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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.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020



Were there spies in Adelaide in the 40s?

This brief introductory post addresses that question and produces evidence that re certainly was. In fact, as you sill see, there were at least 4, 2 Russians and 2 who were Australian born Russians.

How do we know? Quite simple really as a result of the Lapstone Conference research, a lead popped up as they sometimes do and it pointed in the direction of the activities of one of the names on the list of Russian delegates.

As said, this is the introductory only, there are hundreds of pages of information with many names yet to be reviewed.

The focus of the SA Spies' attention was the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Salisbury to the North of the city of Adelaide. Salisbury was the development zone and Woomera was the testing range.
Woomera Village 1947

The Spies

Here's the first indication found that spies were operating in SA, it's an excerpt from an Intelligence report on the activities of Feodor Nosov, who supposedly was a TASS press agency representative but in reality was Russian Intelligence officer based in Sydney.

Another excerpt and a later visit, October 1947. There was some doubt raised about this particular trip as you will read.

Sergei Vlasov

This information shows beyond any reasonable doubt that there were Russian spies in the Adelaide area and they had been there since at least 1947. The next question is how does this link to the Somerton Man case? Part of the answer may come from Sydney surveillance reports on the activities of another two Russians, they met with an Australian man, spoke with him for some time,e man left by a Tramways tram, he used a Tramways (Employees?) pass and got off at the Tramways Depot at Rushcutters Bay.

There are many more names within the files and another post will follow shortly.

Saturday, 22 February 2020



This has been ongoing for many years, the mystery of Scherbakov and Bogatyreva. The news is that all that effort put in by so many people over the years and all of the theories can now be laid to rest.

The attached download link includes an extensive report see pages 97 to 101, which summarises the activities of NOSOV and aligned groups as well as highlighting suspected espionage activities and contact lists. The text document includes vehicle numbers, telephone numbers, names and addresses as well as organisations, it is not a complete set of lists but I trust that you will find it of some use in your research.

The recently discovered documents show clearly that both were employees at the Russian Embassy in Canberra as per the below clips.

Miss Bogatyreva, still at the embassy in 1950:

Sergei Andreevich Schherbakov left Australia November 1949


Saturday, 15 February 2020

Lapstone Part 3: IMPORTANT UPDATE 2: Photographs, The Delegates and a Download..



Not as straightforward as it would appear...
This series of recent posts has broken new ground. By trawling through the helpful information received courtesy of PeteDavo regarding the operations of MI5 in Australia during 1948, we were able to uncover other documents including the Delegates list for the Lapstone conference.

Within the Somerton Man webspace, the Lapstone conference has been discussed many times. The discussions revolved around the mysterious Sherbakov and a Miss Bogotyreva, a secretary and assistant to Novikov the leader of the Soviet delegation. It was often said that the two had disappeared together and defected to Australia, there was never any evidence to that effect but in this space, there are those who tend to wax romantic at times. In this post, you will read evidence of Sherbakov being on the list of delegates right up until the 25th of November a day or so before the departure of the flight to Darwin. There is no evidence of his landing here but the same can be said of all those on the list. There is no evidence of his attending any sessions of the conference.

We are left with the thought that Sherbakov could well have arrived in Darwin and instead of heading to Lapstone he headed elsewhere. Checking the aircraft flight times into Australia and then schedules for aircraft leaving Darwin for Adelaide, it is possible that Sherbakov could have boarded a plane and arrived in Adelaide early on the evening of 30th November 1948.

We also found that Miss Bogotyreva attended the sessions and left Lapstone along with the rest of the delegation on 13th December 1948.

Finally, as a result of this research, we now find that Nosov, the head of the KGB in Australia, also attended the full conference at Lapstone.

The count says 13 Delegates which includes Sherbakov.

