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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, 6 September 2014

Somerton Man: The Suitcase Contents

Over the last several years I have managed to amass a collection of images related to the Somerton Man case. They range from the suitcase contents to possible SM candidates and whole lot more, but first an acknowledgement.

I want to acknowledge those people who freely gave input and provided some of the research and sometimes images that will appear in this gallery. More than happy to include their names with their permission. The background is that we all belonged to the original Facebook group, 'World Search for a Rare Copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' set up by Professor Abbott and then later we set up our own group known as 'Inner Sanctum'. The bottom line is that I make no claim to being the sole author and I am grateful for having had the experience of working with a super team of researchers. So, here are their initials or pseudonyms:

Grace, TJ, JP, BT, BB, JR. If I have missed anyone please let me know.

In the end there is no one person who can rightly claim that they are the premier source the exception being Detective Sergeant Gerry Feltus (Retired) who had the Somerton Man case on his desk as a Cold Case and who actually knew and interviewed Jestyn.

Anything I do here by way of extending the range and depth of information on the case will have its roots in the work done by Gerry in his book, The Unknown Man. You'll see a link to Gerry's website to the right of this page.

This page starts off the Gallery and I will be adding more links over the coming days and weeks. I thought that the best approach would be to show some of the images here and then place a link to Google Drive where you can find more from the files described. The Gallery itself is also found on a separate page to the right of this post, it will be added to and new additions posted here as a reminder

First off the rank is a collection of images of the suitcase items.

Scarf, more like a shawl? Notice label bottom right of scarf
Image enhanced view of suitcase and contents

Video still
Negative view, sometimes negatives
show up additional information

Lamonte Tartan

This Lamonte Tartan is similar to the SM version, however so is the Black Watch tartan.

McDonald/Keane Tartan. This was found on a tartan search, web based, the notation made mention of Mcdonald and Keane families.

Irish variation of the Keane tartan

Dressing Gown

With regards to the dressing gown, some research unearthed the details to be found on the sleeves of similar gowns to SM's


SMs ties.
Tootal Ties Ad from 1948

                     Elasta Strap trousers

Negative of inside of trousers

Elasta Strap Trousers 

Trousers, button missing

Close up of trouser pocket/laundry labels. Very feint.

Laundry Marks

Sundry Contents

Group, toothbrush, loupe, tie.

Razor Strop close up, adjacent to the brush handle..

Loupe? Notice the 'grips' within the

One effort to identify the toothpaste, unsuccessful

Lion Toothpaste? Razor Strop

Engraved brush end


The man was found with a packet of Army Club cigarettes which had Kensitas cigarettes inside it. This was apparently common practice in those days, the idea was to not let others know that you had a better quality cigarette in order to conserve your supplies. Another option was to make others think that you were ex service.

Just below you can see an image of a 1948 style packet of Army Club cigarettes and the same year packet of Kensitas.
Kensitas 1948

The Lighter

The lighter was Australian made by Green & Co. It came in 2 variations, one was military as you will see below and the other was civilian. What you will notice is that this is not a throw away 'zippo' style of lighter. this lighter has a separate fuel tank into which lighter fuel was poured, a wick that extended into the tank and of course wheel and flint.

The question is that, given that SM was a relatively heavy smoker, what happened to the packet o flints and lighter fluid that every smoker with a lighter, especially one with a fuel tank, would carry with them?


Fuel Tank and Lighter fluid advert together with a similar ad for lighter flints.

                                           A 1953 Ad for Lighter fluid


New Pelaco, Australian made, Shirt from case

Close up of scissors

Scissors maker

Canadian Army 'housewife' kit
including Barbour's Thread. Slightly different card shape
Barbour's Waxed Thread.
The only item that tied SM to the suitcase, this thread was 
in common use. Of note, is that Barbour's threads were military 
issue items and included in 'housewife' packs.      

Feather Stitch Jacket. The machines capable to do feather
stitching only existed in the US at the time.

Glass dish and button


Labels Removed


Contrary to common belief, the 'envelopes' found in the suitcase 
were in fact pre-paid letter cards

Example lettercard

Negative of a lettercard


Note the scissors, brush handle, knife, scabbards ( made from wrapped zinc) and the black case to the right is believed to be for the 'cut throat' razor. You can just see the corner of the razor strop above the piece of zinc plate, as you will see the razor strop end has a wire triangular piece with a wire loop at the end. This is quite different to the image of the suspected jeweller's loupe shown earlier on this post.

