Anstey Soldiers Who Returned from World War I
According to the Hertfordshire Mercury of December 3rd 1921, 45 men went from Anstey to serve their country in the Great War. The twelve who gave their lives are named on Anstey’s war memorial. But who were the others who did return? There is no list. Checking the names of male residents of serviceable age against enlistment records does not provide an exhaustive list as over half of these records were destroyed in bombing raids in WW2. (Where these exist I have included service numbers and regiments).
Mathematics tells us that there are 33 to be accounted for but it is not so straightforward. This number must be seen to be approximate as there was movement to and from neighbouring villages and to Buntingford and Royston during the war years. These men have equally important stories to tell as those who, sadly, did not return.
I have so far tracked down two thirds of them. This has been an easier task as, scarred and battle weary as they were, many settled down to have families who kept precious papers and photographs. I am so grateful to all those who have so willingly allowed me to use these.
In addition I have taken this as an opportunity to show their links to Anstey and to share old photographs of our village.
Again I believe what I have written to be correct but would welcome any comments or changes.
Jenny Goymour, December 2015.
A book was produced to mark the Millennium, with photographs of Anstey houses and their current inhabitants. There are a few left, priced £10 including postage. Please contact me should you be interested in obtaining a copy.
Click on images to enlarge
Alfred Barker RFA
Alfred was born in about 1886 and was brought up in Cottered.
He married Louisa Martin from Anstey, in Anstey Church in July 1917. Louisa was an assistant teacher at Anstey school in 1911 according to the census, and was still working there in 1915. At the time of his marriage Alfred was a private in the Royal Field Artillery but there is no information as to when he joined up.
He survived the war with no physical wounds. He and Louisa lived in Anstey in a now demolished cottage between Redstack and Milk Farm, until 1924 when they moved to Bulls Farm, Nuthampstead with their son Tony.
Alfred died in 1971 and is buried in Anstey Churchyard
Oliver was born to parents Albert and Esther Maria née Skeggs in 1894, and appears to be one of fourteen children. He was the sixth child and the third son. He was born in Nuthampstead as was his father, but his mother was born in Anstey.
By 1911 the family had moved to Anstey and the two parents and nine children were living in a five roomed cottage at Puttocks End. Oliver, aged 16, his father and older brother Bert were all farm labourers.
Unlike Bert, Oliver survived the war and married Florence May, but whose surname is untraceable.
In March 1918 their daughter Corrine Joyce was baptised in Anstey Church, when Oliver’s occupation was given as soldier. A second daughter, Sylvia May was baptised in June 1928, by which time Oliver’s occupation was given as a farm labourer. He died in 1894 aged 87 years.
Sidney Alfred Bradford
82794 Machine Gun Corps
Sidney was born to parents Amos and Sarah née Seymour in 1893. He was one of thirteen children but by the time of the 1911 census there were only six children living.
In 1911 the family of two adults and three of the children were living in a three roomed cottage in New Barns Lane. Both Sidney and his father were farm labourers.
Sidney enlisted on 8th September 1914 in Royston in the Bedfordshire Regiment. He gave his occupation as horse keeper and labourer. He would have been a volunteer. His medical forms describe him as being 5 feet 8 1/2 inches, weighing 144 lbs with a ruddy complexion, dark brown hair and blue grey eyes.
His war records show that he had a long service in the war, with many hospital admissions.
He was posted to France on 30th August 1915 . On 29th December 1915 he was wounded and the next day his father received a telegram;
“Regret to inform you Pt S A Bradford 8th Bedfordshire is dangerously ill gas poisoning in 22 General Hospital Wimereux. Regret permission to visit cannot be granted.”
He obviously recovered enough to return to the fighting, being discharged on 28th February 1916 as fit and sent to the Front on March 4th 1916. Fifteen days later he was being treated in hospital in Etaples, but rejoined his battalion four days later. He was being treated for shell shock on 28th September 1916 in Etaples, and for gun shot wounds to his elbow on 3rd November.
