Author Salman Rushdie said of Adelaide, “Adelaide seems more eerie by the minute… Adelaide is an ideal setting for a Stephen King novel, or horror film… Sleepy conservative towns are where those things happen… and things here go bump in the night.” Perhaps the most quintessentially Adelaide mystery is that of The Somerton Man (TSM). Within this mystery, an anonymous man was found deceased on an Adelaidean beach in 1948. TSM mystery is like a mosaic. Each idiosyncrasy of the case is a tile that must somehow stubbornly tessellate with its adjacent pieces. Although in TSM mystery it’s even challenging using one’s imagination to describe the finished mosaic; an elusive portrait that accommodates the disjointed evidence.
Although this unparalleled mystery has murky, overlapping cogs, I will be analysing the case in parts within this article. These will cover:
Part 1- The Death of the Somerton Man
Part 2- The Rubaiyat Connection
Part 3- The Somerton Man’s Belongings
Part 6- Cases That Are Potentially Related
Part 1- The Death of the Somerton Man
“Do you think that I count the days? There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
The arrival of the 1948 Australian summer was marked by a man’s body being found on Somerton beach, Adelaide. At 6:30AM, the police were notified and appeared on the scene to find the deceased man lying on his back in the sand with his head and shoulders propped up against the seawall. The man was neatly dressed and appeared to be aged in his forties. He had one unsmoked cigarette tucked behind his ear and another more-than-half smoked cigarette nuzzled between his cheek and his coat’s collar. Due to the Somerton location of the man’s body, he henceforth became known as The Somerton Man (TSM).
Within the enigma that is TSM, there lies another mystery- how did he die? After examining the problems within each proposed mode of death, you would swear TSM should still be alive; yet we know he died. The technology of the era made determining the precise cause of TSM’s death problematic and this difficulty was compounded by the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.
There were some peculiar physical abnormalities discovered when TSM’s deceased body was analysed. The pathologist Sir John Cleland speculated that the severe congestion of multiple organs, although most significantly the spleen and liver was consistent with poisoning. Despite Cleland’s assertion, the poison would have unlikely made the TSM’s spleen three times its normal size and this suggests TSM may have had prior health issues. TSM also had liver issues detected in the autopsy and this may have been related to the spleen enlargement. It is plausible that some form of disease killed him or at least caused him to be in a weaker state. There has been ample recent speculation regarding the precise illness TSM had. Regardless of the methodology of death, TSM seems to have been in ill health. This is despite his fit façade and indeed Dr. John Dwyer at the inquest commented that “it was the heart of a man in good physical training.”
Dr. Dwyer noted that there was a pooling of blood most notably near TSM’s ears and neck. Cleland mentioned that he was surprised at the pooling of blood considering the position TSM was found in although he elaborated on this and believed that the degree that the head was supported could explain this finding. This point is contentious as it would perhaps be expected that if TSM died from poisoning on the beach in his position, then the blood might have, thanks to gravity, flowed towards his feet. It’s also possible that TSM was poisoned elsewhere and died in a different bodily position hence the specific blood pooling that was noted.
The Poison Rationale
Dr. Dwyer deemed “The death could not have been natural…the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic.” The poison hypothesis seemed to be the main theory attracting authorities although no specific poison could be detected. Some obvious poisons were tested for but the results came back negative.
At the inquest, Sir Cedric Hicks, a professor of pharmacology and physiology suggested that two publically available drugs: digitalis and ouabain could both individually kill someone if taken in a certain dose and they would not be detectable in an autopsy at the time. Within the inquest, the pathologist Cleland said “I would be prepared to find that he died from poison, that the poison was probably a glucoside (digitalis and ouabain belong to this class) and that it was not accidentally administered.”
In 1994, the Chief Justice of Victoria, John Harber Phillips analysed the evidence in TSM case. His conclusion regarding the cause of death was that “There seems little doubt it was digitalis.” In order to support this conclusion, Phillips cited the engorged organs that he deemed were consistent with the digitalis poison hypothesis. Several months prior to the death of TSM, the death of US Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White occurred. He was poisoned with digitalis. The later release of declassified FBI documents confirmed White’s identity as a Soviet spy.