Pencil sharpener

John Lobb, London & Paris. Similar shoes to SMI contacted Lobbs and John Lobb told me 
that the number 204B was one of theirs but, that number belonged to a pair of mens riding boots. 

A Spit & Polish job on the example shoes above. Interestingly some will remember their service days when a heated teaspoon was used to apply polish and then buffed. Pete Bowes from asks the question, 'Where is the polishing cloth/rag?' Good question!

SM's shoes, note 6 lace holes and there are 21
brogue punched holes across the toe.

Negative of SM's shoes, Wide Welt

SM Shoes, close up and colour enhanced
Shoe Polish

Typical shoe ID marks location

US Military Issue


Anonymous said...

Thanks GC, one question: does the Tamam Shud slip appear to have been folded up small. or rolled into a tight cylinder?

Gordon332 said...

Hi Pete,
Looking at the image of the actual torn piece I would say that the crease marks on it would indicate that it was folded and not rolled up. In reality though it may have been rolled up first and then folded later. I'll add the image to the Gallery just now.

Gordon332 said...

NAZAR: Received your message, could you please send some details regarding your ideas via a comment here? It will not be published without your permission. We can discuss from there. Thanks for the original message.

Anonymous said...

GC: I note that your discussion with Abbott on reddit turned to the graphite found in the groves of the rubaiyat, someone had some pencils.

Gordon332 said...

Pete, No graphite was found, that was another of the Professors opinions, again he provides no proof. Not my discussion by the way.

Gabriella Berglund said...

Hi! I read that the Kensitas cigarettes where actually more expensive than the ones from the package they were in and that this could mean they had been exchanged and could have contained poison, any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

The details on the sleeves of the dressing gown look exactly like the ones on "Japurco London" dressing gowns of the 40s and 50s. Don't know how or if that helps but thought I'd mention it anyway.

Gordon332 said...

That's correct and it is possible that the poison was delivered in that manner, what we don't have is a previous example of that particular poison, Digitalis, that's according to the specialist at the time and then confirmed in 1999 I believe, being used in that way. So whilst it is possible it can't be confirmed or denied. Professor Abbott maintains that it may not have been digitalis.

Regarding the finding of more expensive cigarettes in a cheaper, Army Club, packet. This was apparently a practice at the time where people would keep the better smokes for themselves and not want to show the more expensive ones which were in this case Kensitas. At at stretch you could say that if he was a communist he wouldn't want to be seen with more expensive 'capitalist' smokes.

Gabriella Berglund said...

Interesting about the cigarettes! So some people had fancier ciggies inside a cheap packaging for those purposes you say while some had cheap ones inside fancy packaging to appear classier? I guess we tried to fool each other being other than ourselves back then as well...

Somebody said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Somebody said...

Flints and Lighter Fluid wouldn't necessarily be carried on person (flints often hidden within the cover to the lighter??). So their absence suggest (at least) one of the following:
1) He was local
2) He wasn't planning to stay long
3) Not all his belongings were found
4) The lighter wasn't his
5) He would take his lighter somewhere to refill/replace flint
6) It was a new lighter and he hadn't thought about fuel yet (it is still quite shiny, but that doesn't necessarily mean much)
7) Something else....

I think there's plenty possibilities that are fairly simple. Mildly interesting.

Has anybody seen/got pictures of the bus/train ticket?

Gordon332 said...

Thanks for commenting. There are a couple of aspects to the lighter that are a little different. First, and quite rightly, you point out that it is nice and shiny, however, in the earlier photo not shown here, the lighter is not shiny, it is more like the dull military finish. I will dig that out and post it on this page.

The lighter was found in the suitcase and that is where you would think you would find the usual smokers paraphernalia including flints and fuel. Given that the original pic is of an older lighter it would represent something wasn't quite right.

There are only pics of an artists impression of the bus ticket and no train ticket was found. I will locate the former and post it here.

It can be that the answer is simple as most answers are when the solution is found. There is a danger though that the 'Occam's Razor' approach can be used to cover a multitude of possibilities and for that reason I personally tend to look all round the subject even the less obvious answers can sometimes be teased out.

Thanks again!

Phil Greer said...

"The lighter was found in the suitcase and that is where you would think you would find the usual smokers paraphernalia including flints and fuel. Given that the original pic is of an older lighter it would represent something wasn't quite right. "

On the surface, it looks just fine. For most, and for some time. Beneath the surface you may realise that this isn't authentic travellers belongings, more something put together to seem like it.

The clothing may have had distinctive markings on the labels which could tie it to their origins - or even belong to any persons involved in the placement of the body - as you may like, whether rashly thrown together in limited timeframe after the death, or the product of limited means of a clandestine operation.

