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Friday, 5 December 2014

Somerton Man: Another Espionage Case & Another Rubaiyat and Code..


Another Rubaiyat and code found in an Espionage case.
As far as I know, no one has yet looked for let alone found, another espionage case where a copy of the Rubaiyat figured in the case. That is until recently, for some weeks I have been researching this issue and have found another such example.

The case is about an act of Espionage and is in itself quite well known. What wasn't known was that the main character had amongst their possessions, a copy of the Rubaiyat.


Roger Casement in earlier years
The man in question, the main character was Sir Roger Casement and depending on your perspective he was either an Irish Hero or a British Traitor. Sir Roger is actually the bearded man you can see in the front centre of the conning tower of the German submarine.

Casement was born in Dublin in 1864 of Irish parents; his father being a distinguished army officer. He went on to become a Consul in Africa and South America and he was awarded 'The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael' in 1905 for those services. His subsequent experience of the treatment of Natives in British territory was such that he became not only totally disillusioned with the British Government but he quickly joined sides with the Irish Nationalists to fight against them. Towards that end he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood.


(On a personal note, both Roger Casement and I were Baptised at St Mary's Catholic Church in Rhyl, North Wales by a Jesuit priest; some years between those events I hasten to add.)

The U19, referred to as 'Willies Yacht' by Casement, was commanded by a Kapitan Weissbach. In his previous posting, Weissbach was the torpedo officer on the U20, the submarine that sank the Lusitania.

Kapitan Weissbach
The Casement landing took place at around 3 a.m. on Friday 21st April 1916 at a place called Banna Strand not far from Tralee on the West Coast of Ireland but it wasn't until later in the day that he was found and arrested in the area of McKenna's Fort by a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary.

At around 4 a.m. on that Good Friday a boat was discovered near Tralee by a local farmer, John M'Carthy, It was found to contain  a tin box containing pistol ammunition, some 900 rounds in total including that found close by.
Boat found near Tralee

Nearby and buried in the sand were 3 Mauser pistols, more ammunition, several maps of Ireland of 'foreign origin', a flash lamp, an Irish flag, two lifebelts and also buried in the sand was found a copy of the Rubaiyat (See King Leopold's ghost by Adam Hochschild. Page 285. Copy here) Why would you bury a book?

Although our focus is the finding of a Rubaiyat amongst Roger Casement's belongings and parts of a coded message, it's only right that we should explain some of the background to the arrest of Casement and subsequent events leading up to his trial and execution.

Good Friday 1916 was a momentous one as it signalled the beginnings of the Easter Uprising in Dublin.

Casement, a confidant of both Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera was playing his part by organising the supply of arms and ammunition for 'the cause'. A German freighter, the 'Libau', (formerly known as the 'Castro' a captured British vessel), was renamed 'Aud Norge' and flying a Norwegian flag', was en-route to the West Coast of Ireland with a cargo of 20,000 rifles, 10 machine guns and 2 million rounds of ammunition although, according to records, that was well short of the 200,000 rifles that Casement had agreed with German High Command. So much so in fact that he had made efforts to have the planned Easter rising called off because of the lack of armaments.

The 'Aud Norge' was spotted off the West Coast first by HMS Shatter and was boarded by the Captain of that ship but nothing was found, later the Aud Norge was intercepted by HMS Bluebell and following a shot across the bows, it was escorted to a nearby port, Queenstown as was then. It didn't make the destination as the Captain of the Aud, Karl Spindler, opted to abandon ship with 5 officers and 16 men of the German Navy shortly before he scuttled the ship and its cargo. A Navy diver later found a sample of the rifles and munitions on board and presented them to the court at Casement's trial.

Earlier we spoke of the discovery of some coats along with the other items found by Police; in one of the coat pockets was a railway ticket from Berlin to Wilhelmshaven dated 12th April 1916. Wilhelmshaven being a Submarine base at that time, this was presumably where Casement and his two companions boarded 'Willie's Yacht'.

Seems we have yet another 'coincidence' with the SM case. Now we have a beach, a Rubaiyat, some code, a handwritten note and a railway ticket. No sign of any poison but Casement had not been a well man for some time, he was in fact quite weak and hardly able to travel according to some accounts. Something else we have is MI5 involvement.

Will there be more? There is another post under development and it also surrounds Espionage on a grand scale well seasoned with aspects of clandestine communication including confirmed use of micro writing. Once again you'll find similarities and the common denominator with the the Somerton Man case would be British Military Intelligence.


























As you would expect with this form of operation, there was a code found. In this case it conveniently came with it's decoded information as you can see in the image to the left. The code is in number format and a typed decoded version is shown alongside each set of numbers.

In addition, on the back of the code there is a handwritten, pencilled, note as above on the right. Interestingly there was no code book as such found and hence the question regarding the Rubaiyat and its purpose. We should also take into account the fact that 2 prayer books were amongst Casement's possessions at the time though nothing is known about them to this point.

