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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.

Sunday, 1 October 2017


For some years now I haven't deviated from the position that the Somerton Man code page was initially written using the SOE's INK H technique. I can honestly say that I have examined and re-examined the images many times but each time with the same results.

Found in an SOE Manual from WW2, the Ink H technique was amongst other methods used by intelligence services of all persuasions to conceal clandestine communications.

The method is simple and I have previously posted step by step images of the process. Essentially, larger letters are written out in ink, probably a blue/black colour. These letters could be stand-alone block capitals or cursive writing as in a poem or a standard letter. Think 'code page' and Jestyn's Verse 70 and there are now thought to be other examples.

The next step is to use a sharpened hard pencil, a 5H or 6H in today's standards, and insert micro letters and/or numbers into the shape of the already written letters.

Next, the inked letters with their microcode are written over again in the same blue/black ink. To the naked eye, the pencilled microcode would be hard to see and thus would be missed.

The recipient of the letters or poem etc, knowing the true nature of the communication would immerse the paper containing the writing into a strong bleach solution. This would develop' the hidden code by removing the ink but leaving the pencilled micro-message.

Immediately you will have noticed one small problem and that is once the code has been developed there is nothing to show as the bleach continues to act after the message has been removed, the full message disappears unless of course, you were to take a photograph of each stage of the process.

But, moving on...


Having said that the message eventually disappears, there is something else left behind and that is the indentations left on the paper that was used as a rest for the original set of letters or words.

This post is all about how the microcode was written and how the indentations were left. A separate post will cover off the recovery method.

Indentations were a perennial problem for field agents, it was something they were always aware of and were, in fact, taught ways in which to remove them from pages beneath the one on which secret ink messages had been written. One method is to use a flat iron on the offending pages and another was to use steam. 

In the case of the Somerton Man, however, the indentations remained and that fact was pointed out to me by ex-Detective Sergeant Gerry Feltus, author of the Unkown Man book, Gerry also told me that part of the process was to turn the initial image of the indentations on the code page negative.


In a recent post regarding the Tibor Kaldor letter, Clive mentioned the nature of the paper that TK ad used, it was almost transparent as used to be the standard for airmail letters because of the lightweight yet tough nature of the paper which was referred to as 'Onion Skin' paper. 

Interestingly Yatskov/Yakovlev handed Harry Gold a sheet of onion skin paper containing a list of instructions during their meeting  ( See 'DARK SUN' The making of the Hydrogen Bomb.)

The following images show clearly step by step, just how the INK H method was used on the Somerton Man Code Page and more to the point for this blog post, how the indentations were left behind by the person who wrote them and then how they were discovered

Step 1. The Materials. Lightweight paper, 50gsm. Semi-translucent, white stock paper 120 gsm, 5H Pencil, Charcoal pencil, Fountain pen with blue/black ink. 

Step 2. Insert the white stock paper beneath the translucent paper

Step 3. Using a 5H pencil, the word SECRET is written on the upper, translucent paper and photograph:

Step 4. Remove the translucent paper and rub over the surface of the white paper where it was seated beneath the translucent paper using, in this case, a charcoal pencil:

Step 5. The indentations show up perfectly in white, a photograph is taken. These nor anything like these markings exists on the Somerton Man code page.

Step 6. The photograph is turned negative and the word SECRET now turns to black and quite bold:

Step 7. Next, write in the Letter 'E' in ink on the translucent paper and Insert microcode letters/numbers into the inked space of the letter using a 5H pencil and photograph:

Step 8. Once again, remove the top translucent paper and then rub over the location beneath to reveal the indentations left by the microcode and photograph:

Step 9. Next, the photograph of the 'rubbed' letter 'E' containing microcode is turned negative, the white coloured microcode is turned black and the pencil rubbed area is turned white:

It was these markings that the Police or whichever agency wrote over.

In the next post, we'll look at the method used to recover the microcode from the code page.

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