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FREEMAN, Harvey MC (1897-1917) +

H Freeman (GC War Service).

H Freeman (GC War Service).

FREEMAN, Harvey MC (1897-1917)

Harvey Freeman was born on 7 September 1897, the son of Benjamin James Freeman and Emily nee Dann.

He attended Flinders School, Geelong and was a day student at Geelong College from 12 February 1912. He is recorded as re-entering the School on 14 February 1913 and leaving in August 1913. He subsequently developed into a fine athlete, and won the Old Boys’ 440 Yards Handicap in 1914. At the time of his enrolment his address was Waverly, Western Beach, Geelong.

He was employed by Dennys Lascelles Geelong for some time, and, as a Lieutenant in the Citizen Forces, he had been instructing at the Geelong Camp for twelve months. He had been a member of the 71st Infantry.

On reaching the age of 18, he enlisted on 10 February 1916 during World War I as a Private in the AIF, and soon obtained his commission as a Second Lieutenant at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He sailed on HMAT A30 Borda from Sydney on 5 June 1916 for France - according to Pegasus of December 1917, the youngest Australian officer to leave these shores.

He was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted 17 December, 1917:
‘On 4th October 1917, east of Ypres, this Officer was in charge of six machine guns and advanced with the assaulting Infantry. During the advance over heavily shelled ground his teams sustained casualties, but by rapid organisation he succeeded in getting the whole of his guns to the final objective. Under heavy enemy shell fire, he displayed skill in selection of gun positions and great courage and initiative in the handling of his guns, thus being able to inflict severe losses on the enemy.’

Memorial to H Freeman at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Memorial to H Freeman at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Pte V M Jones wrote to the Red Cross Information Bureau of the circumstances of the death of Harvey Freeman of 11th Machine Gun Company at Gravenstafel Spur on 12 October, 1917:
‘Lt Harvey Freeman found me wounded Oct 12th 1917. He called two men and they made a stretcher out of two rifles and an overcoat and he then gave a hand and carried me back behind the line. He then got a stretcher and sent me back to the Dressing Station. Our battalion had gone forward and but for his action I might have been left and Fritz took this ground a few hours later. The Lieutenant was killed two hours later. I wrote to his people but no answer and would like them to know my gratitude.’

A Red Cross searcher’s note added that he was ‘a very bright intelligent lad of 21, the eldest of seven sons.’ Four brothers were educated at Geelong College. These were: James Arthur Freeman DCM (1896-1966); Harvey Freeman (1897-1917); John Russell Freeman (1899-1964); and Thomas Dann Freeman (1903-1971).

Pte George Goodwin McIntosh (of Tweed River, NSW) also wrote:
‘He was killed in action at about 3 am by a gas shell, being hit in the head and killed outright. He is buried just behind the Gun Emplacement, Abraham Heights, in front of Ypres, about 1½ miles in front of Passchendaele. A cross was erected.’

He was later buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele - Grave XII.B.14. His Memorial incorrectly lists his death date as 15 October. Two other men of his company were killed that day, Sgt S G J Beauchamp, and Pte R B Murnane. The AWM Collection holds letters and newspaper clippings relating to Harvey Freeman, and his brother, James Arthur Freeman DCM.

Freeman’s cousin, Pte William Phillip Hall, 29 Battalion (Old Geelong Collegian), was killed at Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917, and was buried at Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, Ypres - Grave VIII.A.25.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp38-40 (citing Pegasus December, 1917; Australian War Memorial; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Photo Pegasus December, 1917.); Pegasus December 1913 p8.
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