A WARNING: Those site visitors of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Culture should be aware that there are photographs and images of the deceased.

The author of this blog is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and as such the views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the views and opinions of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, its staff or Directors.

Learn more about the Association including membership requirements at

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 October 2016



Continuing on with building the full story behind the Dunera Boys and why we think that the Somerton Man was also an Internee. This post looks at the real world that existed during and immediately after WW2 and the people and events that our man would have been familiar with.

In this post you will read of the social life in Melbourne during the war and how the internees met and socialised with local girls and acts of sabotage in latest aircraft, all against a backdrop of communist intrigue and one of the most secret of bases at the time that formed the backbone of the Brisbane Line, the last line of defense should Australia be invaded by the Japanese. Read the STEP BY STEP paragraph at the end of this post.

Cam Pell in the early 1940s was home to a number of US Army Hospital units as well as the 52nd Signals Company. In late 1942, the camp became home to more and more Australian personnel including the AWAS contingent and a number of works units.

The 8th Employment company, comprised entirely of Dunera Boys from Tatura Internment Camp had its HQ there from 1942 whilst much of the camp was populated by US Soldiers, nurses and doctors and they shared many resources with them. One Dunera Boy became the driver for the US camp commander.

Many injured US soldiers injured in the Pacific, were brought back to Camp Pell for treatment. Sadly some didn't survive and, as was the custom, many of the items of clothing left behind were auctioned or given to those in need. From our perspective that could have included jackets, combs and similar personal items that were found in the Somerton Man's suitcase. Indeed, it could be that one of these US soldiers bore the name Keane.


I have been very fortunate in finding a surviving Dunera Boy, we'll call him Bern and he lives in Canberra. Born in Berlin, Bern was just 17 years old when he was arrested in the UK and put on board the HMT Dunera at Liverpool and headed off to Australia, Now 93, he is as bright and sharp as a man many years his younger and has retained the memories of many of  his experiences

In his words, it was an adventure for him. At 17 he didn't really mind life on board the ship, he didn't
HMT Dunera, Melbourne 1940
recall any cases of mistreatment although he is sure it would have occurred. He made many new friends on board and was amongst the 200 or so Dunera Internees that disembarked in Melbourne and headed to Tatura for the duration.

He told me that amongst his fellow internees there were rich men and poor, labourers and intellectuals, fascists, communists and those with different sexual preferences. A mini version/cross section of society in many ways.

He recalled Tibor Kaldor by name but could remember little of what he looked like, whilst I offered a photograph, Bern's eyesight is not what it used to be and is deteriorating and so he was not able to identify him in that way. His first thought was that Tibor was a photographer of which, according to research, there were 12 and 11 of them were between the ages of 19 and 50 years. He chose not to pursue that part of the discussion further.

I did learn that whilst some Dunera Boys volunteered for the 8th Employment Company, others did not and were kept in detention and watched carefully. Tibor Kaldor was one who did not gain his release until late 1944

He spoke about his time in the 8th Employment Company and at Camp Pell in Melbourne from 1942 to 1946. Whilst the 8th was Headquartered at Camp Pell, Bern spent much of his time at Albury and Tocumwal, generally, they would be 3 months away out bush and then 2 months back in Melbourne where they would work on the docks or rail terminals.

At Albury they would be engaged in trans-shipping goods and army supplies from the Victorian rail wide gauge trains over to the NSW standard gauge, hard work but Bern lapped it up. 

When in Albury they stayed under canvas at the Albury showgrounds and in Tocumwal, a little removed from civilisation it was a bush camp "where a man could get a good tan". The postings to Tocumwal went on through from 1942 until 1946 when most of the 8th Employment Company were demobilised.

He spoke of the heavy lifting and also the fact that a "lot of stencilling was going on" as boxes were marked up according to their new destinations. This applied to both Albury and Melbourne. He wasn't precise about the work at Tocumwal although it is known that there was a rail head actually on the Air Force base where goods were often unloaded.

When it got to religion, Bern was a Protestant, he spoke about the 3 main religious charities in Melbourne being Jewish, Catholic and Protestant and that they would have a Rabbi, Priest or Vicar at the camp most weeks to conduct services. Of interest was the fact that only those who attended these services would receive parcles of clothing donated by the people of Melbourne.

If we accept that SM was a Dunera Boy/Internee and that some of his clothing was not originally his as in the vest, tie and laundry bag marked with the name Keane, then this would infer that SM used to attend services making him more than likely a Catholic or Protestant. I say that because I am not sure that the name KEANE was of Jewish origin.

We should also consider the fact that by the end of 1944, 2/3rds of all goods imported into Australia came from the US. American made goods including fashion itens like jackets for example were readily available in many shps in Australia. We'll do some hunting around to see what adverts can be found.

