George Anstee, a member of the Doynton Anstees, was born on 22 December 1880 (some sources incorrectly say 22 December 1881) in Doynton to parents Jesse Anstee and Sarah Ann Hale, baptised on 13 March 1881 in Doynton. He grew up living at Bowd Farm in Doynton where in the 1901 Census he was a “farmer’s son“; by the 1911 Census he was an “assistant” to his brother in law Albert Higgins who had taken over the farm.
However George had another profession besides being a farmer. In 1905 he signed up for service with the Army and on 30 July 1908 we find him described as a “Trooper aged 28” embarking for Quebec, Montreal in Canada from Liverpool aboard the ship ‘Dominion‘ (presumably he popped back and forth between England and Canada between c1908 and 1914).
Right at the outbreak of World War One, on 24 September 1914 in Valcartier, Quebec, George signed up for active service with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. On his Attestation Paper he noted that he was unmarried; that his next of kin was “J. Anstee, Doynton, Bristol“; that his trade was “farmer“; and that he had already served 8 years and 9 months in the Army. He signed his name “Corporal G. Anstee” and he was thus posted to the Royal Canadian Dragoons (R. C. D.) as a Corporal (Service Number: 514).
A few days later, on 3 October 1914, George embarked for England with his unit. On 4 May 1915 he then embarked for France with the R. C. D and by 19 June 1915 he was “attached as instructor to the Brigade Bombing School“.
On 11 October 1915 George was admitted to ‘13 General Hospital‘ in Boulogne having “caught bronchitis (serious) in France” – he was “invalided to England” on 17 October 1915 where he was treated in North General Hospital in Newcastle on Tyne for “severe bronchitis” and then later in Shorncliffe Hospital, where he was discharged on 6 December 1915, having also been treated for pleurisy. He was granted a few weeks furlough in January 1916 to recover.
Throughout 1916 and early 1917 George was based in Shorncliffe, posted to a mixture of “C. C. D“, “R. C. D. R. R. [Royal Canadian Dragoons Reserve Regiment]” and “C. R. C. R.“. He was promoted to Sergeant on 23 May 1916.
George was granted permission to wed on 22 February 1917 (bizarrely it was not formally ‘approved’ until 27 October 1917), marrying Alice Bell in Southampton in q1 1917. They had three children, Brenda Anstee (b 1917 Southampton); Victor George Anstee (b 1920 Southampton); and George Frederick Jesse Anstee (b 1921 Chipping Sodbury – a World War Two hero).
On 7 April 1917, still in Shorncliffe, George reverted to the rank of Corporal. He was then transferred out of the Reserves and taken on strength as reinforcement with the Royal Canadian Dragoons on 19 April 1917 and promoted to Field Corporal, thence proceeding back to France on 21 April 1917.
He spent the next two years in France with the Royal Canadian Dragoons until returning to Canada in around April 1919 and being discharged on 15 May 1919 by reason of demobilisation at Stanley Barracks in Toronto (other sources say he returned to Canada on 26 August 1919) – at the time of his discharge, his wife Alice was living at 69 Dover Street, Southampton. George noted on his Discharge Form that he had served “1 month Canada R. C. D. 54 Months Overseas R. C. D.” – also that he “served in France from May 4th 1915 until April 1919 with R. C. D.“. Also written on the form was that he “had bronchitis October 1915 – recovery – no disability“, so it seems he survived the war otherwise unscathed.
After his discharge, George remained with the Army in Toronto for a time, being transferred to the ‘Number 2 District Depot‘ on 23 August 1919. He was still in Toronto in April 1920 when he was again discharged from this role. He noted that he intended to return to England to live with his family at 69 Dover Street, Southampton.
Judging by the births of their children, George and his family had returned to live in or around Doynton by 1921. By the 1939 Register George and Alice were living at Hamswell Cottage, Cold Ashton, Sodbury where he was a “casual farm worker and Canadian Army pensioner“. They were living in Doynton in 1944 when their son George Frederick Jesse Anstee died fighting in World War Two.
George probably died in Thornbury in 1964 “aged 83“, though we seek formal confirmation of that.
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