It's worthwhile mentioning that the Irish had a particularly good Intelligence arm in those times, it had successfully infiltrated MI5 and the Royal Irish Constabulary to the extent that Michael Collins was at one time able to enter Dublin Castle undetected and view his own MI5 file.

The IRA later had its own Intelligence gathering capabilities and were quite adept at using codes. In fact they used a book, 'The Scarlet Letter' for keys for their codes back in 1927.

One of the authors of the book 'Decoding The IRA', refers to his previous experience with The Voynich Manuscript. You can read more and see examples of his deciphering work on IRA codes here: Decoding The IRA.

In the book, they make reference to IRA codes going back 80 years, could it be possible that the Somerton Man Code has its roots in an old IRA code?

A good time to invite Nick Pelling in to this discussion, it seems that we now have some convergence :) I am sure Nick and his followers would add real value to the information that has been uncovered and presented here. It remains to be seen whether we can make further progress of course.

The lingering question is did the Casement Rubaiyat have anything to do with the code that was found on the piece of paper shown in the images? For the IRA, using a book for keys to a code was later found to be common practice. Therefore it is possible but we need to temper this view given that during research, I came across a document that discussed Casement's letters one of which was an exchange between he and Dick Morten, a long time friend. The letter was dated 1901 and in it Casement thanks Morten for a copy of the Rubaiyat that he had sent him. He goes on to write a critique of Omar's work. What we don't know is the edition or the size/publisher of this copy nor that of the copy found buried in the sand some 15 years later. Here's a link to the Dick Morten document.

There is a mass of information and research documentation about Roger Casement who was eventually hanged for the crime of treason, in fact the law was somewhat warped to ensure his death by the addition of a single comma, History has references to Casement having been 'Hung by a comma'

I found much of interest in the book 'The Trial of Sir Roger Casement'  and other sources including the links provided above in this post.





Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Somerton Man: Evidence That The Mold Was Intact After The Plaster Bust Was Made. May Still Be In Existence

Does The Mold Used To Create The Plaster Bust Still Exist?

DNA Could Be Recovered..

As followers of this blog may be aware I have posted on the view that the Mold made by Lawson may still be in existence. 

What this means is that if it is still around then it would be a rich source of DNA that could be scientifically examined and the results may help reveal his identity. Having researched this matter for some time and I have found the evidence that shows the Mold was not destroyed and disposed of at the time.

The Evidence

The evidence is amazingly straightforward and we are fortunate in that there is an extremely good video clip that shows us a mold being made of an upper body and describes it in detail. You will see that the mold is made in two sections with a special technique used to seamlessly join both halves. You will then see the mold being broken away from the subject, in this case an upper body model, and then it is ready to be reused. The only real difference between the methods used in 1948 and now is the types of material used, the process remains the same.

First the video, (quite lengthy at just over 23 minutes but well worth watching for the serious investigator), and we'll follow that up with further evidence:




1. The Wiki describes the manufacture of the mold almost to a 'T' as shown in the above video:

'Lawson's method was to build a wooden frame around the upper body, plugging up any gaps with clay. He then poured in plaster of Paris, to create a mould. The process was then repeated with the body turned over, to make the second half of the mould. Then the ears had to have individual moulds made. The man's hair appears neatly in the final bust, as Lawson employed a trick of combing liquid soap into the hair so it wouldn't stick to the plaster. Once the moulds were completed at the City Morgue, Lawson was then able to take them back to his lab to finally cast the bust and ears, and stick the ears into place. For the casting process he used plaster of Paris reinforced with sisal fibres. The original mould does not exist today as it had to be chipped away from the bust and discarded. Because, the body had been lying on a morgue slab for six months the back of the head appears flattened.

Before the ears were moulded, Lawson first had to convert the plaster mould of the ears into a wax mould. Then the ears were cast in the wax mould. This is because the ears were fragile and the wax mould could be easily melted away at the end of the process."

Notice that according to the wiki, the mold had to be 'chipped away from the bust' Although it had been reinforced with 'Sisal' that's a hemp type plant that was used to create a net or hessian  like fabric.

1.The problem here is that in a Reddit post, Professor Abbott told me that the Sisal made the plaster mold brittle and that's why it had to be chipped away. That's incorrect, Sisal was used to reinforce the plaster in the mold to prevent the mold from becoming brittle and from cracking, it did the job well because in the first instance in order to remove the mold from the subject, it had to be 'broken away' so that it could then be used to create the plaster bust.

The fact is that you would only use Sisal to make a reusable bust.

'Broken away' is the term used in Lawson's diary when describing the work and the term used by those engaged in this art to describe the careful removal of the mold from the subject. Sisal reinforcement was used in Lawson's process to reinforce the mold/cast of the Somerton Man's upper body. Hence, because the process was properly carried out using sisal reinforcement, we can safely say that the mold was not chipped away and discarded. It is only when you don't reinforce the cast/mold leaving just the plaster that you need to chip away at the cast. Sounds like a minor difference but it is critical.

2. Nowhere in the ten pages of the diary that we have covering the period of time does he mention that the mold had been destroyed.