At the beginning of December 1916 he was transferred to Belton Park, Grantham where he joined the Machine Gun Corps. He married Emily Agnes Hayes on January 12th 1917 in the Registry Office in White Hart Lane, Tottenham. He was then serving as a driver with the MGC and was also a horse keeper. His address was Belton Camp, Grantham. She was a domestic servant in Stroud Green.
His next posting seems to have been to Egypt and he landed in Alexandria at the beginning of June 1917. By the beginning of September he was in hospital, seemingly until 16th October. At one point he was being treated for dysentery. On 13th November he was wounded in action and was hospitalised until February 1918 with gun shot wound to the legs. He had to be readmitted at the beginning of March for a week because of these wounds.
He was discharged from the army in April 1919 and by 1921 was living in Holloway.
His brother Herbert, two years younger, was killed in March 1918.
Sidney Bradford died in 1972 in Kent aged 79
Frederick Ernest Bye
Frederick was born in 1896.
His parents were Thomas and Sarah née Funston. They had eleven children, ten of whom were still alive in 1911. According to the 1911 census Thomas and Sarah were living in Cheapside in a five roomed cottage which is now known as Low Hall. Also living there were daughter Agnes, aged 48, William, aged 35 and a widower, Frederick, aged 32 and Albert, aged 8, grandson and presumably the son of William. Frederick was a farm labourer.
He was conscripted in May 1917. His occupation at that time was a road man. His medical papers show that he was just under 5 feet 2 inches with grey eyes and brown hair. He weighed 123 lbs. He had “several defective teeth and corns on both feet.” However, he was discharged after only 51 days service, in July 1917, being “no longer physically fit for war service”. He had spinal curvature and arterial sclerosis. He states that he thought his back problem stemmed from carrying pails of water.
Frederick died in 1935 aged 57.
20025 8th Bedfordshire Regiment
According to the 1911 census Edmund was living in Puttocks End, Anstey, with his parents Charles and Sarah née Coxall in a five roomed cottage. There were four children living there; Albert aged 24, Walter, aged 22, Edmund. aged 17, and Lily aged 12. Parents and children were all born in Anstey. Edmund, his father and two brothers were all farm labourers.
An older brother Edward Charles born in 1885 was in Devonport in 1911 serving on HMS Caesar as a leading stoker. He also served in the war.
Edmund volunteered to serve in the war, as his campaign medal documents show him serving by August 1915 before conscription was introduced.
He married Mary Smith in October 1918 when he was aged 24. She was the daughter of William and Fanny Smith and the sister of Private Herbert Smith who was killed in the Great War. Anstey church records show his occupation then as a soldier. They had a daughter Cecilia, born in 1920.
Edmund died in March 1961 aged 66. He was living at 2 Buryfield Cottages.
Herbert was born to parents Ernest and Louisa (Maria Louisa née Strange) in 1893. He was one of five children, two of whom had died by 1911. Ernest was born in Nuthampstead and Louisa in Anstey, as were their children.
At the time of the 1911 census the family, consisting of the two adults and three children, Frederick, aged 20, Herbert, aged 18, and Francis, aged 8, were living in a four roomed cottage in Cheapside (now Cargreen Cottage, in the half nearest the well). Herbert was a farm labourer as was his brother.
Herbert was called up aged 23 years on 10th April 1916 and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. According to his medical papers he was 5 feet 9 3/4 inches tall and weighed 160 lbs . He was found to have “16 decayed teeth which required dental treatment”.
On 8th November 1918 he was invalided to the UK and from 10th November he spent 31 days in a War Hospital in Sunderland with influenza. He was demobilised in January 1919. He married Edith Emily Bentley from Barkway in 1927.
Herbert died in 1973 aged 80 and is buried in Anstey Chapel grounds.
