Peter Herman Anstey, a member of the Exminster Ansteys, was born on 14 December 1884 (some sources say 21st) in Liverpool, baptised 21 December 1884 at Liverpool, St Peter as a Roman Catholic, to parents John Anstey and Susan Coyle; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero John Joseph Anstey.
Peter grew up living at Sparling Street in Liverpool then in July 1900 he decided to join the Royal Navy as a ‘Boy’, serving on ships ‘Caledonia‘ and ‘Agincourt‘ – the 1901 Census confirms that he was a ‘Boy 2nd Class‘ serving on the Royal Navy ship ‘HMS Caledonia‘ in Scotland at that time.
Clearly enjoying the life, on 12 November 1902, aged 18, he signed up for twelve years of full time service (Service Number: 210695) – at the time of his signing up he was described as a ‘carter’. Whilst serving with the Royal Navy, he married Mary Emma Whillock (known as Emma) in 1910 in Camberwell and they had children Frances Susan Anstey (b 1912 Greenwich, known as Susan, died in Greenwich in 1930) and Peter Anstey (b 1931 Deptford). We cannot locate either Peter or Emma at the time of the 1911 Census.
From Peter’s Service Report, he was serving on the ship ‘Hibernia‘ at the outbreak of World War One, on which he served until 26 October 1916. He was then transferred to ‘HMS Pembroke I‘, by which time he was a 1st Class Petty Officer – he also served on ‘HMS Juno‘ from 12 February 1917 until the end of the war.
Fortunately the ‘National Roll of the Great War‘ has an entry for Peter, where it gives more details, stating: “Anstey P 1st Class Petty Officer Royal Navy. He volunteered in August 1914 and was posted to HMS Juno on board which vessel he served in the North Sea with the Grand Fleet and in other waters. He took part in many naval actions off the coast of Belgium and also saw severe fighting during the Dardanelles Campaign. He was transferred to the Reserve after the cessation of hostilities and holds the 1914-15 Star and the General Service and Victory medals: 21 Sharratt Street, Peckham“.
It is somewhat unclear when Peter was transferred into the Navy Reserves – it was probably on 22 March 1919. In any case, by the 1921 Census he was back living with his family Emma and Susan in Greenwich. By the 1939 Register the family were again (still) living at 21 Sharratt Street, Surrey Quays, Southwark where Peter was a “Essential Services Sm Gas Co Labourer Heavy Worker“.
Very soon after the 1939 Register was conducted, Emma died, so a year later in 1940 Peter remarried to Dorothy Vidgeon in Camberwell. He died in Camberwell in 1954.
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