Harold Holt Disappearance
“In 1967 the [Australian] Prime Minister, Harold Holt, was strolling along a beach in Victoria when he plunged into the surf and vanished. No trace of the poor man was ever seen again. This seemed doubly astounding to me – first that Australia could just lose a Prime Minister (I mean, come on) and second that news of this had never reached me.” —Bill Bryson, Down Under
On the morning of 17 December 1967, Holt, Australia’s seventeenth prime minister walked into the sea near his holiday home at Portsea, Victoria, as a group of friends watched. Suddently he disappeared from view into a turbulent surf. Prolonged sea and air searches failed to find any trace of his body, and presidents and prime ministers from all over the world flew to Australia to attend a memorial service on the assumption that he had drowned. Some say it was an accident, some a suicide. Tall tales claimed that his body had been found with a bullet in it, and that he was a Soviet spy in the mold of Kim Philby. Even wilder stories alleged he had been kidnapped by a Chinese submarine, or a UFO.
Holt was a strong swimmer and an experienced diver. However, his health was far from perfect at the time of his death — he had collapsed in Parliament earlier in the year.
Below, aerial photo of Cheviot Beach where Holt disappeared: