Tony Harris (Anthony) (OK 1941) died November 18, 2019

Tony (Anthony) Harris died peacefully on 18 Nov 2019.

His funeral will be held on 16 December at 12 noon at St Swithun’s Church, Headbourne Worthy 

Tributes to Colonel Harris can be left here:

Colonel AS Harris

Tony Harris, who died on 18 November 2019 aged 97, joined the Junior School aged 9 in 1931, and left the Senior School 10 years later. By his own admission, his academic record was modest but he was a keen and talented sportsman: was scrum half for the 1st XV; was a batsman in the 1st X1 Cricket and was Captain of Fives. Additionally, he was CQMS in the OTC and coxed at the Thames Rowing Club at Putney as well as being a junior member of Wimbledon Park Golf Club. Most notably, he was Senior Prefect/Head Boy.

In 1940, the Country was at war and the threat of invasion very real. Thus, Tony in his last year at School, joined his father (a Solicitor in the City) in the local Home Guard. His father was the Company Commander responsible for covering the southern arc of Wimbledon Common against possible German parachute landings. The Company Headquarters was in a large requisitioned building on Parkside with Tony assisting with the weapon training on most evenings. That cannot have helped his studies!

On leaving School, Tony joined the Royal Marines initially in the ranks as, despite passing the Civil Commissioners exam, he was not chosen for one of the very few Royal Marines Commission vacancies. However, he was soon called-up and joined his chosen Corps as a Marine. Unsurprisingly, given his educational background and OTC experience – including the Certificate ‘A’ qualification – he was soon commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

Tony spent the war with the large Royal Marines Detachment in HMS Renown – a 6 x 15 inch gun Battlecruiser.  His time on board was not without historical interest: Winston Churchill returned from Halifax post the second Quebec Conference with Roosevelt; Churchill was also conveyed to Alexandria en route to the Tehran Conference with Roosevelt and Stalin; and the German Navy Surrender Conference of 10 and 11 May 1945 was held on board in the Firth of Forth.

In 1946, Tony was selected for a regular Commission. As Britain’s Sea Soldiers, with the soldiering having been adapted during the Second World War to the RM Commandos, Tony now had to earn his Green Beret on the Commando Course – then at Towyn, North Wales. This arduous, challenging course caused Tony no difficulties: he was tough, fearless, extremely fit and full of confidence.

Tony’s subsequent career involved Commando service in Malta; Flag Lieutenant to the Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic based on Simon’s Town, South Africa where he proved himself to be at ease socially, an assiduous organiser and a naturally good administrator; training roles at the Royal Marines Officer’s School in Devon and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and a variety of staff appointments. These included attendance at the Army’s prestigious Staff College at Camberley and the Joint Services Staff College at Latimer in Buckinghamshire; the Ministry of Defence; HMS Jufair (Bahrein) and a NATO posting at Brunssum in Holland. In all aspects of his life, Tony was totally meticulous, and this showed in his work as a highly regarded staff officer.

Tony’s last appointment was as Commanding Officer of Eastney Barracks in Southsea which he assumed in June 1969 whilst simultaneously being appointed an AdC to Her Majesty, The Queen. After 31 years’ service, he retired from the Royal Marines in July 1972.

Tony’s second career from 1973 to 1987 was in Property Management with Capital Counties (later Liberty International). He was very happy in a fairly independent and wide-ranging role, which often took him out of the office. Away from work, he loved gardening and proved to be creative and resourceful in undertaking challenging DIY tasks, leading to his becoming a furniture restorer of meticulously high standards.

Having always been a very active sportsman and after rugger and cross country running, golf predominated. He was a very active member of Harewood Downs Golf Club; the Senior Golfers Society and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Golfing Societies.

On the family side, in September 1951, whilst living in Admiralty House, Simon’s Town, Tony met his future wife Sue Selby (daughter of Rear Admiral W.H. (Hal) Selby).  On Sue’s 24th birthday Tony proposed and they were married in Bearsted, Kent in December 1952.  They had three daughters: Diana, Anne & Jane to whom Tony was devoted.

Tragically Sue, his wife of 24 years, died in 1977. He bore that devastating loss, and that of his second daughter, Anne, many years later, privately and stoically – bolstered by his Christian faith.

Tony’s last years, were spent in care homes at Hindhead and near Winchester, where he enjoyed comfort, care and a significant degree of independent living. He remained mentally very alert and up to date and kept in touch with old friends by phone and email.

Tony Harris was a charming mess-mate and a very loyal, intelligent, thoroughly capable officer, totally dedicated to Service and Country.  He was also a shining example of how to embrace old age with great courage and cheerfulness.