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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.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Somerton Man: Eureka Part 3: Code Analysis 1st Cut, the letter C holds the key?

The letter 'C' holds the key! Further evidence that the 'Code Page' is based on the US Military Radio Operators Manual.. (Updated 20/6/14)
(View Manual here)

In the two previous Eureka posts, we discussed the 'unlocking' of the code page thanks to the discovery of a US Military Radio Operators Manual. The manual revealed the existence of 'Prosigns' (particular letters and groups of letters of the alphabet) used in Morse Code by the US Military that reduce the number of morse code key events, the dots and dashes, in a message.

Here's the thing about Morse Code that seemingly has escaped so many Academics, students, serious and amateur code crackers and more..

When you are preparing a message for transmission using Morse Code, you don't write down the dots and dashes, you write down the letters, numbers and/or and Prosigns. Similarly, if you receiving a Morse Code message once again you don't write down the dots and dashes, you write down what the dots and dashes represent in terms of letters, numbers and/or Prosigns. It's the skill of the radio operator that turns the letters and numbers into morse code and of course turns the morse code into letters and numbers.

Before reading further I would ask that you bear in mind that whilst we have a number of larger letters on each line of the 'code' page, each of these letters in my view is a carrier for additional information in the form of much smaller micro written letters and numbers.

At the head of this post is an image of the letter C and also the last two letters in the last line, 'AR' with a flourish just beneath them.

As already discussed the last line of the code begins with a letter 'V' which is a Prosign for 'From and what follows is the call sign of the sender'. The 'AR' prosign means 'this is my last message to you no response is expected or required' All by itself that makes a reasonably compelling case for our position that the Code Page is based on the Radio Operators manual.

The exciting news is that the last letter in line 4 of the code page underlines and corroberates the evidence thus far posted on this subject. The letter 'C' is the Prosign for 'Corrected Version'.

Think back now to line 2, the line that has often been referred to as the 'crossed out' line.  That line also commenced with the same style or 'plain' letter 'M' as does line 4.

The crossed out line 2 was corrected by line 4, a statement made by many but it is only now we have the confirmation by virtue of the last letter of line 4. 'C' Prosign for 'Corrected version'

The significance of the 5th and bottom line is that it gives us further corroberation to the claim that the Code Page is indeed based on the US Military Radio Operators Manual dated 1945.

Code Page Implications
What does that mean to the code page? Well, looking at the page we found that there were indeed Prosigns in the lines of letters found there.

I must make it clear at this stage that I am not a cipher expert, my skills if any relate to the ability to find where codes may be hidden. What follows is my first step analysis of the code page making use of the new found Prosigns and as you will see, there are some intriguing aspects of the analysis that I hope others with greater skills than I, will take up.

In the earlier posts we recognised that each line with the exception of the last line used one of two forms of the letter M which was in fact the first letter on each of the first 4 lines. For our purposes we called the letter M on line 1 and Line 3 style 1. Then on lines 2 and 4 we called the letter M found there style 2.

My view is that these first letters M identify each line of subsequent letters as either from a particular source, to a particular recipient and/or identifies the line as a particular kind of message.

Line 1. First Cut

The letters on the code page first line are as you have already seen:

M R G O A B A B D.

Below is the first cut of an analysis of what this line contains, bear in mind that this is a work in progress and I fully expect to review and update this cut:

M defines the source, recipient or type of message
R  means 'Routine' which that no urgency is attached to this part of the message
G O A B represent 4 letters from a code of some form (see below)
AB is the Prosign meaning 'All Before'
D is the Prosign meaning 'Deferred'

The above structure, with the exception of the first letter 'M', came from the US War Department Radio Operators Manual.

For our purpose the first cut, our first line now looks like:
M    R  GOAB    AB    D

The letters GOAB would be the coded letters for line 1 with the letter 'R' by itself indicating that what follows is 'Routine' according to our list of 'Prosigns'. The letter 'D' at the end of the line means that there is no urgency to this message, it can wait for the next shift.

Stay tuned for more but please bear in mind we have more work to do and the current findings may be adjusted as we move ahead.


  1. GC: What are the chances of a man being trained in the two disciplines? Morse code and miniature writing ... married up into a third.
    ..... and just between you and me, the Professor mentioned some time ago that he had seen some of Alf Boxalls' pencil sketches of the beaches in the SWPA, he reckoned they weren't too bad.
    .... room for some thought there.

    1. Good question Pete, I would say that if you were a trained miltary radio operator you would be very familiar with morse code. If you were an intelligence operative you would be familiar with morse code and micro writing. Where did McArthur have his Sigint people? I have emailed you.

  2. I have heard from reliable sources (my mother, bless her) that the Grace building in Sydney had a very fine department store on the ground level ..... and a few yanks in the upper floors

    1. I understand that there was also a station in Brisbane as well as Sydney and Melbourne. I wonder how close the cooperation was between Mcarthurs people and Australian Intelligence, you would think it would have been good.

  3. The 2/1 Nackeroos, Boxall's old outfit, were equipped with radio transmitters when they patrolled the north. Keith Roll, an old mate of Alf's, told me he didn't remember him being an operator, but I have the feeling that all of them would have taken the training course.

    1. Boats, Coast Watchers, radios and not forgetting the humble pigeon. All would have been in the kit I would have thought.

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