Many thanks to John A. Anstey for his contribution to this biography.
Henry James Anstey, a member of the Bradninch Ansteys, was born in Topsham in 1872 to parents Eli Anstey and Esther [Hester] Glanvill. He grew up living at 29, Russell Street, Exeter St Sidwell then the ‘Express and Echo‘ 22 August 1885 reported “ALLEGED THEFT OF BOOTS. Henry Anstey 12, of Clarence-place, Well lane, St. Sidwells was charge with stealing a pair of boots, the property of Arthur Oliver Loram of Westeria, Lion’s Holt from the bathing ground, bonhay road on the 19th inst. From the evidence adduced it appears that about six o’clock on the day in question Loram went to the Bathing-ground, and previous to entering the water put his boots under the seat provided for the accommodation of bathers, and when he required them again he could not find them. The boots were subsequently found at a pawnbrokers shop by P.C. Diamond, where they had been pawned by the defendant (whom Dimond apprehended) for 1s.6d, – The defendant was then charged with stealing another pair of boots, the property of Henry Allen of 1 Castle-terrace, New North-road, from the Bathing Ground on the 20th inst. The evidence was similar to that in the foregoing case, with the exception that the boots were pawned for half-a crown instead of 1s.6d. In both cases the defendant pawned the boots within half – an – hour of the time when they were missed. Anstey pleaded guilty to both charges, and his mother who wished to have the case settled by the Bench, thought that birching would be the best thing for him. The magistrates, however ordered the defendant to be imprisoned for fourteen days and after that sent to a reformatory for three years. An order was made for the restitution of the stolen goods“.
He later moved with his family to Great Western Street, St Philip & St Jacob Out, Barton Regis, Bristol, where in the 1891 Census he was working in a “soap works“.
Later in 1891, on 16 December, he joined the Army in Bristol for a twelve year stint, thence being attached to the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private (Service Number: 3454). Henry was based in England until 8 April 1892 at which point he was sent to Gibraltar for just over a year. Then he served in the East Indies from late 1893 through to the beginning of 1902, mainly stationed in the North West Frontier Province. During this stint, Henry was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1896. Then in 1897 he fought in the Mohmand Campaign, being awarded the ‘India Medal‘ with ‘Punjab Frontier‘ clasp, indicating that he was involved in the defence of Shabkadr Fort on 7th August 1897. He was also awarded the India General Service Medal.
In 1900 Henry was promoted to Corporal. Then in early 1902 he was transferred from India to South Africa, arriving there in March 1902 during the latter stages of the guerrilla war phase of the Second Boer War. For his services there, he was awarded the ‘Queen’s South Africa Medal‘ with clasps ‘South Africa 1902‘ and ‘Transvaal‘?. Henry returned to England on 7 September 1902, serving out the rest of his twelve years of service in England, before being discharged on 15 December 1903. Fortunately for Henry, he was not injured during any of his time in the Army.
After his official discharge, Henry remained heavily involved with the Army Reserves, then on 29 May 1906 in Bristol he married Lottie Ethel Annie Bryant. By the 1911 Census Henry, Lottie and their (then) three children Ernest Henry Anstey (b 5 April 1907); Ivy Edith May Anstey (b 7 October 1908); and Herbert Frederick Anstey (b 21 August 1910 – served in World War Two Service No: 11272882 from 26 June 1942 through 17 October 1945, has Anstey descendants alive today, some of whom emigrated to Australia in c1970) were living at 45 Ranelagh Street, Bristol – Henry was a “Galvanized sheet iron galvanizer“. They also later had children in Bristol, Albert Glanville Anstey (b 28 December 1912 – served in World War Two, Service No: 826509 from 7 February 1936); Violet Margerie Anstey (b 13 September 1916); Henry J. Anstey (b 1919 – known as Harry); Lillie Ethel Annie Anstey (b 1921); Iris Rosa Ellen Anstey (b 1924); and Ronald Reginald Anstey (b 1926).
At the outbreak of World War One, on 15 August 1914, Henry once again signed up for service with the Somerset Light Infantry (Service Number: 9956), initially with the 4th Battalion but very soon after with the 7th Service Battalion. He entered the ‘France and Belgium‘ Theatre of War on 24 July 1915 as a Sergeant, as part of the 20th Light Division, initially landing at Boulogne.
Henry was almost certainly involved in the Battle of Loos on the Western Front at the end of September 1915, taking part in a subsidiary action north of Loos (near Fromelle) to divert the German defences away from the main Allied attack. He remained based in and around the Western Front in France until 12 October 1917, at which point he returned to England.
Henry was finally discharged from service on 13 April 1918, being declared “no longer fit for war service” and entitled to wear a ‘wound stripe‘. For his services, he was awarded the ‘1915 Star‘, ‘Victory‘ and ‘British War‘ Medals.
After his discharge, Henry returned to live with his family in Bristol where he died in 1933.
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