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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, 20 February 2016

SM Did Not Board The Train in Melbourne May Not Have Boarded At All

SM Did Not Board the Train In Melbourne
& May Not Have Boarded At All.

The Name Of The Train..

To be correct there wasn't one steam train, there would have been 3, two (double headed) A2 Class engines drawing 'The Overland' train up from Melbourne on through Geelong to Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Dimboola, Nhil then Serviceton. A town that once marked the old border between Victoria and South Australia with a station being, wrongly, built there. There had been a surveyors error which eventually led to Serviceton being more properly placed within the State of Victoria by some 3.6 klm. 

The significance of the local was that the engines were then changed over from the double headed S class Of Vicrail to the SAR 500 Class single engine.

The image on the left shows a 'double headed' A2 Engine arrangement drawing a Royal Mail train out of Spencer Street Station in Melbourne

The video clip below shows a double headed steam train in action though not of the precise type, these engines being 'R Class.

The point in showing you these first images is really an 'immersion' exercise, what you see here illustrates the actual conditions, just what it was like for travellers on steam trains in those days. Imagine boarding your train in the late evening in Melbourne, the two engines billowing smoke and steam as they drew out of Spencer Street.

And they continued to do that for close to 9 hours all the way to Bordertown.

The Journey From Bordertown

From Bordertown, the train drawn by the 500 series SAR engine would have headed towards Adelaide via Murray Bridge on the flat with gradients to encounter approaching Nairne in the Adelaide Hills and then down to Adelaide. Railway Station arriving at around 9.15 a.m. if it was on time.

In 1948 the full journey would have been around 12.5 hours in duration with close to 9 of those hours being in Victoria on the run to Serviceton/Bordertown.

The image on the left shows a 500 series engine in the Adelaide Hills, again note the huge smoke clouds and some steam coming from the engine, dressed in its working clothes.

The train that drew the Overland looked somewhat smarter but the emissions were the same.

And The Point Is?

Not sure how many can recall steam train journeys in their early life. I certainly can. In the mid 50s I clearly remember the train from Holyhead to Chester at night. It was cold and the ventilation windows in the carriage let in vast amounts of smoke and steam. It got into your hair, it got into your skin and it got into your clothes. Quite some odour and it stayed with you until you and your clothes had been thoroughly cleaned.

Legend tells us that SM arrived at the station from either Melbourne, Port Augusta or Sydney. Whichever the case the engines used to draw the trains on which he travelled would have spewed forth thick, dark and sooty smoke which would have contaminated him and his clothes.
It is thought that he either went to the public baths or could have taken a shower in the Railway Station bathing rooms. That would have addressed the sooty deposits in his hair and on his skin, leaving his clothing. When he was found he was  wearing a clean shirt and his appearance was of a well dressed man. The clothing found in his suitcase was also clean or at least no mention was made of it being otherwise, certainly from the images we have they showed no sign of soiling in any way.

Back to his taking a shower, do you think that, having cleaned up and showered he would once again don the grimy and sooty clothing from his overnight journey or would he change into clean clothes? He was apparently fastidious to all accounts and I think it highly unlikely that he would not have changed into clean attire, very much the way he appeared when found on Somerton Beach. The problem with this scenario is, where are the soiled clothes? None reported and yet they really should have been there.

The foregoing and the questions raised below all add up to a very reasonable suspicion that our man did not travel from Melbourne and may be did not travel on the train that day at all.

More Questions..

Your answers and ideas are invited:

1. Adelaide being a very busy station there would no doubt be lots of luggage left in custody. You would also think that there would be a fair amount of unclaimed luggage. Was it practice for luggage room attendants to always report unclaimed luggage? Remember, until the suitcase was 'found' there was nothing at all to link the man to Adelaide Railway Station. So, how come the luggage room attendants contacted the Police some 6 or 7 weeks after the man's body was found? What would have prompted them to do that?

Photo of original Left Luggage Ticket for SM's suitcase. 

Not time stamped on this which conflicts with Ralph Craig's statement that ' was left after 11 a.m. because it was stamped on the ticket.'

2. In the suitcase was found some square envelopes and some pre paid letter cards together with some air mail stickers. The man had apparently been keeping in touch with someone by mail. Curiously, there was no address book found in his belongings. Why would that be?