Yet in this document, marked unofficial, from within the file we get a total of 15 in this party plus a driver and two couriers, note that Sherbakov makes the 15th delegate:

We are now at 24th November just 2 days prior to the scheduled departure from the UK and in this list, without names, we see that the Australian Embassy states there are 15 members of the party:

So Far so good? Well, no actually. You see there is yet another list that turns up within this file. This one is handwritten with no date, page 27 of the file, and it contains the names of 21 persons with no sign of Sherbakov:

This last document shows an 'in' and an 'out' date column. Miss Bogotyreva is shown 'in' on 30th November and 'out' on 12th December, no sign of Sherbakov though. Also noteworthy is that 5 are shown as arriving on the 1st December and one on the 11th December who departs on the 13th December, one day after the rest of the party. The question is, is this the list of attendees who flew in that included delegates and staff and others or is it a list of all Russians who arrived at Lapstone and then departed on the dates shown? There is a question mark on the last name in this list, VYSELSKI, he apparently arrived on 11th December and departed on 13th December.

Important Update

Sharpened image of written list: 

Checking and comparing the published versus written lists, the following names were found in the handwritten version which do not appear on the published list with the exception of the two couriers:
  • Pavlov arrived on 30th November and left on 1st December
  • Pachinko arrived on 30th November and left on 2nd December
  • Tazov arrived on 30th November left on 1st December(marked down as a courier)
  • Kustashenko arrived on 30th November left 1st December (marked down as a courier)
  • Miss Karpova shown on the written list as arriving on 30th November and departing 13th December. ( Note that Miss Grisnova from the published list does not appear therefore possibly a substitute)
  • Vyselski arrived on 11th December and departed on 13th December
  • Sherbakov does not appear on the written list although MI5 files suggest that he did arrive.
Important: One name written on this list could be significant. NOSOV, many would know that Feodor Nosov was the head of the KGB in Sydney and lead a team of spies including Zaitsev, Mikheev and the Australian Wally Clayton known to be a communist sympathiser and agent. Very significantly, Nosov had a working relationship with Dalziel from Evatt's office. There's a long story here on Dalziel, suffice to say his association with Nosov started when he was introduced by Evatt to Mikheev in 1942/43, it is widely believed that Dalziel was the original source of the leak of secret documents to the Russians in early 1948.
The link from Nosov to Moran and the Eureka Youth League who were staying less than an hour away from Lapstone, is an obvious thought.

The fact that Miss Bogotyreva now shows as being at the conference and leaving on the same date as the rest of the team strongly suggests that she returned to Russia. This conflicts with commonly held thoughts that she and Sherbakov disappeared together. Not so.


The differences between the published and written lists are significant, we have names appearing of people who were not down for the flight but could have been passengers. The following remarks are made on the assumption that this was the case.

We seem to start with a party of 15 and end up with a total of 21 on the last list but if we include Sherbakov that would make 22 people in total.

If 22 people flew in via the Silvwright charter aircraft, where did they sit? What I mean is that if there were 22 people + 7 crew that makes 29. The aircraft had only seats for 26 passengers. The answer is that we can deduct 4 of the total, the Pilot, Co-pilot, radio operator and navigator were seated up front in the cockpit. That gives us 25 passengers and just 1 spare seat.

So it is conceivable that 22 people flew in with the Russian delegation comprised of 15 delegates and staff and 7 others. The handwritten list needs to be transcribed, a little scrawly I'm afraid. We would then have a list of 22 names that we can check off against passenger lists to Adelaide on Tuesday morning 30th November 1948.

Obviously, there is more to do, we need to clarify the additional names and carry out research on the full list. In that process, we need to be conscious of the fact that some of these names may be alternative identities. For serious researchers, this is a complex task as you can see, I will be sharing whatever is found.

The next post in this series will happen once we have received the results of passenger lists research. Hopefully that will occur within the next 2 weeks.

The photo below right shows Novikov and Miss Bogatyreva as they arrive at Mascot on 30th November 1948. The man you see just behind the lady is also a member of the delegation for whom we don't have a name but he does bear a resemblance to the Boxer, Sergei Sherbakov, below left. The boxer photo was taken 5 years later. There is insufficient detail in the group photo to say any more than a 'resemblance'.


