One of the most enduring mysteries of the so-called ‘swinging 1960s’ was the bizarre disappearance of Australia’s seventeenth Prime Minister, of a mere 22 months in office in 1967, that being, Harold Edward Holt.
The Prime Minister had departed for a cooling swim on a Sunday morning with some friends on December 17th 1967 in Portsea nr Victoria in Australia. He was never to be seen again and in spite of an extensive land and sea search his body was never recovered. All very strange.
Previously when Harold Holt succeeded Prime Minister Robert Menzies he arrived like a breath of Alpine air to Aussie politics, soon to be engaging in TV debates, hiring a speechwriter and on his way to the Prime Minister’s residence. He would frequently instruct the driver to pull over the car, get out and chat to waiting tourists, maybe sign an autograph for them as well. A man of the people it seems but was it all a front. In fact Menzies always saw his protégée, as a bit of a ‘showman’ when it seems he was nothing more than ‘a sleeper’ for many years aiding the enemy, betraying secrets and maybe lives to a foreign Government, and all for money, this according to Anthony Grey’s well-researched 1983 book The Prime Minister was a spy. Holt it seems was not a spy from conviction but simply for cash, perhaps the worse kind.
In the remaining 46 years since his disappearance in 1967 very little fresh information has surfaced about the man or the mystery of his disappearance at Cheviot beach, near his then country home.
Although rumours have since surfaced of a CIA drug transportation from Vietnam and Cambodia, with millions of dollars flowing through certain Australian banks, did draw his name into this murky web of crime.
Yet behind his engaging smile, it seems Harold Edward Holt was a rather complex man, difficult to read or rely on after the loss of his mother at 16-years-old. (He did not attend her funeral for some reason and later an emotional difference with his father over Holt’s young girlfriend would scar him for the rest of his life.) He was a man it seems who always wished for people to like him, whatever the price, and isn’t this always a dangerous flaw in any character that can breed fear and failure if not reined it, certainly fatal in any politician of course.
Premier Holt, it has since emerged, was reputedly a serial adulterer and blasphemer and possibly a dangerous spy, who for large sums of money over a 30-year-period, would betray his country. In retrospect a man ensnared in his own serial sinning, but no different from any other devious politician functioning in this fallen world.
Over most of his political life, Harold Holt psychologically seems to have had a father fixation focusing primarily on three older men, who would influence his decisions in a different way through the years. The first would his political mentor, Prime Minister Robert Menzies (Menzies was a top freemason of the Austral temporal Lodge, yet I can find no mention of Holt serving any lodge or craft himself, or maybe he was just an ‘unattached brother.’) The second role model again from the political circus who caught Holt’s eye was the flamboyant bully of American politics and serving Mason, good old Lyndon Baines Johnson and indeed LBJ thought so highly of Holt, even to fly to Australia for his funeral.
It is even claimed that it was Holt who coined that phrase of the Vietnam War ‘all the way with LBJ,’ which his enemies quickly corrected to ‘grovelling all the way with LBJ.’ Most interesting to me was that for over twenty years his appointed Chinese communist handler by the name of a ‘Mr. W. D. Wong’ was Holt’s contact. Yet it all rather sounds like Charlie Chan territory doesn’t it and maybe the popular Hawaiian detective in that recognizable white Panama hat could and would have solved this mystery of the missing Prime Minister in the blink of his professional eye.
In fact, the saved Christian today should have one central figure in his life, that is God the Father and in fact, the Lord Jesus insists on this when He says: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
The Prime Minister seems to have had in the years before his vanishing act many frequent meetings with Mr. Wong and other communist cadres, in remote roadside lay-bys, and as well in his old solicitor’s offices.
In fact, it seems the Australian secret service (AS10) were on the alert for some time to what was going on in the Holt Government. They even may have suspected him of spying for a foreign power for years (maybe Soviet Russia it seems.) And indeed, “An informed security source revealed in 1982 that no sensitive material should in AS10’s view be passed to the Prime Minister,” writes Anthony Grey. What an amazing statement this is that the Prime Minister of the day was to be denied seeing sensitive material and that it was to be withheld from his eyes. This would certainly offer someone in that organization or in the cabinet the idea to have him removed as a security risk and quickly from the political arena.
In 1966 Harold Holt left Australia for serious talks in Washington with LBJ for further troops to be involved alongside the Americans. He would incidentally later return to Washington after earlier meetings with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who had always remained cool to the suggestion of involving British troops or others to the Vietnamese War, which he saw as un-winnable and a waste of young lives. (My son James visited America some years ago and was able to see the Vietnam Monument himself in Washington, a moving experience he later informed me.)
