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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.

Friday, 4 August 2017



Amongst the contents of the suitcase that was recovered by Detective Sgt Leane on January 19th 1949, there were two shirts, one white and the other a yellow Pelaco shirt, well at least that's the way the story goes.

Pelaco was a brand that was manufactured in Mebourne originally although there was also a factory in Brisbane. Their range tended to focus on pyjamas and on shirts.

In the image above you can see that the buttons appear to be of the metal type and you can also see that the shoulder panel behind the label is comparatively deep,. The hand tends to obscure the general line  of the shirt at the collar such that it is not readily seen whether the flap that appears to the left of the image beneath the hand is part of the collar or possibly a shirt pocket flap.

Here's an ad from the late 40s for a normal Pelaco shirt with a similar fabric colour and dark buttons:

The collar looks to be somewhat different in style. and it has short sleeves.

The issue relates to the description of both shirts found in the suitcase and included in the Inquest document,  were both described as 'COAT SHIRTS'. 

My understanding is that a 'coat shirt' design means that the shirt doesn't have the traditional 'tail' but is square cut and it was made to be worn outside the trousers, this advert for Arrow shirts from the same era illustrates the difference quite well:

The 'coat' style is upper left in the image.

Why is this important? The shirt as shown is very much for casual wear, in fact sometimes they were worn with shorts and were at one time given the name 'SAFARI' shirts and suits:

Ex residents of Adelaide may recall the late Don Dunstan and his notorious photograph in a pink safari suit.

So, we have a shirt that is for casual wear and yet the rest of the contents point to very formal wear, the jacket, the shoes, the trousers are all formal. Should there have been a pair of casual trousers in the case? Is it possible that the two coat shirts were worn not over trousers but over swimming trunks which would leave the upper part of the body covered and therefore not tanned but the lower part would be?

For those interested, you can download a copy of the 1958 Inquest document here...

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