Alexander Gidley Essington Anstey, known as ‘Alex’, was born in 1893 in Heidelburg, Bourke, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia to parents George Anstey and Harriet; he is a descendant of the Milverton Ansteys of Somerset. Alex is the brother of fellow Anstey Heroes Hugh George Essington Anstey, Muriel Fanny Essington Anstey and Clement Zouche Essington Anstey – he grew up in Victoria where he was still living in c1910.
On 13 March 1915, soon after the outbreak of World War One, Alex signed up for active service at Trafalgar, Victoria as a Private (Service Nbr 7967). On his Attestation Paper he declared that he was a British Subject, religious affiliation ‘Church of England’, and his profession was then a bank clerk. Alex stated also that he had previous service in “Light Horse [Regiment] and 3 years in Cadets and 2 years Sergeant“. Alex was assigned to the 16th Battery F. A. (Field Artillery), 6th Field Artillery Brigade in North Essendon, as a Gunner. He was promoted to Bombardier in October 1915 and embarked from Australia on 22 November 1915 on the ship HMAT ‘Persic‘ after a period of training. He disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 21 December 1915 and proceeded to join the M. E. F. (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force). He then embarked at Alexandria, Egypt on 18 March 1916 on HT ‘Eboe‘, and proceeded to join the B. E. F. (British Expeditionary Force) in Marseilles, France.
Alex fought mainly in Northern France. He was promoted to Temporary Corporal “in the field” in France on 18 November 1916, then in May 1917 he was promoted to Corporal. He was further promoted to Temporary Sergeant in October 1917 and promoted yet again in October 1917 to Sergeant, whilst fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Alex was “wounded in action” on 27 October 1917, receiving a gunshot wound in his chest (“G. S. W. Chest“) and taken in the 3rd Field Ambulance to the 57th General Hospital in Etaples, Pas de Calais, Northern France. To the best of our research, Alex was shot whilst conducting patrols in no man’s land to hold the line along the Broodseinde Ridge in Belgium, a few weeks after the successful Battle of Broodseinde near Ypres (in which Alex likely fought).
On 16 November 1917 Alex was transferred to England from France on the ‘St Andrew‘, being admitted to the Military Hospital at Bagthorpe. In February 1918 he was transferred to the Nbr 3 Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. In April 1918, having partially recovered, he “marched in from England” to France and then “marched out to unit” in Havre, rejoining the 6th Army Brigade Australian Field Artillery as an “ex wounded“.
In July 1918 Alex proceeded from France to England to “join Artillery Cadet School“. By January 1919 he was a 2nd Lieutenant on probation (AIF List 428) and by April 1919 he had become a Lieutenant. In March 1919 Alex was permanently detached to the 2nd DAC (Divisional Artillery Column).
In June 1919 Alex returned to Australia on HT ‘Mahia‘, arriving in Melbourne with “disability haemorrhoid and hammer toes” in July 1919. His appointment was terminated with the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) in November 1919. Alex received the Victory Medal in 1923, as well as the 1914/15 Star Medal and the British War Medal for his services.
After his return, Alex obtained a loan in 1920 under the ‘Returned Soldiers Settlement Act, 1916‘ to buy land at Urangeline, Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. As far as we can tell, Alex never married or had children. In 1938, Alex was co-executor to his mother’s will, at which time he was “of Manar, Kyabram, a farmer“.
Alex died in January 1962 in Kyabram, Victoria, he was a “retired grazier“; probate was on 25 May 1962. He is buried at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne, a plaque there stating “Lieutenant A. G. E. Anstey 6 (Army) Bde A. F. A. 24-1-1962 Age 68“.
A photo of “Sergeant A. Essington Anstey, son of Mr and Mrs George Anstey, Victoria – great great grandson of Capt Gidley King, Third Governor of New South Wales” can be found in the 15 May 1918 edition of the ‘Sydney Mail‘ newspaper. Alex is also commemorated on the Australian War Memorial Nominal Roll ‘133-1’.
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