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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.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Somerton Man: Why Wasn't This Image of The Somerton Man Ever Distributed?


             The Real Somerton Man

Some time ago, I posted an article about the profile image of the Somerton Man that was published in 1948 with request for people to come forward if they recognised him:

I posed the question, 'Was The Somerton Man's picture real or was it faked?' In todays post I will put forward evidence in the form of another image of SM that supports the view that the original profile image published was in fact faked.

UPDATE: Please visit for the latest images including a grid comparison that shows the major differences between the publiscised and lesser know image shown here.

First let's look at the images posted earlier. I have rotated them so that you can get a better impression of how he may have looked standing up:

This next image shows where I believe the image had been cut and another 'face' had been superimposed and blended into the original, if you look carefully you will see a distinct line commencing mid forehead and running across, down and then out to the mid point on the chin.

Now here's a side by side comparison:

I hope you're still with me because, whilst the image above was taken shortly after the autopsy and had been referred to as 'reconstructed' by the Police, the next image you will see of him was taken after he had been embalmed and in cold storage for about 6 months. Remember that the whole purpose of embalming is to preserve the appearance of a deceased person.

Post Embalming
First let's look at an image of a well known person who was embalmed, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin:

For those who may not have seen him in  life:

The choice of this example was not accidental as you are probably aware there is every reason to believe that the Somerton Man and Lenin had more in common than their both having been embalmed. The point I hope you can see is that you would immediately recognise Lenin in both embalmed and life images as being the same person.

Now here's the image of The Somerton Man after he had been embalmed, in fact this image was taken almost immediately after the plaster bust had been made and there's another intriguing story to tell about that as you will read:

    This is the unpublicised image of SM                        And here's the image that was publicised

The same person? I don't think so.
The image on the left is the last to have been taken of SM and the image on the right was prepared some 6 months earlier.How can we tell that we are dealing with an altered image on the right? The Ear, quite scarce in appearance in fact, is exactly the same, you will notice the difference in the hair colour and the facial appearance is quite different in the left hand image.

All I have done to the image on the left is to resize it to get close to the earlier image, the flattened appearance of the back of SMs head in the left image is due in part I think to there being a pillow in place. He had been dressed for his burial leaving one to wonder whether anyone called by to say their last farewell.

For me this is striking evidence that there had been a massive cover up, there will be those who will say that the facial change in SM between images was caused by the embalming and storage process, I have done some research and that is highly unlikely to have occured. Having said that, if there is anyone with sound evidence to the contrary then please let's have it.

Why The Hurry?
In the notes taken by Paul Lawson, the man who made the bust, he states that his original instruction from the Coroner, Cleland, was to take a cast of SMs skull and to have him buried with that and the real skull was to be kept by Cleland for further study. Lawson was in the process of doing that when the Police arrived at the morgue and stopped him saying that SM had to be buried immediately. In fact he was buried some 6 days later. Why would they do that?

A footnote, I would recommend that you visit the website, you'll find some more intersting theories and ideas as well as hard facts related to this case. Pete Bowes is the guy that blogs there and he has an engaging and sometimes confronting style. Well worth a visit.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Very interesting-I was under the impression that the embalming process was the reason why the SM looked different from the first photo. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Thanks Clive,
A fair comment to make. From what I have read the whole purpose of embalming is to preserve the subject in as near life like condition as possible. As you know I have had some real concerns about the 'original' profile image of SM because it does show that it had been modified and in fact another face had been superimposed on the structure. That was no mean feat in those days, it would have taken a lot of equipment and expertise to complete it.

Back to the question of embalming, given that the process is designed to preserve then I suggest that the embalmed profile view, which does not show any sign of modification or alteration, is accurate. This particular image is quite clear with no obvious signs of deterioration.

To use Pete Bowes terms, more ambiguity arises when you see the full face image post embalming which does show significant deterioration, I may post that image later, not very pleasant to observe but probably necessary if we are to get the full story.

I have confidence in the post embalm profile view as being close to the actual appearance of SM.

Another question arises when you compare the post embalmed front face view with the bust that was created shortly after those images
were taken.

From here I will organise the post embalm front facial image and an image of the front and side view of the bust.

I appreciate your comment and will post the next part of this story in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, So the question is, I suppose, who/what organisation would go to all that trouble to show a different image and, more to the point,why? It seems to me that this death went far higher than a state level? Clive

Gordon332 said...

That's right, it seems most odd. When you add the fact that no fingerprints were taken and the apparent image change it really makes you think are these just random coincidences and examples of shoddy work? I don't think that the Police at the time were at all shoddy, South Australia was alive with spies due to developments at Woomera and an interesting political backdrop. The Police at the time were almost military in their approach thanks to their Chief, Brigadier General Leane.

Anonymous said...

with all due respect, the photo you're showing as "unreleased" is him post-embalming... they cut his hair and cleaned him up, even put some makeup on him... the original images were taken upon the discovery of the body and thus he looks a tad worse-for-wear in them

Gordon332 said...

I think that's a fair comment, where the issues arise is in the facial dimensions, as per an earlier post,

the longer chin and nose as well as the forehead protruding more in the pre-burial image mean that this is likely a different person. I will be posting another item on this in the next few days which will clarify it further. Good comment and I could have/should have included the matrix based analysis in this post as well. Thanks for your comment and interest.

Anonymous said...

My vote, the underbite difference means another person.

peterbowes said...

GC, I think the photo on the left is a retouch. They've shaved off his side-levers.

Gordon332 said...

Yes, I agree with that, there are a number of marks on the image, one quite broad one across the forehead, a vertical line just in front of the ear and then an angular shape behind the ear plus markings around the chin.

I am not sure that there was anything sinister in the touch up aspect but what arouses curiosity is that the underlying image seems quite sound if that makes sense.

Looking at the image on the right, the colour shade difference between the facial area and the ears/chin and top of forehead seems quite pronounced. My view is that this is because the face was superimposed onto the mane face. Must get to look at that in infrared light.

The question is why would they do that? It was done in a rush to, found one day and three days later out pops this image on the right.

Any thoughts?

Unknown said...

The original image was taken after all topsy the dent in his forehead is because they remove the top of his head for the autopsy and the lines on the face are autopsy Cuts as well I would speculate that the later picture looks very different due to sinking of the tissues and decomposition