You can download the relevant PDF document here..

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Lapstone Part 2. The Flights, the numbers, and the timing

The Lapstone Conference Flights & More

This is a C-47A, more commonly known as a Dakota, a DC3. Ex-military, this aircraft was owned by Sivewright Airways, a Manchester, UK company. It is the exact aircraft, G-AKSM, that was chartered by Qantas to fly the Russian delegation to the ECAFE conference at Lapstone in the Blue mountains. This photograph was taken at Manchester's Ringway airport in 1949.

Here's an interior shot of a C- 47A aircraft fitted out for passenger service:

The layout has a central aisle and forward-facing seats with a pair of double seats facing each other at the front. The forward-facing seating is configured with 6 rows of double seats on the right as you look at this image and 5 rows of double seats on the left. All up we have seating for 26 people in this aircraft.

The C-47A had a range of 2600 km and a top speed of 324 kph, cruising speed for longer distance flights was approximately 260 kph. This civilian version of the DC3 had a cargo door and a hoist and a reinforced floor. This aircraft type was not pressurised so it would typically fly below 7000 feet but had a ceiling height of 26000 feet. The cargo hold area was immediately aft of the passenger cabin.

The Passenger Numbers

When you read through the various documents regarding this charter and the makeup of the Soviet delegation, you will find that there are some differences of opinion. From the MI5 report, we are lead to understand that there were 17 passengers and 7 crew, including 3 cabin crew. a pilot, a co-pilot, a navigator, and a radio operator.

However, the number of delegates noted by the MI5 report is 15. We, therefore, have 24 people in total including crewmembers against seating capacity of 26 all up. That leaves us with two spare seats if this was indeed the seat configuration of the Darwin flight aboard the C47, G-AKSM, or perhaps two more passengers who were not delegates.

The Timetables

I have included the overseas Qantas, London to Sydney timetable and a National/local service timetable for Darwin to Adelaide.

Qantas: Below is a timetable for the Qantas service from London via Marseilles to Sydney. Because the C-47 was a chartered aircraft, the aircraft type is different from the timetable, it shows a flying boat, but the flight times are thought to be similar.

The flight leaves London at 11.30 am. and arrives in Darwin at 17.45 pm local time the following day. According to the press reports, the flight actually arrived at 7 pm on Monday 29th November. It continues its journey to Sydney via Bowen arriving at that destination at 1.30 pm the following day local time. As you can see it was a lengthy journey. No wonder that Novikov was a little tetchy with one of the customs officers.

Trans Australia Airlines (National/local)

TAA operated flights between all major cities and thankfully we have been able to find a January 1st  1949 copy of their timetable and fares. 

Our interest is the Darwin/Adelaide and Adelaide/Darwin flight departure and arrival times. This could be critical information as we will be able to show that after the Qantas charter flight arrived from the UK and Europe, it would have been possible for a passenger from that aircraft to get a seat on an Adelaide bound aircraft and be there within 12 hours. (In 1948, Adelaide Airport was situated at Parafield, an approximate 40-minute drive from Glenelg in those days, somewhat quicker today.)

In the timetable above, you can see that when you compare both the UK to Darwin and Darwin to Adelaide flights, that it would be possible for a passenger from the UK to board an Adelaide bound on the Monday or Tuesday following their arrival. This would get our passenger into Adelaide by 5 pm on Tuesday evening, 30th November 1948. You need to make an allowance for Daylight saving with Darwin being 1 hour behind Adelaide. The distance from Darwin to Adelaide is 1600 km approximately and the flight time according to the timetable is around 11 hours.

Coming up

In our next, part 3,  post we will look at the names of the Soviet delegates to the Lapstone conference. We already know that one of them, Sherbakov, was on the passenger list on the UK to Darwin charter flight but was not present at the conference.

