Geoffrey Arthur Anstee (b 1895)

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

See ‘Anstey: A Complete History From the Norman Invasion to World War One‘ for much more on the Toddington Anstees. In addition to biographies of various Anstey individuals who make up this sub-branch, the book contains a plethora of Anstey research and statistics, including an analysis of how the Toddington Anstees fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.

TO 8. Geoffrey Arthur Anstee: He was born on 17 April 1895 in Chalton near Toddington, Bedfordshire to parents William Howton [Henry] Anstee (TO 4) and Florence C. Elliot. As a child he attended St John’s College in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex – we cannot locate him in the 1911 Census.

At the beginning of World War One, he volunteered for the Special Reserve of the Bedfordshire Regiment, and in 1915 he was promoted to ‘Second Lieutenant on probation‘ of the ‘Special Reserve – Infantry‘. The ‘Mid Sussex Times‘ 25 May 1915 has a listing of St John’s College Hurstpierpoint Old Boys serving, including “Public Schools Brigade Royal Fusiliers G. A. Anstee

By June 1915 he was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.

He entered the ‘France’ Theatre of War in January 1916, joining the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on 7 February 1916 at Maricourt in Northern France. He went on leave on 10 May 1916, returning by 18 June 1916 where he and fifty others “left trenches for Bray Sur Somme to practice for a Raid. Casualties NIL“. In December 1916 he proceeded on leave again, returning at the beginning of January 1917 to his unit.

In ‘The Gazette’ dated 1 February 1917 Geoffrey, “Second Lieutenant of the Special Reserves of the Bedfordshire Regiment” was “Mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Douglas Haig, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France, to the Secretary of State for War, for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty.” This honour was related to his heroics performed during the Battle of Le Transloy in October 1916, part of the Battle of the Somme, for which he also received the Military Cross in 1917.

On 5 February 1917, he was admitted to hospital sick. On 20 February 1917 he was “appointed Acting Adjutant of the Second Battalion“. He was again admitted to hospital sick in April 1917, by this time he had been promoted to Lieutenant of the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment – the ‘Biggleswade Chronicle‘ 20 April 1917 reported “Second Lieutenant G. A. Anstee M. C. who has taken over the adjutancy of the 2nd (Line) Battalion received his Commission last October and has since been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action

He was further promoted to ‘Captain and Adjutant’ by 3 December 1917 when he proceeded on leave, returning to his unit on 21 December 1917.

He was captured on 28 March 1918 whilst engaged in fighting during the aftermath of the Battle of Rosieres on 26/27 March 1918, becoming a German Prisoner of War. The 2nd Battalion War Diary entry for 28 March 1918 states:

28 Mar 1918 – Rouvel Our position heavily shelled during the morning. A number of casualties. Enemy again attacked on both flanks and got into ARVILLERS on our Right and FOLIES on our Left. Enemy then got up to within 100 yards of our position when we received orders to withdraw. About 2.30 pm we withdrew but had a number of casualties owing to hostile Machine Guns and Shell fire. We formed up at MEZIERES just South of AMIEN – ROYE Road and marched through MOREUIL where we halted to give the men some food, to Billets at ROUVEL. Lt.Colonel H.S.Poyntz D.S.O. rejoined Battalion from 90th Infantry Brigade. Casualties: – 2nd Lieut.W. Pennington , 2/Lt.A.F. Aldridge , 2/Lieut.S. Courtney , 2nd Lieut.E.E. Bath wounded. Captain and Adjutant G. A. Anstee, M.C. Missing.”

On 18 April 1918, he was officially reported “missing“, then on 14 May 1918 (still rank ‘Captain and Adjutant’) he was confirmed “Previously reported missing, now reported Prisoner of War in German Hands“. In fact the ‘Army and Navy Gazette‘ on 27 April 1918 reported ” Captain Geoffrey A. Anstee, M. C., Adjutant, Bedfordshire Regiment, who has been missing since March 28 last, is a prisoner and well. Captain Anstee is the son of Mr and Mrs. W. H. Anstee, of 23, Ship Street, Brighton

After war’s end, he was repatriated on 1 December 1918, and on 11 December 1918, he was officially “Released Prisoner of War from Germany, arrived in England“. For his service he was also awarded the Victory and British War medals.

In q3 1919 in Steyning he married Mary Catherine Newington (b 1895) and they had children:

  • Elizabeth Florence Anstee (b 1920 Cochester); and
  • Dennis Geoffrey Mellish Anstee (b 1926 Hove)

He remained in the Army as Captain of the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. They were stationed in England until 1920 when they moved to Sligo and Boyle in Ireland. During their time in Ireland they were involved in a number of engagements with the IRA including the Sheemore Ambush and the Selton Hill Ambush. They returned to England when the Irish Free State achieved independence in 1922. They were posted to Malta in 1925 (at which point he was still a Captain), to China in 1928, to India in 1929 (where we find him as a Captain at Chakrata in India in the 1936 UK Army List), and to Egypt in 1938.

He was “Geoffrey Arthur Anstee Captain HM Army” in 1928 when he was executor to his father’s will.

In 1947 ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Arthur Anstee, O.B.E., M.C.‘ of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment received the O.B.E – the ‘Suffolk and Essex Free Press‘ 16 January 1947 reported “LIEUT.-COL, G. A. Anstee, M.C. of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, formerly Commanding No. 3 I.T.C., at Bury St. Edmunds has just received the O. B. E. and has been appointed to the command of the County Primary Training Centre at Kempston Barracks. He joined the County Regiment in 1915.”

He died in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk on 18 December 1973, buried at Bedford Cemetery, where his wife Mary had been buried in 1965 – The ‘Bury Free Press‘ on 21 December 1973 reported “On December 18. 1973. peacefully at his home at Great Livermore. Bury St Edmunds. COL ‘ GEOFFREY ARTHUR ANSTEE. OBE MC JP. beloved husband of late Kitty and dear father of Denis and Elizabeth Funeral Service at Great Livernwre Church on Monday.”

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