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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.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Somerton Man, a Port Pirie connection? Elevated Lead Levels found in Sample of Hair.

The Port Pirie Connection?

Graph from Spectrometry Sampling
'The Most interesting Quality of the lead trace is how the level changes over time. The trace maintains a relatively constant level over the first half and then increases substantially over the second half.

From this we can infer that he had a significantly higher level of lead exposure in the last week or so before his death'

This information comes from the Adelaide University Electrical Engineering Department and a study carried out by Honours Year students in 2013.

Port Pirie, A Connection?

Port Pirie is situated North of Adelaide and on the main road to Port Augusta and eventually Woomera.
It's major industry was and is Lead Smelting to which was added that of Uranium Processing following the formation of the Combined Development Agency in 1948. Much of the uranium ore came from Radium Hill which had once again started production around 1947 following a break of 13 years.
Whilst it was 1952 before a fully operational Uranium Treatment Plant was established at Port Pirie, it is understood that some basic processing did in fact start in 1947/48 within the confines of the Lead Smelting plant.

At its peak, Port Pirie was exporting 3000 tonnes of lead per shipment to the UK and US plus an unknown amount of uranium.

'The Combined Development Agency (CDA) was established in 1948 by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom to ensure adequate supplies of uranium for nuclear weapons development programs. In Australia, uranium ore was processed at the Port Pirie Uranium Treatment Complex (PPUTC), which was operated by the South Australian government’s mines department under contract to the CDA.

The PPUTC was situated north of the township of Port Pirie, approximately one kilometre west of the Port Pirie River. The £1.8 million complex commenced operations in August 1955 and closed in February 1962. It processed ore from Radium Hill and Wild Dog Hill (Myponga), 64 kms south of Adelaide.'

Read more about Port Pirie and its nuclear history here..

The significance of this plant within the context of the Somerton Man case relates to a mass spectrometry analysis of hairs taken from the plaster bust of the Somerton Man.

Whilst it appears that more work needs to be done, the tests show significantly elevated levels of lead in the man's hair which point to additional exposure during the last two weeks of his life.

Of possible interest to researchers is the fact that there was a regular sea service between Port Pirie and Port Adelaide operated by the Adelaide Steamship Company during the relevant period.

There is an interesting discussion to be found on this and related topics at Nick Pelling's

You can download a copy of the report here...

For further information and resources, if you Google 'TAMAM SHUD' you will find links to this site from Adelaide University which contains a mass of useful information.

Essential Reading From The World's Leading Authority on the Somerton Man Case..

I highly recommend the book, 'The Unknown Man' by Detective Sergeant Gerry Feltus, retired, South Australian Police. For those who do not know, Gerry Feltus is the World's leading authority on the Somerton Man case. As a Police Officer, Gerry had the files on his desk as a Cold Case and actually interviewed a number of people associated with it including Jestyn. Gerry is the source of much of the information put to use by Professor Abbott of Adelaide University.

More valuable information was contributed and shared with the University on the 'World Search for a Rare Copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' Facebook page  by a number of dedicated independent researchers who unearthed a wide range of fascinating and important details. Much of the information on this and other blogs has its roots in the work of Gerry Feltus and the Facebook group as well as the work of Professor Abbott and Adelaide University students.

Saturday, 23 August 2014


It is a given that when a case such as the Somerton Man becomes 'Cold' then just about every man and his dog will pursue it with abandon. Theories and concepts abound with little though given to the actual evidence.

By focusing on the evidence our theories and concepts gain some credibility and at least some basis for building a case.

Where to start? There are still numerous documents around including the Autopsy Reports as well as some Police information.

For our purposes in this post the focus is the Autopsy Report and in particular comments made by Jimmy Durham the Police photographer on the Somerton Man case:

‘I also have copies of the writing found on the deceased’ (Exhibits C.7 and C.8 returned to Mr. Durham)
Next Paragraph:
‘I took a photograph of the paper found on the deceased and I produce copies of that.’

They appear to be 2 distinct and unrelated sentences.

‘Writing’ and ‘paper found’ are quite different. Mr. Durham would well know the difference between writing and types words. As Gerry says, no photographs and no negatives in the file so we are not able to go much further than to place a double question mark after it.

I did note that the original inquest file had to be returned to SA State Library Archives.

So here we have a statement made by Jimmy Durham telling us that there was writing found on the man or is it a case of a simple mistake but Mr. Durham was not given to making such errors, he was precise in every aspect of his work and was known for it.

Food for further thought.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

SOMERTON MAN: Incredible Miniature Writing Skills

With Apologies to Nick Pelling..

In this post I intend to handover to the Bismarck Tribune and an article they published in 2012. In it they discuss the life of James W. Zaharee, one of, if not, the World's greatest ever miniature writers. After suffering horrendous injuries in an accident in 1926, James decided to focus up on a hobby, that of miniature writing. He won many competitions and prizes worth thousands of dollars and went on to become a major attraction at Ripley's Believe it or Not:

'Zaharee first won fame in 1929 when he wrote 20,000 letters on the back of a postage stamp. On it he wrote the Gettysburg Address 18 times, the complete alphabet 30 times, and his own name 30 times. Zaharee decided to move to smaller writing surfaces and began to focus on rice.