The intriguing questions is, will one or more of the names from the delegates list turn up on the Adelaide flight? Where there any other passengers onboard and if so who were they?

Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Sherbakov Dilemma

(Note the two different spellings of this name, the Shcherbakov being the Russian form and the Scherbakov spelling being the Western version. In the MI5 files it is spelled SHERBAKOV)

As many will know, Sherbakov (Shcherbakov), was a name on the list of passengers who were delegates to the Lapstone ( Ecafe) Conference due to start on 29th November 1948. These delegates landed first in Darwin around 27th November. 1948. MI5 files and other documents mention Sherbakov as being amongst those delegates. Photographs were taken which we have yet to source. Amongst the files mention was made of the fact that Sherbakov was not actually seen at the Lapstone conference in the Blue Mountains near Sydney and neither was a secretary by the name of Bogotyreva. In fact, there is no record of either of them leaving Australia.

With the help of PeteDavo, we dug deeper and found a list of those of the Shcherbaov name who were for one reason or another, regarded as 'notable'

On first reading about the Scherbakov connection, it all looks quite straightforward. That is until you read a little more.

Please bear with me as we first look at the list notable bearers of the Schcherbakov/Sherbakov name:

Albert Shcherbakov (born 1976), Russian footballer
Aleksandr Shcherbakov (born 1998), Russian footballer
Aleksandr Shcherbakov (1925–2013), Soviet aircraft pilot and Hero of the Soviet Union
Aleksandr Shcherbakov (1901–1945), Soviet statesman and politician
Anna Shcherbakova (born 2004), Russian figure skater
Boris Shcherbakov (born 1949), Russian actor
Denis Scherbakov (born 1978), Belarusian football referee
Denys Shcherbakov (born 1988), Ukrainian orienteer
Konstantin Scherbakov (born 1963), Russian pianist
Konstantin Shcherbakov (born 1997), Russian footballer
Leonid Shcherbakov (born 1927), Soviet athlete
Mikhail Shcherbakov (born 1963), Russian singer-songwriter
Oleg Shcherbakov (born 1966), Russian footballer
Pyotr Shcherbakov (1929–1992), Soviet actor
Ruslan Shcherbakov (born 1969), Russian chess player
Sergei Scherbakov (1918–1994), Russian boxer
Sergey Shcherbakov (1962–1988), Soviet serial killer
Serhiy Scherbakov (born 1971), Ukrainian footballer
Svetlana Shcherbakova (born 1988), Russian weightlifter
Vadim Shcherbakov (fl. 1966–1991), Soviet military advisor to North Vietnam
Vasily Shcherbakov (born 1969), Russian musician and professor, grand-nephew of the composer Dmitry Kabalevsky
Vladimir Shcherbakov (1945–1993), Soviet footballer
Vladimir Shcherbakov (1909–1985), Soviet scientist and politician
Yevgeni Shcherbakov (born 1986), Russian footballer

You can immediately delete a number of people from this list based on their DOB and you are left with those highlighted. We had another name in this list as a possible contender and that was Aleksander Shcherbakov who was born in 1901 but, sadly he died in May 1945. We'll come back to that death in a minute suffice to say that this man was the head of the Sovinform Bureau during the war years.

We have 3 contenders from this list, one a boxer, one a politician and the other a Hero of the Soviet Union and a pilot whose name also happens to be Aleksandr Shcherbakov. 

We published the name of Sergei Sherbakov in an earlier post, he was an athlete and an ex-special forces man who had seen action behind enemy lines during WW2. (Coincidentally, Pavel Fedosimov had also been involved in such actions and the management of secret agents behind enemy lines during his time in Russia between 1942 and 1945). Sergei was a boxer and superbly fit. If we were looking for a contender to be involved in the assassination of the Somerton Man, Sergei would be a prime candidate or, so it would seem.
A second candidate because of his age and name and a connection is 
Aleksandr Shcherbakov, a Pilot and Hero of the Soviet Union. He was also the son of the Politician Aleksandr Shcherbakov, highlighted above. This Aleksandr was to become a test pilot and was involved in the testing of the Mig 21 amongst other aircraft. He wrote an interesting article on the TU 144 crash, (Russian version of the Concord) in later years.

