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, 5 April 2018



This image, amongst a number of others, was taken by Police, likely Jimmy Durham, at some time following the discovery of the Somerton Man's body on December 1st, 1948.

The marks were found on the rear pocket of the Elasta strap trousers he was wearing at the time of the Somerton Man's death. At least this is what has generally been accepted albeit without much proof apart from this one photograph and a distant image showing two Detectives displaying the man's garments and contents of the suitcase. In the latter photograph, these markings can just be made out whilst they are much clearer in the image above.

My contention has been that the laundry marks, much like the letters of the code page, had been overwritten by the Police or some other agency.

And today, this image turned up:

Notice the brand marking to the top right, this does not appear on any other photographs from the files, it suggests that this may be a hitherto undiscovered photograph.

The comparison image below shows more revealing information:

On the left is the image that has long been available and on the right is the image discovered today. Notice the differences?

1. The first set, 1171/1 in the image on the left is at an entirely different angle to the image on the right

2. The second set, 4393/3, is far bolder in the image on the left compared to the image on the right

3. The last set, 305-3/1 includes a clear dash in the image on the left but not so in the right-hand image. Again, the numbers are noticeably bolder for the set on the left.

Of these 3 sets, the first one, 1171/1, is most curious, the image on the left seems to be completely different to the set on the right not only because of the angle but because of the shapes of the numbers.

LAUNDRY MARKS: Video Comparison/Overlay

In this short video we overlayed the recently found image of the laundry marks on to the pre-existing photograph of those laundry marks. You can see that they are a match. 

The first set, 1171/7 at first appeared to be at a slightly different angle but in this process you can see that they are the same, th differences relate to the forward slash which is thicker in the older image.
The second set 4393/3 the forward slash looks to be longer in the older image.

The third set 305-3/1 has a number of variations, the 0 seems to have a 'bobble' on the top which is more pronounced in the newer image, the top stroke on the number 5 seems to be quite rectangular in shape and the forward slash is much broader in the older image.

What do we get out of this?

We have found a hitherto 'hidden' image of the laundry marks, hidden in plain sight really, it was in a newspaper article which for some reason had remained overlooked by us all since 1949.

There are apparent differences between the two groups of markings as described above.

You can also make out what appears to be strings of numbers faintly in the background running horizontally from left to right on the overwritten image.

From this information, it is reasonable to assume that the image on the right pre-dates the image on the left. To my knowledge, this has not been noticed before. It provides evidence that the police photographed the laundry marks prior to them being written over and then photographed them again after the publication of this latest image. A photograph had slipped through the net.

Here's the Newspaper article, Brisbane Truth, Sunday, 30th January 1949:

I believe that we can now make a reasonable assumption that the Police files included, before and after, marked up photographs of the code page.

We will add this to the list of discoveries made by this blog unless someone has evidence of it being found earlier.


  1. Why would the police overwrite the laundry marks when they were perfect legible?


  2. Maybe, just like the code page, they were too legible.

  3. Are you suggesting the laundry marks carry coding?

  4. If I can go back to your original question first, why would the police, or whoever, write over perfectly legible laundry codes? The answer in my view can only be that they wanted to cover something that would otherwise be visible and they did not want it seen. Bear in mind that this was in January, some months before the discovery of the 'code' page.

    Back to the question at hand, here's a link to a very early post:

    I have larger images available and will add them to this post over the weekend.

  5. What did they want to cover that would be otherwise visible and they did not want to be seen?

  6. According to 'Hoyle' SM was wearing the Stamina duds which is consistent with all his other unmarked wearing apparel; not your Elasta Fits which were stashed in the Keane bag containing all the other marked gear. Unless you and Byron have other contrary information, then we should not be even discussing the laundry marks or such unverified accessories, such as oversized fob pockets etc., interesting as they appear to be. Admittedly the money in the side pocket of the Elasto's along with the grass seed and cuff sand seems to favour them, we must stick with your man Gerry's better judgement I guess.

  7. I think that remains to be seen, I'll spend a little time on the older images, it was 5 years ago and there have been 2 new cameras since then plus improved lighting and techniques.

    How about you, do you have a view on what it could mean?

