He grew up living at Village Street, Garford, Abingdon and then Bury Farm (Farm House), Studham, Luton by 1901. He married Alice Butler in 1907 in Coventry and by the 1911 Census they were living at Eastern Green Allesley Coventry with their daughter Winifred Ethel Anstee (b 1910, baptised in Westwood) – Ralph was a ‘carter’ by trade (bizarrely he gave his place of birth as ‘Garford, Gloucestershire’). Ralph and Alice also had children Eric R. Anstee (b 1917 Coventry) and Ronald Kenneth Anstee (b 1924 Coventry).
We know next to nothing about Ralph’s World War One story because we cannot locate any of his records. All we do know is that at some point he served as a Private with the 1/4 Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment (Service Number: 38478) and that he was awarded the Victory and British War medals for his service.
From the 1919 Electoral Register in Coventry, where Ralph was referred to as “Anstee Ralph: 38478 Private 1/4 Hants Regiment” we can suppose that he was still on active service at this point. If we are correct in this, then Ralph may well have taken part in the Siege of Kut-al-Amara in 1916 and consequently been taken Prisoner of War until returning home in February 1919 at Winchester – though this remains unconfirmed at the present time as we can find absolutely no evidence to back up this postulation.
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After the war Ralph returned to live in Coventry with Alice and his children at 138 Bolingbroke Road, Coventry. Something bizarre occurred in c1924 because by 1925 he was with Matilda Jane Varney. Even though we find no marriage to Matilda (or death for Alice), Ralph had the following children with Matilda in Coventry:- Ralph F. Anstee (b 1925 to ‘Varney’, died an infant); Edna May Anstee (b 1928); Frederick Ralph Anstee (b 1930 to ‘Varney’, who was living at 32 Bradford Street with his father when he married Vera Curren in Coventry in 1953); Ethel Anstee (b 1931, died an infant); Alexander Edwin Anstee (b 1932); and Phyllis Gertrude Anstee (b 1938?). By 1931 Ralph, Matilda and family were living at 42 Beechwood Gardens, Westwood, Coventry.
The ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph‘ on 4 July 1935 reported that “Ralph Anstee, Ingram Road, Canley, Coventry, was summoned at Leighton Buzzard Sessions, yesterday, for driving a motor vehicle without being licensed at Heath on June 11. Defendant stated the matter of renewal quite escaped his memory. He was employed as a lorry driver by a Coventry firm and had to a wife and family in Coventry and pay for lodgings..”
The 1939 Register is somewhat confusing. In it, Ralph was a “lorry driver” living at Roxana Burton Grove, Balsall Common, Meriden; however he noted his date of birth as ’28 November 1890′. His wife is unhelpfully referred to as both ‘Alice‘ and ‘Matilda J.‘ (born 1899).
During World War Two, Ralph was “bombed out of Coventry” as a result of the numerous air raids there in late 1940 by the Germans, and by early 1941 he was living at 41 Rowland Street in Rugby where, according to the ‘Rugby Advertiser‘ 7 January 1941 edition “Ralph Anstee, 41 Rowland Street, Rugby denied obstructing High Street, Rugby with a lorry…Anstee said he had been bombed out of Coventry and stopped to get some bedding. He could not get near the kerb because of bicycles. The bench dismissed the case, the Chairman saying ‘we feel the fates have been against you’“
By 1951 Ralph and his family had returned to Coventry where the ‘Banbury Advertiser‘ on 04 April 1951 reported “DRIVING UP HIGH STREET. Ralph Anstee, of 32, Bradford Street, Coventry, was fined £3 for failing to conform to an indication given by a traffic sign. P. C. Quigley said on March 3rd he noticed the traffic had come to a halt in the High Street and the cause was a Bedford truck which defendant was driving against the traffic. Defendant told him ‘Of course I saw the signs but that was the quickest way out’“.
Ralph died in 1954 “aged 67“; at the time he was still living at 32 Bradford Street in Coventry. He was buried at London Road Civic Cemetery (Grave Reference: ‘343-87’) in Coventry.
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