John Anstey, a member of the St Luke Holborn Ansteys, was born in Hoxton, Shoreditch on 3 May 1888 to parents William Anstey and Mary Ann Ryan. He was the brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Ernest Anstey and Henry Anstey.
After growing up in Shoreditch, the family moved to Islington where in the 1911 Census John was a “low tier? builder” living with his family at 71 Edinboro Cottages, Popham St, Islington. Then in 1914 he married Jane Ware in Islington, moving into 67 Edinboro Cottages just a couple of doors down from his family. John and Jane had at least two children in Islington, John W. Anstey (b 1915) and Leonard H. Anstey (b 1917).
Even though we cannot locate John’s Service Record, we can piece together his war service from various medical reports that we have been able to access. We know that on 8 December 1915 at Holloway, around a year after the beginning of World War One, John signed up for service for the “duration of the war“. He indicated that he was Church of England by religion, born 3 May 1888, and that his occupation was an “estate labourer“. He also confirmed that his next of kin was his wife Mrs Jane Anstey, living at 67 Edinboro Cottages, Islington.
John was actually called up for duty on 30 May 1916 and posted a day later at Whitehall to the 5th (or 15th) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) as a rifleman (Service Number: S 19964). On 27 September 1916, whilst training in Chatham, John was injured. According to his ‘Medical Report prior to Discharge’, his injury was to his left knee, where John “states he fell off a parapet into a trench whilst practicing bayonet fighting and that next morning the knee became swollen“. At the time of discharge John still had “pain in left knee on standing and walking and difficulty in walking” and his injury was deemed “attributable to but not aggravated by service during the war” with disability “less than 20%“
On 20 June 1917 John was admitted to Fort Pitt Military Hospital in Chatham, with reason given that “this man has shortening of his hamstrings (left) due to insufficient attention at the time of his injury. The leg can be forced into a straight position but cannot be kept there. [The doctor] has admitted him to hospital for treatment“.
On 25 September 1917 “S19964 Rifleman J. Anstey Company D 5th Battalion Rifle Brigade [was] discharged from Hospital“.
On 27 November 1917 John was transferred to the Inland Waterways and Docks Regiment of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper (Service Number: WR 319365, as well as 319049 crossed out), then on 18 October 1918 he was posted to Farlington where on 25 March 1919 he committed the misdemeanour of “Certified No Entry whilst at Southampton“.
On 13 February 1919 John was “retained in the Army of occupation under para 6 of Schedule R. A. O 55 of 1919” at Farlington. On 26 March 1919 he was “posted to 99 Blg Coy Soton“, again at Farlington. Then on 28 June 1919 John was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on Demobilisation, proceeding a month later to Crystal Palace Dispersal Centre for demobilisation and transfer to Army Reserve.
By the end of the war the family were living at 4 Tibberton Square, Essex Road, Hoxton, London. They were still residing there in the 1939 Register, where John was a “married bricklayer” living with his two sons (his birth date was again confirmed as 3 May 1888).
John died in 1976 in Hackney, his birth date once again confirmed as 3 May 1888.
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