William Parsons Anstee (1887-1915)

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 Kilmore Anstees of Victoria, Australia. 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 Kilmore Anstees of Victoria, Australia fit into the pedigree descendent from Hubert de Anesti, the 12th century originator of the ‘Anstey’ surname.

KL 5. William Parsons Anstee: He was born in 1887 at Happy Valley, Skipton, Golden Plains Shire, Victoria, Australia to parents George Anstee (KL 2) and Louisa Bertha Parsons (“BIRTH. ANSTEE.—On 9th October 1887, at Happy Valley, Skipton, the wife of G. Anstee of a son“). He was schooled at Dana Street, Ballarat and Skipton State Schools, Victoria, later becoming a carpenter and moving to Ballarat near Geelong in Victoria, where at some point, probably in c1910, he became the Captain of the Barwon Football Club in Geelong.

On 17 August 1914, just after the outbreak of World War One, he enlisted in Geelong into the 8th Battalion (2nd Infantry) Australian Imperial Force as a Private (Service Numbers: 186 and 3682). In his Attestation Paper he was listed as a “Naturalised British Subject” and had previously served in “Field Artillery“. It was also noted that he had an “Australian Coat of Arms tattoo on his right arm” and that he was ‘Church of England’.

In around October 1914, he sailed with his regiment to Egypt, arriving in December 1914. After further training, mixed with defence duties of the Suez Canal, he sailed to Gallipoli in Turkey, taking part in the ‘Landing at Anzac Cove‘ on 25 April 1915. He was promoted to Corporal in Gallipoli on 30 April 1915 just after that battle, and then further promoted to Sergeant on 15 May 1915. He was part of the ‘Machine Gun Section‘.

He died on 24 November 1915 in Gallipoli whilst performing defensive duties. According to the book ‘Gallipoli Heroes‘ on page 8 “Sgt 186 William Anstee was killed in action of 24 November 1915 when he was operating a machine gun in the trenches at Quinn’s Post. He was killed by enemy fire during a blizzard that dropped half a metre of snow on the Anzac positions.

The ‘Ballarat Star‘ on 20 December 1915 reported “SERGEANT W. ANSTEE Skipton, Saturday. News has been received here of the death of Sergeant William Anstee (nephew of Mrs M. Notman of Skipton), who has been killed in action at the Dardanelles. The late Sergeant Anstee was 27 years of age, and during his stay in Skipton was in the employ of Mr A. Angus, carpenter and wheelwright. He enlisted for active service on the outbreak of war as a private, and he was engaged in the landing at Gallipoli, and had gone through the whole of the campaign without injury until the sad news was received this week, by his relatives, announcing his death. He was a fine athlete, having for two years been a prominent player in the Skipton Football Club, and was held in high esteem by his club mates. His parents reside in the Geelong district.

He is buried at the Ari Burnu Cemetery Plot 1 Row F Grave B. His gravestone reads “186 Sergeant W. Anstee 8th Bn Australian Inf 24 November 1915 Age 28. Fond Memory Clings“. His father George (KL 2) received on his behalf the ‘Victory Medal’ in August 1922 and the ‘1914/15 Star’ and ‘British War’ medals in August 1923 (see the ‘Discovering Anzacs‘ website Record ID 30150 for a series of letters written by George (KL 2) regarding this issue). He never married, confirmed by his surviving next of kin being his father per his 1916 probate in Victoria, and his brother Frank Anstee per his 1914 Attestation Paper.

He is remembered on the Berrima Roll of Honor, the Cape Clear Pitfield Plains State School Roll of Honour, and the Ballarat, Camperdown, Geelong and Skipton War Memorials, as well as being commemorated by Tree No 9 on the Ballarat Avenue of Honor. He is also remembered at Christ Church, 57 McKillop Street, Geelong, Victoria, on a marble altar (opened 20 March 1920) with wording etched in gold, where two columns flank a carved open book with names of those lost in World War One including his.

Anybody who would like to add anything to this biography, please contact us at research@theansteystory.com.

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