Herbert Henry Anstey, a member of the Kennford Ansteys, was born on 13 January 1899 in Lambeth to parents George William Townsend Anstey and Emily Eliza Cleverley; he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes George Edward Anstey and John Joseph Anstey. He grew up living in Lambeth and Brixton, and by the 1911 Census he was living with his family at 34 Bellefields Road Brixton.
Despite his age, Herbert enlisted right at the outset of World War One, on 9 September 1914 with the 1st City of London Regiment Fusiliers as a Private (Service Number: 2889). He gave his age as 19 years 7 months old when in fact he was only 15 years and 7 months old.
He clearly looked mature for his age because on 1 February 1915 he embarked for Malta with his battalion to join the Expeditionary Forces there, remaining until 24 August 1915. He then was in the “Mediterranean” from 25 August 1915 to 16 April 1916 and then France from 17 April 1916 to 23 June 1916. He returned home on 24 June 1916 – presumably they had found out about his real age – because he was asked if he wished to “serve on or be transferred to the Class W (T) Territorial Force Reserves [due to him still being under 18]“. Herbert opted for the Reserves based off a letter written by his father George stating “I wish my boy, Private H. H. Anstey 2889 1st London Regiment to be demobilised until his 18th birthday in January 1917“.
He was thus transferred to the Reserves on 4 July 1916, until being called up again on 6 February 1917, this time with the 2/5th Essex Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 252699 – occasionally miswritten as 525699). He remained in Britain for just over a year until he once again embarked for France on 7 April 1918, joining the 10th Essex Battalion.
In a note written by his father, we find “my late son Herbert Henry Anstey Private in 10th Essex when discharged, [was] wounded in foot September 21 1918” – this injury was confirmed in the ‘War Office Daily List No.5707‘ report date 28 October 1918, thus he was entitled to wear a Wound Stripe. He returned from France on 25 September 1918 and was admitted to North Evington War Hospital, Leicester the following day – he was still there in November 1918.
Herbert was discharged from service on 12 March 1919, intending to return to live with his family at 34 Bellefields Road Brixton – at this time he was with ‘D’ Company of the 4th Battalion 10th Essex Regiment. Somewhat bizarrely he was deemed not to have suffered any disability during the conflict – this contradicts a letter written by his father after his death in 1927 stating “he was discharged wounded in 1919 with the 10th Essex…he was in Coalville Hospital after being wounded“
For his services he was awarded the 1915 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals – he noted that he served in the ‘Eastern‘ Theatre of War.
By the 1921 Census Herbert was in Brentford – he died in hospital in Bromley, Kent on 11 November 1927.
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