‘True gentleman’ Harry’s life at sea and at the dairy
PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 February 2015 | UPDATED: 08:35 16 February 2015
Royal Navy veteran Harry Mansfield, who worked and lived in Ilford almost his entire life, was remembered last week by his family at the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park.
Harry died on January 17, aged 95, and was buried next to his mother “Mamie” Mansfield who ran the dairy company of the same name.
He served during the Second World War, taking part in the Mediterranean campaign and the Battle for the Atlantic.
Harry was born in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, on October 1, 1919, and attended Highlands School, Highlands Gardens. He excelled at athletics and played right-half for Ilford Boys football team at Upton Park.
Harry’s greatest regret was not continuing his football career, as his mother insisted he joined the family business due to professional footballers’ low wages.
He worked at Mansfield Dairies, established in 1881, with his three brothers. Originally in Ilford Lane, the business relocated to Ley Street. Harry oversaw the company’s electric and petrol vehicles, before the brothers sold the business in 1982.
During the war he saw action with the Royal Navy which left the “biggest impression on his life”, according to his son David, 64.
Harry was a gunner on the HMS Ajax until 1943, participating in the Battle of Matapan off Crete, before protecting merchant ships from U-boats in the Atlantic until the end of the war.
He left the Navy in January 1946 and married Jean Baxter in May 1950. They moved to Vaughan Gardens, Ilford, the same year. They had three children, David, Angela and a son, who died aged six months.
David said: “Over the years in retirement he spent much time visiting friends in Perugia, Italy, where he enjoyed the food and culture, but would always come back to his home in Ilford in order to tend his garden and his beloved geraniums.
“We’ve received many compliments about their memories of Harry, commenting on his charm and that he was one of the few true gentlemen that they knew.”
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