Henry Wykeham (Harry) FREAME

FREAME, Henry Wykeham

Service Number: NX177991
Enlisted: 31 October 1941
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Uralla, New South Wales, Australia, 5 December 1921
Home Town: Kentucky, Uralla, New South Wales
Schooling: Armidale High School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Orchardist
Died: Killed in Action, Tarakan, Borneo, 8 May 1945, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Labuan War Cemetery
15. D. 6.,
Memorials: Armidale High School WW2 In Memoriam Honour Roll, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Kentucky Memorial Gates, Uralla Alma Park Soldiers Memorial Gates
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Lieutenant, NX177991
31 Oct 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, NX177991, 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion
22 Oct 1942: Promoted Lance Sergeant, Australian Army Provost Corps (WW2)
5 Feb 1943: Promoted Sergeant, Australian Army Provost Corps (WW2)
26 Mar 1943: Transferred Sergeant, Staff Corps
5 Apr 1944: Promoted Lieutenant, Staff Corps
12 Aug 1944: Transferred Lieutenant, 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion
1 May 1945: Involvement Lieutenant, NX177991, 2nd/24th Infantry Battalion, Borneo - Operation Oboe July - August 1945

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

Henry Wykeham Freame was born at Uralla, New South Wales on 5 December 1921 to Edith May Soppitt and Wykeham Henry Koba Freame.

His father, of Australian and Japanese parentage, was a renowned scout at Anzac, awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry and twice wounded in action, whilst his mother came from Middleborough, England.

After completing his leaving certificate at Armidale High School, Henry moved to Sydney for work and to take up  a bursary he won to the Sydney Technical College, which he attend at night.

This only last 12 months, and following his mother's death in 1939 he moved back to the family farm at Kentucky to look after the orchard. His father, fluent in Japanese, had taken up a diplomatic role with the Australian Government in Japan in 1940. This position was not without controversy or its risks. In April 1941 he returned to Australia croniclly ill and on 27 May 1941 he died. The circumstances and cause of his death were clouded in controversy with suggestions he was garrotted in Japan - the official cause of death was cancer.

Following his father's death, Henry moved off the farm and joined the militia in late 1941 after being placed on a waiting list for the RAAF.  Subsequently, he was accepted by the air force but army authorities refused to release him. Transferring to the AIF, he was granted entry to the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1943. He graduated top of his class in 1944 and was awarded the King's Medal.

Commissioned as a Lieutenant, Henry was transferred to the 2/24 Battalion. In late April 1945 he embarked in the "Westralia" from Morotai for Tarakan as part of the first stage of "Oboe One" to secure and develop the island's airstrip so that it could be used to provide air cover for subsequent landings in Brunei, Labuan and Balikpapan.  The 2/24th landed at Red Beach, Tarakan mid-morning on 1 May before moving north in the afternoon. In the early morning of May 2 it was in the thick of the action in the hinterland of the township, with Lieutenant Freame to the fore.

By 8.35 am the northern position had been secured except for one big bunker protected against grenading by a system of deep slit trenches. At 11.10 am, while intense small arms fire was poured at all the slits, Lieutenant Freame moved out with a flame-thrower to a slit at the north-west side of the bunker and fired a long burst of flame into it. He then did the same at a slit on the west side whence a grenade was thrown but without harming him. The bunker then exploded and collapsed. The ammunition stored in this bunker continued to burn for four days.

A few days later Lieutenant Henry Freame was on sick  parade with an abcess under a tooth. He was admitted to hospital for treatment. This would be the end of his war - he would be murdered in the hospital ward by a Japanese soldier who infiltrated the field hospital. Staying the night after treatment and, as he slept, the soldier crept in and threw a fused shell under his bed. Lieutenant Freame was killed instantly, on Europe's V.E. Day.

See Postscript - http://www.pixnet.co.uk/pixsg/AA-HISTORY/World-War/Goodyear/Goodyear/goodyear-pages/Freame-pages/narrative06.html (www.pixnet.co.uk) 

Lieutenant Henry Wykeham Freame was buried adjacent to the field hospital on Tarakan. Later his remains were reinterred at the Labuan War Cemetery.