Harold's Early Life

In the late 1700s British colonists from Barbados began settling on the north coast of South America and by the year 1800 the area around Essequibo and Demerara had over 380 sugar cane plantations. In 1831 the British merged the old Dutch colonies of Essequibo and Demerara to create British Guiana.

Harold Ozanne’s mother Mary Searle had been born on the Trinidad Sugar Estates at Orange Grove, Trinidad, and in 1876 at the age of 18 she married Harold's father John Henry Ozanne a plantation manager.  At the time of Harold's birth in April 1879 John and Mary Ozanne were living on the Zeelandia Plantation on the north coast of Guiana. This was one of many plantations on Wakenaam, the largest of the Essequibo River islands. Located at the extreme northern end of the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Zeelandia is also a fishing village.

Harold’s sister Katherine was also born in Guiana, on the Lusignan Plantation east of Georgetown, in 1880.

Harold’s father John later moved from Guiana to St Lucia (around 1892) but after the failure of his agricultural venture he joined the British Colonial service. He became the Travelling Commissioner for the north bank of the Gambia River and played a key role in establishing the territory as a British Protectorate. For his colonial service he was awarded the CMG (Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George). In 1902 he developed black water fever (a type of malaria) and he died aged 49 in Bathurst, the main town of Gambia. Being a true colonialist his wife Mary avoided the cold weather of England; she lived in France and died in the Bristol Hotel, Cannes in 1928.

In 1895 Harold went to Queen Elizabeth College in Guernsey.

He would have had three uncles and an aunt living on Guernsey at the time. One of the uncles Edward (later Sir Edward) Chepmell Ozanne would become Bailiff (Governor) of Guernsey; Sir Edward's only son (also named Edward) was killed in France in 1915.  

From school Harold entered the Royal Naval College in September 1897 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in June 1898