23571 Rifleman Rifle Brigade
According to the 1911 census he was living in Puttocks End, Anstey, with his parents Charles and Sarah née Coxall in a five roomed cottage. There were four children living there; Albert aged 24, Walter, aged 22, Edmund. aged 17, and Lily aged 12. Parents and children were all born in Anstey. Walter, his father and two brothers were all farm labourers.
An older brother Edward Charles born in about 1885 was in Devonport in 1911 serving on HMS Caesar as a leading stoker. He also served in the war.
By 1915 Walter was living in Snow End, Anstey. He volunteered on 22nd November 1915 aged 26 years 5 months and was posted to the 7th Bedfordshire Battalion. He was in the Rifle Brigade.
Between November 1915 and the beginning of September 1916 he was training in England. He served in France from mid September 1916 to August 1917, and was again back in England from the end of August 1917 to May 1919 which was the date of his discharge. He returned from the war to Windmill House, Snow End.
He received a weekly pension of 27/6d reviewable in 52 weeks as a result of gun shot wounds in his back.
He married Ethel Keighley and they had a daughter Joan, born in 1927
Walter died in 1981 aged 91 years.
Percy Reginald Cattley
The Northamptonshire Regiment
Henry Walter born about 1887
Olive Ruth born in 1896
Reginald Percy born in 1898
Albert Eric born about 1901
Eva Emily born about 1904
In the 1911 census they are recorded as living in three rooms at Snow End, Anstey (in what is now Clare Cottage, in the part nearest the church).
Nothing is known to date of Reginald’s war service, although his son has a photograph of him in uniform and he has his service medals.
Reginald married Emily Pledger from Wyddial. They married in 1924 in Kensington, where Emily was in service. According to their son four children were born to them, in East Sheen where they lived. Further children were born in Anstey, where they came back to live during the second world war with their grandmother.
His parents, Elijah and Clara, are buried in Anstey Chapel grounds. Reginald died in 1987 aged 89
Albert Edward Chappell
There were six children, one of whom did not survive.
The surviving children were
Claire Edith b 1875
Henry Bertie b 1879
Charles William b 1884
Francis b 1887
Albert b 1893
He grew up in what is now Chappell Cottage. According to the 1901 census, his father Joseph was an engine driver. In 1911 he was recorded as a farm labourer, as was 17 year old Albert.
No war service documents have survived but his family have a photograph of him in uniform which has been identified as that of the North Staffs Regiment.
He married Ivy Maud Wick in Anstey Church in 1927, by which time he had become a gamekeeper. Ivy’s brother Hubert was killed in the Great War.
Henry Bertie Chappell
WR 27227 Pioneer Royal Engineers
He married Emily Ann née Cattley in Edmonton in December 1906 and according to their daughter, Betsy, she always said she was unrelated to any of the Cattleys in Anstey. In 1911 they were living in Cheapside in five rooms. The two cottages which are there now (nos 1 & 2) were then three and the family lived in the middle one. Henry was a HCC roadman and they had two children, Dora, aged two, and Donald, under two months.
Henry’s parents lived a six roomed cottage in Cheapside, Anstey, in what is now Chappell Cottage. Henry had lived there as a child, with his younger brothers Charles, Francis and Albert.
In August 1917 Henry joined the army aged 37 years 10 months.
By that time he had two more children, Richard, born in 1912 and Edward, born in 1915. He gave his occupation as a road man. According to his army medical papers he was 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall with “very defective teeth”. He joined the Royal Engineers as part of their Road Troops.
On 26th September 1917 he joined the British Expeditionary Force, but was evacuated to England and admitted to hospital in Cambridge on 24th September 1918. His notes say that he had myalgia and ‘’a great deal of rheumatism in joints”. When he was discharged 52 days later he had to report to the Road and Quarry Troops in Aldershot. According to his daughter he was gassed during the war. He was demobilised in January 1919.
In August his wife Emily took over the Chequers Public House in Anstey until she gave it up in 1947. Two more children, Frank and Betsy were born there. Henry became a chimney sweep in Anstey and the local villages and was often out with his cart and pony Darkie.
