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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.

Thursday, 8 November 2018


Almost Midway between The Victoria Hotel and the Railway Station in Adelaide lies Blyth Street. A smallish alleyway really but during the war years it housed amongst other businesses, a handy little shop known as 'The GuideThrift Depot'. People donated goods and clothing of all different kinds and volunteers at the shop would give the proceeds to various deserving causes. Note also that the article mentions that the Thrift Depot had a stall inside the gates of the Adelaide Hospital.

Eagle-eyed Clive found this particular article in the August 26th, 1944 edition of the Mail. It was, of course, the Rubaiyat mention that caught his eye.

What the ad provides us with is further confirmation that second-hand goods and clothing were available in Adelaide and no doubt elsewhere and that people, in this case, a US serviceman, dropped in and found just the book they were looking for. Sadly the book sounds to be of a different type to our Whitcomb and Tombs version but the point is that we don't know whether the book was new or second hand, we don't know from where it was purchased nor when. It stands to reason, therefore, that, if the book was second hand, were the indentations on its back already there when the Somerton Man may have acquired it?

The Guide Thrift Depot closed its doors in 1945 I believe.

Monday, 5 November 2018



Both ships shown were last seen together on Sunday 7th March 1943 when someone made a note on the back of a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

The Somerton Man Code page has revealed one of its secrets contained in the letter Q:


We can now put a day, date and indeed an approximate time to when the letter Q at least was written. According to the log files (Proceedings), the two ships were in close proximity at around: 

9 am on Sunday, 7th March, 1943

It seems more than likely that the USS New Orleans, despite having had extensive repairs to its bow destroyed in a torpedo attack at the battle of  TASAAFARONGA near Guadalcanal on 30th November 1942, 6 years to the day before the Somerton Man was first spotted on the beach at Somerton. That date could, of course, be pure coincidence, but an interesting one just the same.

We are now left with some questions:

1. Where was Alf Boxall on that date and time?
2. Where was Jestyn on that date and time?
3. Was there a third person who was in a position to make those notes?

We have every reason to think that Jestyn was in Sydney and her address was in Mosman. Not that far, a short bus ride perhaps from the area around Georges' head although it must be said that that particular area formed part of the Sydney Harbour defences at that time so access may have been limited to certain parts.

What we do know is that the book on which the code was written turned up in Adelaide in June 1948, a piece had been torn from it that contained the words TAMAMSHUD and a piece matching that torn out piece was found tightly rolled up and pushed well down into a concealed fob pocket that the Somerton Man was wearing when he was found on the beach on December 1st 1948.

What's Next

There are many more letters to be more thoroughly examined but we already know that some contain relatively clear letters and numbers, we will be looking at those first.

Sunday, 4 November 2018



I guess it speaks for itself. This article was dated 28th October 1945. The date of interest for us is the date of birth of the child being September 1943, meaning that their liaison must have taken place 9 months earlier just after Christmas 1942 or early January 1943.

An article in the TRUTH  on the same day, page 15, went a little further in that it gave the date of the letter sent to Mr.Boyd's mother as January 26th, 1943 and that Mrs. Bridgland's former name was WINROW.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Saturday, 3 November 2018



In the previous post, we reviewed the information that was found in the letter Q on the Somerton Man code page. It very clearly told us that HMAS Deloraine, J232, had at some point been in close proximity to the USS New Orleans. Various official documentation was examined and from those documents, we were able to ascertain that the only time that the two ships were in close proximity was on Sunday <arch 7th 1943 in Sydney Harbour.

A number of questions were raised not the least of which was related to the person who had furtively written down the details of both ships and encoded that information within the letter Q, mainly just where could they have been when this was done?

The answer to that question becomes obvious when we examine the chain of events that saw the USS New Orleans end up in dry dock at Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, bear with me, it's important:


On the 30th November 1942, the USS New Orleans was engaged in a sea battle known as the battle of Tasaafaronga off Guadacanal:

In the course of the battle, the USS New Orleans was struck by a single torpedo that hit the ship in the forward magazine, it blew the bow of the ship off back to the second turret.

Before & After the torpedo strike:

8 hours after the strike, 1st December 1942 at Tulagai:

As you can see, it was nothing short of a miracle that the ship survived at all. Nonetheless, it did and the crew and others set to work camouflaging the New Orleans:

New Orleans remained at Tulagi until 12th December with the crew shoring up the damage and making the ship as ready as possible for perilous journey back to Sydney arriving at Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour on Christmas Eve, 1942. the journey was carried out with the ship travelling backward all the way into Sydney Harbour. 

A prefabricated stub bow was made up and fitted, this took a while; it would be fair to say that during that time the enormous damage to the Cruiser would have been well known amongst the local population.

The new bow was attached and in this photograph, you can see the relatively small Hull number '32'. 

Note that the number is on the starboard side of the ship:

Set to go on March 7th 1943, moving up Sydney Harbour to the heads 'I think' although the landscape does not look terribly familiar, it could be a test run part way up the Lane Cove River, note in this photograph we can just see the outlines of the hull number '32' on the starboard side just below the forward gun turret and the numbers appear to be darkened:

Underway on March 7th 1943, she would have steamed past the Deloraine as per the log excerpts in the previous post:

Note that the barrels of the guns from number 2 turret were removed and were actually stored towards the rear of the ship.

This last image shows the New Orleans after the permanent repair had been carried out at Puget Sound shipyard, believed to have been taken on July 30th, 1943:


What we can conclude is that the ships hull number, 32, may not have been visible from the Port side of the ship, in other words, it would not have been seen from Georges Head, however, given that many people would have known the identity of the strange looking ship then it is possible that the observer knew the ship was the New Orleans.

