Richard Anstey, a member of the Tiverton Ansteys, was born in q3 1883 (some sources say 1880, others 1885 and yet others 3 June 1882) in Bristol to parents George Anstey and Sarah Jane Roberts; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Robert Anstey. He grew up in Bristol, living at Union Road, St Philip & St Jacob Out in the 1891 Census.
On 12 November 1900, Richard signed up for active service with the Devon Artillery of the Royal Garrison Artillery for a period of six years (Service Number: 1874). On his Attestation Form he noted that he was an unmarried labourer aged 17 years; that he was living at 24 Beaconfield Street, Barton Hill, St Georges, Bristol (his parents address); and that he was already serving with the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Gloucester Regiment. However after only 12 days, on 24 November 1900, he was “discharged by purchase“.
By the 1901 Census Richard was working as a ‘bill poster’, living with his family at 24, Beaconsfield Street, Bristol (next door to his first cousin Robert Anstey, also an Anstey Hero). He married Alice Mabel Torrington on 10 February 1907 at the parish church in Bedminster, having children Florence Maud Beatrice Anstey (b 26 December 1908 Bedminster, known as Florrie); Edward [Henry] George Anstey (b 20 February 1911 Bedminster); Frederick William Anstey (b 18 November 1915 Bedminster); Violet May Anstey (b 1920); Gladys Anstey (b 1922 Long Ashton); Reginald R. Anstey (b 1925 Long Ashton) and one other.
By the 1911 Census the family were living apart, likely for reasons of employment – Richard was a “married labourer below ground” lodging at Masons Road, Loughor Gorseinon, Loughor with his brother George, whist the rest of the family were living at 12 Parson Street, Bedminster.
Around a year after the outbreak of World War One, Richard signed up for active service, on 10 December 1915 in Bristol. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was a married 34 year old bill poster, living at 18 Berkeley Square, Bedminster. He was transferred to Army Reserves, and then mobilised on 24 August 1916 with the 3rd Gloucestershire Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 30828).
Soon afterwards however, in November 1916, he was transferred to the Machine Gun Training Centre in Grantham, attached to the 2nd Battalion of the M. G. T. C. (Service Number: 67943)
Richard embarked for France with 245 Company of the Machine Gun Corps on 15 July 1917, joining the 50th (Northumberland) Division of the British Expeditionary Forces there on 30 July 1917. He was still in France when 245 Company moved into the 50th Battalion M. G. C. in March 1918.
The ‘Wartime Memories Project‘ states “The 50th Machine Gun Battalion was formed on 1 March 1918 from the Machine Gun Companies of 50th (Northumberland) Division. They were in action in the Battles of the Lys and The Battle of the Aisne, leaving the troops exhausted. The original infantry units were withdrawn and others arrived to take their place. The reformed Division went back into action in October in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, The pursuit to the Selle and the Final Advance in Picardy. At the Armistice the 50th Division was resting at Solre le Chateau“
It was during the prelude to the Battle of the Aisne that Richard was “mildly gassed” by the Germans, being admitted to ‘41 Stationary Hospital, Pont Remy‘ on 5 September 1918 with “sickness and mild gassing“.
Richard clearly recovered fairly quickly because he actually remained in Europe for a few months after war’s end. He was transferred to A Company of the 9th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps on 31 December 1918, serving with them as part of the Rhine Army until his demobilisation on 28 May 1919 and return to England on 3 June 1919. He was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on 2 July 1919.
For his services with the Machine Gun Corps, Richard was awarded the Victory and British War medals, physically received on 20 April 1922. In his medical in July 1920, by then back living at 15 Swiss Road, Bedminster, Richard stated that he was suffering from neurasthenia, and was awarded a pension based off ‘20% disability’.
By the 1921 Census the family had moved to Long Ashton in Somerset, and by the 1939 Register they were living at 15 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol where Richard was working as a ‘billpack’.
Richard died in Bristol in 1968, aged 86
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