James Meek Anstey, a member of the Castle Cary Ansteys, was born in q3 (probably July) 1897 in Southwark/Walworth to parents Henry Lewis Anstey and Sarah Ann Frances Whyatt; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Henry Lewis Anstey. He grew up in Southwark/Walthamstow and by the 1911 Census he was living with his father and stepmother (his mother died when he was very young) at 7 Ickworth Park Road, Walthamstow.
James enlisted for service right at the outset of World War One, on 21 October 1914 at the Recruiting Office, New Cross, Deptford. However, as he was under 18, he lied about his age, stating that he was 19 years and 90 days old (he was 17) – he also noted that he was Presbyterian and a carman by trade. He was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps as a Driver (Service Number: T3/022704).
On 27 October 1914 he joined ‘160 Coy 20th Div Train’ and then on 13 June 1915 he was further transferred to ’61 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps’ as a Driver. On 21 July 1915 he embarked on the ship ‘City of Chester‘ in Southampton with the 61st Field Ambulance 20th Division, disembarking the following day in Havre, France to join the British Expeditionary Forces there.
In December 1916 James was transferred to ‘3 Company 20th Div Train’; then on 15 April 1918 he was further transferred to ‘1 AHTD’; and in December 1918 to ‘1 Company 63rd Divisional Train’. A lot of the work he performed seemed to involve horse-drawn vehicles (ambulances).
On 19 March 1919 in St Ghislain, Belgium, by now with the 63rd (Reserve) Divisional Train (160th Company) of the Army Service Corps, he confirmed that he had suffered no injuries during the conflict and that he had served almost entirely in the ‘France’ Theatre of War.
On 1 April 1919 he finally returned to England and he was transferred to Class ‘Z’ Army Reserve on demobilisation on 30 April 1919, intending to return to live at 60 Longcroft Road, Camberwell, London (his father’s address).
For his services James was awarded the 1915 Star Medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
In q3 1919 James married Elizabeth Marlowe in Southwark and they had children James Henry Anstey (b 16 April 1920 Lambeth); Henry Lewis Anstey (b 1922 Lambeth); and Cyril G. Anstey (b 1931 Southwark).
By the 1921 Census the family were living in Southwark – also in 1921 James was living at 5 Peel Road, Wealdstone, Middlesex when he applied for information regarding joining ‘Section D Army Reserve’. At the time of the 1939 Register Elizabeth and her children were living at 200 Albany Road, Old Kent Road, Southwark – it is unclear the whereabouts of James at this time.
James died in Hounslow in 1968.
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