What was to follow writes Mr. Grey was that: “Holt and his entourage stopped over in San Francisco and to the astonishment and alarm of his aides, Holt disappeared for two days, saying only he was going sightseeing. He went off on his own and did not return for forty-eight hours.” What an incredible story this is and where did Holt head for, indeed was he taken by force against his own free will or was maybe a double inserted by a foreign power (China, maybe Russia?) Was he the victim of some sexual aerobics, ‘Frisco’ certainly had a reputation then for this in those ‘flower-power days,’ or was it a more sinister dress rehearsal arranged by the Chinese Intelligence Service of what would happen in the following year at Cheviot Beach, or perhaps a briefing of what would happen when he arrived in China. Or maybe it was just the sins of the old flesh that defeated a willing the Prime Minister in the so-called ‘city of love.’
Three possible scenarios are now presented for us to try and understand if possible the late Harold Holt’s disappearance, that day at 12:15 pm, when he walked into the swirling surf, never to be seen again it seems.
On the afternoon when he went for his habitual swim and after dismissing his detectives, he entered into the water, always an accomplished swimmer, as well as knowing the dangers concerning concealed whirlpools and hidden rocks. He encounters a sudden undertow that knocks him over thereby hitting his head then passing out and drowning. Interestingly at this bend in the beach and cove much flotsam of the sea is washed ashore eventually by the incoming tide, but of Holt’s body, nothing was recovered. Conclusion death by accident.
Or he was murdered by a hired assassin paid for by big business and through shady American contractors. Or someone in his own Government gave the order to ‘take him out’ after Holt’s cover had been blown. This would not be the first time this has happened or been heard of. Perhaps the incompetence of the Australian secret service may have allowed them to create further suspects to take the blame away from their own office of Government, there were after all many suspects thrown up at the time such as the mafia oil barons and CIA hit men, as reported in the popular press. Conclusion: these cannot be proved.
Anthony Grey’s scenario as explained in detail in his book concerning the alleged Chinese connection should also be examined as well. If indeed Holt was a serial spy serving his masters for money, then he was motivated by greed, perhaps to fuel his gambling addiction in his early years is understandable but never justified. But if it were betraying his country because of a conviction in the communist system before and when he became Prime Minister, this is more puzzling, for over 30 years Holt the traitor because that is what he must be called. He was sending top-secret intelligence and financial data to his Chinese masters for them to use against his own country. I suspect he was no longer doing it just for the money, after all, he was rich in his own right now, but was this some form of family payback or revenge against his own father, and what he had suffered in his early years and the betrayal of the young girl he loved, who in return rejected his proposal and later married Holt Snr. I still find it difficult to discover his motive for betraying his father and suspect it is somewhere hidden in his adolescent years.
The removal of Holt by Chinese frogmen as explained by Anthony Grey by leading him along a placed rope under the sea of Port Philip Bay into the waiting unmarked submarine is brilliant in itself, and it just might be true. The sighting of a submarine off the coast of southeastern Australia in the area to where Holt was last seen should also be noted. So maybe the Australian security people or others wanted Holt to make a graceful if not mysterious exit from Australian politics. Also the mysterious sightings in the bay of water eruption, dim lights were all seen by witnesses who themselves would disappear later or be attacked, does certainly suggest something unique did happen that day in the surf that swallowed up the Prime Minister for ever and forever it seems.
“It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment.”
Postscript: incidentally I thought that his late wife, Dame Zara’s remarks about her husband as rather fatuous, when she was reported as saying, “Harry? A Chinese sub? He didn’t even like Chinese cooking.” It’s a sad thing and uncalled for to joke about her husband’s fate and father of her children as well, but perhaps there is a clue there in what his family knew of the man and what she thought of him herself. Also, I just noticed a photograph of her jaded and rather neglected headstone with the wording illegible and faded as well, not sure why the family have let it sink into this state of neglect and disrepair either.
Mr. Grey claims that Harold Holt eventually died in Beijing. I will e-mail him to try and find the year of the death and update this article with his reply if and when I receive an answer.
Grey concludes in his book that, “I’m left with a very real conviction that this is in essence a true account of what lay behind Harold Holt’s mysterious disappearance. But I can’t guarantee that it is true.” Nor should Mr. Grey have to, that decisive decision lies in the hands of the Australian Premier, Kevin Rudd. Today the world always loves a mystery and this will continue to roll on until Kevin Rudd orders a new enquiry to end once and for all this maritime mystery. And it is indeed interesting and for no particular reason that the James Bond hit film, released in June 1967, and we know the Prime Minister was a Bond fan was You Only Live Twice, so if Mr. Grey and his research is correct the Australian Prime Minister did indeed live out his second new arranged life in Mao Tse-tungs communist China, and I do wonder if he ever had any regrets of what he had put himself and his family through for all those years after his daunting disappearing act, and more importantly did he learn to appreciate Chinese cooking after all.
This article is dedicated to our good friend brother Eric for all the support and kind friendship he has shown to both of us at this ministry, it is very much appreciated.
The Prime Minister was a spy, Anthony Grey
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