William Parsons Anstee, a member of the Kilmore, Victoria Anstee sub-branch in Australia, was born in 1887 at Happy Valley, Golden Plains Shire, Victoria, Australia to parents George Anstee and Louisa Bertha Parsons. He was schooled at Dana Street, Ballarat and Skipton State Schools, Victoria, later becoming a carpenter and moving to Ballarat near Geelong in Victoria, where at some point he became the Captain of the Barwon Football Club in Geelong.
On 17 August 1914, just after the outbreak of World War One, William enlisted in Geelong into the 8th Battalion (2nd Infantry) Australian Imperial Force as a Private. In his Attestation Paper he was listed as a “Naturalised British Subject” and had previously served in “Field Artillery“. It was also noted that he had an “Australian Coat of Arms tattoo on his right arm” and that he was ‘Church of England’.
In around October 1914, William sailed with his regiment to Egypt, arriving in December 1914. After further training, mixed with defence duties of the Suez Canal, William sailed to Gallipoli in Turkey, taking part in the ‘Landing at Anzac Cove‘ on 25 April 1915. He was promoted to Corporal in Gallipoli on 30 April 1915 just after that battle, and then further promoted to Sergeant on 15 May 1915.
William was part of the ‘Machine Gun Section‘. He died on 24 November 1915 in Gallipoli whilst performing defensive duties. According to the book ‘Gallipoli Heroes‘ on page 8 “Sgt 186 William Anstee was killed in action of 24 November 1915 when he was operating a machine gun in the trenches at Quinn’s Post. He was killed by enemy fire during a blizzard that dropped half a metre of snow on the Anzac positions.“
William is buried at the Ari Burnu Cemetery Plot 1 Row F Grave B. His gravestone reads “186 Sergeant W. Anstee 8th Bn Australian Inf 24 November 1915 Age 28. Fond Memory Clings“. William’s father George Anstee received on his behalf the ‘Victory Medal’ in August 1922 and the ‘1914/15 Star’ and ‘British War’ medals in August 1923 (see the ‘Discovering Anzacs‘ website Record ID 30150 for a series of letters written by George Anstee regarding this issue). William never married, confirmed by his surviving next of kin being his father per his 1916 probate in Victoria, and his brother Frank Anstee per his 1914 Attestation Paper.
William is remembered on the Berrima Roll of Honor, the Cape Clear Pitfield Plains State School Roll of Honour, and the Ballarat, Camperdown, Geelong and Skipton War Memorials, as well as being commemorated by Tree No 9 on the Ballarat Avenue of Honor. He is also remembered at Christ Church, 57 McKillop Street, Geelong, Victoria, on a marble altar (opened 20 March 1920) with wording etched in gold, where two columns flank a carved open book with names of those lost in World War One including that of William.
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