Hugh Knight Anstey (b 1900)

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

Hugh Knight Anstey, a member of the Chatham Ansteys, was born on 28 May 1900 in Indrone, Hyderabad, Madras, India to parents John Charles Knight Anstey (a missionary, confirmed on Hugh’s baptismal certificate) and Agnes Burgess. He was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Alexander Burgess Anstey, baptised on 15 August 1900 at Secunderabad Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Hugh’s mother died when he was very young, so by the 1901 Census he had returned to England and was living with his aunt Aquila Narbeth and her family at 6 Melody Road, Wandsworth. By the 1911 Census Hugh was attending Kingswood School in Bath.

Due to his age, Hugh only signed up for service with the Royal Air Force (Service Number: 177244) just before the conclusion of World War One, on 21 May 1918 as a Cadet. Bravely, this was only a couple of months after he had attended the funeral of his brother Alexander Burgess Anstey, who had died in a flying accident in Wolvercote in February 1918. Hugh gave his address at the time of his enlistment as Ferndale, Grove Road, Sutton, Surrey (his uncle John Narbeth’s residence); his religion was ‘Wesleyan’; and he was a bank clerk.

During his medical Hugh was classified as “fit for Obs: unfit for pilot” – hence his role as ‘Air Observer’ was to be one of reconnaissance, for which he was trained in October 1918 at Winchester and then at the ‘1 School of Aeronautics’ in Reading. However formal hostilities had ceased by the time Hugh had completed his training, so to our knowledge he never actually fought during this war. During his period of training, Hugh was promoted to Flight Officer Cadet in September 1918 and then further promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 25 April 1919. He was then transferred to RAF Reserve ‘G’ on 27 April 1919.

Hugh married Lillah Reed in 1922 in Paddington – we find no children of this marriage. They must have decided to live in Lower Kingswood, Surrey because the ‘Surrey Mirror‘ on 25 April 1924 reported “NO LIGHT: For riding a motor cycle at night without a light, Hugh Knight Anstey of Babylon Cottage, Lower Kingswood was fined £1 at Epsom Petty Sessions“.

In 1936 Hugh attended the funeral of his uncle Rear Admiral William John Anstey in Hendon. Then on 30 August 1939, as World War Two was about to break out, Hugh, as part of the ‘Royal Air Force Reserve of Air Force Officers’ was “granted a commission in class CC 2nd Lt. Hugh Knight ANSTEY (79005)” according to ‘The Gazette‘. He was further “granted commission as Flight Lieutenant with effect from 1 March 1940“. We have no further details of his World War Two service at present.

On 12 April 1960 Hugh, by now an “unmarried bank official” emigrated to South Africa aboard the ship ‘City of Chicago‘. He gave his last address in England as 536 Kensington Close, London W8, and stated that his country of intended future permanent residence was South Africa.

Hugh died on 29 November 1988, at the time living at 10 Fagan Street, Somerset West, Cape Province, South Africa – he was described as a “retired bank official“.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at

%d bloggers like this: