Reuben Walter Ansty, a member of the Dorchester Anstys, was born in q4 1895 in Battersea, Wandsworth to parents Frederick James Ansty and Caroline Wright. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Frederick John Ansty; George Henry Ansty; Joseph Edward Ansty; Peter James Ansty; and Charles Albert Ansty.
Reuben grew up at 33, Bramwell Street, Battersea and by the 1911 Census he was a greengrocer living with his widowed mother at 47 Scholars Road Balham, Wandsworth.
On 8 October 1912, aged only 17, but giving his age as 18, Reuben enlisted with the Army Special Reserves, signing up for six years as a Private (Service Numbers: 7301/2, 7436, 457988, and 202466). On his Attestation Form he stated that he was a “slaughterer” by trade (though another form says he was a “painter’s labourer“); Church of England by religion; and he gave his next of kin as his mother at “47 Scholars Road Balham“. We get most of Reuben’s war story from his ‘Casualty Form – Active Service‘ and his ‘Discharge Document‘ which between them list the following summary:
- 8 Oct 1912 – Attested and posted to 3rd Battalion East Surrey Regiment
- 8 Aug 1914 – mobilised with the 3rd Battalion East Surrey Regiment at Kingston at the outbreak of World War One
- 23 Nov 1914 – posted to the Western Front in France with the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment as part of the British Expeditionary Forces (though another form says he was “in France Sep 1914 – Aug 1915“)
- 17 Aug 1915 – returned to England
- 14 Dec 1915 – posted to the Western Front in France with the 7th? Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment as part of the British Expeditionary Forces (though another form says he was “in France Nov 1915 – Mar 1916“)
- 26 Mar 1916 – returned to England (and remained there for the rest of the war) as a result of being seriously wounded – see below
- 15 Nov 1916 – transferred to Northampton (or North Hants) Regiment 2/4 Battalion
- 27 Oct 1917 – transferred to 496 Agricultural Company, Labour Corps in Lincoln
- 21 Dec 1917 – Occupation bond? despatched
Adding details to the above summary, we also know that Reuben suffered two major injuries whilst serving on the Western Front. Firstly, he reported that in November 1914 in France he suffered from “Otitis Media (Double)” (an ear problem), which came about as the result of being “buried by shell fire“.
Secondly, in March 1916 in France, Reuben was “wounded gunshot wound scalp shoulder and back 15924“. Specifically his wounds were described as “bullet wound in right shoulder – shrapnel wound in left shoulder – flint wound in head – shrapnel wound in back“. He was treated in the ‘County of London War Hospital’; the ‘Hospital for Cripples, Great Portland Street’; and ‘Queen Alexanders Military Hospital, Millbank’ (where he was “discharged for duty on 17 May 1916“).
Because of this second injury, Reuben was listed as “wounded” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office on 11 April 1916, and entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe’.
Just before the end of the war, Reuben married Charlotte E. Cook in Wandsworth in q3 1918. We believe that they had two children in Croydon, namely Phyllis Ansty (b 1919) and Vivian Ansty (b 1921).
On 5 March 1919 at Nottingham, Reuben was transferred to ‘Class Z Army Reserve on Demobilisation’ – he gave his intended address as 74 Briscoe Road, Colliers Wood, Merton, London. His reason for discharge was given as “deafness in both ears“; he was assessed at 40% disability from a combination of his gunshot wounds and deafness, both attributable to his war service. He was granted a War Pension, which expired in January 1921.
For his services Reuben was awarded the 1915 Star, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
After the war Reuben returned to live with his family in Merton. The ‘Norwood News‘ on 25 June 1927 reported “Reuben Walter Anstey, lorry driver of Briscoe Road, Merton [was, with others,] charged at the South Western Police Court on Thursday with being concerned in stealing and receiving 6cwt of coal…a detective said that Anstey was for some time a police constable in the employment of the Port of London Authority, but had to leave owing to a reduction in the staff…the magistrate dealt leniently with the men because he understood they would lose their employment…”
Then the ‘Croydon Times‘ on 17 December 1932 reported on an accident to which Reuben was a witness, noting that he still lived at “Briscow-Road, Colliers Wood“.
Reuben died in Aldershot, Hampshire in 1935.
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