John William Anstey, a member of the Shoreditch Ansteys, was born on 17 April 1892 in Hoxton, Shoreditch to parents George Anstey and Sarah Cartwright. He grew up in Shoreditch and by the 1911 Census he was a “cabinet maker” living with his family at 44 Shap Street in Shoreditch.
John married Mary Dowling in 1913 in Shoreditch and they had children John W. Anstey (b 1914); George F. Anstey (b 1919); and Mary F. Anstey (b 1924) – all born in Shoreditch.
Very soon after the outbreak of World War One, John signed up for active service. Unfortunately we cannot locate his Service Record so we do not have precise details, but we do have snippets of information which allow us to tell his basic war story.
We know that John was posted to the 9th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 14379), entering the Gallipoli, Turkey Theatre of War on 4 July 1915. Hence, from the movements of the 9th Battalion we know that John sailed from Avonmouth on the 19 June 1915, landing at first Alexandria, Greece, then to Mudros by 4 July 1915 to prepare for the landing at Gallipoli. They landed at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli in early August 1915 and fought in the ‘Battle of Sari Bair‘, ‘The Battle of Russell’s Top’ and ‘The Battle of Hill 60’, which all took place later that month at Anzac Cove.
We know that in one of those three battles John was wounded because in the ‘Birmingham Daily Post‘ on 24 September 1915 it reported “Wounded: 9th Bat. Worcestershire Regiment ANSTEY, 14379, Pte. J. W.“.
After John had recovered from his wounds he must have been posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment on the Western Front in France because he was listed as “Wounded in France and Flanders” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office on 19th July 1916, entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” (his residence was confirmed as Hackney; the ‘Report Date’ was 19 June 1916; and John was still a Private). From this we can conclude that John must also have fought in the Defence of Vimy Ridge and/or The Battle of Albert (part of the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front) in May-July 1916, and again been wounded.
John returned to the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment after he recovered from his injuries, then in March 1919, by now ‘Lance Coporal/Acting Corporal’ of the 3rd Battalion, he was awarded the Military Medal for “bravery in the field in France” (Supplement to the ‘London Gazette‘ Notice 13 March 1919 where it states “14379 Pte. (A./Cpl.) Anstey, J. W., 3rd Bn. (London, N.)“). As to which of the numerous battles fought by the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment in France in late 1918 this award pertains, and what bravery John performed in said battle, we do not know at present.
In addition to the Military Medal, for his services during the conflict John was also awarded the 1915 Star, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
After the war, John returned to live with his family in Shoreditch. In the 1939 Register John, Mary and their daughter Mary were living at 204 Queensbridge Road, Kingsland, Hackney where he was again a cabinet maker.
John died in Hackney in 1972.
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