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The Four Faces of Harry D Holmes
by Ian Griggs
Presented at the 1997 November In Dallas Conference.
Harry D Holmes was born in Indian Territory, Oklahoma on 2nd July 1905. His father was a goatherd and young Harry's entire education took place in the area in and around Kansas City where he ended up at dental college. However, he went into the United States Postal Service when he was 18 years old and he remained in the USPS until his retirement in 1966. He died in Dallas on 14th October 1989. One of the most difficult things to find in the whole of the assassination investigation - apart from the truth! - is a picture of Dallas Postal Inspector Harry D Holmes. Has anybody here ever seen one? I think it safe to say that almost everyone who has visited my home city of London as a tourist is familiar with one of the major landmarks, Big Ben. This is the name by which the high, four-sided clock tower at the eastern end of the Houses of Parliament is known. Strictly speaking, Big Ben is actually the huge bell in the clock tower. In Britain, a person who is thought to be particularly devious is sometimes said to have as many faces as Big Ben. That expression hardly requires clarification. I think that Dallas Post Office Inspector Harry D Holmes falls easily into that category. Just like the Big Ben clock tower, he had four distinct and separate faces. The Four Faces of Harry D Holmes In strict chronological order, the four faces of Harry D Holmes were as follows:
(1) The FBI Informant
Prior to the assassination, Holmes had already become an FBI informant. One of his functions was to keep the FBI (and, incidentally, the Secret Service) appraised of changes in the allocation of post office boxes in the Dallas area. This obviously brought Lee Harvey Oswald to his attention. Several authors, notably the late Sylvia Meagher and our colleague George Michael Evica, brought this point out in their books. In each case they mentioned that Holmes had been allocated a Dallas Informant Number - T-7. It is a problem that nowhere do we find any document, FBI report or anything else which positively states this as a fact. However, close perusal of Commission Exhibit 1152 does prove the point. That exhibit is an FBI report which deals exclusively with information supplied by "Confidential Informant, Dallas T-7". It contains many precise details which can only have been known to Harry D Holmes in his capacity as a Dallas Postal Inspector. It is thus proved beyond any doubt that FBI Informant T-7 and Harry D Holmes are one and the same. I would urge you all to study that exhibit - CE 1152. In his Warren Commission testimony, Holmes told Assistant Counsel David Belin that he was "feeding change of addresses as bits of information to the FBI and the Secret Service and a sort of a coordinating deal on it" At this stage, Belin immediately silenced him with one of those convenient "discussions off record" and they then went on to something completely different.
(2) Eyewitness to the Assassination
Harry D Holmes was one of hundreds who watched the attack on the motorcade in Dealey Plaza. He was possibly unique, however, since he claimed to have watched it through binoculars. This fact emerged in strange fashion. During the recording of Holmes' Warren Commision testimony, David Belin suddenly came up with the rather odd and direct question: "Were you looking with the aid of any optical instrument?" Holmes replied: "I had a pair of 7 1/2 by 50 binoculars". As far as I know, such a question was never put to any other assassination eyewitness.
(3) "Expert Witness"
As we have already heard from George Michael and Larry Hancock, Harry D Holmes was an important figure in the investigation into Oswald's use of post office boxes. Right from the beginning, he was active. In his testimony he said "I never quit. I didn't get to bed for two days" and "I was doing all I could to help other agencies". Indeed, within hours of the assassination, he was mounting his own private investigation. After learning from the FBI that an Italian rifle had been purchased by mail order from Klein's of Chicago on 20th March 1963, Holmes tried unsuccessfully to locate a record of the money order used in the transaction. The following morning, Saturday 23rd., he sent his secretary out to purchase "outdoor-type magazines such as Field and Stream, with the thought that I might locate this gun to identify it, and I did". As we now know, the magazine which Holmes obtained was both a different title and a different date to that allegedly used by Oswald to order his rifle. He actually obtained the November 1963 issue of Field and Stream whereas the so-called Oswald rifle had been ordered from the February 1963 issue of The American Rifleman. Holmes seemed to take control of investigation into the issue of the money order used for the purchase of the rifle. Despite the fact that Oswald was by then in custody, he also arranged continuous surveillance on Oswald's post office box, number 6225, at the Terminal Annex building. During his Warren Commission testimony, he covered all these events, together with details of Oswald's use of post office box 2915 at the U.S. Post Office on the corner of Bryan and North Ervay Streets in Dallas. Ironically, it was in that same building that the testimony of the Dallas-based witnesses was heard.
(4) The Final Interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald
There are many strange aspects to Harry D Holmes' various parts in this case but perhaps the strangest is his attendance and participation in Oswald's final interview. In his testimony, he referred to it thus: "I presume my next part in connection with this was when I joined the interrogation period of Oswald on Sunday morning of November 24 at about 9:30 a.m." He went on to say that he had driven to church with his wife but that after dropping her there he suddenly decided to return to the police station (City Hall) where he simply walked in and saw Captain Fritz. He claimed that Fritz said:
Needless to say, there is a great deal more to Dallas Postal Inspector Harry D Holmes than I have had time to outline here. It is my intention eventually to publish the full story - or as much of it as I can. I will leave you with one small example of the amount of clout this manhad. How many witnesses who testified before the Warren Commission were officially permitted to keep any of their exhibits? Harry D Holmes was allowed to do just that. He introduced one of those well-known "Wanted for Treason" posters which he stated had been found in one of the postal collection boxes on the morning of the assassination. When Mr Belin stated that he intended to mark it as an exhibit, Holmes said: "I want to save that." It was then agreed that he could keep the original and that the Court Reporter would make copies. Holmes Exhibit No. 5 is, therefore, nothing more than a xerox copy of the original. Thanks I cannot close without expressing my thanks to a number of people who have assisted in many ways with what you have just heard or read. I am particularly grateful to friends and fellow researchers such as Mary Ferrell, Melanie Swift, Malcolm Blunt, Pat Cady, George Michael Evica, Larry Hancock, Connie Kritzberg and many others.
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