Harry Freame Jn with his mother 1937. This is the fifteenth in a series on Australia's early intelligence activities, the eleven on the life of Harry Freame.As the international scene darkened in the late 1930, the Freame family faced a new set of problems.
Things had been going so well. Harry Jnr had won a bursary to study at the technical college in Sydney, working during the day and studying at night.
A 1937 photo of Harry Jnr with his mother from the Sheila Goodyear collection shows her pride in him. Harry Jnr is wearing his Armidale High blazer with its prefect’s badge, while his mother beams at the camera.
Grace, too, was doing well at school with the family planning to send her to secondary school at Arnidale High.
In June 1939, May Freame became ill. On the Wednesday night 23 August 1939, Harry Snr caught the train from Kentucky to Sydney to meet a lady friend and missionary from Japan who had worked with his sister Grace. This is one of the few references we have to Harry’s Japanese family.
May had been unwell, but insisted Harry go because the meeting had already been delayed.
Next morning, Thursday 24 August, May was again ill but got young Grace off to school. Just after Grace left, May had two heart attacks. She was alone, but was finally found by a salesman and taken to St Elmo’s Hospital in Uralla.
The news reached Harry at his son’s place where he was staying. He rushed home. May was very sick and finally died at St Elmo’s Hospital on 7 September 1939.
Writing home, Harry Jnr said that May had been suffering from severe diabetes. Neither she nor the family knew how ill she was.
The problem was that “she would have nothing to do with doctors and was afraid of having to go to hospital.” Looking at May’s earlier history, we can perhaps understand why.
Harry Jnr then outlined their plans. His father was completely broken up: “next year we plan, overseas circumstances permitting, to live in Sydney and sell our own fruit, having a manager on the orchard and Grace will go away to Armidale High school and the Church of England’s Girls’ Hostel.
He concluded: “we are having a very lean time at the moment but hope things will improve.”
By December 1939, plans had shifted again. Writing to the English family, Harry Snr said that Grace was still to board so that she could study at Armidale High, but that Harry Jnr had come home to the farm because he, Harry Snr, had accepted a job with the Australian military.
This is the first reference we have to the next and last stage in Harry’s life, one that would be as shrouded in mystery as all those that had gone before.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 22 May 2019. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017, here 2018, here 2019