Harold Holt Disappearance
- Unsolved Mysteries
- It has become one of Australia’s most legendary mysteries, fuelled over the years by numerous claims and speculation. However, it’s unlikely we will ever know what happened to Harold Holt. His disappearance while swimming has overshadowed his many achievements as a politician in a career that spanned 32 years.
He was born on the 5th of August 1908, and was the eldest of 2 boys. Between 1913 and 1919 he attended three different schools in Sydney and Adelaide, before being enrolled at Wesley College in Melbourne in 1921. Three years later his mother died, instilling some would later say “a sense of loneliness” that prevailed throughout the rest of his life.
In 1927 he began a law degree and attended the University of Melbourne, excelling at sports as well as debating and essay writing. After graduating in 1930, he found that he could not find work as a Barrister due to the Great Depression and was drawn to politics around the same time.
At the age of 27 he became one of the youngest MP’s at that time. Holt was one of the first MP’s to join the Liberal Party when its was established by Robert Menzies in 1945 and administered many portfolios in his subsequent career, being Minister for Air and Civil Aviation, Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration. With Menzies support, Holt (now Treasurer) was elected leader of the Liberal Party when Menzies retired after his second term and on Australia Day 1966 (the same day 3 children disappeared in Adelaide by the name of Beaumont) he was sworn in as Australia’s new Prime Minister.
In his short term as PM, he faced controversy regarding Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War, after significantly increasing military involvement and defending the US and its President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also faced allegations of allegedly misusing VIP aircraft and his leadership style and public image were questioned by his own party colleagues.
On the morning of Sunday 17th December 1967 Holt, accompanied by three friends and two bodyguards, drove from Melbourne to Cheviot Beach, one of Holt’s favourite swimming and snorkelling spots. Noted for being a strong swimmer, he had swam this area before, which was known for its dangerous rip tides and strong currents.
Soon after entering the water, he was seen being dragged under a wave and was never seen again.
A search soon afterwards by Police, the Army, Navy divers, Air Force helicopters and volunteers still could not find any trace of his body. No formal inquest or investigation was ever conducted due to it being “a waste of time and money”, however Victorian Police compiled a 108-page report and in 2005 a coroner ruled that Holt had drowned in accidental circumstances.
What is known is that at the time of Holt going missing, he was suspected of being in poor health after collapsing in Parliament some months earlier, blaming a “vitamin deficiency”, however many senior Liberals suspected a heart condition. He also had a shoulder injury at the time and was said to be on Morphine, his doctor telling him not to swim or play tennis.
Claims started surfacing soon after that he might have faked his death to be with a mistress. In his wife’s memoirs she stated and confirmed publicly for the first time he had had extra-marital affairs.
British Journalist Anthony Grey published in 1983 a controversial book claiming that Holt had been a spy for the People’s Republic of China and may have been picked up by a Chinese submarine and spent the rest of his life in China.
An even more far-fetched claim is that he was taken by an underwater UFO.
It has also been theorised that he was eaten by a shark or giant squid. However, it is now speculated that he may have taken his own life, as numerous people have come forward saying he was horribly depressed at the time of his disappearance. These claims have been dismissed by Holt’s son, a biographer and former colleagues.
Will the remains of Harold Holt ever be found?
Was there something more sinister, perhaps paranormal, behind him going missing?
Did he fake his own death and if so,why?
Or was one of Australia’s PM’s an Asian spy?
By Matty Sweeney 2013
Picpost by Ashley Hall
Main Pic: Harold Holt also a keen diver.
Inset Upper: The search.
Inset Lower: Prime Minister John McEwen with world leaders at Harold Holt’s memorial service.
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