William Anstey (1897-1918)

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

William Anstey, a member of the St Luke Holborn Ansteys, was born in Bethnal Green in 1897 to parents Alfred Ingram Anstey and Louisa Long – he was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes Richard Anstey and Edward John Anstey. He grew up in Bethnal Green, living with his family at 16 Centre Street, Bethnal Green in the 1911 Census.

At some point after the outbreak of World War One he signed up for active service. Unfortunately we only know bits of his war story because we cannot locate any of his Service or Medical Records.

What we do know is that he was a Gunner for the Royal Field Artillery (Service Number: 36132) and the Royal Garrison Artillery (Service Number: 187278) – he very likely volunteered in 1915 as part of Kitchener’s New Army.

On 7 February 1916 “187278 Wm Anstey, Gunner R. G. A” made a will “In the event of my death I leave the whole of my effects to my dear mother Mrs L. Anstey, of 46 Essex St, Mare St, Hackney, London“, so it is very likely that he embarked for the Western Front at that time.

We also know that on 13 October 1916 he was reported wounded in ‘France and Flanders‘ (presumably a few weeks earlier during the Battle of the Somme) whilst serving with the Royal Field Artillery (36132) – he was a Gunner and “Listed as ‘Wounded: shell shock'” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office. As a result of this injury, he was entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe‘ – his ‘residence’ at this time was given as ‘Hackney’.

The next we hear is when he died on 12 December 1918, around a month after the formal hostilities of World War One had ceased; at the time he was serving with the ‘G’ Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery in France and/or Belgium (sources differ). We currently do not know how he died, the only information we have discovered thus far being a) the ‘Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry)‘ 21 January 1919 edition reported under “DIED” a list of soldiers which included “Royal Garrison Artillery – Anstey (187278) Gnr W (Hackney E.)“; and b) his above will was confirmed to be valid on 25 April 1919, giving details “Wm Anstey, 197278 Gunner, ‘G’ Anti Aircraft Bty R. G. A. died in France on 12-12-18“.

He was buried at the Charleroi Communal Cemetery (grave ‘P. 13.’) in Belgium, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission giving additional details “Son of Mrs. Louisa Anstey, of 46, Essex St., Mare St., Hackney, London” and “Personal Inscription: GONE FROM US BUT NOT FORGOTTEN“. For his services, he was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, or knows how William died, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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