Joseph Frederick Anstee, a member of the Swanbourne Ansteys, was born in September 1879 in Dorking, Surrey to parents Harold Anstee (a shoemaker born in Swanbourne in c1835), and Mary Ann Chantrill. By 1891 the family had moved to Leatherhead and by 1899 Joseph had already joined the Army (possibly on 24 February 1898), becoming a soldier in the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards (Regimental Number: G/17643).
Joseph served in Gibraltar in 1899 and then fought in South Africa during the Second Boer War. It is likely that he was in South Africa both in 1899, taking part in the Battle of Modder River and the Battle of Belmont in November 1899, and then again in 1902, when he was awarded the 1902 Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps ‘Cape Colony‘ and ‘Orange Free State‘. Surprisingly, in between those two stints, Joseph returned to England, living at Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, St James Park, Westminster, London in the 1901 Census (still attached to the Grenadier Guards).
After the Second Boer War ended, Joseph left the Army, marrying Susannah Ann Rickett in 1905 in Camberwell, Lambeth, London. At that time they were living at 22 Carew Street in London and Joseph was a packer for a typewriting business. They had two sons, Sidney Harold Anstee (b 1906 in Lambeth) and William Joseph Anstee (b 1914 in Lambeth). In the 1911 Census, they were living at 37 Poplar Walk Road, Herne Hill, Lambeth.
Right at the beginning of World War One, in August 1914, Joseph re-enlisted into the Army at St Paul’s Churchyard in Middlesex. In May 1915, he was transferred to the then newly formed 21st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) as a Private (Regimental number: G/15469). He trained in Aldershot in October 1915 and Witley in February 1916.
Joseph served in France from June 1916 through to January 1918 (at some point he was promoted to Sergeant). He was stationed near Lillers in Northern France, entering the Front Line near Loos and fighting in the Battle of the Ancre in November 1916, part of the Battle of the Somme. In 1917 Joseph saw action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, as well as the Capture of Bourlon Wood in November 1917, part of the Battle of Cambrai.
In January 1918, Joseph returned to England due to a serious heart disease (VDH – valvular disease of the heart) “due to his service during the war with Germany“. He was treated at Bermondsey Military Hospital. In February 1918 he was invalided out of service; Joseph noted at that time that he desired to work as a baker and intended to live at 139 Milkwood Road, Herne Hill, London. However, soon after leaving hospital, on 16th March 1918, Joseph died in Lewisham. He was buried at the West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium (Cemetery Reference: ‘Screen Wall 11.34581’). On 22 March 1918 Joseph was posthumously officially discharged from the Army due to sickness; he received the British War and Victory medals for his heroics.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour adds that Joseph was “Son of Harold and Mary Ann Anstee, of Leatherhead, Surrey; husband of Susannah Anstee, of 139 Milkwood Rd., Herne Hill, London.“
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