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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Monday, 19 June 2017



Someone very kindly gave me copies of 3, miniature, newspapers dating back to the 1880's and 90's. The copy of The Echo above is in fact an 8 page version, 1 sheet folded in 4 and then both sides printed. The examples I have show printed letters at a height of between .25 mm and .5 mm, interestingly you can actually make them out with the naked eye and quite clearly see them with spectacles or a small magnifying glass.

This conclusively proves that such sized lettering is not on the edge of perception as those lacking in knowledge would have you believe. Writing of this size is very definitely doable and legible.

All by itself it's very interesting to see the result of skills and a craft probably now long forgotten. But there are other aspects that will be of interest to the followers of the Somerton Man case.
First of all, how was this micro type actually achieved? It was a photo process, in fact it was called the 'photo-zinco' process first developed in the 1850s, there is some argument as to who developed it first, an Englishman, Sir Henry James or an Australian, John Walter Osborne. In the end it was all but a tie but Sir Henry won the day by a smidgen and he had to acknowledge the work of Captain A. de C. Scott head of the photography department at Southampton who had in fact done much of the research and development.

The motivation for the invention was Ordnance Survey maps, the long used method of pantagraphs were clumsy and often produced inaccurate results. 

Photo-Zinco Tools

It didn't take long for this new technique to spread across the printing world and many works of literature were quickly converted and in one famous example, The Domesday Book was copied in this way. Of course it wasn't long before the world of banking and banknotes were suitably enamoured with the development. One of the major drawbacks was the fact that the process only produced outcomes in mono tone, so no colour with early maps produced by the process being hand coloured.

The bank notes struck a chord, was this or a similar process used by George Teltscher of Hay Banknote fame? It seems to have been a fairly simple process and the basics would have been available to him. The banknotes at Hay were duo-tone as in Green or Red or Blue so that should not have presented a problem.

On another point for consideration, the process relied on a camera set up for certain but it also required zinc plate and a camel hair brush or similar. A screwdriver would have been handy and even a sharpened knife to trim and perhaps add some fine details. The sorts of things found in the Somerton Man suitcase.

Effectively, this was an early form of a photocopier, I wonder whether this method could have been used to copy and produce false imprints of well known books?

You can read more about Photo-Zincography here:

Sunday, 18 June 2017



Part of the ongoing task that we have faced is verifying that Pavel Fedosimov disappeared after his return to Russia in August 1948.

When we first published  the Fedosimov story, we stated that there was another person of the same name who appeared 11 years later as a delegate of the USSR at the first International Atomic Energy Authority conference in 1959 and subsequent years. We have exhausted all the channels for finding anything that would show that this person was the same man or was a different person. Despite contacting the IAEA, we have drawn a blank in that we did not receive a response.

This video clip came from, a large historical film archive. We found one other clip but this time from the 9th conference but again drew a blank as far as recognising anyone in the clips.

We have not been able to find any further photographs of Pavel, we know that the FBI certainly had images of the man but our request for a copy has so far failed to receive a positive response. We will keep looking.

The position therefore remains the same, in the absence of any information to the contrary, I am of the opinion that Pavel Ivanovitch Fedosimov is the best candidate for being the Somerton Man, I rate him as 98% with a 2% chance that we find anything to the contrary,

I base this on the facial matching we have done including the eyes, nose, teeth and ears as well as the written description shown in the book, The Atom Spies which was indicated by the late Senator Cavanagh to support his paper delivered in the Australian Parliament regarding the Somerton Man.

Friday, 16 June 2017



The image to the left is an Artists impression of the Somerton Man which was commissioned some 6 or more years ago by Professor Abbott.

I thought that it would be an interesting exercise to see how this image would compare with the image that we have of Pavel Fedosimov.

Given that only pic we have of Pavel has him wearing a hat, I 'borrowed' Pavel's hat and imposed that over the Artisits impression which you can see just below.

The next step is to take a look at Pavel with hat but this time in colour, to do that I used an online resource which other researchers may be interested in and you will find the link at the end of this post:

The next thing I did was to organise the two faces side by side, first in colour:

For the purists, I wasn't able to get the angles quite right, it would probably need a skilled digital artist to do that work so my apologies, the budget doesn't quite run to that just now! 

I followed up the coloured image with a standard black and white version:

In the artists image the man is not smiling whilst in Pavel's pic, he is making an effort to do that so his mouth is open slightly and the eyes lifted. In addition, his head is at an angle. Apart from that, the nose is very similar, as I have pointed out before, Pavel's nose has a shadow on it making it appear that his nose is slightly bulbous but that is not the case. the distance between the nose and the upper lip is very similar and the set of the eyes is almost identical. We must remember of course that the image on the left is an artist's impression of the deceased Somerton Man and that he or she
had provided us with the impression they had of the man when he was alive.

