Bertram Edward Anstee, a member of the Majorca, Victoria Anstees of Australia, was born in 1897 in Rutherglen to parents Alfred George Rich Anstee and Annie Eliza Hyatt. He was brother to fellow Anstey Hero Harold James Anstee.
In 1909, aged only 11, Bertram appeared in many newspapers as a witness at the inquest of a fellow student who had been decapitated. For example the ‘Weekly Times (Melbourne)‘ on 23 January 1909, in a report entitled “DECAPITATED ON THE RAILWAY LINE – SCHOOLBOYS SHOCKING DEATH” noted “WHAT BOY COMPANION SAW: Bertram Edward Anstee, 11 years of age, residing in Gibbs Street, Balaclava, said that he saw deceased standing without a hat on the Hotham Street bridge about half a mile from his home. Witness asked him what he was doing and he said ‘I am waiting for Tommy King’. Tommy King was a schoolmate of the deceased…”.
Whilst World War One was raging, Bertram signed up for active service on 7 January 1916 at the Town Hall in Melbourne. On his Attestation Paper he noted that he was a saddler and harness maker, having been an apprentice for five years, and that he lived at 19 Merton Road, Caulfield. He also stated that he had been in the Senior Cadets for four years and the Citizens Forces for four months. As he was under the age of 21, Bertram had to obtain the consent of his parents for “enlistment for active service abroad“, which they both granted.
After taking his medical, Bertram was considered fit for active service.
Bertram was assigned to the 24th (Depot) Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (Royal Park) as a Private, then in February 1916 he was transferred to the Field Artillery as a Gunner. However on 18 April 1916 Bertram was “discharged from Field Artillery Reinforcements being medically unfit not the result of misconduct.” The reason for his discharge was given as “rheumatism – has suffered with rheumatic pains in the thighs from the waist to the knee“.
Not to be deterred from playing his part in the war effort, Bertram signed up again for active service a year later in Melbourne on 25 April 1917, confirming that he had previously been rejected as unfit due to rheumatism. He also noted that he was still unmarried and a saddler of Caulfield. Once again his parents gave their consent for him to serve abroad, however this time Bertram was declared unfit during his medical, where it noted “This is to certify that I have attended Bertram E. Anstee on several occasions during the past three years. He has suffered attacks of sub-acute rheumatism. He is, in my opinion, quite unfit for active military service“.
In 1918 Bertram married Ruby Alice Andrews in Victoria. They had at least one daughter as reported in ‘The Australasian (Melbourne)‘ newspaper on 1 October 1921 “ANNOUNCEMENTS. BIRTHS ANSTEE (nee Ruby A. Andrews). On the 9th September, at Nurse Jackson’s private hospital, Hastings road, Upper Hawthorn, to Mr. and Mrs. Bertram E. Anstee, of Auouru – a daughter (Jean Alice).” Also in 1918 we find the somewhat bizarre message appearing in the ‘Snowy River Mail (Orbost, Victoria)‘ on 9 August 1918, which states “I WILL not be responsible for debts contracted in my name without my written authority.-BERTRAM ANSTEE.“
In the 1946 Electoral Register, Bertram and Ruby were living at 60 Parkhill Road, Kooyong near Melbourne – Bertram was a “carrier” by trade.
Bertram died in 1979 in Kew, Victoria, his probate indicated that he was “retired” and the ‘Victoria Deaths‘ entry confirmed his parents identities. ‘The Age (Melbourne)‘ on 29 May 1979 reported “The Funeral of Mr. BERTRAM EDWARD ANSTEE will leave our chapel, 741 High Street, East Kew, TOMORROW (WEDNESDAY) …“
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