Herbert Lawrence Anstey (b 1888)

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

Herbert Lawrence Anstey, a member of the East Stoke Ansteys, was born in 1888 in Norton, Worksop, Nottinghamshire to parents James Anstey and Mary Ann Couzens. He was the elder brother of fellow Anstey Heroes William George Anstey and Reginald Anstey.

Herbert was brought up in Norton, Nottinghamshire and later Scotland. In the 1901 Census he was living with his family in Berriedale Langwell, Caithness, Scotland and by the 1911 Census, Herbert was boarding at Bunker’s Hill Lodge back in Norton – he was a gamekeeper (the same profession as his father).

A year later in 1912, Herbert, “a gamekeeper“, boarded the ‘Orvieto‘ ship in London, bound for Sydney, Australia where he intended to “permanently reside“.

At some point very early in World War One, Herbert signed up for active service (presumably in Australia), joining the King Edward’s Horse Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 967). All we know of his war story is that he entered the France Theatre of War on 28 July 1915; that he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, Victory and British War Medals; and that he was discharged due to “termination of engagement” on 6 April 1919.

According to Peter Nemaric of Kingedwardshorse.netHerbert and the King Edward’s Horse Regiment took part in the Battles of Passchendaele and Cambrai in 1917. From December 1917 to March 1918 it was in Italy, returning in time to fight in the Battle of Lys in April 1918. It rendered most important service defending the Line of the Lawe and subsequently the La Bassee Canal near Hinges, suffering casualties amounting to 60% of its strength“.

[Researchers Note: We are somewhat confused by Herbert’s war service and wondered at first whether we were confusing him with his first cousin Herbert Henry Anstey, who also served with the King Edward’s Horse Regiment. However we are fairly confident that is not the case as a) their Service Numbers are different (967 versus 1863) b) their entry into a ‘Theatre of War’ was different (28 July 1915 versus October 1917) and c) there are two completely separate entries in the World War One Medal Index Cards, with “Herbert L. Anstey” being awarded the 1914/15 Star, Victory and British Medals, while “Herbert [Henry] Anstey” was only awarded the Victory and British Medals. Anybody who can provide further enlightenment in this matter please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.]

Around the time of his discharge, Herbert returned to Australia – certainly he was there in the 1922 Australia Electoral Rolls, where he was a labourer working at Springsure, Capricornia in Queensland.

The ‘Courier Mail (Brisbane)‘ reported on 30 August 1935 “MISSING MAN FOUND: Lived for 10 Days on Watercress. When a police search party found Herbert Lawrence Anstey (41) a native of Nottingham England on Skeleton Creek on August 19, Anstey, who was in a weak condition, informed the police that for ten says he had lived on watercress and water. Anstey was reported missing from Deepdale near Springsure on Aug 8 and police and trackers patrolled more than 20 miles of mountainous country before they located him. Anstey said he left Deepdale with the intention of making for Carnarvon Station but lost his way. His horse fell into a gully and subsequently died, and he continued his journey on foot, but was forced to rest at Skeleton Creek due to weakness.

Herbert died in December 1936 in the Carnarvon Ranges in Queensland, Australia. The ‘Courier Mail (Brisbane)‘ reported on 3 March 1937 “Preferred Roving to Money but fell Victim to Starvation: Lost in the Carnarvon Ranges in the Springsure district in August 1935 Herbert Lawrence Anstey warded off starvation by living on water cress and water for 10 days. But he eventually fell victim to starvation about 18 months later. His decomposed remains were found in a hut 15 miles from Tickalars Homestead in the Thargomindah district on February 10. The body was clad in a singlet. Death had apparently taken place some weeks previously. There was no sign of a struggle or anything to indicate foul play. A post mortem examination showed that death was due to starvation and exposure. Anstey, who was about 40, and a native of Nottinghamshire, England, had followed casual work in the Springsure district for a few years. For 12 years his mother, who lives in Scotland, had been endeavouring to ascertain his whereabouts. The first information she received of her son was when she was shown a home paper which contained an account of his experiences in the Carnarvon Ranges. When informed he was a beneficiary in his father’s estate Anstey is reported to have replied that he had no interest in money and preferred a roving life. He stated that it was his intention to go to South Western Queensland. He left Springsure for the Tambo district in April last“.

There is a commemoration for Herbert at Berriedale Parish Churchyard, Berriedale, Highland, Scotland – presumably it was commissioned by his mother in 1937.

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

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