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.

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Talking with Clive and Pete Bowes recently about a number of topics and a comment came from  Pete regarding the torn piece, in particular about when it was found. Pete has since done a very interesting post on the topic and it certainly worth a read on his blog here..

Back to this post, there does seem to be some murkiness surrounding just when the slip was found, we have Cleland saying he found it first in April 49 but nothing in the press around that month well at least as far as I have searched, it was late June before the news was really out there.

But, and it's a big but, on 23rd July 1949, there was an article in the Advertiser, it discussed the whole case and made specific mention of the torn piece and it says that when he was found on December 1st 1948..'  all he had in his pockets was a train ticket, a bus ticket and a neatly trimmed piece of paper with the printed words TAMAM SHUD. Now this of course could be a journalistic error but what a strange mistake to make, read on...

TODAY'S PICTURE of the book "Omar Khayyam" (top) found last November in the back seat of a car which had been left parked in Jetty road, Glenelg. The last line in the book has been torn out. BELOW—The fragment of paper found in the clothing of the Somerton victim which may have been torn from the book.

A copy of the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" with a torn page which has been sought by police throughout Australia in the hope that it might provide the missing clue to the identity of the mystery Somerton body, has been found in Adelaide.

Last night an Adelaide businessman read of the search in "The News" and recalled that in November he had found a copy of the book which had been thrown on the back seat of his car while it was parked in Jetty road, Glenelg. The book, the last page of which is torn, has been handed to police. If scientific tests, to be con-ducted next week, show the scrap of paper found on the dead man's clothing had been taken from the book, police will have brought off a million-to-one chance. 

On December 1, when the body of the mystery man was found on Somerton beach, police discovered that the name tags had been cut from the clothing and all he had in his pockets was a train ticket, a bus ticket, and a neatly trimmed piece of paper with the printed words "Taman Shud." Investigators found that these words had been used by Omar Khayyam at the end of his verses and meant "the end" or "the finish." A study of the printing indicated that the words might have been torn from a copy of Fitzgerald's translation of Omar Khayyam. In the belief that if the book could be found it might show the movements of the man before his death, police through-out Australia have been looking for it. The finder of the book today handed it to Det.-Sgt. R. L. Leane. On the last page the words "Taman Shud" had been torn out. On the back of the book are several telephone numbers and a series of capital letters, written in pencil, the meaning of which have not yet been deciphered. As the scrap of paper found on the dead man had been trimmed, police were unable to identify the book merely by fitting it into the torn page. Proof will now rest with tests on the paper and the print.

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone have the exact Lat Lng coordinates of the location of the body's discovery? The two photographs that purport to show the location contradict each other: In one there is as short staircase between the seawall and beach, in the other, a short starircase, a landing, and then a much higher staircase leading to the road and wall. Also, the buildings seen in both are different, although the angle is different, they seem irreconcilable. In one, the body is depicted, but I wonder if this is a reconstruction? On the other hand, that photograph agrees with the general current topology of the area, and the single short staircase.

    Any insights would be appreciated, as I have a project to photograph sites where mysterious events have happened.