Herbert William Anstey, a member of the Dyrham Anstees, was born on 20 October 1878 in Vauxhall, Surrey to parents George Joseph Anstey and Elizabeth Sutton; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Alfred Ernest Anstey. He grew up living at 7 Warwick Street, Lambeth then on 20 October 1896, his 18th birthday, he signed up for full time service with the Army for a period of twelve years.
At the time of his enlistment Herbert was working as a porter, and he was posted to the Royal Horse Artillery (Service Number: 16826). Just over three years into his service he was sent to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War as a Gunner with ‘U’ Battery Royal Horse Artillery. He left England on the ship ‘SS Cestrian‘ on 12 December 1899, arriving in South Africa on 10 January 1900. He was straight into action, fighting in the Relief of Kimberley and at the Battle of Paardeberg, both in February 1900, as well as the Battle of Driefontain in March 1900.
A few weeks later, on 31 March 1900 he was captured by the Boers at Sannah’s Post and taken Prisoner of War – he was released on 6 June 1900 at Waterval. After the conflict was over, Herbert sailed back to England on 11 September 1902, again on the ship ‘SS Cestrian‘, arriving back in Southampton on 5 October 1902.
For his services during the Second Boer War, he was awarded the Queens South Africa medal with four clasps (Paardeberg, Driefontain, Relief of Kimberley, and Transvaal), as well as the King’s South Africa Medal with two clasps – ‘South Africa 1901’ and ‘South Africa 1902’. He had served in South Africa for a total of just under three years, during which he was promoted to Corporal (on 15 January 1902).
Back in England, Herbert was witness to his sister Mabel’s marriage to William Henry Anstey in 1906, then he married Minnie Jane Russell on 18 April 1908 at St Philips, Battersea. They had children in Wandsworth, Sidney Herbert Anstey (b 1910) and Edward Charles Anstey (b 1914, buried 30 May 1930 in Morden Parish).
In October 1908, still a Corporal, Herbert re-engaged with the Army Reserves for another four years. In the 1911 Census the family were living at 54 Lysias Road Balham, Wandsworth, where he was also working as a motorman on the London Country Council tramways.
Right at the outset of World War One, on 5 August 1914 at Woolwich, Herbert was mobilised for service with the Royal Horse Artillery – he was promoted to Sergeant on the same day (his Service Number was still 16826, though other reference numbers were 47289 and 1655017). He served in France for 4 years and 6 months, from 1914 to 1919, initially fighting with the British Expeditionary Forces. By war’s end he was a Battery Quarter Master Sergeant with the Royal Horse Artillery (‘D’ Battery) – he was demobilised on 24 February 1919 at Woolwich, at which point he returned to live with his family, by now at 17 Emu Road, Battersea.
For his services during World War One Herbert was awarded the 1914 Star medal, as well as the British War and Victory medals.
An internal letter sent by the Army on 25 September 1919 concerning Herbert’s pension (Pension Reference: 16550/F) confirms his Army Service. It reads “Re: No 16826 Battery Quarter Master Sergeant H. W. Anstey late Royal Horse Artillery. The above mentioned man claims to be entitled to a service pension & I herewith submit particulars of his service which are as follows. He enlisted on 20 October 1896 and was discharged 20 October 1908 completing his first period of twelve years. He re-engaged for Section D straight away and completed same 20 October 1912. He re-engaged from the latter date for a further four years, which would have been completed in October 1916 but war intervened and he rejoined the colours 5 August 1914 and was finally demobilised 24 February 1919, making a total of 22 1/2 years service. I would be very grateful if you will give the above your usual good attention with a view to getting same settled as soon as possible“
Other documents sent around the same time confirm that Herbert was not in receipt of any disability pensions, so presumably he survived the war relatively unscathed
By the time of the 1921 Census, Herbert was still living with his family in Battersea, and they were still living at 17 Emu Road, Battersea in 1930 when his son Edward died. The ‘South Western Star‘ on 3 December 1937 reported “Knocked Down at Balham Hill: On Wednesday night at Balham Hill, Herbert Anstey, aged 56, 151 Endlesham Road, Balham, was knocked down by a car. Suffering from an injury to the left side he was taken to St James’ Hospital“.
At the time of the 1939 Register they were still living at 151 Endlesham Road, Balham – Herbert was now a tram driver.
During the latter part of World War Two, Herbert worked as a Messenger for the War Office in Whitehall and his wife worked for Harrods in Knightsbridge – they were still living at 151 Endlesham Road, Balham. In a letter written on 6 November 1944 to the Secretary of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, Herbert noted “I retired from my employment on October 20 1943 on arriving at the age limit of 65 years. Me and my wife were asked by the ? Service Officer to take up light duty for the duration of the war, just as a war effort. My wife took up part time work at Harrods Ltd and I at the War Office as a messenger. We both will leave at the end of hostilities”
Herbert actually continued to work for the War Office until 24 March 1948, still living at 151 Endlesham Road, Balham – by 1952 he was living at 24 Dundela Gardens, Worcester Park, Surrey. He died on 5 September 1956 of “congestive heart failure, aortic valve disease, retreo sarcoma of left eyelid” – at the time of his death he was living at 24 Leybourne Road, Brighton though he actually died at 48 Westbourne Villas, Hove. Probate was to his widow Minnie Jane Anstey.
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