As a footnote, Bern attended classes whilst in the 8th Employment Company and matriculated. On leaving the Army he went on to Melbourne University and gained a degree. He is an outstanding example of the good men that arrived in such circumstances and turned it all to his advantage. Many Thanks Bern!


During just a few short months, January to May 1942, the USAF and Australian Defence forces built a complete front line Air Base.

Not often spoken of is the fact that Tocumwal had the largest aerodrome in the Southern Hemisphere at that time and the men of the 8th and other labour battalions were involved in the building of the site from January/February1942 and within 16 weeks it had been completed with 4 main, mile long, runways and 70 miles of taxiways. The whole base was filled with top secret aircraft and machinery.


Sabotage was suspected at Tocumwal especially amongst the newer aircraft. This could well have been an extension to the fatal crash of the new Woomera bomber at Fishermen's Bend in January 1943, the home of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.

Those of you familiar with earlier posts on the subject of the CAC, will recall the findings within the letter Q which spelled out CA 23. The designation of the sabotaged woomera was (C)A 23 -1001. Other incidents at Tocumwal and elsewhere resulted in the finding of large amounts of swarf in fuel lines which resulted in fires onboard experimental aircraft flying out of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation's facility at Fishermans Bend.

The 8th Employment Company and other Internee staffed battalions followed the same routine, backwards and forwards between Melbourne and Tocumwal/Albury. An ideal source of valuable intelligence for those who knew how to find, encrypt and pass on secret messages.


According to Bern, he was much like most young men of his day and he liked the ladies and would have 2 or 3 girlfriends at one time. Dancing was a favourite past time for many and it was at Camp Pell that Bern first learnt to dance, they apparently gave dancing lessons there and the nursing staff were much in demand.

At the weekends and sometimes evenings through the week they would head in to town or St. Kilda and either to 'The Dugout', a dancing club run by the Myer Emporium in Swanston Street or down to St Kilda and the 'Palm Grove' dance halls.

The Palm Grove was strictly a Sunday event, it had 3 ballrooms, one for Old Time, another for South American and the third for Modern Dancing.

Bern met more than on girl friend through dancing, he went to great lengths to explain that the girls were always thoroughly respectable and had to be vetted before they were allowed in. Young girls perhaps of Jestyn's age. Could this be where Jestyn first met the Somerton Man?

The Dugout had some great facilities, you could get a bite to eat, do some dancing meet some new people maybe start a romance and could even take a shower and clean up.

Both the Dugout and Palm Grove were for servicemen in uniform only.

The image above shows the queue for the very popular telephone hook up to home.

There were other clubs of course, including the Trocadero and the Palais de Dance, both also situated at St. Kilda.


 Melbourne in 1942 was a breeding ground for leftist politics, the image you see here shows young people taking part in a Communist rally.

The Communist Party had been banned in Australia between 1940 and 1942 and towards the end of that year, it was again a legal organisation.


Step by step the profile is being built:

We have uncovered a connection between the Hay Bank Notes and the Code page found and associated with the Somerton Man.

We have shown the similarity between the Somerton Man's possessions and those that you would expect to find amongst the belongings of an Internee.

We have shown the probable use of the stenciling tools found in the Somerton Man's suitcase.

We have shown details of the second mysterious death by poisoning of another man in Adelaide, Tibor Kaldor, a Dunera Boy and ex-internee. There is much more to follow soon on that particular aspect on Clives next post.

We have what appears to be an acrostic coded message from Tibor Kaldor's last letter that reveals the name 'DANETTA' which is a Jewish name and which could be an everyday use name or a ceremonial name within the Jewish faith.

We have shown the occurrence of sabotage tn Fishermans Bend and at Tocumwal, both locations where Dunera Boys were employed with suspicions of communist involvement.

We have heard from a surviving Dunera Boy who told us of the existence of communists amongst the Dunera Boys.

We have shown a way in which Jestyn may have met with the Somerton Man in Melbourne.

We are working our way through a number of leads and the list of possible identities for SM, we are getting closer.

There will be more added to this post over the coming days. Clive has just returned from a short holiday in God's country and we did manage to meet up in Brisbane. We had a great discussion and it was terrific to meet with Clive and his good lady. He has a busy week ahead now that he's back and we can look forward to some extremely interesting posts and material from Clive.


This post will contain some new and intriguing information about the original investigation never before published. The information we have now received will take us even closer to our goal.


  1. Really interesting post, Gordon, thanks! Swarf - what a good word!

    1. It's a long time since I had heard it, then I recalled it from days spent stripping down engines. There is no way I can think of where 'swarf' could find it's way into a fuel line. For those not aware, swarf is mostly filings, the metallic rubbish generated in a machining operation. Thanks for the comment Robert.