William Anstey (1881-1915)

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

William Anstey, a member of the Potsgrove Anstees, was born in q4 1881 in Coventry to parents William Thomas Gamble Anstey and Caroline Lynes [Katherine Lyons/Lines]; he was brother to fellow Anstey Hero John Alexander Anstee.

He grew up in Coventry, living with his family at Court House, 2, White Friars Lane, Coventry in 1901 and working as a cycle polisher – we cannot locate him in the 1911 Census, though as far as we are aware he was unmarried and living in Coventry.

We cannot locate William’s World War One Service Records, however we have been able to piece together his war story fairly well from other sources.

We know that he volunteered for service right at the outset of the conflict as part of Kitchener’s New Army – the ‘Coventry Standard‘ 18 September 1914 edition reporting that “W. Anstey” had just signed up at the Recruiting Office, Masonic Hall, Coventry. He was posted to the Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private (Service Number: 11162 – some sources incorrectly read 11163) for training, then he entered the ‘France’ Theatre of War with the 5th Battalion Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 1 October 1915 – just over two weeks later, on 16 October 1915, he was “killed in action“.

From the Battalion War Diary we know that William and his unit entered the front line trenches at Railway Wood near Ypres on 13 October 1915. The diary entry for 16 October 1915 reads “Between 3 and 4 p.m. a good many whizz- bangs and crumps were fired into Railway Wood. The men work all night, as there is much repairing to be done. Casualties. 1 man killed and 7 men wounded“. However the CWGC lists 11 men killed on that day, and it is likely that William actually died at around 5am the following morning (17 October 1915) along with many of his fellow soldiers when a German mine was exploded right under their position “making a very large crater (about 40 yards in diameter and 30 feet deep), and filling a great part of H.20 and H.21 with earth“.

On 13 November 1915 the ‘Reading Mercury’ confirmed William’s death, reporting “5th Battalion Killed Pte W. Anstey 11162”. For his services he was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star medal, as well as the Victory and British War medals.

William is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium Panel 37/39, additional information given on the CWGC website “Son of William Anstey, of 21, Hertford Place, Butts, Coventry – age 34“.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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