James Henry Anstey, known as Jim, a member of the Castle Cary Ansteys, was born in 1894 in Birkenhead to parents William John Anstey and Ellen Owen. He grew up in Slough, attending Featherstone Road School and living at 83 The Crescent, Slough in the 1901 Census, and by the time of the 1911 Census he was still living with his family, at 115 Regina Road, Norwood, working as a printer’s boy.
In the early months of World War One, on 15 March 1915 in Southall, Jim signed up for active service – at this time he was working for Messrs. H. G. Sanders and Sons, metallic tube makers in Southall. We do not have his Service Records, but we know that he was first posted to the Middlesex Regiment (Service Number: 4404). In around July 1916 he was transferred to the 1/13th Battalion (Kensington) London Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 6396) and headed to the Western Front trenches in Somme.
Jim was “killed by a sniper in France October 8 1916″ – per the below newspaper article he had entered the “war zone” six weeks previous to his death. According to the ‘Somme Roll Of Honour‘ website, on which Jim is commemorated, his final weeks in Somme were thus spent fighting: “August 1916: Tours in line in Hebuterne sector. 4th September 1916: Fricourt area. 6th September 1916: Leuze Wood. 8th September 1916: South of Montauban. 11th September 1916: Billon Farm. 22nd September 1916: Maltz Horn Farm. 28th September 1916: Morlancourt. 30th September 1916: Fricourt area. Early October 1916: Lesboeufs sector. 9th October 1916: Trônes Wood“.
The ‘West Middlesex Gazette‘ 09 November 1916 gives more details “PRIVATE J. H. ANSTEY. TUBE WORKER KILLED BY A SNIPER. Aged Twenty-two years, Private James Henry Anstey, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Anstey. of 115. Regina-road, Southall. has fallen in the great struggle for freedom. An old scholar of the Featherstone-road School, he answered the Country’s call on March 15th, 1915, joining the Middlesex Regiment (Territorials). After training in various parts of England, he recently went with a draft to the Front and was transferred to the County of London Regiment. Six weeks after entering the war zone he fell a victim to the bullet of a sniper on October 8th. Prior to his enlistment, he was employed by Messrs. H. G. Sanders and Sons, metallic tube makers, Southall. Private G. Boot, writing to the parents says, ‘It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that Jim was killed by a sniper on the night of October 8th. As you know it grieves me very much as he was my bosom chum out here and also at home. His sorgeant says that his death was instantaneous.’“
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Jim is commemorated at “Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 9 D 9 C 13 C and 12 C. France” – additional note “Son of William John and Ellen Anstey, of 115, Regina Rd., Southall, Middx“
For his services Jim was posthumously awarded the Victory and British War medals.
Three years after his death, on 10 October 1919, his family placed the following in the ‘Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette‘ – “In Memorium: Anstey – In loving memory of Private James Henry Anstey, the only son and brother of Mr and Mrs W. J. Anstey of 115 Regina Road Southall who was killed by a sniper in France October 8 1916… Never forgotten by his father, mother and sisters“
In Heston, St Leonard can be found the following gravestone inscription also remembering Jim: “In loving memory of a devoted wife and mother ELLEN ANSTEY who fell asleep Aug 8th 1943 aged 71 years. Also JAMES HENRY beloved son of above who died on active service Oct. 8th 1916 aged 22 years. Also WILLIAM JOHN ANSTEY husband of the above who died Dec. 9th 1955 aged 85 years.“
Jim was clearly well loved by his family because almost 50 years after his death on 17 October 1964 the following appeared in the ‘Middlesex County Times‘: “In Memoriam: ANSTEY – In Loving Memory of James Henry Anstey killed in France October 8 1916 – From his sisters“
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