72 years ago, during the deadliest war this world has ever seen, Harry Anstey was a part of the British forces in the D Day landings at Normandy. The honour was bestowed upon Mr Anstey at the Currumbin RSL memorial garden and cenotaph where those in attendance came to revisit and mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim the continent of Europe to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews assassinated in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. In Normandy, on the 6 June 1944 the rescue began. The Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right. Faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. Ron Workman OAM, Currumbin RSL President felt privileged to present the Medal of the French Legion of Honour which is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May 1802 and is the highest decoration bestowed in France. “There is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. Harry, you were there to liberate, not to conquer and so you and your compatriots did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.” Said Mr Workman in his address. “As such on the 70th anniversary of the landing at Normandy, the French Republic decided to honour veterans who fought for the liberation of France by awarding them to the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honour. “The award of such a decoration is decided by the President of the French Republic and subject to a very strict examination. “And I Ron Workman OAM President of Currumbin Palm Beach RSL representing the French Consul of Australia have the Honour of bestowing the Medal of the French Legion of Honour” Henry (Harry) George Anstey was born in 1925 in the harbour town of Poole, Dorset in the U.K. and was 14 years old when war was declared. The town experienced bombings and Harry had the task of fire-watching with the home guard until he volunteered for the Royal Marines in 1942. After training Harry was suddenly transferred to “Combined Operations” where his group started intensive training ready for what he was later to learn was the forthcoming invasion of Normandy. Harry spent most of 1943 training at locations throughout the UK in all aspects of beach landings and rock climbing. At the beginning of 1944 Harry was training in landing craft techniques and beach landings on the South coast of England and then in the early hours of June 6th 1944, Harry became part of the D-Day Normandy landings. Harry has vivid memories of very rough seas and shocking sights when he landed. Those memories will stay with him forever and are rarely discussed. However, after several months of fighting in France and getting as far as Caen he is happy to say that apart from being violently sea-sick, he came through unscathed and returned to the U.K. After his D day experience Harry volunteered for the Commandos. He had 6 weeks intensive training in North Wales and then to Achnacarry in Scotland where he completed the rest of the Commando training and received his honoured Green Beret. Harry often refers to his time at Achnacarry which was infamous for its isolated position in Scotland and its rough, tough approach to Commando training. Harry then travelled to the Far East to Bombay, India where he joined 3 Commando Brigade. From there he spent time in Singapore, Penang Island, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong and it was there that he heard that the Americans had dropped a large bomb on Japan. After the end of the war Harry returned to the U.K. where he met and married his wife of 66 years, Lucie. In 1951 their son Richard was born and Harry joined a large Petroleum company where he until he retired in 1990. In 1976 their only child Richard and his wife Glynis immigrated to Australia with their child and after several holidays to Australia, Harry and Lucie decided to moved to Australia also and settled at Elanora on the Gold Coast in Queensland in 1992. Harry and Lucie now have their son Richard and daughter-in-law Glynis, 4 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren and they have made lots of friends and neighbours over the years. Harry has been a member of the Royal Marine Association most of his life and is currently Vice President of the Gold Coast Chapter of the Royal Marine Association.
On 7 September 2016 Henry George (Harry) Anstey of the third Commando Brigade of the British Royal Marines and World War II veteran, was awarded the Medal of the French Legion of Honour.