At the inquest, Dwyer said “His pupils were smaller and unusual, uneven in outline and about the same size. Certain drugs may be associated with a contraction in the pupils. Even barbiturates may do it, but it is by no means a distinguishing point.” Digitalis has also been known to cause pupil constriction. Interestingly, it has been speculated that artist Van Gogh’s ‘yellow period’ was caused by his consumption of digitalis to treat his seizures. Digitalis can cause a number of visual abnormalities including perceived visual disturbances and physical eye changes.
There are only a small number of poisons that can cause the heart to be paralysed, which is the state TSM’s heart was found in. This is part of the reason that the drug digitalis has been repeatedly speculated to be the poison that killed TSM. The other physical signs noted of TSM’s body conform to the digitalis hypothesis. According to the autopsy report, “There was blood mixed with the food in the stomach” and this is another consistency with poisoning. Studies have found that the ratio of therapeutic dose to deadly dosage of digitalis can be as low as 4. The overwhelming evidence on the surface points to TSM being poisoned with the most proposed drug being digitalis.
The Vanishing Vomit
Despite the ample evidence that TSM was poisoned, there are several key factors that point against the death being caused by poison. These include the lack of vomit in the vicinity, the absence of evidence of convulsions and notably the nonexistence of a poison receptacle.
The lack of vomit in the vicinity of TSM was repeatedly raised throughout the inquest. This was exemplified by Hicks who said “The only missing fact which would have made me confident (that digitalis killed TSM) is the absence of signs of vomiting, but there is sufficient variation between individuals to account for it or he may have vomited before he took up his position by the seawall, but I confess that I would have been more confident in drawing a frank conclusion had there been signs of vomit somewhere about him.”
Although fairly rare, the main TSM poison candidate of digitalis has killed people without causing vomiting, although a simpler explanation is that TSM did vomit- just away from his final seawall location. The autopsy determined that TSM had tiny pieces of potato in his stomach that were recently consumed. Considering the time and location, a pasty is a common theory as to what the potato source was. It would be expected that a poison would induce vomiting and thus there shouldn’t have been potato in TSM’s stomach. Another possibility is that TSM vomited next to his body at his final location however this was covered with sand.
The final state of TSM’s figure- neatly lying down, perpendicular to the seawall and with two cigarette’s resting against his body would also seem to be unlikely if poison was the culprit. It might be expected that his body would be positioned more similarly to the classic police chalk sketch although the final position of TSM did include one of his arms freely bent and away from his body in an unnatural position.
At the inquest, it was suggested by Detective Sergeant Lionel Leane that “There would have been convulsions with poisoning in the group mentioned. I understand there was no sign of disturbance in the sand, and I can only assume that so many people had walked in the sand that there was no evidence that there had not been convulsions. I am only going by what I was told, that there had been a lot of people and the body, and sand being what it is it would be impossible to draw my conclusions.” John Lyons, a witness who saw the body on the evening of the 30th noticed the man raising his right arm and dropping it and it has been suggested that this may have been a convulsion. Hicks noted this lack of convulsion drawback of the digitalis poison theory although mentions that the convulsions could have been minor. It seems that there are no definitive conclusions regarding whether there were convulsions although TSM’s final body position and lack of observed sand disturbance raise further questions regarding the poison mode of death theory.
The Riddling Receptacle
Another pitfall of the poison theory is the lack of receptacle found to house the poison within the vicinity of TSM. If TSM had taken the poison on the beach, one would expect the poison receptacle to be proximate to him. There is the clever possibility that he buried the poison vessel in the sand next to him although one wonders if authorities dug around him or over time a windswept beach would eventually expose the poison bottle. Although a random person who found such a container subsequently would likely think nothing of it. There also appeared to be shrubbery overgrowth behind TSM’s beachside location and it’s plausible that he threw the poison container behind himself into this. The question is also raised- why go to such lengths to hide the poison bottle? Perhaps the poison receptacle could be traced to a pharmacy that would lead to TSM being identified.
