It's 52 Years Since Australia's 17th Prime Minister Disappeared Without A Trace While In Office
When you think of conspiracy theories, some of the first that come to mind might well be those surrounding 11 September, the moon landing or the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
In Australia, we have our own mysterious occurrence that could scarcely have happened to a more important person: the Prime Minister.
It's 52 years to the day that Harold Holt, Australia's 17th leader, went for a swim at Victoria's Cheviot Beach before lunch and never returned.
The former PM was a big fan of swimming and spearfishing, and had been to this particular beach many times. He was even reported to have said that knew the beach 'like the back of [his] hand' - so he was well versed with his surroundings.
The conditions on the day were described as 'rough', but that didn't stop Holt from swimming into deeper water before being caught in a rip that took him out to sea.
According to Tom Frame in his book The Life and Death of Harold Holt, his disappearance sparked 'one of the largest search operations in Australian history'.
Sadly though, his body was never found.
It wasn't until 2005 that a coronial inquest ruled that the former leader died of accidental drowning and that he had overestimated his swimming ability on the day.
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But because it was such a bizarre thing for a sitting Prime Minister to just disappear, especially in the middle of the Cold War, it sparked many conspiracy theories.
Some people started saying that the death was actually a suicide, however those closest to Mr Holt say that wouldn't have happened. Others have speculated that he was kidnapped by Chinese communists in a submarine, assassinated by the CIA or he faked his own death to escape Australia.
On the 50th anniversary of his death, the National Archives released a load of letters from people all claiming to know what happened to him.
One of the most notable came from an American lawyer who claimed that Holt was the victim of 'some delayed-effect drug' given to him by 'expert sabotage, probably foreign'.
The letter explained: "This would be revealed by expert autopsy, unless it's one of the new disappearing ones."
Another letter suggested that he was taken by spies to Asia.
It read: "I think that Mr Holt was kidnapped and taken away by submarines, and is being brainwashed for political information.
"Our enemies know that Mr Holt and president [Lyndon B] Johnson were close friends. A word to the wise is enough - and I shall leave the rest to you and our government."
None of these have been proven... obviously.
Featured Image Credit: National Library of Australia
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