Richard Anstey, a member of the St Luke Holburn Ansteys, was born in 1889 in St Luke to parents Alfred Ingram Anstey and Louisa Long; he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes William Anstey and Edward John Anstey. He grew up living in Bethnal Green (though we cannot find him in censuses – see below) and then on 17 February 1905 in London he signed up for service with the Army.
On his Attestation Form he noted that he was working as a clerk/office boy for ‘Henry Howell and Co, Old Street, London‘; that he was single; that he was living at 10 Cymon Street, Bethnal Green; that he was aged “17 years and 6 months“; that his father was Alfred; and that he had three brothers at the time being ‘Alfred (older) William (younger) and Edward (younger)‘ [Note: Alexander is missing from this list – see below]. He was posted to the 4th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment Militia as a Private (Service Number: 4284).
Just over a year later, on 26 November 1906 in Halifax, Richard joined the (Duke of Wellington) West Riding Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 8765), signing up for a period of twelve years of service (7 years Colours and 5 years Reserves). He was first posted to the 2nd Battalion of the West Riding Regiment, then on 20 September 1907 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion, with whom he remained for the next 12 years. The very same day he set sail from Southampton for India, arriving in Bombay on 10 October 1907. In November 1908 he was awarded a ‘Good Conduct Badge’ and at some point he attended the ‘School of Musketry’ in Rawalpindi. He was serving in Delhi when he first contracted malaria in 1912.
Richard was still serving in India at the outbreak of World War One in August 1914. During the conflict he served in:
- India from 4 August 1914 to 8 May 1916
- Mesopotamia from 9 May 1916 to 6 December 1916
- India from 14 December 1916 until 20 October 1919
Adding some detail, we know that on 9 February 1916 in Rawalpindi Richard was attached to the ‘No 1 Pack Wireless Troop‘ as a Wireless Operator and he was ‘struck off strength of wireless‘ in May 1916. On 21 June 1917 he “rejoined No 3 W. S – S from Poona” at Upper Topa. On 14 August 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal, whilst attached to the 3rd Wireless Squadron, still at Upper Topa. By September 1918 he was in Rawalpindi.
During his service in India, Richard contracted typhoid and malaria “due to the climactic conditions“, attending hospitals in Delhi and Jalhandar. He also contracted Enteric in Mesopotamia in 1916, being admitted to hospital in Basra on 19 November 1916 and then “invalided back to India on HS Syria on 6 December 1916“. At the time of his ‘Discharge Medical’ on 27 September 1919 in Rawalpindi he still suffered from bouts of malaria – he was deemed to have 20% disablement “due to service” and awarded an Army Pension on that basis.
Richard finally departed India on 20 October 1919, from Bombay on ‘HT Lancashire‘, arriving back in England on 13 November 1919. He was transferred to the Reserves on 11 December 1919, by this time an Acting Lance Corporal of the 3rd Wireless Squadron of the 1st Battalion West Riding Regiment. He intended to live at 46 Essex Road, Mare Street, Hackney – to our knowledge he was still unmarried at this time. For his services, Richard was awarded the Victory and British War medals.
[Note: on one of the discharge forms it notes his next of kin was “father Alfred, 16 Centre Street, Hackney Road, London” – confirming Richard was definitely his son even though we cannot locate his birth or early census records – see below]
In another medical in March 1920 in Chelsea, Richard stated he “had occurrences of malaria on the way home, two attacks since 11 December 1919, last attack one month ago – makes no other complaints“.
After his March 1920 medical we lose track of Richard – a sneaky suspicion makes us wonder if he is the same person as his ‘brother’ Alexander, who was ‘also’ born in 1889 – ‘Alexander’ married in 1920 and died in 1929 (perhaps his full name was Alexander Richard Anstey, though we have no evidence for this). Research continues into this point.
Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, or knows what became of Richard, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.