William Anstee, a member of the Market Harborough Anstees, was born on 15 April 1881 in Arthingworth, Northamptonshire to parents James Anstee and Mary Allen. William was the younger brother of fellow Anstey Heroes Francis Anstee and James Anstee.
In 1901 William was a groom by profession, and by the 1911 Census he had become a servant barman working at 123 Rodney Road, St Mary Newington. He enlisted for active service on 21 February 1916 in Southwark and became a Private in the Army Reserve (F2883 – Middlesex Regiment 27th Battalion), at which point he was living in Potters Bar, Middlesex. William then attached to the 101st Training Reserve Battalion (Nbr TR/10748039), then on 21 March 1917 he became Acting Company Quarter Master Sergeant (CQMS) of the Welsh Regiment 13th Battalion (Service Nbr 57336).
On 18 September 1918, William was reported “missing“, then on 20 November 1918, he was further reported as being “wounded and missing“, having previously been reported “wounded“. In fact William had died on 18 September 1918 on the day of the Battle of Epehy, part of the Hundred Days Offensive.
According to the Imperial War Museum website:
“William Anstee was a barman who joined the 21st [27th?] Middlesex in 1916 but was transferred to the 13th Welsh Regiment as an Acting Sgt on 21-3-1917 in France. A letter, in his Service Record, from the man he was with when he died tells what happened to him. He became the Master Cook and shortly before his death was Acting CQMS. He seems to have joined a Lewis gun section to make the numbers up on the day of his death. The letter to the WD by the Corporal who had commanded the section tells of a single stray shell coming over after they had advanced 200 yards, decapitating William and one other before exploding and killing four others. William died near Gourzeaucourt, France and was first buried where he fell, being at first reported as missing.“
A letter from Cpl H. Wildgoose contained the following to a relative of another soldier killed in the same incident “[he] was one of the men who was killed by the same shell that killed Pte.King H.P.58333 they all lay about 2 yards from one another 1 Sgt and six men. Pte Lloyd T.J was carrying the Lewis Gun for me I had only just given It to him because he said he saw some German soldiers in a shell hole so i gave him the gun and I took my revolver out of the holster and went over to see, I saw 3 German soldiers so i put them out of mess. I had only just started to go forward when the shell came and killed them all, they were about 10 or 12 yards from me when it bursted so you see I was lucky. I Got a small piece in the leg but I took no notice of that. You also want to know if I will give you the names and no. of the Sergt. and the men killed by the same shell… Their names and Nos. are as follows: Act Serjeant Anstee W. 57336…”
William is commemorated on Panel 7 of the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France – for his services he was awarded the Victory and British War medals.
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