Henry died in 1963 aged 84
He was the second child and eldest son of Walter and Harriet née Catley, who had ten children. From baptism records the family can be seen as living at Cave Gate (March 1895), Bandons Cottage (Sept 1899) and North End (May 1906).
He married Amelia Jackson in 1910. By the 1911 census he was living with Amelia and her brother Walter, aged 19, in four rooms in Baldock Street, Buntingford. Arthur was then a gardener.
His campaign medal documents show that he was sent to France in April 1915 so he would have volunteered. From a postcard he sent to his mother in July 1917 it seems that he was then serving in Salonika.
Albert died in 1976 aged 89 years.
Arthur Samuel Coxall
125470 Royal Field Artillery
He was born on September 27th 1890 and was baptised in Anstey church.
He was one of ten children (five boys and five girls). He was the third child and the second son.
According to the 1911 census he was living at North End Farm with all of his brothers and sisters except for Albert, the eldest brother. It was described as a five roomed cottage. Arthur was a farm labourer as was his father Walter.
On April 17th 1911 he married Alice Jane Merrit in Anstey Church. In 1901, aged 11, she was living in Barkway with her grandparents James and Susan Scripps. Her mother Alice Merrit and her one year old sister Maud lived there too. At the time of the 1911 census she was recorded as a visitor to the Coxall family in Anstey. Had she come to discuss her marriage two weeks later?
Arthur enlisted in 1915 aged 26 years 3 months. He would have volunteered.
His occupation was given as horsekeeper living at Butterwick, now Buttermilk Farm, near Buntingford. His army papers show that he was a gunner and that he served in France. During his time there he received gun shot wounds to the mouth and was also severely poisoned by gas. He was discharged in February 1919 and received a pension of 8/- a week for 18 months due to his injuries. By that time the family was living in Ware.
Arthur and Alice had three children, Irene Alice May born in May 1915 in Barkway, Violet, born in 1921, and Ernest, born in 1924.
Arthur died in 1977 aged 88.
15845 Driver Army Service Corps
By the time of the 1911 census Charles was living at Northend, Anstey, in a five roomed cottage, with his parents and all of his brothers and sisters except Albert, the eldest brother. Charles was a farm labourer, as was his father and the other three brothers living there.
He enlisted in May 1915 aged 21 years 8 months, by which time he was he was living in Barkway. His occupation at that time was a coal carter. He would have volunteered as conscription had not then been introduced. He joined the Army Service Corps as a driver. Later that year he was serving in Belgium.
On December 25th 1919 he married Gertrude Mary Martin in Anstey Church. They had two daughters Freda Hope born in 1920 and Dorothy Betty born in 1928. Charles died in 1988 and is buried in Anstey churchyard.
According to his grandson, he was gassed and shot, rendered unconscious and left for dead. On 24 March 1918 his family received a communication to say that he was in hospital in Rouen with a gun shot wound in the right eye (severe).
On October 2nd they received a further communication to say that he was now in Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, Blackburn, still because of his severe eye wound.
15848 8th Bedfordshire Regiment
He was the fourth child and third son of Walter and Harriet née Catley. They had ten children.
According to the 1911 census he was living in Anstey at Northend with his family. He was a farm labourer.
Sidney’s campaign medal documents show that he was sent to France at the end of August 1915 so he would have volunteered.
On April 28th 1918 he married Florence Cattley in Camberwell. His occupation was given as soldier, and she was a clerk living at 134 Avondale Square. Florence was the daughter of Edward Cattley who was born in Anstey but by the 1881 census, aged 28, was living in London. Sidney’s mother Harriet was a Catley, but spelt with one t. Did they meet through their Anstey connection?
They had a son, Reg and a daughter, Doreen.
Sidney died in 1986 aged 94.
