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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.

Thursday, 24 May 2018


Given the last few posts, we would all be pretty familiar with the image above., it is of the laundry marks found on SM's trousers. Whilst we have spent quite some time on these, the story hasn't finished just yet, there are still a number of emails awaiting responses that may contain some more useful information on these markings.

In between times there are some downloads for all who may be interested, they are PDF documents containing information on the beginnings of the US laundry mark database including how the information on laundry marks was organised. You will read that markings were sometimes stamped onto clothing or on strips and, as in this case, handwritten directly on to the items. Essentially the marks consisted of :

1. Serial number only
2. Serial number and date (Alphabetical, Numerical)
3. Serial number and name
4. Serial number and number of pieces
5. Serial number, name and date
6. Serial number, name and number of pieces

...and variations thereof.


One of the interesting aspects of following up on laundry marks was the almost total absence of online images showing handwritten laundry marks. There are a few exceptions to that and below are some images:

This brings me to another interesting but missing item found in the suitcase, the laundry bag, a white laundry bag to be precise. I managed to track down a few examples, images shown below:

These first images are of a white laundry bag that was once owned by a US Army Air Corps pilot by the name of T. O'Craig, the letter T is something of  interest as you will read:

In the image below, the T looks a J but it has been confirmed to be a T, I wonder how often that mistake was made? The initial on the Keane tie may well have been a J do you think?

Next up a white laundry bag from the WRNS, in the first image you can make out a service number:

Now a US Army white laundry bag:

These are the few I have managed to find, it is interesting to note that the individual bags seem to have been owned by Officers, for enlisted men, the practice was apparently to have a barracks or perhaps platoon level bag.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Pete Bowes in his usual style brought the issues surrounding the Somerton Man case down to a simple but quite believable scenario in his latest post: Toms By Two
I thought I would respond to that post supporting his view and by adding some additional thoughts.

Firstly, I agree with your thoughts Pete. I think that the SA Police quickly came to the conclusion that this was very likely an espionage case, probably as soon as the morning CIB shift arrived and sifted through the overnight happenings which included an apparent sudden death at Somerton Beach. Perhaps the file arrived on DS Leane's desk before midday and, having spent the last several years working alongside the various security agencies in SA and interstate, he alerted his contacts to the find. To clarify, it is important to remember the environment in which these men worked, SA had its fair share of spies throughout WW2 and in 1948, they were on the front line of a not so Cold War with highly advanced weapons, as in A-Bombs, and associated technologies being developed right on their doorstep in Adelaide, in Woomera and elsewhere in the State.

I think that once the details were known, a story was put in place by DS Leane, his contacts, and his superiors to explain the case. There are some that have written the subsequent events off as sloppy work by SA Police but I cannot see that being likely given the environment and the nature and experience of those involved.

In my view, from day 1 onwards a story was developed and 'evidence' introduced to back it up. Consider this, if you had found a high profile enemy agent in this condition and had also found information that he was about to deliver, what would you do to ensure that the enemy believed that nothing had been found?

Outwardly the Police were seen to be going through their usual gyrations, taking photographs, calling for people to ID the body and then uncovering a series of 'clues' which were published for all to see. But inwardly, that was a different story:

1. A body that no one was able to identify with some saying he looked nothing like the photograph, (reconstructed), in the press. Do you think that amongst those who viewed the body there was one and maybe two people who were sent by the opposing side to confirm the death of their high profile target?

2. A suitcase with a stack of belongings but only a thread to match them to the man, no fingerprints taken nor mentioned.

2. A torn piece that turns up much later with the edges carefully folded for public consumption so as to conceal its true shape. The focus being purely on the meaning of the words and not what else was found.

3. A photograph of the book that also turned up much later with a shape that didn't match that of the torn piece. Great lengths were gone to, apparently to match the type of paper between the two but there were, in fact, hundreds if not thousands of copies of that same edition in circulation. That comparison would not pass muster in any court let alone a group of hard-nosed Detectives who'd seen it all before.

4. A copy of a code page which, for the public at least had some faint pencil marks on it that turned out to be letters of what could be a code. The reality was that they were not direct pencil marks but were in fact indentations, a very different piece of evidence altogether. By marking over them the Police, or whoever, would give the impression that the real information hidden in those letters, had been completely missed.

There's more to be said later but for now, my view is that the whole case was a campaign of misinformation designed to lull the opposing side into a sense of false security, they were meant to think that their important coded information had not been found.

Thursday, 10 May 2018



Taking a longer look at what seems to be the first image published of the laundry marks, you can see quite clearly in this magnified version of the image, that the first number is indeed a 7.

Let's look at the second image:

In this image, there is no sign of the first number being anything like a number 7.

Why is that important?

Let's look at the third and last image of the sets of numbers:

Here you can see that in the last set, 3053/1, there is now a break between the 5 and the three, it's not there in the previous images though. Could that break have another meaning?

Are the laundry marks a code?

Firstly let me acknowledge you Milongal, I know that you were not sure about that first number but hopefully, now you can see that it is quite definitely a number 7 and not a 1.

So what we have are 3 sets of numbers:

1. 7171/7
2. 4393/3
3. 3053/1

Set 1: 7171/7. There are 2  numbers 7 in the first part of the set and that number 7 is repeated after the virgule (forward slash).

Set 2. 4393/3. There are 2 numbers 3 in the first part of the set and that number 3 is repeated after the virgule.

Set 3. 3053-3/1. We do not have a repeated number in the first part and the number 1 only appears after the virgule. Is that just a dash between the 5 and the three or is it a minus sign?

Given the similarity between sets  1 and 2 and not in 3, I wondered whether there was another way that you could, by using the first 4 numbers in each set, arrive at the end number shown in each set.

Here's what I came up with:

Set 1. 7171...7+1+7+1 = 16. If we add the last two digits, 1+6 we get 7

Set 2. 4393...4x3+9x3= 12+27 = 39 = 3+9 = 12 = 1+2 and we get 3

Set 3.3053...30+5-3 = 32 = 3-2 and we get 1

I don't pretend to be a code breaker but I am able to find codes as per the micro writing on the code page and verse 70, this example is screaming out for an experienced code breaker to take a good look at what we have here and contribute to the furtherance of the work or take it off the list.

A couple of additional thoughts in closing, well one thought and then a set of images.

Is it possible that these number sets are some kind of poem code? Are the numbers referring to pages, quatrains, paragraphs, lines and words? The intention this weekend is to test that out.

Now that image, within reason, you can improve/enhance some aspects of images by reducing them in size. When I looked at the third image above, I could make out some odd markings in the background:

Here are two smaller versions of this image plus a super small version:

What do you see in the backgrounds to these images?