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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

SOMERTON MAN: Was The Code Page Written With Water? A discussion and summation.

Was the TAMAM SHUD Code Page Written With Water?

An earlier method of seceret writing which was both secret ink and indented writing was the most simple and didn't involve the use of chemicals, the 'secret ink' was water. It is possible that the Somerton Man Code page was in fact done in this way, it is still indented writing and the same process of Iodine Vapour treatment could be applied as shown in this 1931 image courtesy of Modern Mechanix magazine.

If this was case, the writing could have been applied directly onto the back of the book as recovered with no intervening page.

Apart from Iodine Vapour we have looked at Ammonia as a possibility but the information on Ammonia describes it as a 're-agent' which infers that it promotes a chemical reaction. Some background, the case in point was raised by me when my thoughts were that the 1942 Dasch German Saboteur case was also one where Iodine Vapour was used, that was incorrect as a very uesful comment made by Ralph pointed out, the Dasch evidence discussed Ammonia. Ammonia reacts with Copper Sulphate which was the nature of the secret ink used by Dasch to write in his list of contacts as you will see in the Spy Museum link here..

I am not of the belief that Ammonia was used on the Somerton Man code page, in a discussion during the last week with Gerry Feltus, ex Detective Sergeant of the SA Police and who had the Somerton Man Case in his charge, he was quite certain that part of the process was turning the image of the Code page negative.

When you consider that comment from Gerry and then consider the use of Iodine Vapour which leaves a dark mark where indentations are present, then turning the page negative would turn the dark mark into a paler shade. Is that the case with the Someron Man Code page? I have some images that show lighter colouring within the larger letters on the Code page that were not traced over, they were missed.

The SA Police courtesy of the very experienced Jimmy Durham wrote over the indentations thay had found with what was possibly a form of laundry marker/felt tip pen. My understanding is that such markers were first patented in 1910 by Lee Newman with another style of felt tip being introduced in 1926 by a Benjamin Paskach, this one was referred to as a fountain paint brush, it had a handle and a sponge tip and was available in various colours.

In the same discussion mentioned earlier that I had with Gerry Feltus and on a somehwat morbid note, Gerry recalled writing the name of corpses in the Police morgue on their left shoulder using an indelible pencil. That was an experience we had both had only in my case we wrote on toe tags with a laundry marker. It's amazing how talking with a fellow ex Police officer brings back many memories. One thing we all have in common, apart from hands on experience and the knowledge you gain from it, is that we all recall our observation training. That applies whether you were 'in the job' for one year or twenty, almost the first lesson you had was how to observe.

Every ex  policeman I know has said the same, you are taught thoroughly to observe in detail, whether that's suspicious behaviour or an image that you see or a conversation that you are part of or overhear or in these days, view, you never forget your powers of observation and the details that you then absorb. With regards to conversations, there were often occasions when a 'likely lad' tried their best to confuse issues with a flurry of fine sounding words, a 'snow job' as it was termed; but when you review those conversations and question them you quickly find that they were words without substance, hollow and meaningless and without any chance of substantiation. The minute they start to attempt to divert attention to another topic is a sure sign there's something to hide. Signs of a criminal mind? No, not necessarily but quite likely a sign of someone out of their depth and struggling to regain acceptance and a semblance of normality.

The lessons I have learnt from these experiences have stayed with me and I am sure with others. I hope that visitors to this site will maybe think a little longer and harder when recalling and perhaps viewing discussions as a result.  The more you practice the skill, the more it becomes second nature and then we refer to it as 'intuition' or a feeling in the bones but in fact it's nothing more than experiences that all add up and your conclusions are seldom wrong. Once a Copper, Always a Copper :)

Monday, 21 July 2014


Why was he killed? 
The case for a VENONA related killing..

Over the years, many people have presented their thoughts on how the Somerton Man died, amongst the theories put forward was suicide, accidental overdose, poisoned by mistake and even that he was murdered. The latter coming as no surprise given the findings from the inquest which suggests as much but, in my humble view, it makes sense to question every aspect when espionage is a suspected element of a case.

In this post, (it will be lengthy and broken into a number of parts), the plan is to present a series of events that took place in the years leading up to the discovery of the mans body on Somerton Beach and how these events provide us with clues and evidence, albeit circumstantial, that point to a VENONA related killing/assasination. By default this post will tell us why he was killed and perhaps give us some options on just who may have caused his death.

Who Knew About VENONA & When?