3. On every major leg of a train journey in those days, there would be a ticket inspector, these men would travel through trains and clip every passengers ticket. This applies whether the man came from Sydney, Melbourne or Port Augusta. Yet, there is no record of the Police ever having interviewed or made an effort to find the ticket inspectors for those trains on that night. The information would have been available and there would have been a fair chance that our man would have been remembered. Why was that simple, basic Police enquiry not made?

An Interesting Coincidence

That very same week, Adelaide was graced with the presence of a number of visiting International dignatories of the military kind. All had gathered to visit locations including weapons research establishments at Salisbury and Woomera.

Amongst these men was a civilian scientist and Senior Scientific Advisor, Ministry of Defence. Sir Henry Tizard. The same man that contributed greatly to the development of Radar and the Whittle Jet engine.

During the same time period, these 3
high ranking Army Officers were also in and around Adelaide.


Anonymous said...

He lived in Belair. And your right he wasn't on the train.

Gordon332 said...

That's an interesting comment, can you expand on that?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, I used the steam train in the 1960's Leeds to London and v.v. and yes, the smell/soot/smoke got everywhere plus the soot coated the stations roof/walls etc. Clive

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, "Anonymous" claims the SM lived in Belair. Interesting as Prosper lived in Belair for a while, I wonder if they ever met? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Not sure about the source of that claim, if the person who wrote it cares to contact me and provide details plus their contact information, I guarantee that I would keep that information confidential and not publish it without their permission.

Héctor Barceló said...

Greeting, Gordon, read the blog a while ago and am interested in this case. It may be that the Somerton man came to the station to travel to a destination and leave the suitcase to go see a moment before leaving Jestin?

Gordon332 said...

Wonder why no one followed up on the obvious? Having said that of course the thought only relatively recently occurred to me.
How is life in Leeds?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Last time I was in Leeds was April 2015-a bit more cleaner now than when I used to live there-Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Hector, Thanks for the comment which is a valid one.

It could be the case, no pun intended, that he left his belongings at the station before heading off to Somerton with the intention of continuing his journey later. The absence of a number of items though, makes me think that the case was dropped on the day by someone else or was dropped on another day.

Not sure how much time was spent on a detailed examination of the ticket that was attached to the suitcase and whether or not the time and date stamping machine could be readily altered. The term used in tradecraft is, I understand, 'Litter' placed there to add to the confusion.

Consider this, if there was no suitcase what would then be the assumptions? A local person perhaps? Someone who knew where Jestyn lived although there is no evidence that SM went to her house, someone did but no identification was made. Maybe SM had arrived by car and his belongings were in that? Where any cars found abandoned in or near Somerton in the following weeks? Any cars found burnt out?

Another thought relates to the suicide or murder question. The answer to that may lie in statistics, you can access relevant information via ABS and what you would be looking for is how many males of SM's age committed suicide using poison then work out the probability of that occurring. It is worth the effort to go through that exercise, I think you'll find the answer enlightening.

The more people who think this whole case through and who comment with useful and valid thoughts as you have done, the more likely it is that the truth will be uncovered. Many thanks for your comment.

Héctor Barceló said...

Thank you very much for your good answer, Mr. Gordon. What you say makes sense. I took much time thinking about this mystery and something I'm sure: the numerous oversights in the police in the investigation are very strange. Why they lost the copy of the Rubaiyat of Somerton man? Where are the clothes she wore pinned the Somerton man the day he died? Are destroyed along with the suitcase? ... They are many questions. Congratulations on this valuable blog.

Gordon332 said...

All possessions were destroyed 30 years ago I understand. I suggest you get a copy of Gerry Feltus's book .The Unknown Man. Excellent information contained in it., Gerry was a Detective Sergeant who once had this as a cold case on his desk, very knowledgeable and a good man.
Thanks you for your kind comments. Lots of the credit for the blog and contents belongs to the followers who comment here and those who message me privately.

Gordon332 said...

I received an email last night from Pete Bowes, he has taken his blog down and has no intention of reinstating it. He said that he was over the incessant personal attacks from trolls and that it was affecting his wife who is 75 years old.

May not always have agreed with Pete on everything but he was straight and he had values and principles, he brought depth and colour to an otherwise drab subject and his contributions will be sadly missed.