3318 4th Bedfordshire Regiment/203137 East Kent Regiment
Leonard was the son of Arthur and Alice née Catley, both of whom were born in Anstey and was one of 7 children.
Sidney born in 1888
Emma born about 1891
Francis born in 1892
Julia born in 1894
Leonard born in 1897
Eva Dora born in 1899
Stanley Arthur born in 1901
In 1911 they were living in 4 rooms, in part of what is now Red Stack . Julia was a servant to Mary Pigg in Barkway, but Alice’s mother lived with them, making 9 people living there. Leonard was a farm labourer.
On 31st March 1913 at the age of 17 years 1 month he enlisted in the Army Reserve for 6 years service for the 4th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.
He was mobilised for war on 8th August 1914 and was sent to France where he received gun shot wounds to the abdomen.
He was discharged on 21st March 1917, “being no longer physically fit for war service” in consequence of wounds received in action in Mesopotamia. According to his nephew he was gassed.
He died in October 1941 and is buried in Anstey Churchyard
John Stanley Driver
John Stanley was born in 1891 in Anstey, to Nathan and Mary Elizabeth née Pilgrim. His eight siblings were also born in Anstey; Henry, b 1880, Margaret b 1882, Helena b 1884, Beatrice b 1886, Gertrude b 1888, Stacey b 1889, Ellis, b 1890, and Gladys b 1892. His father, Nathan established the Post Office in Anstey in about 1883 in what is now Red Stack.
Nathan had also developed a building and undertaking business in Anstey.
He died in 1902, leaving everything to his oldest son Henry, who was then a wheelwright. According to the 1911 census Henry was working as a carpenter. John was a postman and at this time he was living with his grandfather Henry Pilgrim in part of what is now Well Cottage. Ellis was living there too. He was a grocery assistant.
His mother was still running the Post Office.
John joined up in 1917 and was in the Herts Regiment, which amalgamated with the Herts and Beds Regiment, which then amalgamated with the Iniskillins.
John married Edith Flack at Anstey Chappell on 25th July 1925. She lived at Puttocks End. (Edith was one of 6 children. Her brothers Willie and Leonard served in the war, and she had three sisters, Florence, Ada and Emma). Having no living children of her own, she and John brought up her sister Ada’s twin boys, James and Sidney Camp, always known as Peter & Paul.
John and Edith ran the Post Office, by now situated in what is now Milk Farm. At the back there was a cycle shop where Ellis Driver did repairs.
John was a postman all his life in Anstey and then in Buntingford in 1935 where he lived in London Road. He moved to Ware in the 1950’s. Emma, Edith’s sister who never married, took over the Post Office with her brother Leonard.
15929 8th Bedfordshire Regiment
Leonard was born 1894 in Clavering.
Willie born in 1887
Florence born in 1890
Leonard born in about 1894
Ada born in about 1897
Emma born in about 1900
Edith born in about 1902
In the 1911 census the family was recorded as living in a five roomed cottage at Coltsfoot.
Frederick was a horse keeper, Willie and Leonard were farm labourers. Florence was no longer living with the family.
Leonard’s records show him serving in France from the end of August 1915 so he would have volunteered as did his brother Willie.
He was one of six children born to his parents Frederick and Linda née Catley, both born in Anstey and married in Anstey church.
Willie born in 1887
Florence born in 1890
Leonard born about 1894
Ada born about 1897
Emma born about 1900
Edith born about 1902
In the 1911 census the family was recorded as living in a five roomed cottage at Coltsfoot. Frederick was a horse keeper, Willie and Leonard were farm labourers. Florence was no longer living with the family.
In 1915 Willie married Mercy Lavinia Bradford (whose brother Herbert was killed in France in 1918). They lived in what is now Well Cottage, when it was divided into three dwellings. They went on to have eight children.
Willie enlisted on 28th January 1916. He first served in Salonika.
