Alfred Roy Anstee, known as Roy, a member of the Potsgrove Anstees, was born on 7 January 1886 in Portsea near Portsmouth to parents Alfred Ernest Anstee and Mary Elizabeth Clark. He was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Thomas Cornelius Anstee. His father died when he was a young boy, so by the 1891 Census Roy was living with his mother and stepfather James Edward Cobden in Portsea.
In around 1910, Roy emigrated to Canada together with other members of his family, including his mother and some brothers. Then on 4 January 1916, just over a year after the commencement of World War One, he signed up for active service in Edmonton with the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a Private (Service Number: 811628).
On his Attestation Paper, Roy noted that he was born in Portsmouth; that he was an unmarried painter; that he was living in Edson, Alberta; that he was Church of England; and that his next of kin was his mother “Mrs M. E. Cobden” (who he bizarrely put was his sister rather than his mother on one of the forms, but not the others). He was posted to the 138th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force for initial training in Canada.
On 21 August 1916 he embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia with the 138th Battalion on the ship ‘SS Olympic‘, arriving in England on 30 August 1916. Then on 8 December 1916 he was transferred to the 128th Battalion at Bramshott and a few days later, on 14 December 1916, he was transferred to the 49th Canadian Battalion and proceeded overseas to France.
Roy was taken “sick with scabies” to ‘No 39 General Hospital‘ in Havre from “in the field” on 20 April 1917, returning to duty a week later. His Discharge Report also notes that Roy “says he was blown up in April 1917 when his ear discharged” – this would probably have occurred during the Battle of Arras, though we seek confirmation of that.
In November 1917 Roy was granted 14 days leave to the UK. On 15 June 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then on 22 November 1918 he was further promoted to Corporal. Also in November 1918 he became sick with influenza and was admitted to ‘4 General Hospital’ where he remained for about a week before being transferred to the ‘6 Conv Depot Etaples‘.
On 8 January 1919, after the formal cessation of hostilities, Roy was transferred back to England and posted to Alberta Regimental Depot in Bramshott. On 29 January 1919 he sailed from Liverpool back to Canada, attached to “C. C. C. Kimmel Park“.
Roy was discharged in Calgary, Alberta by ‘District Depot 13’ on 28 February 1919 for reason “medically unfit, defective hearing right ear due to chronic otitis media drum is thickened and retracted…condition is undoubtedly the result of service [see April 1917 above]“. On his Discharge Form Roy confirmed that he “served with the 49th Battalion at the front in France from 8 December 1916 to 1 February 1919“.
After his discharge, Roy returned to live in Alberta, then at some point, presumably c1923 or so, he married Annie Laura MacKenzie (nee Elliot, b 1886 Nova Scotia). They had at least two children in Alberta, Ronald Kingston Anstee (b 1925) and Eileen Elizabeth Anstee (b 1926). In 1926 the family were living at 11th Avenue East Block 80, Peace River North, Alberta with Roy’s brother’s and mother, as well as two MacKenzie stepchildren.
Roy died in 1964 in Saanich, Capital Regional District, British Columbia. He was buried at the Veterans Cemetery, Victoria, Capital Regional District, British Columbia (Plot: ‘Section D – Row 25 – Plot 0023‘) with gravestone inscription “Roy Anstee Corporal 138 Battn C. E. F. 28 April 1964 Aged 78“.
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