Richard Collicott Anstee, a member of the Edlesborough Anstees, was born in June 1898 in Writtle to parents George Frederick William Anstee and Alice Ellen Collicott. He was brother to fellow Anstey Heroes George Anstee; Edward Curtis Anstee; and Hugh Austin Anstee, growing up living at The Green, Writtle, where he was still at school at the time of the 1911 Census.
Richard first signed up for service during World War One on 14 May 1916 at Chelmsford. On his Attestation Form he noted that he was “17 years 11 months old“; that he was a fitter’s apprentice; that he lived at “Heroffs, Writtle, Essex“; and that his next of kin was his father. He was posted to the Army Training Reserve on 15 May 1916 and then mobilised on 15 November 1916 with the Mechanical Transport Depot of the Royal Army Service Corps (Service Number: 270043 or 570043) at Grove Park. On 29 December 1916 he was transferred to the 3rd Training Reserve Battalion, Edinburgh as a Private, then “transferred to mob” on 9 January 1917.
On 30 July 1917 Richard joined the British Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front in France, and he was with the 2/2 London Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers as a Private (Service Numbers: 67544 and 57280) on 15 August 1917, which was the same time that he was reported as “on active service” when his brother George was reported killed in action.
At some point, presumably in mid to late October 1917, Richard was seriously wounded, receiving a “gunshot wound to his left shoulder” – he returned to England on 31 October 1917. His injury was reported in the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle‘ on 7 December 1917 where it states “Wounded…London Anstee R. C. Writtle“. It was also reported on 29 November 1917 in the ‘War Office Daily List No.5429‘ where “Anstee R. C. Writtle – 2nd London” was reported as “wounded” and entitled to wear a ‘Wound Stripe’.
On 6 April 1918, having recovered to a certain extent from his injuries, Richard was transferred to 467 Company Royal Defence Corps as a Private (Service Number: 72560) in Oswestry. He was then discharged on 17 January 1919 as being “surplus to military requirements having suffered impairment since entry into the Service” – he was deemed to have “30% disability” and “very good” military character.
For his services, Richard was awarded the Victory and British War medals.
By the 1919 Electoral Register, Richard 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 [Richard’s brother] made his first appearance and he was a tower of strength in the defence, while E. Anstee [Richard’s brother] turned out an excellent left half…R. Anstee [Richard] and Hodge, the left wingers, got on finely together, the characteristic runs and nicely timed centres of Anstee being roundly applauded.“
However less than a month later, on 26 December 1919, the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle‘ reported “R. Anstee, a promising young player who assists Writtle Reserves at outside left has unluckily broken the small bone of his ankle and will not be able to take to the field for some time“.
Richard lived at Writtle Green with his brothers throughout the 1920s, until in 1926 in Kensington he married Gertrude L. Ling – we find no children of this marriage. By 1927 Richard was a postman in Writtle; he was also a keen whist player, winning a competition at the Writtle Cricket Club in 1929.
By the time of the 1939 Register, Richard and his wife Gertrude were living at 1 East View Public Garden in Writtle, where Richard was still a postman. At the advent of World War Two Richard enlisted for service as a ‘Sapper’ – though we have no further details of his service during that conflict.
In the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle‘ on 20 October 1950 appears “Mr and Mrs R. C. Anstee wish to sincerely thank all kind friends for the beautiful wreaths shown in their loss of Mrs E. A. Lees – Writtle“. In 1958 in ‘The Gazette‘, Richard was still listed as being a postman in Chelmsford.
Richard died on 13 May 1973, living at 23 East View Oxney Green, Writtle.
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