Owen George Anstee, a member of the Flamstead Anstees, was born on 17 April 1898 in Wheathampstead, Harpenden to parents George Anstee (a fellow Anstey Hero) and Rose Gravestock; he was brother to Anstey Hero Harold Anstee. By the 1901 Census the family were living at Cottage, East Side of the Common, Village, Redbourn and by the 1911 Census they were living at Rose Bank Redbourn.
A couple of months after his 18th birthday, on 11 July 1916, and in the midst of World War One, Owen joined the Royal Navy Air Service (Service Number: F18095 or F18096) as an “ACM II” (Aircraftman 2nd Grade) – at the time he was working as a “rubber re-treader“. We know little about his service, except that he served on the ship ‘HMS President II’ (an accounting base) as ‘Aircraftman II’, and later ‘Aircraftman I’ from 3 August 1917, until on 1 April 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Air Force (Service Number: 218095) with character having been deemed “very good“.
Whilst with the R. A. F. all we know is that Owen was initially transferred to “RAF Pte 1 B555“, “REPR Depot Scrubbs 55819” and then “appointed A/M 3” on 6 September 1918 before being transferred to Crystal Palace in February 1919 for demobilisation. According to his grandson, “my understanding is that he was a plane spotter during World War One, hoisted aloft in a tethered balloon, and was able to do most of his service while living at home, walking to work“.
Owen was transferred to RAF Reserve ‘G’ on 7 March 1919, having survived the war unscathed, and returned to live in Hempstead Road, Redbourn together with his family and uncle John Anstee – he was still living there at the time of the 1921 Census. Soon after this he decided to emigrate to Toronto, Canada, marrying Winnifred Newmann (known as Winnie) there on 24 May 1924 – at the time of his marriage Owen was a gardener living at 123 Kenwood Avenue, Toronto, a Methodist by religion. They had a single son John W. Anstee (b 2 May 1925).
Owen was still in Toronto in 1926, living at 18 Belvedere Ave, and at the time of the 1939 Register, Owen, his wife and son were visiting his family at Willowdene South Common, Redbourn where he noted that he was a “Landscape & Terrain Gardener (Toronto Canada)”. Then in October 1939, giving their last address in England as 81 Coleridge Road, Cambridge, they boarded the ship ‘Samaria‘ bound for New York, with intention to again permanently reside in Canada.
Owen died on 12 May 1986 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – he was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, gravestone inscription “In Loving Memory of Winnifred Newmann 1900-1980 beloved wife of Owen G. Anstee (1898-1986)“.
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