Arthur Joseph Anstee (1893-1918)

by Gary. M. Ansteychief researcher of the Anstey story project.

Arthur Joseph Anstee, a member of the Majorca, Victoria Anstee sub-branch in Australia, was born in 1893 in Rutherglen, Victoria to parents George Anstee and Francis Catherine Hynson. He was brother to fellow Anstey heroes Edward Alfred Anstee (1873-1915); Ernest Hynson Anstee (b 1887); and Ralph Norman Anstee (b 1895). As a child, Arthur attended Ballarat State School in Victoria, and he was still living in Victoria in c1910.

On 7 October 1916, as World War One was raging, Arthur volunteered for active service. His Attestation Paper stated that he was a labourer living in Essenden, Victoria; he was single; and he was a “Natural Born British Subject“. Arthur was assigned to the 8th Reinforcements of the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (part of the 15th Brigade attached to the 5th Division) as a Private (Service Number: 3101). He attended ‘Signal School AIF’ from 18 October 1916 to 24 November 1916, training to become a ‘Signaller’ (a dangerous role situated very close to the frontline troops, providing signals communications to inform others of the situation on the ground).

Arthur embarked at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on HMAT A7 ‘Medic’ on 16 December 1916, disembarking in Plymouth, England on 18 February 1917. From March 1917 to April 1917 he was attached to the 15th Training Battalion, then he was temporarily transferred to the 67th Battalion at “Windmill Hill Camp“. In May 1917 Arthur was fined seven days pay for being “absent without leave“. On 15 July 1917, he made his will, leaving everything to his mother. In September 1917, Arthur was transferred back to the 59th Battalion and continued his training with the 15th Training Battalion. At the end of September 1917 he was admitted to Military Hospital in Bulford, England with an illness, discharged in October 1917, readmitted and then discharged again in November 1917.

On 9 January 1918 Arthur “marched in from England” to France and on 11 January 1918 he “marched out to unit” in Havre, France. On 22 March 1918 he attended ‘Signal School’ for a week, rejoining the unit later in that month. Then on 15 June 1918, he was fined another nine days pay for “absenting himself without leave“.

Arthur and his battalion formed part of the ‘Hundred Days Offensive‘ on the Western Front in Northern France which began in August 1918, three months before the end of World War One. Arthur’s principal role in his battalion was that of ‘Signaller’. He took part in the Battle of Amiens in Northern France on 8 August 1918 and then advanced with the Allies, crossing the River Somme on 31 August 1918 at the beginning of the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin near Peronne in Northern France. However, Arthur’s luck ran out the following day (1 September 1918) when he was killed in action during fighting at Villers Carbonnel, Peronne.

Arthur was “buried in an isolated grave on the bank lying on the right hand side from Villers Carbonnel, Peronne, just after crossing Bristol Bridge, half a mile south of Peronne“. In 1919 his remains were exhumed and reinterred in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Peronne, Picardie, France (Plot I, Row A, Grave No. 23 Panel 166).

Arthur’s death was reported in the ‘Maryborough and Dunnolly Advertiser’ on 25 October 1918 where it stated “Tuesday’s casualty list contained the name of Private Arthur J Anstee of Essendon, killed in action. Private Anstee is the son of Mr and Mrs Geo Anstee (sen), formerly highly respected residents of Maryborough. This is their second son who has paid the supreme sacrifice, Private Ted Anstee having fell in the landing at Gallipoli. His name appears on the Craigie Honour Roll. Another son, Ralph, is at the front, whilst another, Ern, has been invalided home“.

In the 2 September 1920 edition of ‘The Argus‘ newspaper there appeared “IN MEMORIAM on Active Service. ANSTEE In proud and loving memory of my dear son Arthur Joseph Anstee who fell gallantly at Peronne 1st September 1918 ‘Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away‘ “

A memorial scroll was received on Arthur’s behalf by his father George Anstee in 1921. Arthur’s ‘1914/15 Star’ Medal, British War Medal and Victory Medal were also received by his father on his behalf in 1923.

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