Reginald John L. Anstey (1888-1916)

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

Many thanks to Julia for her help with this biography, as well as Nottinghamshire County Council.

Reginald John L. Anstey, a member of the East Stoke Ansteys, was born in 1888 in Cranfield, Bedfordshire to parents George Anstey and Emma Down; he was younger brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Herbert Henry Anstey and Charles James Anstey.

Reginald was brought up in Cranfield and by the 1911 Census he was lodging at Barndown Farm, Greenham, Cold Ash, Berkshire, working as a gamekeeper (the same profession as his father). At some point after 1911 Reginald moved to Nottinghamshire to work as a gamekeeper on the Duke of Portland’s estate at Welbeck, near Worksop; around the same time he joined the Nottinghamshire Constabulary as a policeman.

At the outbreak of World War One, Reginald signed up for active service in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire (Service Number: 27228). The ‘Beeston Gazette and Echo‘ 12 June 1915 reported “Policemen Turn Soldiers: The New Welbeck Rangers Regiment promises to comprise some fine soldiers. Amongst those who have joined are four Hucknall policemen named Anstey, Barlow, Lowe and Baggley

In June 1915 he was attached to the newly formed 17th Battalion of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment (Welbeck Rangers) as a Warrant Officer ‘Class 2’, moving to Aldershot in October 1915 and then Witley. On 6 March 1916 Reginald and his unit were mobilised for war, landing in France and engaging in various actions on the Western Front – it was also around this time that Reginald was promoted to Company Sergeant Major of the 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment).

On 2 June 1916, Reginald was killed in action. He is believed to have been killed by artillery fire while serving in the trenches near Givenchy with the Welbeck Rangers. According to the entries in the War Diary, fatalities and casualties in the battalion were low during this period, and Reginald is not mentioned by name in the diary as a casualty.

The ‘Derbyshire Courier‘ on 17 June 1916 reported: “A Cresswell Loss: Regimental Sergeant-Major Killed: Regt.-Sergeant Major Reginald Anstey, Welbeck Rangers, who formerly lodged with Mrs. Hardwick, Duke’s Cottages, Cresswell, and was, prior to enlistment, a keeper in the employ of the Duke of Portland, has been killed in action in France. He was 28 years of age, and of a fine appearance. He enlisted at the commencement of the war. His home was in Berkshire, and a letter from his father and mother to Mrs. Hardwick stated that they had received a letter from Colonel Ludlow, the commanding officer of the battalion, in which he stated he was an officer that they could ill afford to lose. He was buried in France with seven comrades.

The ‘Nottingham Daily Express‘ on 17 July 1916 also reported “TWO NOTTS. POLICEMEN SOLDIERS FALL. It was reported at a meeting of the Notts. Standing Joint Committee held at Nottingham Shire Hall on Saturday, Sir Ernest Paget presiding, that two more policemen-soldiers had been killed in action. The men are Company-Sergeant-Major Reginald Anstey, of the Nottingham headquarters, and Sergeant William Lowe, of the Hucknall station, both single men and of the Sherwood Foresters.”

There is a photo of Reginald in the ‘Derbyshire Times‘ 17 June 1916 edition.

Reginald was buried in the Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’ Avoue, Pas de Calais, France. He posthumously received the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his services.

Reginald’s probate reads “Anstey Reginald of Biddlesden Buckinghamshire sergeant-major 17th battalion Nottingham and Derbyshire regiment died 2 June 1916 in France or Belgium on active service Administration (with Will) Oxford 15 January [1917] to Emma Anstey (wife of George Anstey). Effects £148 19s. 8d.” and according to the ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects‘ his mother, Emma Anstey, was his sole legatee.

Reginald is commemorated on the Great War Memorial at the National Justice Museum in Nottingham; the St Mary Magdalene War Memorial at Hucknall; the Titchfield Park War Memorial at Hucknall; the Chapel War Memorial at Welbeck Estate; the Nottinghamshire County Council Employees War Memorial; and the Nottinghamshire Constabulary War Memorial.

As a further commemoration, two of Reginald’s brothers, Herbert Henry Anstey and Charles James Anstey, named one of their sons ‘Reginald’ in his honour.

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