Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 25, November 1981
By C. W. MALCOLM
THE FULL STORY is told in Journal No. 13 of May 1970 [see Journal 13: Young Man's Swim to Fame - E] which is based on a full report in the OHINEMURI GAZETTE of 31 January 1912. Young Bernard Freyberg, then little known, was to become famous later for his swim off the Gallipoli Peninsula, for commanding the New Zealand forces in the Second World War, and later, becoming Governor-General of New Zealand.
The Report tells that he was accompanied and attended by two men in a boat - Messrs G. Shaw and J. Brayshaw. Unfortunately a story is gaining ground that the escort was provided by Captain Adlam in the paddle-steamer "Kopu" and the authority for this is claimed to be an article in JOURNAL No. 17 June, 1973 by Captain Adlam's daughter, Mrs. Ida Hart [see Journal 17: Captain E.J. Adlam - E]. I recently phoned Mrs. Hart whose recollections were not clear and I formed the impression that, as her article stated that her father was "captain of the vessel that followed Freyberg" he did not claim to have "accompanied" or "escorted" the swimmer on that Sunday. But on the day following, the Monday, the "Kopu" with its towed barge of cargo would make its regular trip from Te Aroha to Paeroa, being the first to follow the course of the swimmer.
The GAZETTE has named the two men in the accompanying small boat. And small it would have to be for I have discussed the impossibility of the "Kopu" having escorted a swimmer on such a course with the following: the family of the late Captain McDonald of the "Kopu's" running-mate, the "Rotokohu", the son of the late James Silcock, Northern Steam Ship Company Agent in Paeroa, the son of the late James Campbell, Engineer on the river steamers, and with the Historian of the Maritime Society here in Auckland. The story of Freyberg's swim has been handed down, but never a reference to the Kopu's having shared it, and no knowledge of any such claim by the late respected Captain Adlam.