Henry Anstey, a member of the Washfield Ansteys, was born in q4 1884 in Battersea to parents Isaac Anstey and Ellen Castle; he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Alfred Anstey and Herbert Bertie Anstey. Henry grew up living in Wandsworth and by the 1901 Census he was boarding with his father at 8, Mandrell Road, Lambeth, working as a ‘van boy’ – we cannot locate him in the 1911 Census.
Right at the outset of World War One, on 12 August 1914 at Woolwich, Henry signed up for active service, noting that he was ‘aged 29’ and a ‘carman’ by trade – he was posted to the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment ‘D’ as a Private (Service Number: 160) the following day. Six days later however, on 19 August 1914, he was discharged for an unknown reason.
Just over a year later, on 11 December 1915, he enlisted again. On this Attestation Form he noted that his address was 90 Camberwell Road; that he was born in 1884; and that he was unmarried. He also noted that his next of kin was his brother Alfred Anstey who was living at 13 Lower Orchard Street, Brixton. He was posted to the Army Reserves awaiting mobilisation.
On 3 April 1916 Henry was called up and posted to the 4/3rd Battalion of the London Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 253044 and 6370). Whilst in training in England he was sentenced to 56 days “detention” in May 1916 for an unspecified misdemeanour.
On 24 August 1916 he embarked for France at Southampton, disembarking at Havre the following day and joining ‘A’ Company of the 1/3rd Battalion of the London Regiment “in the field” on 10 October 1916. As such he no doubt participated in the Battle of Le-Transloy at that time, part of the 1916 Battle of the Somme.
After this battle the battalion spent the rest of 1916 holding the line in the Neuve Chapelle sector of the Western Front, and it was at this time that Henry began to suffer from shell-shock and trench fever. He was admitted to hospital in France on 3 January 1917 and transferred to ‘7 CAS C Station‘ on 11 January 1917 with “myalgia“. He was then taken by the ‘31 Ambulance Train‘ on 15 January 1917 from Merville to the ‘1 Canadian Hospital‘ near Etaples, suffering from “pyrexia of unknown origin“. He was then returned to England on 31 January 1917.
Henry was discharged on 16 August 1917 under ‘Para 392 xvi King’s Regulation‘ and issued a Silver War Badge, being eligible for a weekly pension of 22 shillings. His official reason for discharge was “no longer physically fit for war service due to rheumatism” though in actuality it was clearly due to after effects of shell shock and trench fever (see below). After his discharge he went to live with his brother Alfred and his family at 13 Saxby Street, Lyham Road, Brixton.
When he received his King’s Certificate in June? 1918 he was residing at 90 Tyers Street, Vauxhall, however soon after he became ill again and died a year later on 17 August 1919 at Banstead Mental Hospital of “Phthisis Pulmonalis” (tuberculosis of 8 months) – his death certificate states that he was a “carman at Southwark Union [Workhouse?] and ex Army” before he was admitted to the mental hospital. A letter that his brother Alfred wrote regarding Henry’s will on 23 June 1921 gives more details:
“Sir in reference to your letter re my deceased brother No 6370 H. Anstey’s Will I have not got it in my possession as it got lost with his other papers when he was taken away. He was taken ill in the street and taken to Brook Street Infirmary Kennington and sent after a time to Banstead Asylum where he died. He was a Silver Badge Man. He was discharged some time before the war was over as he suffered with shell shock and trench fever. I know that his will was made to me before he went to France as he told me when I was on leave myself. I have enquired at both institutions for them but they cannot find any trace of them. I am Yours, A. Anstey“
For his services, Henry was posthumously awarded the Victory and British War medals – these medals were eventually given to his brother Alfred at 13 Saxby Street, Lyham Road, Brixton on 24 July 1922, with Alfred agreeing to “surrender them to any person having a better legal claim“.
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