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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.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

SOMERTON MAN: WE HAVE A NAME, PART 3. Updated, 0630, 25/08/16, Who was buried on February 23rd 1949?

HMT DUNERA, Port Melbourne 1940

Having spent many hours searching and researching about the Dunera Boys, every time I return to the image of this ship, I wonder to myself, 'Was SM onboard?' On this page we issue you a challenge to everyone in relation to an item of evidence that may just prove at the very least a connection between SM and the Dunera Boys.

Don't misunderstand, this isn't just wishful thinking, these thoughts are based on the mounting series of items that literally tick a box of aspects of the Somerton Man case. it seems to me that he had so much in common with the experiences of the Dunera Boys and, our case in point, Tibor Kaldor.

Firstly, here's a valuable piece of research by Byron Devison, many thanks Byron:

On Tilbor

Tibor Kaldor's parents were Julius Schoen (maybe that is Schon?) and Rosa Breuer, and his step-father's surname was Kaldor. The material below may relate to a brother of Tibor. I will see what I can find. It is interesting that George, Tibor and Rosa Breuer were communists.

“My connection to refugees is as strong as it is instinctive,” he said. “It is a political issue for me, but it’s also a question of human rights and humanity.” Breuer’s father, Georg — a middle-class Austrian Jew who was not observant but belonged to the Reform Jewish milieu of Vienna — was himself a refugee. In 1938 he fled Austria for Italy and, from there, to Britain, where he became a communist and a journalist. Rosa, Hans Breuer’s non-Jewish Austrian mother, also a journalist and a communist, was tortured by the Gestapo during the Nazi period — she tried to commit suicide by jumping out of the fourth floor of a hospital building where the Gestapo imprisoned her. Her father was sent to a concentration camp for dissidents. “They weren’t like those couples who survived the Holocaust and never spoke about it,” said Breuer of his parents, who died several years ago. “On the contrary: They told and told and it dominated my youth. Their refugee experience wasn’t exactly a trauma for me, but it wasn’t too far from that.”

I am certain that 'Somebody' will be interested in this information. What Byron has done here is to show that Tibor's family were communists at the relevant times and that Tibor would have been heavily influenced by their thoughts and ideology. Not for me or anyone else to make any judgements on their politics, our interest here is to establish a better understanding of Tibor and his views and motivations. This information adds a very valuable piece of the puzzle. From what I now know of the Dunera Boys, Tibor was not alone in his political views. 

On the Autopsy (18.45, 24/08/16) (Notes from Clive)

On 16 Dec 1948 an autopsy was performed, by Dr Dwyer, and PC Sutherland gave 1 glass jar containing the Stomach, another glass jar containing the Liver and another containing Blood to R Cowan. Cowan found in a 100ml there was 26mg of a barbiturates and in 100 gms of Liver he found 33mg of barbiturates.  Stomach contained 8 ounces of partly digested food.  His teeth were in excellent condition as were all his organs etc.

Cause of death not ascertained, but consistent with barbituate poisoning.  Coroner Cleland signed warrant to bury the body on 17 Dec 1948.  There were no photos in the file.

Byron's Interim Comments:
The “barbiturate” (type not specified) finding of 26 mg/100 mL of blood is in the well and truly fatal range. The ranges for various barbiturates in fatal poisonings range from 15 to 106 mg/L depending upon the type of barbiturate. 

(It is thought that in compliance with Tibor's expressed wishes, the jars and their contents were given to Adelaide University. We will be publishing Tibor's note later this week.)

Byron as usual, focuses on the information and has given his insight as to the nature of the 'dose' of barbiturates found in Tibor's system. I have attended a few Autopsies in my time all of them forgettable. Some are able to accept the proceedings, however, many Police Officers I knew and still know, prefer not to discuss their feelings on the matter, understandable. Without exception we were in agreement that it was a good job that there were men and women who were able to carry out that duty as a Coroners officer, a nephew of mine included.

For the record, whilst I don't profess to understand lethal dosages to any great extent, I did notice that,  in the report and as with SM, there was a quantity of partly digested food in his stomach and a cause of death was not ascertained. It will be interesting to read Byron's considered thoughts on this subject.