During the 1930s, one of the most popular newspaper features was Robert Ripley’s Believe It or Not. In 1935, Zaharee sent Ripley a single grain of rice containing more than 9,000 letters. After receiving it, Ripley was amazed to find that the letters were “perfectly legible under a high powered microscope.” He contacted Zaharee and asked him to come immediately to his “Odditorium” at the California-Pacific Exposition in San Diego and demonstrate his art there.'

You can read the full story here.

The moral of this post is that it doesn't pay to underestimate the ingenuity and skill of seemingly ordinary people like James W. Zaharee. All people have the ability to be extraordinary!

Micro writing is very real, it has played and may well still be playing an important role in the security of the Western world.

Saturday, 9 August 2014



(UPDATED 10th August. See time line 1947)

This image was first posted on the Internet about 3 years ago, someone has anonymously sent it to me again in recent weeks, It is appreciated and if you know who created it then please pass on my thanks.

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/assassination. 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 code book (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 left hand 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

Time line 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.

September 27th 1947
An entry in Guy Liddell's diary: 'We have the book!' 'Not only have we got the book, but also the instructions for its use and a special code used for prominent personalities' He also mentions that the informant was impressed at the rapidity at which the work was done.  Apparently the project had the name 'OPERATION GOULASH' not to be confused with the 1960 operation of a similar name. There is no mention of any country in this entry although the previous entry had been masked over.

October 28th. 1947
Another entry in Guy Liddells diary  regarding two Czech agents. One named RATSCHITSKY (Unusual choice of name) and the other NEDJEDKY. Both had kept in touch through and after the war years using postings to the London office of a magazine, 'The Ironmonger', the subject of messages was the state of Russian Iron and Steel production. messages were sent via secret writing on the back of the covers of the magazine issues and various propaganda documents sent through the post. Apparently neither the Russian or British Intelligence services discovered these messages.

In amongst Guy Liddells diaries for 1947, there is mention of Czech and Balt refugees entering the country using fake documents issued by British agents, the reason being that the recipients were not Czech or Balts, they were Russian defectors.

1. Was operation GOULASH anything to do with Australia?
2. Would either of the two agents mentioned in the October 28th entry have had a connection with Australia either at the time or later?
3. Given the habit of Australian Intelligence to closely follow British methods, is it possible that Somerton Man was a Russian defector under a false passport? Where would we find such records?

December 1947.
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

January 1948
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 expanded 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.

February 2nd 1948. Courtenay Young was selected as the man to head up the new Australian office for MI5. Also on this day Winston Churchill let it be known that he wanted to inlucde SIGINT information in his upcoming book, MI5 thought this was 'naughty'

February 16th 1948 Livanov, Soviet Ambassador to Australia, was in transit in London and openly boasting about having numerous 'Informants' in Australia.

A man called POLDEN from Australian SIGINT , had been found to have passed on sensitive information to an unauthorised source.

During February, a man called BLOUNT ( Not Blunt) was mentioned in connection with SIGINT Australia.

There were a number of other references to Australia within February/March which will be posted when further information is confirmed.

April 14th, Milne is named as a person with a Communist background who had requested information on the telegrams that formed the original leakage from Australia. Milne sat on the JIC (Joint Intelligence Committee).

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 time line 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, 3 August 2014

SOMERTON MAN: The TAMAM SHUD Torn Piece & More Micro Evidence...

UPDATE 6th August, see 3rd image below for new information.
This is a discovery, sharing and learning blog and like many of the posts we put here, this post happens to be another first. No one had apparently considered the torn piece as being other than a piece of paper found on the Somerton Man and which later matched a copy of the Rubaiyat which in turn contained the 'code' page and led to the finding of a link between Jestyn and Alf Boxall. This is not to say that others were lacking in any way, lots of good people driven by the need to investigate and discover have put in huge amounts of effort without any sign of self serving comments or inflated opinions of their own abilities.

More evidence of Microwriting is apparent in a close up examination of the torn piece containing the words TAMAM SHUD found on the person of the Somerton Man.

This first post in this series looks at the first letter on the piece, T, you can see the outline of handwritten numbers across the top bar of the T, you can just make out markings in the upright and also in the first letter 'a' from the phrase.

In the close up of the cross bar at the top of the T, if you look carefully you will see numbers running left to right within the marked area.

Images of the upright section, this time I think it's a little clearer with a number of letters and numbers in view.

In the images above of the T, the characters are quite straight and appear to be almost machine done. It could be that the numbers in this case are type face numbers. Sometimes but not always by any means, individual letters were numbered. If that's not the case and we have a machine stamped number within the letter T, then it could have relevance to the issue number of what may be a one time pad. More research to go on that topic but it is interesting and I will update this when additional information comes to hand.
Update: According to a specialist printer, the words TAMAM SHUD were made from lead type and whilst the makers would place ID marks on the shafts of type they would never place them on the print face. The conclusion is that these numbers were stamped on after the book was printed.
What's interesting now of course is that we have the code page with microwriting, Jestyn's inscription of Verse 70 with micro writing and now the torn piece bearing the words TAMAM SHUD also showing microwriting.

The links are there for all to see. What does it all mean? Time will tell and now that we have these links we can really start to make some progress.

More images of the torn piece letters will be published over the coming days.