John Alexander Anstee, a member of the Potsgrove Anstees, was born in q1 1895 in Coventry to parents William Thomas Gamble Anstey and Katherine Lyons; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero William Anstey. He grew up in Coventry in a somewhat turbulent household – in 1897 his mother was “summoned for cruelty to her two children. Defendant pleaded not guilty. Mr.Pridmore prosecuted on behalf of the N.S.P.C.C., and said the two children referred to in the summons were aged 2 years and 1 and half years, were continually left alone for hours together while defendant was out drinking. The house was in a very dirty condition, especially the bedding.“
He was living at Court House, 2, White Friars Lane, Coventry in 1901, and by the 1911 Census he was a cotton mill piecer living with his uncle Thomas Lyons and his family at Court 1 New St Lees, Lees, Lancashire.
John volunteered for service right at the outset of World War One, on 4 September 1914 with the 7th Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 2629) – confirmed in the ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ 21 September 1914 edition. We know very little of his war story except that:
- He was listed as “wounded” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office in April and May 1915 whilst fighting in ‘France and Flanders’;
- The ‘Chelmsford Chronicle‘ on 24 September 1915 reported “7th Royal Warwicks – Wounded Anstee Pt J. A.“;and
- He was discharged on 21 September 1916 under ‘Paragraph 392 Kings Regulations XVI sickness‘ and issued with a Silver War Badge on 11 January 1917
More generally, we also know that the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was a unit of the Territorial Force with Headquarters in Coventry, mobilising for war service on 5 August 1914 and commencing training in Chelmsford. They proceeded to France, from Southampton, landing at le Havre on 22 March 1915. The Division concentrated near Cassel and within days they were learning the routine of trench warfare around St Yves, Messines and Ploegsteert.
From the above we can conclude that John must have been fairly seriously injured during the very early days of fighting in the front line trenches, probably in early April 1915 near Cassel, so much so that he was returned to England to recuperate, and thence discharged in September 1916 when it was abundantly clear that his injuries precluded him from any more service.
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John married Gertrude Elizabeth James (known as Gertie) in 1918 in Brackley – they had two daughters in Coventry Beryl Gertrude Anstee (b 1926, died in 1940 buried in the same grave as her father per below) and Doreen C. Anstee (b 13 January 1929 – at school in Ferndale, Syresham in the 1939 Register).
By the 1919 Electoral Register John was at Stallance in Sutton Vallence and at the time of the 1921 Census John and Gertie were living in Coventry. By 1931 they were living at 9 Littlefields in Stoke Heath.
John died on 12 January 1943 at 554 Figeldean, Salisbury – at the time of his decease he was at Ferndale, Syresham. The ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ on 16 January 1943 reported “DEATHS: Anstee John Alexander, beloved husband of Gertie and father of Doreen, late of 9 Littlefields Coventry, passed suddenly away on Tuesday January 12th. Interment Monday Coventry Cemetery (bottom gates) 3.30pm (communications to 2 Bulwer Road, Radford)“
He was buried on 18 January 1943 at London Road Civic Cemetery in Coventry plot reference “256-84” (the same grave as his daughter) – effects were to his widow Gertie.
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