What follows is a list of specific items/issues that are common to the Somerton Man and to the Dunera Boys. Of itself, the list is interesting, it could be argued that you would find similar items to this list by searching the web and covering the relative time span. But could you find all of them belonging to just one specific group? You could look to POW camps and would get a reasonable strike rate but all seven? Maybe not..

Now add to your new list the apparent suicide of a man by poisoning within two weeks of the Somerton Man and within metres of a building, believed to be used by the main person of interest in the Somerton Man case. There is more to it and we will be posting on that shortly.

Thanks to Clive for the numerous telephone calls and emails discussing this aspect and others. A good man to work with.

For now, let's examine some of the 'tick box' items:

1. The first report on the environment on board the Dunera and the condition of the men:

Here's the transcript: 
'They have little clothing, all underclothes are fumigated regularly and reissued but not to their owners, consequently everybody is wearing someone else's clothes. The baggage is very light'

SM had underclothes with what seems to be someone else's name on them, 'KEANE' although we do not have anyone called Keane on the Dunera, it could have been donated clothing on arrival which no doubt would have been similarly fumigated.

2. The men's dentures thrown overboard:

'The crew searched the men daily, threatening them with loaded rifles fixed with bayonets. If guards found any vital medications, such as insulin, they threw them overboard. They also threw false teeth away..'

The question of SM's teeth or rather missing teeth has been a hot topic for many years. In this one statement from the Captain's report, we have a good reason why there were no dentures found with SM although he had enough missing teeth to assume that he should have had them. Enter Clive!

3.The suitcase:

This is a photo from the 2014 reunion of the Dunera Boys at Hay in NSW. They're carrying the luggage they had at the time. Our research tells us that many had no clothes and no luggage and items and used clothing and donated used suitcases were handed out to them.

The Somerton Man's case found at the Adelaide railway station showed signs of having had travel labels that had been removed. 

4. Stencil:
It has been suggested that some of the items found with SM's suitcase were similar to those used in stencilling:

According to research, the men at Hay and Tatura were adept at creating stencils for clothing, signage and laundry bags.

5. Tiny Handwriting:
The code page found and associated with SM has numerous examples of tiny handwriting. In fact Detective Brown made specific mention of tiny handwriting found on the back of the RUbaiyatt, it was Jessica's telephone number. The other better-known example for this blog is the use of the SOE's Ink H technique of micro writing in the form of larger letters.

This image is from a collection from Hay and Tatura. It contains what appear to be scraps of paper but most are in fact sheets of toilet paper. They contain tiny writing. Paper at the time was in very short supply so this is what they used. Interestingly these old style sheets were approximately 6 inches by 4 inches in size. A close fit for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam book found and associated with the case. As an aside, a similar technique was used by Nelson Mandella when he wrote Long Road to Freedom whilst in prison. I should point out that the edition of the Rubaiyat found and associated with the Somerton Man was a 1942 edition. That would mean that the cide page if written by a Dunera Boy, was written when he had left Tatura.

Being thin it would have been necessary to lean on another surface, a book for example, to write their notes.

6. The Tan
There are of course lots of places a man could get a tan in Australia but the Dunera Boys had more opportunities than most both whilst they were interned and, significantly when they were released with many of them joining up to the 8th Employment Company:

Initially formed to work as a 500 man fruit picking unit, the 8th Employment company the work that they undertook ranged from railway construction and maintenance to buildings for Defence forces , transport and dockyard work. As you can see that resulted in some very heavy tans.

At the autopsy, specific mention was made of the tan lines on SMs legs, they were judged to have been from some time earlier than 1948.

'The company consisted of refugees from Nazi persecution, most of them transported from Britain in H.M.T. Dunera; all had volunteered for army service and joined from internment camps. Apart from the detachments based in New South Wales at Albury and Tocumwal, the unit was stationed in Melbourne where it provided labour on the docks, in warehouses and at railway yards. While 'Tip' Broughton was reticent about himself, he was devoted to the men he commanded. Intelligent, well-read and gifted with a sense of humour, he learned German phrases, spoke to his charges in two languages, knew many of them by their first names, respected Jewish custom and did much to restore their confidence as free men. Comprising volunteers between 18 and 60 years of age, and including some veterans from World War I, they constituted a unique entity in the Australian forces. Captain Broughton was a humane leader who enjoyed their affection and respect.'