TSM may have consumed tablets as the form of poison. Tablets wouldn’t necessarily require a receptacle as they could be placed in his pocket. This procedure might require some liquid to swallow the tablets and there was no such liquid reported near TSM’s body. Alternately, some individuals seem to have the ability to swallow tablets without liquid but this seems like quite a cumbersome suicide methodology. An argument against this theory is that the dust within the pockets of TSM was analysed and no chemical was detected.
If TSM had consumed the poison at some previous time before meandering down to the beach, it raises the question as to how he indeed was feeling well enough to walk down 25 steps plus the added route post poison consumption. It is difficult to ascertain how long TSM could have walked for, after taking the poison. It would largely depend on the dosage taken and type of poison. It is plausible that TSM consumed the poison at some period prior to walking down the beach steps although if the final resting place he had in mind was along the beach, it would be an added obstacle to take the poison at some place before arriving there. Cleland echoes these sentiments, “I think if he did commit suicide whatever he took commenced to have a soporific effect on him before he had made his way as far along the beach as he had intended; that he had only time to descend the steps, found he was becoming drowsy and lay down with his head and shoulders resting against the seawall, in position which is within a yard of steps, on a summer evening, which would be frequented by several people at least.”
Further Problems with Poisoning
There are some further problems with the poisoning theory. There were no faecal stains in TSM’s underwear which is something poison might cause. Also the whereabouts the body was found in is a curious location for someone to consume poison; at the base of a busy staircase, whilst privacy awaited further along the beach.
TSM’s agility post poison is also an argument against this mode of death. If TSM had been smoking, as the half-lit cigarette and box of matches in his pocket suggests, then he must have been agile and well enough to smoke and put the matches back, which had he recently consumed poison would appear unlikely or at the least, difficult. Police constable, John Moss who was one of the first people on the scene said (of the lapel situated cigarette) at the inquest, “It is my opinion that it may have been in his mouth, he was smoking it, with his head sideways in the positioning which I found the head.” This scenario that the cigarette had simply fallen out of TSM’s mouth onto his lapel whilst being smoked seems the most probable scenario. If TSM had convulsions, it seems peculiar that the cigarette didn’t fall further onto the ground.
The pathologists of the era tended to err on the side of labelling something as poisoning when they couldn’t determine another cause of death. Collectively, this together with the lack of poisoning receptacle, absence of vomiting signs, no clear signs of convulsions, absence of soiled underwear, specific blood pooling, potato still in his stomach and his ability to light a cigarette, cast shade on the poisoning hypothesis.
Perhaps a plausible poisoning scenario is that TSM took digitalis whilst smoking and sitting on The Esplanade and then he vomited. His public position caused him to seek anonymity on the beach however the weakening effect of the poison ensured that he could only travel a metre or two past the base of the steps.
If the collective evidence appears to douse the poisoning theory then how did TSM die? Prolific researcher of this case, Professor Derek Abbott has proposed an alternative theory as to what caused TSM’s death. His hypothesis involves the unique position TSM was lying; with his head propped up against the seawall at an awkward angle. Abbott suggests accidental, positional asphyxiation. The near right-angle head to body connection would have caused TSM to suffocate according to Abbott. The specific blood pooling on TSM could have been caused by this theory as TSM’s bodily position blocked off the blood flow and caused the blood to pool. There is no single autopsy feature that would be present if the positional asphyxiation theory was correct. The positional asphyxiation determination is typically done on circumstantial evidence.
The alternative theory of accidental, positional asphyxiation also has its problems regarding likelihood of validity. This is quite a rare occurrence that would require TSM to not notice that he was suffocating and thus not moving his body. My primary criticism of this theory is the context of the rest of TSM case. When this is taken into account, which will be discussed later in this article, an accidental death seems even more farfetched than the poisoning hypothesis. Another potential criticism that can be levelled against the positional asphyxiation theory involves what Cleland noted: “If he had given himself an injection of tuberine, which is curare, he should have died a death from asphyxia. It does not seem that there is sufficient evidence from the post-mortem to suggest that.” Although a different cause of the asphyxiation has been mentioned in this quote, Cleland seems to refute the outcome of asphyxia here, although his statement is ambiguous. The physiological findings as a result of examining TSM’s body all seem to be quintessentially poison signs and it is difficult to think that positional asphyxiation could mimic the poisoning effects so perfectly.