The self righteous Mr. Pelling needs to rethink his 'philosophy' of not paying attention to all the troll comments on his site. My view is that Nick Pelling has a lot to answer for and should be mindful of the Universal Law of Consequence, when you choose a course of action, you choose the consequences. All we have to do as mere observers is to sit back, watch and wait whilst fate takes its inevitable course.

I think Pete's retirement makes this blog the only authentic Australian based blog and certainly the only single focused blog anywhere on this subject with more visitors on the topic than any other blog. I will do my best with the support of followers and other valued contributors to keep the information flowing and will work hard to bring new materials and insights as we move ahead.

Héctor Barceló said...

Muchas gracias por sus comentarios, señor Gordon.Tengo conocimiento del libro y estoy intentando obtener una copia.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, I noticed Pete's site was off the Internet last night and now you have confirmed the worst. It's such a shame as Pete has worked tirelessly over the last few years trying to tie up all the threads etc. Yes, sometimes his views were at odds with others but, as you say he was straight and I, for one, appreciated his opinion and insight into this case. Against all probabilities, but I do hope that Pete changes his mind, his blog and your blog are the two towers of information rising out of the Pelling bog-Clive

Gordon332 said...

No disagreement from me Clive. Good comment, I know Pete follows this blog now and I am sure he will appreciate your thoughts.

Gordon332 said...

Un placer Héctor, estoy seguro de que encontrará el libro informativo.

Pete Bowes said...

Many thanks, Clive, but I've deleted every post and haven't backed any of them up. The harassement I was getting from Nick Pelling's Cipher Mystery trolls was getting very personal. They know my address, my daughter's address and my home phone number - the threats were enough to send me to the police but seeing as most of Nick Pellings' trolls IP addresses were untraceable there was nothing they could do apart from suggesting I approach the UK authorities to register a complaint about Nick Pellings' online actions.
Nick Pellings' trolls were responsible for some very hard nights for my wife, she's 75 and not well, and she was thinking that someone might break into the house one night or attack me - these were the type of threats that were being made.
What makes the situation beyond belief is that Nick Pelling is actively courting these same trolls on his site.
He is a despicable character, and I wish I could meet him at one of his soirees just to look him in the eye.

Pete Bowes said...

Your question (1) How come the luggage attendants contacted the police 6 to 7 weeks after December 1?

On January 11th Detective Len Brown joined the Investigation team, it was at this stage the police began directing their attention to the possibility the SM may have deposited personal possessions somewhere prior to his death.
It was decided to use the local media and request public help - Brown was the 'Go To' man for the local papers.
On January 14th DS Leane had been enquiring with the staff of the Adelaide Station Cloak Room when he learnt they had an unclaimed suitcase that had been lodged on 30th November. Leane left the suitcase there in the hope that whoever lodged it might come back and claim it.
On January 19th he took formal possession and took the suitcase back to the Metropolitan Police station for examination.

Gordon332 said...

Good to hear from you Pete. OK, sounds that's the story and it sounds logical but how about we dissect this a little and then maybe some more?

The suitcase had been there for 6 or 7 weeks, to me there would be no sense in leaving it a week longer, if it hadn't been claimed in that time then it very likely wasn't going to be claimed. My money says that it doesn't make sense.

Another aspect relates to the cloak room ticket, Ralph Craig, the cloak room attendant said He knew it was after 11 a.m. because '..that was the time the clock stamp had imprinted on the section of the ticket he retained' No time stamped on the ticket stub in Gerry's book and I believe that to be a photo of the original. Could the time have been stamped on the back? Maybe but unlikely I would have thought.

The other aspect is as raised earlier, namely that, apart from n socks and no address book, no mention has been made of the sooty, smelly clothes that would have been in the suitcase following his journey and subsequent shower and shave.

I don't doubt the shower and shave occurred it's even mentioned in Clelands notes that he had shaved that day. So where did his travel clothes go?

I don't think he travelled that day and I have serious doubts and questions about the suitcase and its contents.

Any thoughts are very welcome.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete, Yes, I reckon a few people would like to look Nick in the eye and ask him a few questions. I just think he's in it for his own personal glory and can't abide anybody else being involved in this case. Well, at least I'm looking forward to reading your book and that's something that Nick & Co cannot interfere with! Clive