William George Anstey, a member of the East Stoke Ansteys, was born in 1889 in Norton, Worksop, Nottinghamshire to parents James Anstey and Mary Ann Couzens; he was baptised in Norton Cuckney. William was the brother of fellow Anstey Heroes Herbert Lawrence Anstey and Reginald Anstey.
In the 1901 Census William was living with his family in Berriedale Langwell, Caithness, Scotland and in the 1911 Census he was in Kilpatrick, Dunbarton. Then, just after the outbreak of World War One, he signed up for active service in Clydebank on 28 October 1914 with the Royal Garrison Artillery (R. G. A.). William stated in his Attestation Form that he was a single man and an engineer currently living in lodgings, previously employed as an apprentice journeyman.
He was immediately posted to the “DOMGD No 4 Depot” of the R. G. A. as a Gunner (Service Number: 47720) for training, then on 14 August 1915 he was transferred to ’44 Siege Battery’ R. G. A in Sheerness, then a month or so later to ’61 (Siege) Battery’ as a Gunner.
Assuming that William remained with ’61 Siege Battery’, which seems highly likely from his Service Record, he entered Bolougne, France on 9 March 1916 and was based in Arras by April 1916. William would have fought in the Battle of the Somme, positioned at Albert until the end of July 1916, then at Becourt and Fricourt and later in 1916 at Mametz Wood & Contal Maison. He would also have fought in the Battle of Arras in April 1917 where the ’61 Siege Battery’ were positioned at Wancourt.
In November 1916 William was promoted to Bombardier, then in April 1917 he was further promoted to Corporal. However in October 1917 he was demoted back to Gunner after he was “tried and sentenced to be reduced in the ranks, and fined £1“. Within a month he had worked his way back up the ranks, to Bombardier in December 1917 and Corporal in January 1918. He was posted back to “base” in February 1918 and further promoted to Fitter Staff Sergeant in April 1918.
In the ‘War Office Daily List No.5636‘ on 6 August 1918, William was reported as eligible to wear a ‘Wound Stripe‘ as he had been “wounded” in action; his next of kin address was confirmed as “Berriedale“. It is currently very unclear as to precisely when, where and how William was wounded. He was admitted to Catterick Military Hospital, by now a sergeant, on 7 November 1918.
For his services, William was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
After the war ended, William was discharged; he was part of ‘C Battery, R. A. and T. C. C. Depot‘. He had suffered no permanent disability during the war and stated his intention to return to live in Berriedale, Caithness, Scotland. In 1921, William decided to become a Merchant Seaman; after serving for three years he was discharged in August 1924 at Tilbury (Discharge Number: 1106922 – note he gave his birth year as 1892 but his birth town of ‘Nottingham’ confirms it must be him).
We have no evidence that William ever married or had children. He died in Scotland in November 1944, living at Hawthorn Cottages, Berriedale. He was buried in the New Cemetery at Berriedale Parish Churchyard, having “died suddenly at Clydebank“. Graveside details are “Father: Anstey James, Mother: Couzens Mary A, Age at Death: 54“.
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