A WARNING: Those site visitors of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Culture should be aware that there are photographs and images of the deceased.

The author of this blog is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and as such the views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the views and opinions of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, its staff or Directors.

Learn more about the Association including membership requirements at

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.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Pete Bowes in his usual style brought the issues surrounding the Somerton Man case down to a simple but quite believable scenario in his latest post: Toms By Two
I thought I would respond to that post supporting his view and by adding some additional thoughts.

Firstly, I agree with your thoughts Pete. I think that the SA Police quickly came to the conclusion that this was very likely an espionage case, probably as soon as the morning CIB shift arrived and sifted through the overnight happenings which included an apparent sudden death at Somerton Beach. Perhaps the file arrived on DS Leane's desk before midday and, having spent the last several years working alongside the various security agencies in SA and interstate, he alerted his contacts to the find. To clarify, it is important to remember the environment in which these men worked, SA had its fair share of spies throughout WW2 and in 1948, they were on the front line of a not so Cold War with highly advanced weapons, as in A-Bombs, and associated technologies being developed right on their doorstep in Adelaide, in Woomera and elsewhere in the State.

I think that once the details were known, a story was put in place by DS Leane, his contacts, and his superiors to explain the case. There are some that have written the subsequent events off as sloppy work by SA Police but I cannot see that being likely given the environment and the nature and experience of those involved.

In my view, from day 1 onwards a story was developed and 'evidence' introduced to back it up. Consider this, if you had found a high profile enemy agent in this condition and had also found information that he was about to deliver, what would you do to ensure that the enemy believed that nothing had been found?

Outwardly the Police were seen to be going through their usual gyrations, taking photographs, calling for people to ID the body and then uncovering a series of 'clues' which were published for all to see. But inwardly, that was a different story:

1. A body that no one was able to identify with some saying he looked nothing like the photograph, (reconstructed), in the press. Do you think that amongst those who viewed the body there was one and maybe two people who were sent by the opposing side to confirm the death of their high profile target?

2. A suitcase with a stack of belongings but only a thread to match them to the man, no fingerprints taken nor mentioned.

2. A torn piece that turns up much later with the edges carefully folded for public consumption so as to conceal its true shape. The focus being purely on the meaning of the words and not what else was found.

3. A photograph of the book that also turned up much later with a shape that didn't match that of the torn piece. Great lengths were gone to, apparently to match the type of paper between the two but there were, in fact, hundreds if not thousands of copies of that same edition in circulation. That comparison would not pass muster in any court let alone a group of hard-nosed Detectives who'd seen it all before.

4. A copy of a code page which, for the public at least had some faint pencil marks on it that turned out to be letters of what could be a code. The reality was that they were not direct pencil marks but were in fact indentations, a very different piece of evidence altogether. By marking over them the Police, or whoever, would give the impression that the real information hidden in those letters, had been completely missed.

There's more to be said later but for now, my view is that the whole case was a campaign of misinformation designed to lull the opposing side into a sense of false security, they were meant to think that their important coded information had not been found.

Thursday, 10 May 2018



Taking a longer look at what seems to be the first image published of the laundry marks, you can see quite clearly in this magnified version of the image, that the first number is indeed a 7.

Let's look at the second image:

In this image, there is no sign of the first number being anything like a number 7.

Why is that important?

Let's look at the third and last image of the sets of numbers:

Here you can see that in the last set, 3053/1, there is now a break between the 5 and the three, it's not there in the previous images though. Could that break have another meaning?

Are the laundry marks a code?

Firstly let me acknowledge you Milongal, I know that you were not sure about that first number but hopefully, now you can see that it is quite definitely a number 7 and not a 1.

So what we have are 3 sets of numbers:

1. 7171/7
2. 4393/3
3. 3053/1

Set 1: 7171/7. There are 2  numbers 7 in the first part of the set and that number 7 is repeated after the virgule (forward slash).

Set 2. 4393/3. There are 2 numbers 3 in the first part of the set and that number 3 is repeated after the virgule.

Set 3. 3053-3/1. We do not have a repeated number in the first part and the number 1 only appears after the virgule. Is that just a dash between the 5 and the three or is it a minus sign?

Given the similarity between sets  1 and 2 and not in 3, I wondered whether there was another way that you could, by using the first 4 numbers in each set, arrive at the end number shown in each set.