On 15th July 1917 he was recorded as having valvular heart disease and rheumatism as a result of his war service and was treated in the 10th General Hospital, Salonika. He spent five months in hospital. He was then sent home and later transferred to the Labour Corps in France, which built and maintained roads, railways, canals, camps, stores, telephone and telegraph systems. It was manned by soldiers who had been medically rated as below the A1 condition needed for front line service. Many of them were were returned wounded,
He was finally discharged on 13th November 1919.
Willie died on July 23rd 1966 aged 79 and is buried in Anstey churchyard.
Francis George Joseph Martin
15822 Bedfordshire Regiment
By 1911 Rose and Margaret had left. (Rose was a servant in Acton to the Machon family, originally of Buntingford.) By 1911 Francis and his father were farm labourers. Ralph Bye, stepfather to Alice was also living there. Louisa was an assistant teacher at Anstey school in 1911 according to the census, and was still working there in 1915.
Francis volunteered on 8th September 1914 and joined the Bedfordshire Regiment. He was sent to France in August 1915.
According to an article in the newspaper article in the Herts and Cambs Reporter of September 13th 1918 he had been reported missing on 6th August 1918 and was subsequently found to be a prisoner of war in Germany.
After the war, on 8th March 1919, he was transferred to the Army Reserve.
In 1925 Francis married Mary Rand. They moved into one half of what is now Elm Cottage. Francis and Mary went on to have five children, Joseph, Eileen, Jean, Ronald and Daphne who still lives in the village. In the late 1920’s they bought the other half of the cottage to accommodate their growing family. During WW2 Mary ran the post office from one of the back rooms in her home. She also took in washing from the officers at the air base in Nuthampstead. Francis had become a builder, leaving the village each day on his bicycle and working in London. It is likely he got a train from a local station. He did some work locally and helped to build Edwinstree School in Buntingford.
Herbert Stanley Ward
He was born in 1883 in Ware to parents Henry and Frances née Price. He was the youngest of nine children; Henry Hudson b c1873, Beatrice b c1874, Frank Edward b c1876, William Stacey b c1877, Ethel Mary b c1878, Annie Elizabeth b c1879, Charles b c1880, and Richard b 1881. In the 1891 census his father is listed as a “malster” and there is a governess and two servants living with the parents and five of the children in a house in the High Street, Ware. By 1901 Herbert was a boarder in Loughborough, living with a “schoolmaster in a secondary school” and his wife. By 1910, aged 27, he was living at Bandons, Anstey, with his younger brother Richard, who died in June 1914). Herbert was a poultry farmer at Bandons and also a vetinerary surgeon.
Herbert Stanley Ward served as an officer in the Army Veterinary Corps from 1914 to 1916 when he surrendered his commission.
No more is known of his war service. In August 1916 a photograph was taken of him at the Graham White Flying School in Hendon where he was awarded a certificate from the Royal Aviators Club. He is in civilian clothes, whilst most of the rest are in uniform. Eventually he returned to Bandons.
On March 22nd 1935 he sold by auction its contents. “Antique and modern furniture and also Poultry Houses and Appliances”. He also sold the house and land. “Also Freehold Estate known as Bandons, extending to about 286 acres is for sale by private treaty with possession of the house and the premises and about 19 acres. The remainder of the lands, 2 homesteads and 2 pairs of cottages are let to various tenants at rentals amounting to £257 per annum. “
He married Millicent Coxall, whose five brothers had all served in the war, the youngest, Reg, being killed in France. Her father was born in Anstey as she and her nine siblings were. She was born in 1909 and Herbert had known her since she was a little girl. There was a 25 year age gap. There is no record of their marriage taking place in Anstey.
On 9th February 1935 Herbert purchased Arras, now called Oakwood, for Millicent and in her name for the sum of £44. New furniture was bought. They moved in in mid March but only lived there for three weeks. Tragically and mysteriously Herbert shot his wife and then killed himself in April of that year.
They are both buried in Anstey churchyard.
If you have any further information please email Jenny Goymour at email@example.com