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February 8

"... there has been no indication that the disappearance of the late [Australian Prime Minister] Mr [Harold] Holt was anything other than accidental ". ~ joint report by Commonwealth and Victoria Police, January 1968

8th February, 1968 - Harold Holt found aliveIn 1968, an international crisis quickly developed after a botched attempt on the life of Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of The Australian broadsheet newspaper.

Murdoch had obtained possession of a letter addressed to Marjorie Gillespie. The author was written by her lover, former Prime Minister Harold Holt who had disappeared in December 1967 while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, and was presumed drowned. The police report from just one month earlier had wrongly concluded "... there has been no indication that the disappearance of the late Mr Holt was anything other than accidental ".

Most damning of all was the content of the letter which stated that Holt had been on the verge of a major policy change regarding Australia's involvement in Vietnam. This sentiment in itself was unsurprising, having coined his famous declaration "all the way with LBJ" it would soon be evident that Johnson himself was finished; within six weeks he would withdraw his name from the forthcoming presidential election.

Worse still, he claimed to have been seized by the CIA to forestall his announcement, and had smuggled the letter out to Gillespie. His successor John Gordon had no time for the United States and would soon be demanding the return of Holt at the threat of terminating Australian-American relations. Those relations had been developing due to Britain's East of Suez disengagement that had brought the two countries closer together.

Needless to say it was now almost certain that Australian would withdraw her troop deployment from Vietnam, less than eighteen months after Holt had trebled it. During that short time though Australian casualties had climbed in desperate battles such as Long Tan. Had Murdoch of been killed the letter would never had been published in the The Australian.

Wikipedia Note: in reality and despite the on-going and various conspiracy theories the Coroner's finding in 2003 was that Holt had drowned in accidental circumstances.