  8. Where did you find the second image? Could it possibly be 2 separate items of clothing, both overwritten in the same handwriting? Yhat would account for the slight differences

  9. Anonymous, I think that there is more to be learned from the laundry marks and the apparent two different images one of which has been overwritten. Think in terms of why that should be and when you have got to grips with that, consider what it may mean to other aspects of the case.

    I respectfully and totally disagree with the idea of discontinuing this discussion, we've only just got started.

  10. Gordon, I'm having a hard time with this. If indeed the laundry marks were the vehicle for writing code, and the code was meant to be read by someone other than the trouser wearer, how do you see the transfer of information taking place?


  11. Hi Pete, Lots of ways that information can be passed on, it's concealment and it forms part of 'Clandestine Communication'. I tend to think in terms of Louise De Bettignes who in 1916 walked through a German border post between Holland and France with her petticoat absolutely covered in messages written in secret ink, 'lemon juice as it happens. And this was before she became a spy for the British and French Governments The same lady did a similar walk through wearing 'pinz-nez' spectacles which had a translucent covering containing codes. One of her colleagues, a certain Mr. Paul Bernard, went as far as writing a multi-page report in code on the back of a postage stamp. Yes, that's right micro written code.

    Have laundry marks been used for clandestine purposes, the answer is yes but you'll have to bear with me whilst I dig it out of my archives.

    On the subject of laundries/dry cleaners, in Russia, and even America, in the 40s when Dry Cleaners were scarce, one had to remove the buttons from trousers prior to them being accepted, a devil of a job to sew them back on wouldn't you think? Could even run out of thread and have to wait until you reached civilization before being able to purchase a card of the much-needed thread. Wasn't there a scarcity in some countries in the 40s?

    Back to your original question, how would a laundry mark messages be transferred? The most expedient method would be to remove the trousers and hand them to the intended recipient who could take them, examine them and hand them back. Another thought is that said laundry marked trousers could have been handed into a dry cleaner/launderer who could also be the intended recipient. Realistically I am sure you could think of numerous ways information was delivered and the less complex the method the better.

  12. Fair enough, it would be the last place I'd look.

  13. The figure '0' on the third set of figures (original set of figures)-looks like a 'ring' rather than a '0'? Clive

  14. Rer the extra writing, I originally thought it might have been some sort of evidence stamp, but I'm thinking it might be a manufacturers/id mark....

    If you flip the pic and squint a little it looks something like:
    Patent (or patient (?))
    Massive "P" NJ320??
    ?4F MA?KE

  15. Re the extra writing, yes I agree that the markings to the top right of the new image are actually from the manufacturer.

    The writing I was referring to is the faded markings that lie behind the laundry marks themselves.

  16. Clive, I noticed that 'bobble' on the top of the O. I will get some close ups and publish them later this week.

  17. Hi Gordon, The third set of figures, below the black line intrigue me. The exaggeration(?) of the first figure '3' and the long horizontal bar on the figure '5' somehow remind me of some of the letters on the Code page, possibly? Clive

  18. I agree, and suspect that the person who overwrote the code page may have been the same person that overwrote the laundry marks.

    It's quite amazing that this is the first additional photograph that we have come up with and there it was hidden in plain site for those years.

    There are some very interesting implications.

  19. See Page 66/67 in Gerry's book for information on the patent/manufacturer. Clive

  20. Thanks Clive

    Parial manufacturer label

    staStrao "PATENT NO 29059"

  21. (Just found B Deveson had previously hihglighted that already - wlthough he had 29089 rather than 29059)
    Further to that (but probably neither unexpected nor meaningful):

    List of Applications for. Letters Patent received from 23rd to 29th April 1930 (inclusive).

    Isaacs, M. M. Trousers. Sept. 16. 29,059.

  22. If these three sets of figures are more than just 'laundry markings', then what better way of 'hiding' them than having them marked on a pair of trousers, better than tiny rolls of paper hid deep in a fob pocket, who would think they were anything else than what they appear to be? Clive

  23. Interesting that not only were they overwritten once but they were over written one more time after they had been published in the Mail on January 15th 1949. Given that the intent was to hide specific details then it is possible that the first overwrite didn't cover all that was needed.

    I will make an effort to do some further work this week to see what, if anything, the photos will reveal.