Here's what I came up with:

Set 1. 7171...7+1+7+1 = 16. If we add the last two digits, 1+6 we get 7

Set 2. 4393...4x3+9x3= 12+27 = 39 = 3+9 = 12 = 1+2 and we get 3

Set 3.3053...30+5-3 = 32 = 3-2 and we get 1

I don't pretend to be a code breaker but I am able to find codes as per the micro writing on the code page and verse 70, this example is screaming out for an experienced code breaker to take a good look at what we have here and contribute to the furtherance of the work or take it off the list.

A couple of additional thoughts in closing, well one thought and then a set of images.

Is it possible that these number sets are some kind of poem code? Are the numbers referring to pages, quatrains, paragraphs, lines and words? The intention this weekend is to test that out.

Now that image, within reason, you can improve/enhance some aspects of images by reducing them in size. When I looked at the third image above, I could make out some odd markings in the background:

Here are two smaller versions of this image plus a super small version:

What do you see in the backgrounds to these images? 

Sunday, 15 April 2018



Might be that I missed this being published elsewhere but here goes! What Mr. Cowan is saying by default is that the poison wasn't taken by mouth. That being so, how else was it administered?

Was it Hydrogen Sulphide as per the later mysterious deaths by unknown poisoning, Bogle and Chandler. Was it an early nerve agent? A gas gun or spray? Mr. Cowan's statement seems quite specific and I think worthy of more research although in the article he does almost distance himself.

I wonder if anyone has any knowledge of sewage outlets near the spot of Somerton Beach at that time? Is it possible that some foul and toxic waste was pumped out at night by a rogue chemical manufacturer? Quite honestly I wouldn't know but I am not at all certain that the thought has been previously pursued; if it has then my apologies.

You can find the full article here:


Thursday, 12 April 2018




As many will know, Trove ( is an invaluable resource for both new and experienced researchers/investigators.  The last few days I have spent what spare time I have had liaising with Clive and following up on some of the comments that have been generated.

The outcome is interesting, Clive came across a ship that had departed Fremantle in April 1948 and it had a link to a number 7171, the name of the ship was 'William A Graham', it was headed to the UK. Being the thorough bloke that he is, he quickly uncovered that the number referred to the tonnage of the vessel. It doesn't necessarily rule it out but it looks less promising than at first thought.

I carried out a search on all three sets of numbers, removing the forward slash and just treating them all as 5 digit numbers. In cryptology, there is a precedent for surplus numbers or characters being inserted into some kinds of messages.

Here's what we turned up:

Dated September 1947, the ad above relates to second-hand motor vehicles and a Government tender in Western Australia. Followers of the SM case will recognise the significance of second-hand vehicles there being a possible link to Jestyn's husband who was in that business.

The ad below relates to a property portfolio that contained a Pin number, 43933 from Perth Western Australia, a name to follow up on perhaps?

This final ad below was found in an issue of the Melbourne Age dated 10th April 1948, a chemist and his wife looking for accommodation in Melbourne. Chemists have always been persons of interest in this case due mostly to the suspected use of a rare poison on the Somerton Man. The box number is 71717.

Our recent anonymous commenter thought that the numbers referred to, in sequence, dates, that being so it would mean that the numbers on the pocket were written in reverse order?

That's all we have for now, will update this post as and when we manage to retrieve items of possible interest.

Monday, 9 April 2018



A very brief post for now but I think it interesting enough to warrant a heads up for all those interested.

Thie photograph appeared on 15th January 1949 in the Mail. This is quite probably the very first image distributed. It is a little blurred but if you look at the first number set at the top, it looks to me to be 7171/7 and not 1171/7.

Is that number difference significant, I honestly don't know but I do know that we now have 3 different images of what is supposedly the same set of laundry marks, yet all have apparent differences.

Both Clive and I have been pouring over all of the Trove articles in an effort to find further photographs of the laundry marks but without success to this point. If anyone else can take a look that would be great.

There's more very interesting information to add to this post but other commitments prevent spending more time until tomorrow.

Original Police Photograph of Suitcase Contents

I made an effort to enhance the laundry marks but the image is not of sufficiently good quality. If someone has a better one that would be appreciated.