The bottom line is there is a possibility that the observer was situated on the South Head/Watson's Bay side of the harbour which was a RAN Radar/ ASDIC training installation at the time.

As an aside, the CO of the training school, first opened in January 1943, was a certain Lieutenant Commander Sidney Francis RN. Strange world :)

The Hull number for the Deloraine whilst not painted large was of a reasonable size and it was viewable from the Port side of the vessel which would also mean it would have been visible from George's Head. In fact, you could argue that it would have only been known that both ships departed together from Georges Head or North Head or close by. I don't have the date for the image below, camouflage paint was applied in different colours, in fact, there is an entry in the Deloraine's log regarding their preference for US Navy paint:

UPDATED: 5th November 2018

The Dockyards at Cockatoo Island in Sydney recorded the fact that the USS New Orleans had lost 150 feet of its length due to the torpedo attack.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018




On 7th March 1943, HMAS Deloraine passed close by the
USS New Orleans, CA 32 near Sydney.

This day, Sunday, March 7th 943 on Sydney Harbour was the only time that we have been able to categorically say that these two vessels were in close proximity. This was the only time that our 'writer' could have committed what he saw to paper. 

Thanks to intensive research we have found this match, as was described in the letter Q.  My original reading of the code sequence showed what I thought was the sequence: CA 25 or 35, however, I now know that it is CA 32 and not CA 35, the sequence can easily be misread. A closer examination I made yesterday and ahead of finding the Deloraine log reference shown above, confirmed that to be the case.

This result is thanks to some great teamwork with Clive, there were literally hundreds of pages to read and cross-reference and to track down the various locations of a number ships including the New Orleans, the Houston and the Pensacola. In fact, the Deloraine and the Pensacola had crossed paths on December 28th, 1941, not long after Pearl Harbor and again near Darwin in February 1942. Similarly, the Deloraine was in Darwin at the same time as the Houston.

We never thought for one moment that we would find a document like this where the event would actually be confirmed by a log entry, just amazing.

The above is from the log of HMAS Deloraine, J232 on 28th December 1941, you can see that it clearly states that they are to Anchor at Cape Morton and wait for the arrival of a US Convoy and TAKE ORDERS FROM USS PENSACOLA. The Hull number for the Pensacola is CA24.

Second Sighting USS Pensacola

This information absolutely confirms not only that the Delorraine would have been seen to be physically close to US Navy Cruisers but it also confirms the fact that, in one instance, they were being put in contact with one of them.

The information found in the letter Q is correct, HMAS Deloraine, J232, and the US Cruiser  USS New Orleans, CA 32 passed close by each other near Sydney, someone recorded that in microcode and subsequently that code has been cracked open. We now know for certain that microcode has existed all along and it was placed inside the large letters of the so-called 'code'.

Relevant USN Cruiser movements:

USS Houston (CA 30)  Arrived at Darwin 28 Dec 41. Departed Darwin on 10 
Feb 42 sailed to Koepang.

USS New Orleans  (CA 32)  Departed SFO on 13 Jan 42 and arrived at 
Brisbane 12 Feb 42, damaged on 30 Nov 42 at Tassafaronga, sailed on 10 
Dec 42 to Cockatoo Island, Sydney-arrived on 24 Dec 42,  On 7 Mar 43 
Sailed from Sydney to Puget Sound Navy Yard, WA

USS Pensacola  (CA 24)  Arrived at Brisbane 22 Dec 41, On 19 Jan 42 
sailed to Pearl Harbour. Sighted by HMAS Deloraine 4th January 1941 near Heath Point Lighthouse
headed South.

You will notice that mention is made of another ship, the Empire Hope. It was a British Merchant Navy ship one of a series of 'Empire' ships built for convoy work. It had been used for carrying ammunition and explosives on previous journeys. This ship was sunk just months later near Malta.

Not shown in these images is the presence of yet another Allied ship, a Destroyer, that the Deloraine crew saw on their journeys; this vessel was later to have a lengthy layover in Australia lasting for many months. We will discuss this more in our next post.

The Burning Question

One question, of course, is who saw the event and where from? Lieutenant Surgeon Robson may possibly have seen it. But, as JS very kindly pointed out, at this time he was stationed a long way North in Port Moresby at that time. The date 7th March 1943 was a Sunday and it was, therefore, a day of rest, one would think that around the harbour there would be quite a few people, families, and friends on the way to or from Church services. Quite probably, some would have been service members maybe home on leave, others would be going about their daily work, military or otherwise, on and around the harbour and its shores. Perhaps it was someone on board one of the two ships in question or maybe on board yet another ship? You would think that for someone publicly to be seen furtively writing notes down whilst watching the various ship movements on Sydney Harbour would, in those days have attracted some attention. More likely that our writer was sitting in some advantageous position close to the heads either on a ship or a land-based vantage point. All of this is yet to be examined, interesting times ahead.

When was the Rubaiyat published?

The question relates to the availability of the book ahead of the time when the two ships passed each other.

The first advert for the book for sale was on 5th December 1942, it was placed by Whitcombe and Tombs, 332 Collins Street, Melbourne. (A Tibor Kaldor haunt perhaps?)  So, as far as Australia is concerned it appears that it may not have been sold here until much later on 5th December 1942 in the Argus:


The same edition of the book had in fact been advertised for sale in November 1941 in New Zealand. Credit to Nick Pelling for his post made in 2016 to that effect.

The date 7th March 1943 was quite a propitious one, as no doubt all will remember it was the day that Prince Franz Joseph ll of Lichtenstein married Countess Gina von Wildczek.  Interestingly they received messages of congratulations from both sides. Lichtenstein was and is a neutral country. I imagine my family's invitation was lost in the post.

Keep a look out for the next post, things are moving at a pace.