Gordon332 said...

Phil. The term used in the trade is 'Litter' items randomly assembled for the purpose of misleading investigators. There are certainly aspects of the suitcase and his clothing that make its purpose questionable. If you can bear with me for a minute or three, here are some aspects that don't exactly add up.

1. The only thing that links the suitcase to the man is the card of Barbours waxed thread. This thread was and still is commonly available. The link was that the same colour thread had been used to repair a tear in the collar of the man's jacket. You would have owned a few jackets in your time, how many of them had torn collars? How many have you actually seen with torn collars? This jacket was relatively new and looked smart and yet t had a torn collar. I think there may have been a button that was sown on to his trousers using that same coloured thread. These trousers were quite new, you can see the image of them plus they had cuffs, that makes them post war manufacture, after 1946 I believe. Having worn trousers with buttons, they rarely needed to be replaced and certainly not in the first few years.

2. The left luggage ticket is of interest, it was sworn in court that the case was left at 11.30 a.m. on the 30th.November. Yet the ticket shown in the evidence has only a date but no time stamped on it. Is it possible that the image of the ticket is not the actual ticket? Questionable once more.

3. The slippers found in the suitcase were a smaller size than the shoes the man was wearing.

4. Back to the trousers and the laundry/dry cleaning marks. There were two different formats of those marks and each set had been inked over by the Police or whoever looked after the evidence. Question 1 is why would they be inked over? Question 2 relates to the fact there was only one pair of pants found, the ones he was wearing, you might want to verify that, it's very early in the morning here :) So, one pair of pants, I wonder what he wore when those pants were dry cleaned?

5. The shoes he was wearing, no brand name just a number. Where were such shoes made? a small shoe makers shop maybe? Or the Repatriation shoe factories of which there many across Australia in the 40s. They even made shoes in Russia at the time, no brands on them either, just numbers. I did trace those numbers to John Lobb and Co in London. A high end custom shoe maker. Those same numbers were found on a pair of riding boots but not a pair of Oxford Brogues. Mr. Lobb assured me, on seeing the image of the shoes that they were not from his company. But it could be that SM had a sentimental attachment to the numbers I suppose?

There are so many questionable aspects to the suitcase and the clothes he wore, I am not at all certain that we will ever have the answers. One thought relates to the name T Keane. It was common practice for people with 'foreign' sounding names to change them to English ones but still retain the same initials, in this case TK. Tibor Kaldor comes to mind. Could the suitcase with the smaller sized slippers, have been one of the two that Tibor left behind on December 14th?

Thanks for your comment, very valid and on the money in my view. I hope I haven't bored you too much :)

Anonymous said...

The lighter is certainly intriguing - especially since he had matches on his person. That suggests the lighter has sentiment, rather than purpose (and this is perhaps reiterated by the lack of lighter fluid/flints) - so perhaps it implies military service (where matches were scarce but everyone carried lighters) but an opinion that matches are more practical when available.

I read somewhere that there were 2 cases unclaimed on 30 Nov 1948. The first was presumably dismissed as unrelated, but it sort of makes me wonder what the "normal" rate of unclaimed luggage would have been in those days - would it be normal for 2 items to be unclaimed on a single day, or was that in itself a touch unusual.

I sort of agree that the link to the suitcase (based on the thread) seems tenuous, if not artificial - but I thought one of the Government analysts dis some scientific mumbo jumbo and believed they must be the same....

Is there an implication that the lighter was shined (or substituted) while in police possession? Or just that the photo may make it look shinier than it is?

When you say "no train ticket was found", I assume you mean no photo of a train ticket is available, rather than suggesting the reports of the (unused) Henley Beach train ticket are wrong?

Gordon332 said...

Agreed, there were two models of the Green & Co lighter, one was the chrome finish and the other a dull grey for military use. Military lighters, as many such items of equipment, were chosen for their ability to be re-purposed. Lots of items handed in as lost property and of course many suitcases were deposited and retrieved.

Professor Abbott mentions the fact that the SM suitcase was not retrieved as yet more proof that the suitcase must have been his. I have no comment to make in that regard.

The thread was run of the mill and standard sepia coloured waxed thread from Barbous, readily available at many shops and Department Stores throughout Australia. Again, no comment to make on that.

It is possible that the photograph was taken at an odd angle thus reducing the shine effect.

Apologies, no train ticket was found amongst the photographs of the evidence, I found that unusual as most things mentioned in evidence were photographed and the the files.

Thanks for the comment! Hope this helps.