Edward Curtis Anstee, a member of the Edlesborough Anstees, was born on 26 November 1894 in Writtle, Essex to parents George Frederick William Anstee and Alice Ellen Collicot. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes George Anstee; Hugh Austin Anstee; and Richard Collicot Anstee, growing up living at The Green, Writtle. By the 1911 Census he was still living in Writtle with his family, at this time a “printer’s apprentice” for a local printer in Chelmsford.
Edward signed up for active service right at the outset of World War One, on 5 September 1914 at Chelmsford. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was a “20 year old printer compositor” and he was immediately embodied with the 1/5th Battalion Essex Regiment as a Private (Service Number: 2337 and later 250432).
On 8 July 1915 Edward heard that he was to be sent to Gallipoli, sailing from Devonport, Devon on 22 July 1915 with the 1/5th Battalion Essex Regiment (part of the Essex Brigade, which in turn was part of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) as a ‘Rifleman’, arriving a few days later at Mudros, Greece. He entered the ‘Balkans Theatre of War’ (Gallipoli, Turkey) on 9 August 1915, landing at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli the following day as part of the Allied reinforcements to that campaign.
Even though his Medical Records have no indication of this, according to his daughter Margaret, Edward “fought in Gallipoli, narrowly escaped death and was invalided home in 1915“. Certainly he arrived back in England on 17 October 1915 without his regiment – presumably therefore he was wounded in September 1915 in Gallipoli.
On 2 January 1916 Edward was admitted to E. C. Depot Hospital in Shoreham with dysentery, then on 30 June 1916, presumably having recovered from all injuries and illnesses, he was posted to 3/5th Battalion Essex Regiment (which became the 4th Reserve Essex Regiment in September 1916).
In January 1917 Edward was posted back to his original Battalion (1/5th Battalion Essex Regiment, now part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force) and on 11 January 1917 proceeded to join them in Egypt and Palestine. Presumably therefore, Edward was involved in all three Battles of Gaza in March, April and November 1917. He was certainly “on active service” in August 1917 when his brother George was reported killed in action.
Edward was stationed in Egypt with his battalion at war’s end, and remained there for a few months in a ‘peacekeeping’ role. On a Medical Form completed on 14 February 1919 in Helmiut? Egypt he wrote “I have served in Egypt, Gallipoli and Palestine from July 1915 till present” and “I had malaria in May 1918 due to active service” being treated at “48th Stationary Hospital and 17th General Hospital“.
Edward returned to England soon after this. He was disembodied on 21 April 1919 at Warley, giving his home address as “The Green, Writtle, Chelmsford” with disability “Malaria, less than 20% disability, attributable to the war” (a claim which was rejected for pension purposes) and character “very good“. For his services, he was awarded the 1915 Star, as well as the Victory and British War medals.
By the 1919 Electoral Register, Edward was again living at Writtle Green with some of his brothers. He played football to a relatively high local standard – the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle‘ on 5 December 1919 reporting that “Writtle Reserves beat Billericay Reserves in the Chelmsford and District League 5-0… F. W. Anstee [Edward’s brother] made his first appearance and he was a tower of strength in the defence, while E. Anstee [Edward] turned out an excellent left half…R. Anstee [Edward’s brother] and Hodge, the left wingers, got on finely together, the characteristic runs and nicely timed centres of Anstee being roundly applauded.“
Edward married Annie Adaliza Mills (who, according to his daughter, he had first met in late 1915 in Kington after being invalided home from Gallipoli) in September 1922 at Titley Church near Kington, Hertfordshire and they had a sole child Margaret Joan Anstee (b 1926 – who became a British diplomat, serving at the United Nations for over four decades and writing a book about her life entitled ‘Never Learn to Type: A Woman at the United Nations‘).
In around 1924 the family moved to 2 Albert Villas in Writtle. They were still living there at the time of the 1939 Register where Edward, living next door to his brother Frederick, was a “printers compositor“.
Edward died on 30 September 1971, residing at Pippins Pilcorn St Wedmore, Somerset.
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