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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 January 2017

SOMERTON MN: MAJOR PAVEL IVANOVICH FEDOSIMOV, CODE NAME STEPAN



MAJOR PAVEL IVANOVICH FEDOSIMOV, KGB

Misca uncovered this man's name in her follow-up research. Clive had found a name that was not dissimilar but is now thought to be a misspelling.

The image above is of the man identified by Harry Gold as the man he met at the Earl Theater on December 26th 1946. He was employed at the Russian consulate in New York as an assistant to the consul, that is apart from his other duties which decidedly included espionage.

Of note is that that Fedosimov had a code name STEPAN and that name crops up a number of times in the Venona cables, one string, in particular, discusses the whereabouts of weapons and explosives secreted in the consulate building. One of the weapons described is a pistol disguised as a fountain pen and which held two poison bullets. That same code name was once used by another agent some years earlier.

This man was a handler for the Atom Spies following Yakovlev's departure to take up another post in Europe.

The picture was taken in April 1947, according to records, Fedosimov returned to Russia in August 1948. Clive is still chasing down some other leads on this man.

According to Harry Gold, Fedosimov was:

1. About 6'2"
2. Large build,
3. Huge hands
4. Walked on the balls of his feet, this condition can lead to highly developed calf muscles and result in wedge-shaped toes

With the aid of the photograph above, we can also see the very similar ear shape, the set of the eyes and a very similar nose shape.


The spectacles tend to hide some of the features so in the image below the specs have been digitally removed:




Whilst this photograph isn't as clear as we would like when you take into account camera angle, lighting and postmortem bloating in the SM Police image below left, you have a fair resemblance. We are not certain at this stage, more research to be done.




Take into account camera angle, lighting and postmortem bloating in the SM Police image on the left and you have a fair resemblance. We are not certain at this stage, more research to be done.

More will be added to this post over the next few days.

Many thanks to Clive and to Misca for their ongoing involvement and contributions.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to this doc:
https://vault.fbi.gov/rosenberg-case/klaus-fuchs/klaus-fuchs-part-48-of-111

The US put him on entry watchlists in 1951. Now that doesn't necessarily mean anything (it may be that they hadn't seen him and thought he might be returning), however it does suggest that if he had died, the US was not aware of it.

Gordon332 said...

Hi, Thanks for that, I think that 1951 was when the Atom Spy case really hit the headlines and thus names were known and published leading to the watch list inclusion? All valuable information nonetheless.

Gordon332 said...

Do you think that another option would be that they knew he was dead but wanted the Russians to think that they didn't know? Bear in mind that all of the publicity at that time and for many years following was that the Somerton Man was Unknown.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that's possible - but it's a difficult one to get my head around. On the one hand, it means they think they have spies so embedded in their government that they would have access to watchlists, on the other hand they need to be able to discuss adding the name to the watchlist without said spies knowing it's just a ruse.
I think your first response may be closer the mark - as things hit the headlines they add all known entities to the watchlists without time to check whether people are likely to be alive or dead.

I guess my angle is that the spy theory as it stands now suggests he was killed by someone other than his ally (or at least someone who seemed unaware of the "Tamam Shud" fragment - I suppose there might only be 2 specific people who would know that - the person he was meeting, and the person organising the meeting, which still leaves a pretty broad space for friend or foe).
I guess where I'm thinking is that (eventually) SM's picture was sent out throughout the world, and the Yanks either missed it, didn't recognise him as STEPAN (which might be possible - they might have worked with names more than pictures), or chose to pretend they didn't know. It's all possible - and any spy connections will have murky water around it.

Digressing....
I don't know how the American Border works (or worked), but I have had fairly close experience with the Australian one (mainly from an air perspective, but the process is fairly similar for sea). These days interest from multiple agencies ultimately ends up in one of two systems (I suspect often both - but that's not important), both of which are trigger assessments at roughly the same stages of travel - One is owned by what used to be Immigration, and the other by Customs (although, of course, they both now form Dept Immigration and Border Protection are now the same thing - for now). Before these systems (dating from the mid 90s, I think) existed the watchlists were physical bibles. I think there was some intelligence in assessing likely arrivals pre-arrival (something that is done today - identifying not only who's coming, but where they're most likely to arrive), so Officers at each port would get a summary each day of expected arrivals of interest. Additionally, they may check the "bible" if they thought something was amiss (I think the checks were pretty crude exact name checks, so officers migth have needed some basic understanding of linguistics and name variation to match inaccurate intel - these days the computer does some fuzzy matching).
The post-war influx of immigrants probably adds significant load and complexity to such a system (major ports are busier, some minor ports see activity they're not used to).
I guess my point is that everything worked on NAME. Perhaps the bible referred them to a file that had a photo - if it ever got that far - but the actual checking at the airport would have primarily been name and passport number/nationality (these days pre-arrival knowledge can flag an unexpected passport arriving (sometimes that's just a dual citizen booking on one and travelling on another, sometimes, of course it's more sinister), but I'm guessing that was a lot harder back then, so fraudulent passports were less likely to be found). These days there's all sorts of fraudulent document checks too - some automated, some physical.