Another pertinent question is when did TSM arrive on Somerton Beach? A man was sighted on the evening of the 30th of November lying in a similar position to where TSM was found the next morning. If this person wasn’t TSM it raises the possibility that TSM was dumped at the beachside location during the night. It is therefore critical to comb through the eyewitness reports of those who saw this evening man- was this the same person found deceased the following day; was it TSM?
At around 7pm on the 30th of November, John Lyons and his wife on their return walk came within 14-18 metres of a man slumped against a sea wall only 1 metre from the base of the staircase. In the inquest Mr. Lyons recalled “There is a seawall up there, and he was leaning up against that, supporting his shoulders and head.” On the evening in question, Mrs. Lyons commented “Look at the way the man is slumped” and the couple discussed his bodily position. The couple noticed that his legs were crossed and pointed in the direction of the sea. As Mr. Lyons joked to his wife that he would report the lounging man to police, the man raised an arm upwards then it fell to the ground. The Lyons’s didn’t see the man’s face that evening due to their distance to the man. The sun would soon set; at 7:13pm that night. The next day, Mr. Lyons took a morning swim and he would be one of the first people on the scene later that morning when TSM was found deceased. At the inquest, Lyons commented “I would however (say) that it was definitely the same person.”
Between 7:30pm and 8pm on the evening of the 30th of November, Olive Neill and Gordon Strapps sat on a bench just south of a man’s body. Their positioning meant that they could only see the man’s legs. The couple reported the location of the person to be about 2 metres north of the base of the steps. Olive reported to authorities that she thought the man’s legs were crossed and that he had brown trousers on. At the inquest, Olive reported “The position of his legs did not alter while I was there that I know of. I did not see his legs move. I saw no difference in his position from the time we arrived until the time when we left.” At the inquest, Olive also said “I did think something was wrong with this man, but I had no foundation for it. It was because he was lying still. I have seen people lying still on the beach before, I saw this man’s hand, and it seemed to be in a funny position, although I cannot remember actually how it was. I did in fact think this at the time, and made the remark to my companion that perhaps the man was dead.”
Gordon Strapps was sitting with Olive on the evening of the 30th of November as they discussed the man lying against the seawall. Gordon suggested to investigators that the man’s legs were extended, not crossed and that he wore brown, striped pants. At the inquest, Gordon recollected “I did not see him move once. However, I thought I noticed a difference in his position. That night I did make a remark to my girlfriend that as there were mosquitoes there he must have been dead to the world in not noticing them. It attracted my attention that he was lying there still notwithstanding that there were a lot of mosquitoes there, and I thought he must have been asleep.” Both Gordon and Olive could only see the man from the waist down and sat at an inappropriate angle to observe his face. Gordon and Olive left at around 8pm; around the same time that the street lights came on.
Was the man seen on the previous evening the same person found deceased against the seawall the next morning? There is no definitive way to determine this however the various eyewitness accounts seem to support this. The separate people noticing and commenting on the positioning of the man’s body, the well-dressed clothes matching at both evening and morning, the distance to the steps, the head and shoulders lying peculiarly against a seawall and the drunk/dead to the world comments about the man all combine to support the fact that this was indeed the same person.
If you go to the beach, you are unlikely to comment on someone’s lying position and consciousness and for the person to be a different man in the morning in the exact same location taking into account all the information, seems quite unlikely. Some people have suggested that it wasn’t the same man on the beach the previous evening. Their rationale is that Gordon recalled the trousers to be striped brown instead of their actual appearance: light brown. The fact that Olive reported the trousers as brown, his general comments supporting the notion that the man seemed “dead to the world” in combination with the other factors listed above, the likeliest scenario is that in accordance with the fallibility of human memory, Gordon misremembered the trousers as being striped.
