Harold Anstee (1897-1919)

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

See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Potsgrove Anstees. In addition to biographies of various Anstey individuals who make up this sub-branch, the book contains a plethora of Anstey research and statistics, including an analysis of how the Potsgrove Anstees fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.

PO 52. Harold Anstee: He was born on 5 May 1897 in Foxon Street, Leicester to parents John Anstee (PO 25) and Mary Ann Russell, baptised on 31 August 1897 at Leicester, St Mary de Castro. He lived in Leicester during his childhood, living at 20 Hawthorne Street Leicester with his family in the 1911 Census, and became a printer on leaving school.

At the outbreak of World War One, he signed up for active service, joining the 4th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment (4/2003). He then joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 13 July 1915 as an Ordinary Seaman (Nbr Z/6079), and on 5 December 1915 he was drafted from the 7th Reserve Battalion at Blandford to the ‘Hood Battalion’ (part of the 63rd Royal Naval Division) Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, joining them at Mudros, Greece on 8 January 1916. He served at Tenedos until 1 June 1916, by now an Able Seaman (Service Number: Tyneside ‘Z/6079’).

He arrived back in England on 22 August 1916 and was drafted for the British Expeditionary Force at Base Depot, Etaples from 26 September 1916 to 9 November 1916, then to the 6th Entrenching Battalion, rejoined the ‘Hood Battalion‘ on 25 November 1916.

It is surely Harold who was the “H. Anstie” admitted to 149th Field Ambulance on 4 July 1917 with ‘scabies‘, discharged back to the ‘Hood Battalion‘ on 6 July 1917, even though the Service Number written was ‘ZC6089’ rather than ‘6079’.

He likely fought at the Battle of Cambrai in Northern France in early December 1917, then on 30 December 1917 he was captured by the Germans and became a Prisoner of War at first ‘Le Quesnoy’ camp and then ‘Cambrai’. At the time of his capture he was described as “Rank: Airman Basic” and he was reported to be “not wounded“.

In War Office Daily List No. 5484 on 5 February 1918 he was reported as a “prisoner of war in German hands“. War Office Daily List No. 5669 on 13 September 1918 reports that he “was prisoner of war in Germany, now arrived in Switzerland for internment“. Then War Office Daily List No. 5763 on 4 January 1919 reports that he was “released prisoner of war from Germany, arrived in England“.

In fact he had arrived back in England on 9 December 1918 “repatriated to Military Hospital Paddington, suffering from serious illness, Tubercle of Lung“. On 23 April 1919 he was “discharged invalided at RN Hospital Chatham, disability 100%, Tuberculosis of Lung. Attributable to service“. Finally on 7 August 1919 he “died after Discharge (Invalided) at The Sanatorium Isolation Hospital, Leicester, from Pulmonary Tuberculosis“.

He was buried at Gilroes Cemetery, Groby Road, Leicester, on 9th August 1919, plot number CC504, which had been purchased by his father John. He was accepted for commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in February 2007 and the inscription on his gravestone now reads “H. ANSTEE Able Seaman TZ/6071 [6079] Royal Naval Vol. Reserve 7 August 1919 Age 22“.

For his services, he was posthumously awarded the 1914/15 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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