From that perspective, I suppose it's possible that a name of a known deceased agent ends up on a watchlist, it just suggests that the entity isn't a high enough profile for their file to be updated when they die - or as you suggest the government playing games (of which the latter is probably more likely, because I find it hard to believe that the government would have a dossier on a pretty high player in the game and not notice when they can't find him active anywhere).

Anonymous said...

Having said all of that, it does seem rather intriguing that our friend Pavel disappears off the radar in 1948....And the knot on the tie in both pictures seems to sit on a similar angle - at the very least it appears the same style knot (half windsor?) tied in the same direction....

Gordon332 said...

Yes, I hadn't spotted the tie knot but you are correct. To add further to the issue of Pavel's photograph, look closely at the spectacles, specifically the surrounds of the right lens. You may also note that the 'lenses' look to be perfectly clear so maybe not a 'lens' per se.

Anonymous said...

Fedosimov - Great that you've found a picture of him! Unfortunately, I'm dismayed at the lack of resemblance to our man (SM)...I don't think he's him...Great work for a "rule out" and most interesting as a possible scenario for how SM ended up where he did; dead, anonymous and without anyone claiming him. Might well be another Russian who was left out in the cold. While I realize that the whole "spy" scenario seems so "out there" for many, it's starting to really kick in as the number one scenario for me.

Misca

Gordon332 said...

Yes, Clive found it in a Press image. There are a coupl of issues with the image itself, small things but quite odd. The spectacles on close examination look like they may have been added after the photo was taken, the markings that define the chin are also a bit sus. If you look carefully at the hat, in the first image, as in with specs, the hat is perfectly straight and faces squarely to the front yet his face is pointed slightly down and to the right. Just odd. So, whilst I agree there are doubts I wouldn't rule him out completely just yet. We can get an original of the photograph taken at NY airport in April 1947, it was a press photo taken, I think, by a Soviet news agency, TAS? Thanks for the comment, much appreciated :)

Anonymous said...

Re. the tie match: wouldn't the tie in the post-mortem photo have been tied by a mortuary technician or undertaker?

Can there be any guarantee that the knot is the same style as was found on the corpse on the beach?

Gordon332 said...

Must apologise, it was meant to be tongue in cheek. You are right, the tie in the SM image was of course done by someone else. I am not aware of anyone recording the type of know that was used. It would have been useful had they done that. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Why oh why do I have to post as anonymous if I don't have a google account? Impossible to keep a discussion going when every second post I make goes of into the internet without posting! I will try one more time. Third time and too bored to properly explain. Check out Oksana Kasenkina. More specifically Jacob Lomakin. He looks more like SM than many other candidates. Expelled from the US in August 1948.

Misca

B Deveson said...

Gordon, I agree re: the spectacles being added. But why? Perhaps to disguise some scars around his left eye and nose? I am thinking of Mikkelsen. The matter of Pavel walking on the balls of his feet is suggestive of SM. Weren't special forces/commando types trained to walk on the balls of their feet in the past?

Gordon332 said...

Hi Misca, Equally frustrated, every setting in the blog is set to allow for comments with moderation. I have reported it and still have made no progress in 18 months with the same issue. It seems to be an unreolveable Google problem. However I will keep trying.

Test Guy! said...

Test comments

Anonymous said...

Jacob/Yakov Lomakin was supposed to have died in 1958 (aged 54), Apparently, he was, at one stage, working at the USSR embassy in Peking. Clive

Anonymous said...

Jacob was 6'-0" tall. I do have some other information on him that I will try to summarize and post/send when I get a chance.

Misca

Barry Traish said...

The inquest records the Somerton Man as 5'11", but Fedosimov is listed as 6'2". That's quite a difference. The Somerton Man appears to have tapered ("attached") earlobes, but Fedosimov appears to have dangly ("free") earlobes. The nose is different, but noses have been known to change. Overall, the physical differences appear to be irreconcilable.

Gordon332 said...

Hello Barry, Good to hear from you. I have just posted an update to the latest post regarding Fedosimov. The post includes comparison images that discuss the ear and the nose. If you can take a look and then add any further comments/input, that would be appreciated.

On the issue of height, SM was measured when deceased and whilst he was on the slab. In that position it would be impossible to get an accurate measurement. If we were to take SM and make him live and then get him to stand against a wall and stretch to his full height then his live, standing height would be a shade over 6' tall. If we then gave him shoes he would be close to 6'.1". Now we would need to be in the same upstairs foyer at the Earl Theater in the Bronx with friend Harry Gold who gave us the description of Pavel as being 6'2 tall, large hands, well built and who walked on the balls of his feet. It's the latter part of that description that may go some way to explaining the man's apparent height. Given that you can see how we could get over 6'1" by having the man walk on the balls of his feet it would give the impression of him being taller again than the original estimate. I am not sure whether Pavel was wearing a aht at this meeting but it is a possibility. For those reasons, I think that Pavel is a definite candidate. If we can turn up more images and any further details of his life after leaving for Russia in 1948 then it is all subject to change.

For those reading this comment and who haven't heard of Barry Traish, he has been involved as a serious researcher into the SM case for 10 years or more and has a reputation for producing excellent work. If you research on Trove on this subject you will find many instances where Barry has edited Trove newspaper content.