There are a few more things we could do such as copying Pavel's mouth across to the impression and altering the imression's eyes such that they were across to the right.

A quick update on the Fedosimov search, both Clive and I have made extensive searches for the Fedosimov who attended the IAEA conferences commencing 11 years after SM was found on the beach at Somerton. There are no photographs or descriptions of that Fedosimov to be found. We did find some old film archives but none contain images of the Russian delegation to the conference.

As promised, here's the link to the online colorizer:

Sunday, 28 May 2017


An innocuous little book dating back to the 1940s, it was the sort of book you would find on many coffee tables throughout the land and wouldn't arouse too much suspicion, unless of course you knew the key, much like the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

This book was chosen by one Bill Miller, Bill had been called up at the beginning of the war and joined the Royal Corps of Signals as a wireless operator. It was from his base in Kent that he was recruited into MI6, amongst his first duties was the purchase of a novel, in fact any novel that would be used as part of his new role. Bill selected 'Poet's Pub' a popular read at the time and in fact he was instructed to buy 5 copies of the same edition but from different locations.

The book was to be used as a cipher, he was taught how to create codes from its content and secret messages using this code would be sent back to London.

Bill Miller, Tangier 1943
To cut a long story short, Bill served initially in Spain and then Tangier, he spied on French and German ship movements and that was the subject of his coded messages.

Our interest in this is, of course, the use of a book code and whilst there have been some descriptions of book codes posted in various locations, I think that this example provides us with an additional insight into the way in which these codes were actually created.

It has long been thought by many that the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was in fact used as a cipher tool, and here we have an example of such from the same era and in use by MI6.

The Code

Using phrases from the book containing between 12 and 15 letters, Bill would construct his messages.

At this point we'll hand over to Mr. Richard Lewis, a one time archivist at Bletchley Park:

'A page is selected at random from the book and its page number is recorded. A line is then chosen where the first few words have approximately 12 to 15 characters.

The page (turned into 3 figures) and the line (turned into 2 figures) then provide a 5 figure number. This is then added to the senders personal key, which is also a 5 figure number, and it is this that produces an encoded indicator group.

A grid is then formed using the words selected to specify the placing of the letters. The person receiving the message would subtract the sender's key to get the page and line numbers and allowing them to re-create the grid and read the message.'   

This approach would I think result in a string of numbers that could, for example, have been transmitted by a 'number station'

Could this have been done with the Rubaiyat? Entirely possible, is the key to the code to be found perhaps concealed in the torn piece? I think so.

What better place to rest your message pad than on the back of the book that you were using as a cipher tool? From there on the letters produced by the sender could be formed and the micro code inserted as per the Ink H method developed by SOE. This method was simple, you wrote out your words in ink, you then added your micro code in pencil and then finally covered the now coded letters with ink once again. To 'develop' the code, all you need to do is to immerse the paper containing the writing in a fairly strong bleach solution. You can find examples of that here on the blog.

Thursday, 25 May 2017



This document was found by researcher Clive in an FBI archived file. It contains a list of known Soviet agents or, to be more precise the names of agents who had photographs in a 'Spy Album'.

You will notice the date shown is 1959 and also that the list contains the name of Pavel Ivanovich Fedosimov.

The question is, does this mean Fedosimov was alive in 1959? The document doesn't actually say that, it talks about an informant being shown photographs of individuals from a Soviet Intelligence Album. No dates are supplied for any of the named spies. Having said that, we have to be cognisant of the fact that Pavel's photograph was shown, which could mean that the FBI didn't know whether Pavel was still alive or that they knew otherwise. I have made a start on seeing if we can find any further information of the others on the list. It could be that one or more of them was no longer around in 1959.

Another name of interest within the list is Jurgen Kuczynski, this man was introduced to Klaus Fuchs by a fellow internee, Hans Kahle, it was Jurgen that then introduced Fuchs to the GRU.

The more I read of the various intelligence services and of the missions and methods employed, the more I understand that there were and are no rules. Spies did change names and descriptions, a good example of that could even be the photograph that we have of Pavel at La Guardia airport in 1947, was not really Pavel. We have to take the word of Pravda that this was indeed him.

For the record, thanks to Clive's digging, we have found articles about Pavel appearing at meetings in Denver and Chicago in the period pre 1947 as a guest speaker for American /Russian Friendship organisations. Sadly and once again, no photographs were published with those articles. Those appearances raise the question of what else was this named Russian Spy was doing in Chicago and Denver. Then again, that's not a question to pursue at this time, maybe down the track it will have some relevance.

Many thanks Clive!