3. Take a look at this image of the bust, notice how 'clean' it is, no additional marks that could have been caused by an accidental slip of a chisel.


4. Notice the hair on the bust, it had been treated with a liquid soap, it is called mold soap and it is used as a release agent, it's applied to the subject or the inner part of the mold to ensure you get that clean removal and preserve the features of the mold. 


5. In Lawson's diary he makes mention of meeting the Director to discuss 'duplicate copies' of the bust. He did not say 'make a new mold to produce duplicates of the bust', he said what he meant and he must have done so knowing at the time that the mold was still in existence. 



Sadly Professor Abbott's response to my last question on Reddit on this matter has somehow been lost and is no longer visible on Reddit.



With regards to the Wiki, I think it highly likely that it is a case of the statement made by Lawson being misinterpreted, he may have said 'broken away' or 'chipped away' in it's professional context and 'into pieces meaning  'in two pieces', I understand that he was of a fairly old age at the time of the interview and thus could easily have been misunderstood.



Whatever the case the above information and video provide evidence to support the view that the mold was still in existence as the mold making process was one that was designed to create a reusable mold and not a one time throw away version. In fact I would doubt that a two part, full surround type mold could be a throw away due to it's very nature. What I mean is that the two part mold had to be broken apart from the upper body of the Somerton Man and without the sisal reinforcement in the mold material it would have been rendered useless. If anyone has information to the contrary with supporting documents/images, it would be welcomed and it would be published.



There is more to be said about the Somerton Man bust and Jestyn's reaction and importantly more to be said about the appearance of the face, the next Post will reveal more.

I stand by my statement that according to this evidence, the mold from which the bust was made was not broken into small pieces and discarded, it was properly 'broken away' from the subject as you will see in the video above


Friday, 17 October 2014

Somerton Man: Fingerprinting Somerton Man, Professor Abbott Was Wrong..


How Fingerprints Are Taken From the Deceased


Professor Abbott Was Wrong

In a comment on Reddit yesterday, Professor Abbott was asked about the Somerton Man's fingerprints, the questioner focused on the fingerprint card with it's missing signatory and other information and also on the actual fingerprints.

The following question was put to him:

"I can see that you are really busy here but if I could ask you again about the markings on the thumb, first and middle fingers, they appeared to be consistent with an engraver's or similar hand. In particular I am referring to the grip between the thumb and fingers. Would you agree that at least it substantiates the claim that the fingerprints were of a right handed man?"

To which the Professor replied:


"It is a stretch to draw any conclusions from the blotchiness of the prints. It is not easy fingerprinting a dead body and getting all the prints lined up on a neat little chart. There are many other ways to substantiate that he was right handed. I have discussed these in my replies further down this page. I would rely on those and disregard the prints on the issue of handedness."

The Truth is...

FBI Ima
The Somerton Man fingerprints were taken by James Patrick Durham, an acknowledged expert in his field as a scenes of crime man and lauded for his achievements. It is apparent that either Professor Abbott has been misguided by someone or he simply did not do the research, either way he got it significantly wrong. I say this because taking fingerprints from deceased persons is par for the course in Police work, it is easy to take fingerprints from the deceased, and the Police have and had at the time numerous ways it can be successfully done. Jimmy Durham knew his job and did it well. He would have had the tools to do it.


The Clues

The clues provided by the Somerton Man's fingerprints are vital, they tell us about his handedness and possible occupation. The markings on the right thumb, first and middle fingers show signs of wear which would support the view that he was right handed and that his occupation would have involved gripping a tool or instrument between his thumb and fingers. 

It has been already suggested that he may have been involved in engraving or leather work, we can add to that that he possibly was a violinist, cellist or a guitarist all of whom have similar grips however the fingers on the left hand would also show signs f wear due to the strings of the various instruments.









There are tools designed for the job called 'spoons' for example and even special ink rollers for the purpose:














There are other less savoury ways in which this can achieved but not wishing to spoil anyone's meal I'll limit the description to 'snippers' and 'straighteners'.

In the same series of questions the Professor did not know how fingerprints were distributed, the questioner, JAFO4, rightly said by photographs and referred to wire transfer of images but doubted their use for fingerprints. Here's an image of a Western Union early facsimile machine that was used to transmit fingerprints from the late 20's onwards:

Western Union Early Facsimile Machine Circa 1926


With all due respect to you Professor Abbott, this is an error on your behalf and your statements could mislead people who are genuinely doing their best to find answers. They put great faith in you and your statements, it behoves you to live up to their expectations and deliver complete answers minus any generalities and plus supporting evidence.


There are other blogs who, with a wave of their inexperienced, ill informed, unconsciously incompetent hands and surrounded by trolls 'wash over' and otherwise distort sound information in the Somerton Man case to the extent that it has taken on elements of cyber bullying in some instances. It simply is not tolerable and needs to be faced down whenever it appears and by whomever it is published.


TAMAM SHUD: Somerton Man Single Focus Blog

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