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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, 10 July 2017


A small sample of US minor combatant ship types

According to Mr. Lawson, Jestyn had received information on Allied ship movements...

Consider that knowledge that is new to us but for Mr. Lawson, it goes back to 1949 when he first heard of what is essentially an act of espionage, question is who was on which side and how was the information passed from Alf Boxall?

Let's review what we have, there's Jestyn, Alf, Somerton Man and, nearly forgot! We have the book and a 'code' page:

All those letters staring out at us, tempting us. What could they mean? Acrostic code? Mnemonic ? Shopping list reminder?

Ship movements, Espionage, Sydney Harbour, Wartime, Cold War, Lots of Ships and lots of ships of different types...

Could it be that simple?Is it just possible that, discounting the first letter in each line, the other letters are the first letters for the different ship types that passed through the harbour at varying times?

Some light reading and research should reveal a list of ship types whose names begin with those letters. And what of the micro code? Each letter has letters and numbers in micro code, could that relate to details of the particular ship? If Alf was the sender, wouldn't he, as a man deeply involved with boats and stationed near the harbour, be privy to daily documents showing anticipated arrivals and departures together with related information?

I realise it might see the end of my earlier post on the WW2 Radio Operators Manual but ...

At this point this is purely an idea, it seems to fit well but it certainly needs to be researched and discussed. What do you think Mr. Bowes?

Anyway, I thought I'd just float the idea :)


peterbowes said...

Boxall would know the date a ship arrived, what it was, what flag it flew under, whether it had any new armaments, how long it might be in port, whether it needed refitting ... that's just a few . Another question might be whether this info was for the reds or the Japanese.
It wouldn't be the first instance of boat-spotting done on behalf of the Japanese, one fellow dug himself in at North Head for quite a while, his cave and transmission gear only found after the war.

Gordon332 said...

If for the reds, then couldn't it have been a deliberate deceit? It's all about games. A new book that might be of interest:
The Secret Code Breakers of Central Bureau by David Dufty

It deals with the right time period and talks of code breaking and counter espionage activities.

On another matter, do you have any knowledge of he Hawkesbury River and Pittwater region military activities through and after WW2?

peterbowes said...

Sorry, GC, apart from Corncob's Halvorsen.

Gordon332 said...

The area has quite a WW2 history apparently, Z Special unit was based there, they had huge gun emplacements at the mouth to Pittwater, used as a testing ground for torpedoes and a submarine net that was presumably not just for show. Taking a look at the map there were a number of places where you could park the odd boat or three. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I see on Mr B's blog, much talk about Captain Nave. He was the man who wrote the Code Watchers code I think, a variation of Playfair I understand. Wouldn't Alf Boxall have been au fait with that in his boat career?

Gordon332 said...

That's correct, Nave wrote it together with Professor Room, one of the weekend Code breakers Club founding members. The Coastwatchers Code was comprised of sets of 5 letters and they made use of 'pro signs' abbreviations for morse code operators, here's a sample of them:

V: Hello!
QCT: Anyone listening out there?
SLI: Shall I go ahead?
K: Yes – proceed!
IMI: Repeat please.
AR: Finished!

Similar to the SM code page with the V and the AR. It's quite possible that their pro signs could have extended to include Japanese Ship types.