Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A brief period of stability and success for the Freame family as the clouds gather

Boarders at St Johns Hostel, Armidale, 1937.Back row: F R Allen (Warden), W (Bill) Peters, - McGlauchlan, I Thompson, H Conway, R (Bob) McLean, R (Bob) Jack, J S Keogh, B (Barry) Cook, K (Ken) Bowman, C (Colvin) Churches, D (David) Marr, - Morrison, L (Laurie) Barnes, B (Bruce) McKenzie, - McRae, S (Stauby) Baker Third row: D Spencer, J B Ivor, Bruce-Smith, W (Wal) Sabine, - Godfrey, J (Jim) Munro, D Hall, J (Canary) Woodhouse, H (Harry) Freame Jnr, I (Ian) Ferris, R Crawford, J (Jack) Thompson, C (Charlie) Sourri, J (Jim) Morrison, D Ferris, C (Chicka) Henderson. Second row: E (Edward) King, M (Max) Virtue, A (Austin) Kimball, B (Basil) Virtue, K (Ken) Wall, J (John) Millett, F Kerr, - Roper, Canon Dickens, Matron, Dr Drummond, R (Bob) Gray, R L Waugh, R (Ross) Clark, P (Peter) Capel, W (Wal) Samuels, R (Rex) Hobden, - McGee. Front row: R (Ron) Green, M (Malcolm) Hawke, I A (Ian) Clarke, A (Allan) Gray, J (John) Hays, A G Thomas, N (Norm) Melick, D Hays, J Rolands, A J Jameson, D Dowe, J E (Jas) Barnes, A R Keohan, C R (Clinga) Gibson, R (Ron) Gray.

This is the twelfth in a series on Australia's early intelligence activities, the eight on the life of Harry Freame.  

Following May Freame’s return to Kentucky, she seems to have settled back into local life. Initially Josephine remained with the family, but in 1934 she made the decision to leave the Freame household to live in Sydney.

This was a brief period of stability for Harry and his family.

May was much better. Writing to her family just before Christmas 1938, she said that had been able to manage in the house without help with a little assistance from Henry (the family always called Harry Henry) when he was not too busy. “I much prefer having my home again”, she wrote.

Harry Jnr had been doing well at Armidale High School, boarding at St John’s Hostel.

Today, we forget how difficult transport was with rough roads and few private cars. Kentucky is only 39 kilometers from Armidale, but that made daily attendance at High impossible without boarding.

To assist country children who could not afford to pay the fees at one of the city’s boarding schools, the Anglican Church maintained boys’ and girls’ hostels in Armidale where country children could board while attending Armidale High.

It is clear that Harry Jnr enjoyed his time boarding and at Armidale High. Writing to the English family at the end of 1937 to thank them for their Christmas presents, his letter is full of successes in sport, of being a prefect, of how much he had enjoyed his time at school.

The family hoped that he would get a bursary for further study. He did, one of three NSW bursaries for further study at the Technical College in Sydney.

 Grace was also doing well at school. The brief reports in the Uralla Times record some of her primary school successes. There was hope that she could board at the Girls’ Memorial Hostel to study at Armidale High.

Grace and Harry Jnr clearly got on. In his letter home, Harry Jnr records how she had insisted on polishing one of his silver trophies!

Reflecting on this period in Harry’s life, I was glad for the family successes but also greatly saddened. Clouds were now gathering that would take Harry back into his past and, in the end, destroy the things he had worked so hard achieve.

The early intelligence assessments that had led to the creation of Australian’s first intelligence operations after the First World War had focused on the Pacific and especially Japan.

Japan was seen, correctly, as a strategic threat to Australia and the Empire.  Prime Minister Hughes had dismantled the effort. Now that decision would come home to haunt Australia.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 1 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  2017here 2018, here 2019   


Hels said...

I don't know how I thought country children got to school each day. However I am very relieved to hear that the Anglican Church maintained boys’ and girls’ hostels in Armidale where country children could board.

Jim Belshaw said...

getting to school could be a battle. Providing education, primary initially, to a growing but thinly spread population was a challenge. In NSW, you had part time and travelling schools as well as one teacher schools. As secondary education spread, you had some secondary schools plus primary schools with secondary tops.

To get to school, kids rose or walked, sometimes in bare foot which was not as much as a burden as it sounds. I rarely wore shores as a child. To get to Armidale where the High was in the 1920s from Kentucky was too long a horse rise, there were no school buses and few cars.