The third candidate from the list was Vladimir Shcherbakov, born 1909,  he was a Russian scientist and a politician. At this time we do not have a photograph nor much information on this man save to say that he was, from June 1947 to July 1951 – First Secretary of the Kaliningrad Regional Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) In 1950 he was appointed a member of the  Supreme Soviet of the Soviet UnionThere is no mention of his being part of the Ecafe meetings in Lapstone. This is not a man who would be involved in an assassination attempt.

Note. All three of the persons named returned to Russia and lived to reach good ages.

A suspicious death

Back to the younger Aleksandr Shcherbakov, he was named after his father,  Aleksandr Shcherbakov, a Colonel-General in the Russian Army during WW2 and a director of the SIB (Soviet Information Bureaux), the Soviet news agency during WW2,. Sadly Aleksandr senior died in May 1945 from heart failure, he was just 43 years of age. 

(A side note of possible interest, Shcherbakov senior lived in the same building as Stalin's son, Yakov and the two men and their wives were on friendly terms)

The 'Doctor's Plot'

At first, Aleksandr's death was put down to years of alcoholism but later, on 1953, TASS reported that his death was 'hastened' by Jewish Doctors, the beginning of the 'Doctors' plot.

Here's an extract from the article:

The anti-Jewish campaign was presumably set in motion by Stalin as a pretext to dismiss and replace Lavrenty Beria, prosecute other Soviet leaders, to launch a massive purge of the Communist Party, and, according to Edvard Radzinsky, even to consolidate the country for a future World War III.

In 1951, Ministry for State Security (MGB) investigator Mikhail Ryumin reported to his superior, Viktor Abakumov, Minister of the MGB, that Professor Yakov Etinger, who was arrested as a "bourgeois nationalist" with connections to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, had committed malpractice in treating Andrei Zhdanov (died 1948) and Alexander Shcherbakov (died 1945), allegedly with the intention of killing them. However, Abakumov refused to believe the story. Etinger died in prison (2 March 1951) due to interrogations and harsh conditions. Ryumin was then dismissed from his position in the MGB for misappropriating money and was held responsible for the death of Etinger. With the assistance of Georgy Malenkov, Ryumin wrote a letter to Stalin, accusing Abakumov of killing Etinger in order to hide a conspiracy to kill off the Soviet leadership. On 4 July 1951, the Politburo set up a commission (headed by Malenkov and including Beria) to investigate the issue. Based on the commission's report, the Politburo soon passed a resolution on the "bad situation in the MGB" and Abakumov was fired.[5][6]

Beria and Malenkov both tried to use the situation to expand their power by gaining control of the MGB.

We now have a situation whereby a man Aleksandr Shcherbakov senior, a close friend of Stalin's son, died in suspicious circumstances in May 1945. Coincidentally just a few short months prior to Pavel Fedosimov, NKVD officer, returned to New York.

There are now 2 very clear persons of interest from this list. Aleksandr the Pilot and Sergei the boxer.

A Question of Motive

In the case of Sergei, he would have been trained in the art of killing during his special forces stint in WW2, he would be following orders and the killing, if he was involved, it would be nothing personal. He was supremely fit and disciplined he really would fit the bill.

But Aleksandr is a different kettle of fish altogether. What motive could he possibly have? What if his motive was revenge? What if he knew that his father's death was a put-up job, an assassination and he was given the opportunity to put things straight? What if Aleksandr was the 'Sherbakov' on the Qantas flight to Darwin?

The Missing Photographs

We mentioned earlier that within the delegate's documents, mention was made of there being photographs of the delegates on arrival in Darwin. If we can find those images then we may just be able to identify or eliminate one or both of these two people of interest.

More to follow