John Anstey (b 1888 St Luke)

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

[Note: John Anstey (b 1888 St Luke) should not be confused with John Anstey (b 1888 Hoxton, Shoreditch), another Anstey Hero.]

John Anstey, a member of the St Luke Holborn Ansteys, was born on 5 September 1888 in St Luke, Holburn to parents John Anstey and Ann Dimmock. He grew up with his family living at 4, New Court, London, St Luke, Holborn.

In January 1906, at the age of 17 years and four months, John joined the 6th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment Militia (Service Number: 3961 or 6931). On his Attestation Form he confirmed his age and place of birth, that he was single, and that he was a “vanguard” by trade living at 165 Seward Street Buildings, St Luke with his mother Annie Anstey and at least three of his younger siblings William, Annie and Laura. However John was discharged from service a few months later in July 1906 “on payment of one pound“.

In 1907 John married Henrietta Morfee [Moryes?] in Holburn, at which time he was a “chaff cutter” living at 24 Nelson Street, St Luke. In the 1911 Census John (still a “chaff cutter“) and Henrietta were living at 3 Lloyds Row EC, Clerkenwell with their two sons John Anstey (b 1908) and George William Anstey (b 1910, known sometimes as William). They also had sons Richard Anstey born in 1918 and Alfred Anstey born in 1922.

Right at the beginning of World War One, on 2 November 1914, John enlisted for active service and, even though we do not possess his Service Record, we can build a fairly good overall summary of his war story through his discharge document and medical reports.

At the time of his enlistment, John was a “carman” by trade; he was posted (probably) to the 15th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Regimental Number: 21652) as a Private. Thus it is likely that it is he mentioned in the ‘Denbighshire Free Press‘ 09 October 1915 as “Private Anstey” playing for the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in a friendly game against Norwich City.

Assuming that we are correct, then John would certainly have fought in the Battle of the Somme at Mametz Wood in July 1916, and probably the Third Battle of Ypres which commenced in July 1917.

What we do know for certain is that John served “in the trenches in France from 17 March 1916 to 31 July 1917” on the Western Front. We also know that in November 1916 in France, John got Trench Fever and bronchitis, caused by “exposure“, causing him debility. He spent 71 days in hospital, firstly at the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville, France and later at the Ortonia Hill? Hospital in Orpington, Kent.

On leaving hospital, presumably at some point soon after July 1917, John was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, with whom he certainly served until the end of the war, based in Ireland and Limerick.

After the conflict was over, John was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve for demobilisation and discharged on 5 April 1919, returning to live at 6 Galway Street, St Luke, London. His ‘disability’ at the time of his discharge was deemed “attributable to the war but not aggravated by it” – he reported still having “shooting pains in legs at times and in head” as well as “recurrent attacks of fever – last 8 days ago“. The doctor estimated John’s ‘disability’ would last a further 12 months, and in a medical report dated March 1919 at Limerick, it stated that he had “30% disability“.

However, a year later in January 1920, another medical report conducted at Cheltenham Terrace concluded that John’s afflication was “less than 20% disability“, so presumably he recovered fairly well over time.

For his services during the war, John was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

In the 1939 Register, John was living at Lever Street, Finsbury, Islington with his wife Henrietta and two of their sons, Richard and Alfred – John was a “motor driver travelling heavy“, his birth date confirmed as 5 September 1888.

John died in 1973 in Hackney, his birth date again confirmed as 5 September 1888

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

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