         Ben Chifley                          Clem Attlee                     'Doc' Evatt

Sir Percy Sillitoe DG MI5      Roger Hollis MI5        Guy Liddell, DDG, MI5

VENONA Summarised

'A Soviet code clerk preparing a message first reduced its text into numeric code groups drawn from a codebook (a kind of dictionary in which the words and common phrases correspond to four-digit numbers). After encoding the plain text with numeric code groups, the clerk would obscure the code groups by adding them, digit by digit, to a string of random digits. This second series of digits, called 'additive' or 'key,' was known to both the sender and receiver because it was printed on the pages of a 'one-time pad. ' One-time pads were periodically pouched to Soviet consular missions in sealed packets. The pad pages--with 60 five-digit additive groups per page--were used in order, always starting with the group in the upper lefthand corner (the pad-page number to be used was more or less concealed somewhere on the face of the message). Code clerks in different Soviet missions used up these packets at varying rates, depending on the volume of messages to be enciphered or deciphered'. Source CIA website

Timeline of events

Finnish Intelligence sell copies of Russian Code books to OSS officers, these books contained the top secret codes that became the beginning of the VENONA project, a US led and organised Signals Intelligence operation. The Americans discovered that the Russians had unwittingly distributed duplicate copies of some of their 'One Time' pads that contained code sequences that should only have been used once. This enabled US cryptologists to 'break' some of the vast volume of Russian secret Military and Trade cable traffic.

Second set of Russian code books found in a German Army building which was about to be handed over to Russian Forces.

US sets up Army Security Agency with a mandate to establish a World Wide network of specialised 'listening' stations to intercept Russian radio traffic.

UK-USA Security Agreement known as the 'Secret Treaty' is signed. It's focus was SIGINT or signals intelligence and the signatories were the US as the first party and Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand as the second parties.

QUESTION: Where were the Australian Listening Stations Located? from an unnamed source one location could have been between Woomera and Nurungara. From personal knowledge, there was a US radio station in SA close to Adelaide on the road between Salisbury and Gawler. You could drive right past it and above the barbed wire fences and behind the red brick buildings you could see numerous large radio masts. This was in the late 70s and my understanding is that they had been there since WW2 days. If you have any other locations that you are aware of or have any relative information please let me know.

Sir Percy Sillitoe, Director General MI5, having been briefed by senior US Intelligence officers, meets with British PM Clement Atlee in December 1947 and discloses the VENONA project to him. In particular he tells Atlee that there had been a serious leak of very sensitive information about British long term strategies and that the leak had been traced to Australia and the Department of External Affairs. Atlee tasked Sillitoe with travelling to Australia and informing Ben Chifley, Australian PM of the findings. This presented a major problem to Sillitoe as the disclosure could put at risk the whole VENONA project, a cover story was suggested and adopted as the best way forward. The cover would be that the information on the leaked documents came from a Russian defector and plans were made to have Sir Percy travel to Australia, he would take Roger Hollis, MI5, with him. In fact they eventually both travelled on separate days towards the end of January 1948. Atlee cabled Ben Chifley and told him to expect a visit from Sillitoe on a matter of some importance. In Defence of The Realm

According to Guy Liddell's diary, (Deputy Director General of the Security Service) during January 1948 a number of top secret meetings were held within the offices of MI5 with the topic being the US cables (VENONA) project and Sillitoe's impending visit to Australia for meetings with Ben Chifley and 'Doc' Evatt. The cover story was exapanded and was somewhat nervously agreed to. Roger Hollis would accompany Silletoe with both men leaving for Australia at the end of January.

During Silletoe's absence, further meetings were held discussing the setting up of an MI5 Australian Office with a number of potential MI5 officers being considered for the position in Australia. This was even before Sillitoe and Hollis had met with Chifley and revealed the real nature of VENONA and an unusual level of confidence on behalf of MI5.

NOTE: Both Roger Hollis and Guy Liddell were later to be accused of being Russian moles.

In the next post, which will be added here within 48 hours, we will move the timeline of events further along into 1948 and include more people who were involved in the project. There is much already revealed here with more to come, for some site visitors this information will be quite new and may even cause them to rethink their views of those early cold war years and the involvement of Australians.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

SOMERTON MAN: When Was The 'Code' Written?

When was the code written?

What do we have that could point us in the right direction? The code page and micro writing to start with, according to one report the back of this book had been torn off which could mean that the impressions left were from the original writing done on the real back of the book. Here's the thing, the process for agents using secret writing techniques was to write the code or message on one piece of paper possibly in invisible ink and then to write over it again in normal handwriting or as we have discussed, used the larger letters as a guide and written the microcode into them.

The next step would be to remove any indentations from the page beneath and that was done by steaming/iron and water. That didn't happen as is evidenced by the fact that the Police were able to lift the indentations from the inner page and it's those markings that they traced over.

The question is why wasn't the next step taken by the person who wrote the 'code' to remove the indentations by the steam process?

A possible answer is that there wasn't time, so the complete book was grabbed and possibly during an escape the back was torn off and sent in one direction and the rest of the book tossed into an open window of a nearby car hopefully to be collected later.

That could mean that the 'code' was written on SMs last day. It doesn't necessarily follow that it was SM that wrote it. Given this scenario is correct that would make it on November 30th 1948. That may be a date worth bearing in mind as we get on to the Venom or Venona post.