Time to remember Harry Freame

FOR 15 years, Ballina man Brian Tate has been sitting on a story.

But last Saturday, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day on November 11, it was time for the story to be told.

Mr Tate, a former Australian Federal Police officer, launched his self-published book, the Gallipoli Samurai about Anzac Digger Harry Freame.

"It's something I wanted to get out there," Mr Tate said.

Harry Freame was born in Japan, the son of an Australian man and a Japanese woman who was part of a Samurai clan.

Mr Tate said Freame was never accepted in his country of birth as his father wasn't Japanese - his mother would have to take him, on his birthday, to be registered as an "alien".

It was decided Freame should go to England.

But he ended up working on clipper ships, serving as a mercenary in Mexico then working on the northern NSW tablelands when the First World War broke.

Freame was on the original Anzac landing in 1915 - he listed his birthplace on his enlistment papers as Canada - and Mr Tate's research suggests he was in line to receive the first Victoria Cross of the campaign for his actions in the early days of the landing, only to receive a Distinguished Conduct Medal, possibly because of his ancestry.

In World War II, Freame served Australia as an undercover agent.

But Mr Tate said there was plenty of mystery surrounding the leak of Freame's identity to a Melbourne newspaper, and his subsequent death in 1941.

It took Mr Tate five years to research the book - a project which began because of his interest in the history of World War I.

In reading the volumes of renowned war historian, Charles Bean, Mr Tate said he saw several references to Freame and his Samurai connections.

"I wanted to know what the hell a Samurai was doing at Gallipoli," he said.

The 270-page biography is available at the ABC Centre in River St, Ballina, and Ballina Fair Newsagency.

The book costs $35, which covers the cost of publication of the work.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, November 11, a service will be held at the Ballina cenotaph at 10.45am to mark the time when the guns fell silent - 11am on November 11, 1918 - to signal the end of WWI.


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