Joseph Anstee, known as Joe, a member of the Ivinghoe Anstees, was born in 1890 in West Deeping, Lincolnshire to parents William Albert Anstee (a miller) and Mary. In his early adulthood, Joe signed up for military training with the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in Berkhamsted, then in October 1915, after the start of World War One, he was commissioned to the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant.
By June 1916 Joe was in Northern France, readying himself for the first British offensive of the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of Albert, Joe and his battalion attacked the German front near Albert in Northern France. Together with the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment, they were at the centre of the line, leading the attack on Ovillers-la-Boisselle.
Joe was one of those responsible for getting the men out of the trenches and lining them up to charge across no man’s land towards the German front line. Running straight into the German artillery barrage, the attack failed almost immediately. Joe was one of those who was killed on the first day of this battle, together with over fifty thousand of his fellow Allied soldiers. Joe’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Hubbard wrote to Joe’s parents, telling them that:
“2nd Lieutenant Anstee was hit with shrapnel half way across during the assault. I bandaged him up, and whilst awaiting him to be taken back behind the line he was hit again in the chest and died almost instantaneously. We were moved out of the trenches into another area that afternoon, so were unable to collect our dead and wounded… I can’t express what his loss is to us. He was a splendid officer and loved by all, and one of the cheeriest and best boys I have ever met, and can well understand what a terrible loss he is to you, as he is to us.”
Joe is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial (Panel & Face 1C), also in West Deeping where there is an Anstee family memorial with inscription ‘Lt J Anstee Killed in action in France July 1st 1916 Aged 26′.
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