[Note: even though he was born in St Kilda, George is NOT a member of the St Kilda, Victoria Ansteys. Also note that George was often referred to in documentation as ‘George Basil Anstey alias Young‘ or even very occasionally ‘George Basil Young‘]
As far as we are aware, George was living with his family in Victoria in c1910. He signed up for active service in Kalgoorlie towards the end of World War One, on 18 February 1918 as a Private (Service Number: 56280 and 52128). His Attestation Paper stated that he was a driver by trade living in Piesse Street, Boulder, West Australia – it also stated that he “enlisted under the name George Young which name I now declare to be incorrect. The name of George Basil Anstey I now declare to be my true name.”
George formed part of the 2nd ( W ) Reinforcements and during his training at Blackboy Hill Training Camp he was court martialled on 14 June 1918 for “desertion“, a charge which was later dropped and changed to being “absent without leave“. He was sentenced to 56 days detention but the sentence was mitigated “so that the accused can embark for active service“. However George’s starting service date was moved from February 1918 to 21 June 1918 as financial punishment.
George embarked at Albany, Western Australia aboard HMAT A74 ‘Marathon‘ on 29 July 1918, travelling via Cape Town, South Africa. On arrival in London on 27 September 1918 he was assigned to the 1st Training Battalion of the Reinforcements 11th Battalion, and on 5 October 1918 he was “mustered as Gunner” in Heytesbury, England. However later that month he was admitted to hospital in London “sick with infuenza“, at which point World War One finished, so George was not involved in any actual fighting during the war.
In November 1918, George was “declared illegal absent by Court of Enquiry” at Heytesbury, then in January 1919 he was again “Absent without leave“. The ‘Exeter and Plymouth Gazette‘ 11 February 1919 reported “Gunner G. B. Anstey A. I. F. charged at Barnstaple yesterday with being absentee from his regiment stationed at Sutton Veney, ordered to await a military escort“.
George was court-martialled in May 1919 (Gunner for 1st Battery Australian Field Artillery “Artillery Details“, Australian Imperial Force) on the charge of being “absent without leave from 1/3/1919 to 20/4/1919 being in possession of another soldier’s pass” for which he was sentenced to “100 days detention“. He was released from detention in July 1919 and immediately went “absent without leave” again.
George was supposed to embark for Australia on the ship ‘Delta‘ but he “did not embark” – neither did he embark on the ‘Euripides‘ ship in 1919. In September 1919 he was “declared to be absent” and an “illegal absentee” in England and George was finally “apprehended at Oxford Street, London” and “rejoined from illegal absence” five months later on 4 February 1920. He was again court-martialled, this time at Warwick Square, and sentenced to 120 days detention. He was finally taken back to Australia on the ship ‘Ceramic‘ on 12 March 1920, disembarking at Freemantle on 18 April 1920, and he was discharged from the Army in May 1920 (“service no longer required“).
To our knowledge, George never married; he was a ‘commission agent’ at the time of his death in 1927. The ‘West Australian‘ newspaper reported on 3 November 1927 “DEATHS. ANSTEY. — On November 1, at the Wooroloo Sanatorium, George Basil, only dearly beloved son of Emily Anstey, late of Lawley Crescent, Mt. Lawley, loved brother of Dorothy and Ethel. God’s will be done. Inserted by his broken hearted mother and sisters.” George is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery.
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