Muriel Fanny Essington Anstey was born in 1880 in Walbundrie, Albury, Riverina, New South Wales to parents George Anstey and Harriet; she is a descendant of the Milverton Ansteys of Somerset and a member of the Gippsland, Victoria Ansteys. Muriel is the sister of fellow Anstey Heroes Hugh George Essington Anstey, Alexander Gidley Essington Anstey and Clement Zouche Essington Anstey.
On 16 June 1917, as World War One was raging, Muriel, a qualified Nurse working at a hospital in Heidelberg, Victoria and living in Moe, Gippsland, signed up for the A. A. M. C. (Australian Army Medical Corps). Her religion was noted on her Attestation Paper as ‘Church of England’ and she was also a member of the A.A.N.S. (Australian Army Nursing Service – an Australian Reserve unit that provided a pool of trained civilian nurses who had volunteered for military service during wartime).
Muriel was initially attached to unit ‘ANS17’ then on 30 June 1917 she embarked at Melbourne on the ‘RMS Somali’ Hospital Ship, arriving in Bombay, India a month later and serving in the ‘British India Service’ unit as a Staff Nurse at Deccan British War Hospital, Poona, Maharashta, India. In September 1918 Muriel was transferred to work in the Station Hospital in Ahmednaga, India and then two months later transferred back to England via Columbo in Sri Lanka.
On the way back from India, on HT ‘Wiltshire’, she disembarked at Suez in Egypt in December 1918. On 20 January 1919 she embarked at Port Said, Egypt for England via Cairo on the ship ‘HJ Kaiser’. In February 1919 she reported to the Headquarters of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) in London, still a Staff Nurse, and she was attached to the “3 A A H” (No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital) at Dartford, England. Later that month, Muriel was herself admitted to Southwell Gardens Hospital in South Kensington as a “sick” patient.
After the end of World War One, Muriel returned to Australia from England on 4 April 1919 on the ship ‘Warwickshire’, disembarking in Australia on 28 May 1919. Her contract with the A. A. N. S. came to an end on 15 December 1919.
For her services Muriel received a British War Medal in 1923. In 1929 she was a Nurse living in Corio, North Geelong. As far as we know, Muriel never married (she was certainly a spinster at the time of her death).
Muriel died on 11 June 1953 living in Armadale, Victoria; her ashes were scattered within Springvale Botanical Cemetery in Melbourne, though she also has a plaque at Kyabram Cemetery next to those of many of the rest of her family.
A photo of “Sister Muriel Anstey, daughter of Mr and Mrs George Anstey, Victoria – great great granddaughter of Capt Gidley King, Third Governor of New South Wales” can be found in the 15 May 1918 edition of the ‘Sydney Mail‘ newspaper.
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