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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.

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

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Lapstone Part 1. The Conference: Full MI5 Report, Major Implications For Somerton Man Case (DOWNLOADS)


Nov/Dec 1948

Over the years, much has been said/alluded to regarding the Lapstone Conference, it took place in the 1st week of December 1948 and conference attendees included a Russian delegation.

The Russian contingent, according to records, included 14 members including a Mr. Sherbakov and a Miss Bogotyreva. Whilst these names definitely showed up on the inbound Qantas passenger lists, they did not leave Australia, somehow they stayed behind.  No records show their names in Australia after that date. The good news may be that, having read through the Scales MI5 report attached, there were photographs taken of the arrival and records were to be kept by CIS.

A Venona link

The file contains very interesting information on the case of the missing defence files, followers may recall that it was these files whose existence was discovered by the Americans in a Venona cable intercept. This, in turn, leads to a dramatic cooling of relations between the US, UK and Australia. The story unfolds within the first part of the pdf download shown later in this post.

Hemblys-Scales Authority

Major points of interest

Amongst the many points of interest in the file, there are some standouts:

1. Delegates were accommodated at 2 locations in the Blue Mountains, The Lapstone Hotel and the Hydro Majestic. Two Russians stayed in Sydney on the 4th and 5th December. (Another hotel was used by the delegation at the end of the conference, The Mayfair, Sydney. No trace of the hotel currently) The date coinciding with the discovery of the body of the anti-communist Michael Goreloff, view post here..

2. Those delegates staying at the Hydro Majestic, were there at the same time as Stan Moran and other members of the Eureka Youth League (Young Communists)

3. Two other names of members of the Russian delegation were, Chiliakin (Singapore?) an interpreter and Erzin, 1st Secretary of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi. Both these men were known to intelligence services and it was feared that they may take part in activities other than the conference.

4. There was a state of conflict between CIS and other agencies in Australia which hindered the surveillance task.

5. The cooperation from External affairs was very limited overtly so, read the letter from Burton.

6. Thanks to Mr. Burton, much of the surveillance in the Blue Mountains was carried out by Diplomatic cadets. Apparently, no experienced resources were available.

7. At the time, there was, apparently, a total absence of controlled agents within the CPA.

8. Tapped calls were made to 3 numbers in Sydney:
  • B6951 Australian Pty Ltd 247 George Street, Sydney
  • B3241, L.G. Ratcliffe, 2 Albert Street, Sydney
  • FA 2141, Isaac Kalm, an Alien in Sydney
9. The name Magnussen turns up in the document, he was a CIS man.

Implications for the SM case

In 'Assassination' posts made earlier, we discussed how the Somerton Man case bore all the hallmarks or MO of a typical Russian assassination. We spoke of the use of meticulous planning alongside the use of specially developed poisons to carry out their task. Poisons that were extremely difficult if not impossible to trace. These people deliberately set out to muddy the waters, to make it impossible to reach a conclusion on the cause of death and, in this case, the identity of the man was obscured.

All planned right down to the 'litter' filled suitcase, the various tickets and contents of his pockets but absolutely nothing that could possibly identify him. The plan worked and this blog was the first to uncover it not just as a theory but we have substantiated it with evidence of the MO and results of the Autopsy matching it almost exactly. We don't know the man's name and we don't know exactly who killed him although, now, we have some new possibles.

The names of suspects now include Sherbakov and Erzin ( could be Zinin), both men who apparently arrived in Australia just ahead of SMs death. The question is, were they the team? 

Our focus now is to search for the photographs that were apparently taken of the delegates on their arrival in Australia.


Download the full MI5 report here...

This post was made possible by the great work done by PeteDavo and the ongoing valuable input from Clive Turner. Many thanks Pete and Clive!
More to follow...

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Housekeeping 1. Fedosimov, La Guardia

April 25th 1947 - La Guardia Field

This photograph came from the original that I was able to find in an online store. It is the only known photograph of the man on the left of the image and he was named on the press release attached to the back of this photo, as Pavel Fedosimov, Russian Vice-Consul.

Improtantly, he was athe airfield to meet with Novikov, the Russian Consul to the USA. In the background, you can see an aircraft which we have identified as a Lockheed Constellation. Thus far we have 3 important details, the man with Novikov is named as Pavel Fedosimov, he was at the airfield, the aircrafy was a Constellation.

Let's look at the aircraft type first. The Lockheed Constellation was the first aircraft to fly commercially with a pressurised cabin. Occupants did not need an oxygen mask when flying above 7000 feet, the oxygen was pumped into the sealed cabin. This first flight took place in 1943. It was the only large airliner to have a pressurised cabin and that reamined so even in 1947. Some smaller aircraft had been fling since the late 1930s with pressurised  cabins but they were not the norm.

Why those facts are important is this, smaller, commuter aircraft would fly above 7000 feet and would supply their passengers with oxygen masks. Not ordinary oxygen masks but these masks as shown below:

Nasal Oxygen Masks, Passengers

The masks were designed in the 30s and you may see examples in a number of early WW2 action films. The design was meant to allow passengers to at and drink whilst also be able to breathe oxygen. In fact Churchill is said to have had his own personal nasal oxygen mask which allowed him to enjoy his favourite cigars and maybe a glass of brandy in flight.

What we are not able to see in these images is how the fitting was 'sealed', within each one there would be a seal that close tightly onto and around the nose. Here are some patent drawings from a 1941 patent:

The point I make here is that if one had worn such a mask on a flight for possibly some hours, it would leave a mark where it sat. Much like the one we see in the photograph of Fedosimov, it sits around the nose and then the mouth and importantly, it's a continuous mark, it breaks minutely between the flair of the right nostril and the cheek where a slight shadow can be seen.

So, this is yet another good and possible reason for the markings on Fedosimov's face. The marks are either shadows, or they are pressure marks left by a nasal oxygen mask worn during commuter flights in the 1940s. The marks are not indicative of Fedosimov having a 'saddle nose' as per the October 2019 post here:

What we do not have are details of Fedosimov's movements on the date in question, it is also thought that the main photograph, from Sovfoto, may have been a composite and assembled in the lab. If we accept that Fedosimov was the person added to the main image, then that could have been taken at any time prior to the 27th April. It is known that he visited a number of cities during the 1945 - 1948 period and that would have involved commuter type flights and therefore it is quite reasonable to assume that he would have worn such a mask.

Speaking of Churchill: