of the Aisne. By the time it was over 698 Officers and men of the 1/Sherwoods were officially listed as Killed, Wounded or Missing.” – one of the deceased was George.
Word of his demise did not reach home shores for a good few months. The ‘War Office Daily List No.5624‘ on 22 July 1918 reported him as “missing“, and at the time of the 1918 Electoral Register he was still registered at 2 The Crescent, Temple Street, Sidmouth but indicated as an ‘absent military voter still on active service‘.
Finally the ‘Western Times‘ on 31 January 1919 confirmed his death – “‘Sidmouth Roll of Honour’: Mr. and Mrs. Anstey of The Crescent, Sidmouth, have had official confirmation that their son, Pte. G. Anstey, 1st Sherwood Foresters, reported ‘missing’ after the last Marne battle, was killed in action. He was aged 21, and served three years, chiefly in France.“
For his services George was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals, physically received by his father in 1921 and 1922. He is commemorated/buried at Soissons Memorial Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery/Memorial in Aisne, France – additional information given “Son of Mr. and Mrs. Anstey, of 2, The Crescent, Temple St., Sidmouth, Devon.“
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