7. The Laundry Marks
In discussions with Clive we agreed that there is one last issue we should include in this post and it could provide a definite link or as close to one as we could hope for at this stage. The Laundry marks:

These 3 sets of laundry number were found on one of the pockets of SMs 'Elasta Strap' trousers. Thorough searches at the time and since have failed to get a match. However, to my knowledge, no one had searched the Internment camps laundry records.

For the enthusiast researcher, the camps at Hay and at Tatura had their own laundries according to the Hay Museum. I would also think it likely that the 8th Employment Company had their own laundry or access to one of a number of military laundries dependent on where they were located/attached. If someone is able to find a match for one, two or all of these marks, then that would be compelling evidence that would solidly link the Somerton Man to the Dunera Boys.

Please let us know if you make any progress or if you need any further information on these laundry marks.

Closing thoughts:

What's being done here is that we are gradually painting a picture and sharing the various discoveries that we have jointly made and I include Clive and Byron as well as thoughts from Pete Bowes in this effort. The seven points above are in effect circumstantial evidence, we have no other kind as yet but we are working on some very interesting and solid looking information that may yet lead to the revealing of the Somerton Man's real identity. Amongst the work are the original documents from the Tibor Kaldor case including the notes that were left and notes from the autopsy.

A question for all to consider: Who was buried on February 23rd 1949? We posted this comment today on Pete Bowes Blog:

'I have spent a fair bit of time on the images including autopsy, pre-burial and the bust. It was niggling at me and then the penny dropped. With photographs, you can readily make changes and the SM images have been changed as per previous posts on the blog, but with a bust? That’s a whole lot more difficult.

I took an even closer look at all the images and found that the pre-burial image had been massively changed, the neck, the ear the face and the hairline all very different and obviously touched up extensively in comparison to the SM autopsy profile but with similarities to the bust images.

The result? I think it very possible that the man who was buried on February 23rd was not Tibor, it was SM.

When you consider the implications of that they are significant. It explains, for example, the serious deterioration of the face of the man in the pre-burial image, SM had been embalmed but Tibor hadn’t been, he was only kept on ice. It also explains Lawson’s ‘difficulty’ with the ears for the bust, he was trying to make them look like the ones in the autopsy photograph of SM but he couldn’t and the man with those ears had been buried in February. Fixing the ears on the pre-burial photograph was easy but not a lot you can do with someone else’s ears which were different in shape and the subject was no longer available. Take a close look at the hairline of the bust photograph.

Finally, this would mean that Professor Abbott’s work on the DNA was carried out on hair samples from Tibor and it was Tibor who had the exposure to lead, we simply wouldn’t know if SM was so exposed. So, the man in the well-kept grave is Tibor and the man in the grave that was destroyed in the 1970s would be SM.

None of this train of thought would have been possible without Clive’s discovery of that newspaper article and the discussions I have had with Byron on the Mikkelsen images

I have thought this through and I don’t make the comments lightly. The identity of SM is still paramount and that is being pursued with vigour with more posts for the weekend.'

Check back, we will be updating this post and there are more posts to come on this topic. Your thoughts and ideas are very welcome.


  1. I've been fascinated by this case for a while. I read a comment by professor Abott saying that the rubyayat that was found connected to the somerton man has since been lost and there is no other copy by that publishing company in that year available so it would be impossible to decipher the code. However I found there is one copy by the same New Zealand publishing company published the same year with the same Taman Shud script in the London museum. You can't borrow it but you can pay for photo copies of the entire book. Which I have done.

  2. Thanks Julie,
    I think the SM book was white in colour and that is what made it different as according to legend at least, the Courage & Friendship version was never printed in white. Not sure what colour the London copy is, perhaps you could let me know? Did you order a high resolution version? Ideally 400 dpi +.

    Thanks for your comment, look forward hearing of any further information you have.

  3. Hi Gordon, if you look at the ear of the side view of the photo, you can see a shadow of an ear just behind it. If someone was using photoshop back then it would look like they'd used the clone stamp and inadvertently copied the ear.

    1. No photoshop then of course but they had a way of superimposing one image or part of an image onto another. Do you think that may have been the case?