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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.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Somerton Man: More to it than meets the eye.. plus download link for Rubaiyat

The Letter T from the torn Tamam Shud piece:

To me the image above appears to show a series of numbers, I can make out 4525325 with some uncertainty about the number 3 in the sequence. These numbers appear to have been stamped rather than written. I have spoken with an expert in the use of  letterpress which is the type of printing used to create the phrase TAMAM SHUD on the torn piece. He informed me that the type font itself was made of lead. I asked whether it was possible that each piece of type would carry a stamped serial number and he was quite adamant that there would never be a case where numbers would be stamped onto the typeface. Could it be that the printers ink somehow randomly formed such neat and equal sized numbers? I think that is highly improbable, the conclusion, therefore, is that these are very real numbers that have been deliberately put in place.

So, what's the explanation for these numbers? In my view, they were stamped in place as a way of identifying the carrier of the torn piece as being the genuine article. In other words, the shape of the torn out piece did not have to match the torn area of the book from which it came, but the number would certainly have to be correct. The next question would be how would you be able to view it? Here and now it's a matter of using some smart imaging/editing technology but in those days these tools were not available. My thoughts are that, in those days, you would have to use some form of chemical to make the numbers visible. Either that or a particular kind of UV light. Taking this to its logical conclusion, the carrier of the torn piece not only had to have the right numbers but also the right phrase taken from the right book which also would have been carrying that same number somewhere within its pages.

This particular image was sourced from the earlier set from Adelaide University. The good news is that the original torn piece is still in existence, the question is more about if it is available to hand over to a forensic examiner to clarify what is seen here and what else may appear on that piece of paper.

This blog focuses on hard evidence and not on theories, I firmly believe that what's needed is that any theory must take into account the hard evidence to be able to support it.

I can recommend the blog written by Pete Bowes, he is a man with an open mind and a great deal of life experience.

As an aside note, this blog was recently visited by it's 100,000th visitor. We regularly get between 150 and 300 visits a day so there can be little doubt that the case still attracts a lot of interest.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, So, presumably, the SM would have been poisoned as he did not have the correct figures? And someone else had the book to verify? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Good to hear from you :) I guess that could be one answer but perhaps it's worthwhile backtracking a little. Here are some thoughts:

1. The torn piece was found in a very hard to find waistband fob type pocket in SMs trousers that he was wearing at the time his body was discovered.

2. Worthy of note is the fact that the piece was rolled up tightly such that from an external or pat down perspective, it might feel like it was part of a seam in the trousers. For me that says deliberate concealment.

3. It was therefore highly likely that it was SM that had put it there, it then should follow that he knew the torn pieces content and its value.

4. The other part of the puzzle is the 'code' page found on the book and which in my view and according to the forensic examination, contains a hidden in plain sight micro code created, again in my view, by using a WW2 British Inteligence,(SOE) technique known as Ink H.

5. A possible scenario is that SM had both the book with the code and in his hard to find fob pocket he had the torn piece which contained a set of numbers which, quite possibly, was the key to the code. If you recall I posted recently about the numbers of OTPs (one time pads) that British Intelligence had sent to Australia. One time pads were concealed or disguised in a number of ways including within books, on silk handkerchiefs etc.

6. I think one scenario is that SM was attempting to do a deal where he would hand over the book for others to see with payment only following when he gave 'them' the key to the code. Perhaps 'they' didn't like the price and tried to extract it from him by other means. He didn't cough.

7. There are other scenarios that you could apply and test using the evidence provided including that he was going to a pre arranged meet to hand over the book and the key when he was intercepted by the powers that be.

8. The questions are many and here are a few to start with. Did the Police know? In these scenarios is it more likely that he killed himself by poison or that he was murdered? Which organisations were involved? What was so important about the code page and its content that it has remained covered up for 67 years?

My view on the murder or suicide question would be that if a man was caught in possession of critically important and highly secret information and he decided to put himself on the final journey, he would want to do that quickly with a quick dose of cyanide or similar. If he was being tortured and under duress was given a poison in a drink perhaps and then told that he was bound to die unless of course he handed over the information in which case he would be given an antidote.He thus condemned himself to a slow and perhaps agaonising death. From this you might deduct that he didn't have cyanide or it was taken from him.

Food for thought I hope Clive and I also hope that Pete Bowes might like to follow up on these thoughts.

Gordon332 said...

Seems that Brother Pete is having some difficulty in posting comments here so I will do a summation and please correct me if I am wrong Pete.

'GC, given that the rubaiyat itself was published all over the world by different publishers - in perhaps thousands of editions - would it be unreasonable to think that each copy provided what was needed (a one-time code) in order to complete a covert message - provided it was only used once - and another edition used for the next message?'

21 October 2015 at 18:14

Gordon332 said...

My reply is as follows.
If I have understood this correctly then I think it entirely possible that various agencies could have supplied copies of the ROK to their people for clandestine communications purposes. Here's a scenario that is hopefully worth consideration:
A copy of a paperback version of the ROK, any copy in fact, could have been used in its stock standard version. All that would be required is that the field agent would have had some knowledge of basic bookbinding methods. Consider this, a paperback version in those days would have comprised of a number of 'signatures'. These are groups of pages that were folded and incorporated into a paperback book. They were stitched into
place using a thread, and as a matter of fact it was was and still is waxed thread. All an agent would need to do is to pick the original stitching out and then they could replace the existing 'signature' or group of pages with their version that contained whatever clandestine information was needed.

In one easy step they could turn each and every edition of the ROK into a powerful clandestine communication tool. Who would suspect a copy of the, then ubiquitous, Rubaiyat, torn and tattered at the edges, of being a carrier of highly secret information?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Didn't realize just how easy it was/is to replace a page/pages in a book and, as you comment, who would think that an old, tattered copy of the ROK could be so valuable. I suppose the frustrating 'thing' in this particular case is who had the ROK and 'supposedly' found it in a car or tram? Clive

Gordon332 said...

That's a key question. I think he had the book and the torn piece which was the key to the hidden code. Either someone took the book from him or he ditched it, I think the former. The book was useless without the key so it was allowed to turn up with the real code overwritten by whoever. The book was publicly 'discovered' along with the code which was deliberately overwritten to make others think that the real code hadn't been found. Not sure whether the torn piece was properly examined but I think it probably was and the code deciphered. I think the agencies involved didn't want to spook the targets too much so they could be observed and possibly more targets would be identified.
To test this out, check what happened in the 2 or 3 years following the SM incident. High level spies uncovered not only in Australia. Might be worth making a list Clive. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Interesting comments. Wonder where Jessie stood in this saga-can't help thinking she had more than just a visit from Canney of the SA Police. Methinks that someone from Canberra must have paid her a visit and spelt out what they knew. Clive

Gordon332 said...
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Gordon332 said...

Some kind of sleeper called upon as and when needed?

Gordon332 said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Perhaps the man, per Pete Bowes, who looked down at the SM, for 5 mins, may have had more than a passing interest. In light of your micro writing discoveries, I think Prosper can be discounted from being involved, but I still think they were a mismatched pair! Clive