Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Remembering a Veteran: Col. Harold Ozanne, Royal Marines Light Infantry

Readers of Herman Wouk's Winds of War and War and Remembrance surely recall Capt. Pug Henry, USN, who managed to appear in almost all the key battles of the war from Moscow to Leyte Gulf.  A real-life character from the Great War with a similar resume is Colonel Harold Ozanne of the Royal Marines. I discovered him while doing a little research on the Battle of Jutland, where he not only fought but also found himself assigned to the battleship that set the record for receiving and surviving incoming fire during the 36-hour struggle. Here in outline form is a summary of his service. 

Lt. Harold Ozanne, Before the War

Born in British Guiana in 1879

Royal Naval College 1897

Commissioned Royal Marines, June 1898

From 1898 to 1916 he served at sea regularly as the officer commanding the Royal Marine detachment on board Royal Navy battleships and cruisers in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, West Indies, and around the British Isles.

Deployed in naval detachment Winston Churchill sent to Ostend, Belgium, in August 1914, returned and sent back to the fleet.

Survived sinking of HMS Cressy, victim along with HMS Houge and Aboukir, of U-9 on 22 September 1914.  Saved by Dutch fishermen.

Assigned to HMS Warspite at Jutland. Warspite survived more enemy hits than any other ship in the battle and a subsequent U-boat attack while heading home.

Volunteered for service in France and was assigned to the Royal Naval Division in August 1916.  Fought in last phase of the Battle of the Somme and again in the sector in February 1917. He was one of only two officers of the unit to survive the action.

1917 Portrait

In the Battle of Arras, April 1917,  fought two major actions. The Royal Marines suffered more casualties than in any other engagement in their history. Ozanne promoted to lieutenant colonel and command of the 1st Royal Marine Light Infantry.

October 1917, fought in late stages of Passchendaele with the unit, again taking heavy casualties.

Rotated Home in 1918. His superiors felt he had seen enough.

Retired from service in 1927. Recalled to command a Royal Marine depot in WWII.  Finally retired in January 1944 and died a year later.

Col. Ozanne, Back in Harness in WWII

There is an entire website dedicated to the life of Col. Ozanne and it has detailed information on all the events listed above, HERE.


  1. Bernard Cornwell's character Richard Sharpe is another who is everywhere significant in his time, even at the Battle of Trafalgar although he's a rifleman.

  2. The actual person who Wouk probably modeled his main character on in Winds of War was Vadm. Charles A. Lockwood USN who had been a Naval Attache in London in 1941 before moving to the pacific in 1942. Herman Wouk did his background studies partially at the Naval Historical office in Washington DC where one of his advisors was Vadm George Dyer USN Rtd at the time. Lockwood was of the proper age and rank that Wouk was looking for at the time.

  3. Great post about a true "old soldier."

  4. Reminds me of Violet Jessop, a nurse who survived accidents on the three doomed White Star Line sister ships: the Titanic; the Britainic; and the Olympic, which didn't sink, but did collide with another ship.