The Four Faces of Harry D Holmes
by Ian Griggs
Note: Members of Holmes' family have contacted JFK Lancer to say that their
father should be remembered in the context of the times where it was considered
a badge of honor to be an FBI informant and feel he did his duty in all areas
of his responsibility in relation to the murder of President John F. Kennedy.
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
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
Holmes also said that he was watching from "my office on the fifth floor
of the terminal annex building located at the corner of Houston and Commerce
Streets". I now come to an important point and I believe I am the first researcher
to come up with the answer to an oft-asked question about the exact location
of Holmes' vantage point.
Unfortunately, nothing appears to have been published to indicate the exact
window from which Holmes witnessed the assassination. I believe, however,
that through a lapse in concentration during his testimony, Holmes himself
inadvertently provided that information although for some reason it had never
been specifically requested.
David Belin questioned Holmes closely concerning the exact location of the
Terminal Annex building in Dealey Plaza and Holmes answered him plainly and
fully. Holmes had already described exactly where the building was when Belin
asked: "On what corner is your building?" Holmes, either mishearing or misunderstanding
the question replied: "It is on the northeast corner".
As we all know, it is not on the northeast corner of the Plaza - it is on
the southeast corner. I believe that Holmes' answer mistakenly gave the location
of his office within the building. If my interpretation is accurate, then
something which has eluded researchers for more than a third of a century
has now been resolved.
When you are next on the grassy knoll, look across the plaza to the Terminal
Annex building. I believe that Holmes' office (and vantage point) was either
the small top (fifth) floor window on the extreme left or the first of the
large windows just along to its right.
Holmes mentioned that "there was several of us looking out of the window" at
the motorcade but none of them has been positively identified.
In his testimony, Holmes also produced one of the classic remarks in the
whole of this case. When asked by Belin if he had seen anyone run across
the railroad track, he replied: "No. I saw nothing suspicious and I am a
(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
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
"We are getting ready to have a last interrogation with
Oswald before we transfer him to the county jail. Would you like to join
Holmes replied: "I
Now what exactly is that all about? Why did the Chief of Homicide invite
a Dallas Postal Inspector to attend such an important session? The other
people present were Local Agent in Charge Forrest V. Sorrels and Inspector
Thomas J. Kelley, both of the Secret Service, and, dependent on whose testimony
you believe, either three or four Homicide Detectives whose job was solely
to guard Oswald. The interview took place in Captain Fritz' office, room
317 at City Hall.
It seems to have been readily accepted that no record was kept of this interview
or of any of the previous Oswald interviews. Indeed, when Captain Fritz was
questioned on this by the Warren Commission's Mr Ball, he mentioned that
several unsuccesful attempts had been made to obtain a tape recorder.
Amazingly, however, some very detailed and comprehensive notes were taken
of that final interview - by none other than our friend Harry D Holmes. Now
why he took it upon himself to do this is as much a mystery as why he was
present in the first place. You will find Holmes' notes of the interview
not once, but twice in the 26 Volumes! Firstly, they appear as Commission
Exhibit 2064 on pages 488 to 492 of Volume 24. They also appear as Holmes
Exhibit No. 4 betweeen pages 177 and 181 of Volume 20.
As if that is not enough, Holmes' notes are even reproduced under the title "Report
of U.S. Postal Inspector H. D. Holmes" as part of Appendix XI of the Warren
Commission Report (pages 633 to 637).
Holmes did not just sit there recording notes. He also took an active part
in the interview, asking many questions of Oswald - particularly regarding
his use of post office boxes. The interrogation seemed to go on for longer
than Fritz had anticipated it would - indeed, in his testimony he stated
that he had intended closing it at 10:00. As we know, it went on for a further
Holmes later stated in a June 1989 interview with Postal Inspector David
McDermott that Chief Curry "was beating on the door". Obviously, had the
session ended at 10 o'clock or shortly afterwards, and Oswald's transfer
had then been put into motion, we would not have had Mr Ruby waiting in the
basement with his little gun.
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
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.
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.