The details regarding the time the man arrived on the beach are key now that we examine how the man arrived on the beach. The most likely scenario is that he simply walked down the steps. Some people have suggested that he was carried down the steps and it’s conceivable that some combination of a carry and him walking occurred such as TSM being held by two people around the shoulders; think of a drunk person stumbling around with help. The close proximity of TSM’s body to the base of the steps: around 1-2 metres can probably indicate one of two things: either, he had already taken the poison and would thus struggle to walk further along the beach or he had been carried and the person/people holding him couldn’t carry him much further. Voluntarily choosing to sit so close to the public steps before taking poison seems unlikely.
Due to the relatively high degree of light at the time, it seems unlikely that other people would have carried TSM down to the beach. If you have recently poisoned someone, you almost certainly wouldn’t in daylight hours take them to a public location, then conspicuously carry them down a flight of stairs, leaving them to die. This would firstly jeopardise being caught and secondly in regards to TSM, would have drawn attention and reports of this occurring at such a busy location with people teeming around and buildings overseeing the locale. If one was to dispose of a body, waiting until darkness has fallen would presumably be the first step. Also, the fact that TSM was found with cigarettes in positions around his body adds to the ‘he walked there’ theory. If TSM was dumped in his location by other people, you would think loitering around the body and delicately placing cigarettes wouldn’t serve any tangible purpose.
Suspicious Behaviour around TSM’s Body
There are three anecdotal reports of other people acting somewhat suspiciously around the time TSM was lying on the beach.
The Overlooking Man
The first report of strange behaviour emerged from the aforementioned Olive who reported a man of around 50 years old who was wearing a suit and a hat. Olive recalls that the man stood at the top entrance to the stairway and that he looked over the man lying against the seawall for about 5 minutes. This person may have in someway been involved with TSM however it’s fairly common for people at the beach to loiter on The Esplanade footpath and stare out towards the sand and beyond into the ocean. What’s even more telling: if you had been involved with the death of TSM, you would probably want to keep as far away as possible from his location to avoid being recognised. If you wanted to discreetly look at how TSM was acting, you would likely act casually and incidentally walk past along the beach, not overtly stand above his lying down position in such a way to draw attention. The main factor that rules out this man standing at the top of the steps supposedly staring down at TSM is the angle the man would be at in relation to TSM. If the couple sitting on the bench could only see the legs of TSM, then the man who would have been at a more acute angle, further away, with the seawall acting to obscure wouldn’t have been able to see any part of TSM. The purpose for him being there is therefore presumably unnecessary.
The Mysterious Man Carrying Someone
Within Gerry Feltus’s book, The Unknown Man, he writes of a witness seeing a man carrying another man over his shoulders at around 10pm on the 30th of November. This occurred near the colloquial ‘dugouts.’ Feltus writes of the ambiguity regarding the location of the dugouts. There is some reference online to these being located 700 metres north of TSM’s body near The Broadway. When Feltus drove the witness in later years around the area, they also indicated the area near The Broadway as where they saw the man being carried. In Feltus’s book, he cites an elderly local man recalling the location of the dugouts as near Bickford Terrace, the location where TSM was found.
The mysterious man carrying someone was apparently walking south (the direction TSM was found) and was near the edge of the water. The eyewitness reported the incident to police around a decade later and was adamant that it occurred on the evening before TSM’s body was found. Despite the man’s recall of the date, it is hard to classify this decade late report as solid evidence. If the witness had come out the next day and reported it to authorities the validity of the story would increase however think about something you saw 10 years ago; it would be nigh on impossible to now recall the exact date.
The main counter-argument against this would be that the discovery of TSM’s body was a significant event and the witness upon hearing of the death recalled the specific date because of the body being found. Assuming that the witness was accurate in his date and event recall, then one man carrying another on the sand from at least one set of stairs to the base of another seems superfluous. Why wouldn’t he just dump the body somewhere closer, not at the foot of a secondary set of stairs? A more probable and innocuous scenario explaining the event would be that the man that was being carried was drunk and returning home from a Glenelg pub. As discussed previously, the precariously placed cigarettes, reliable bevy of eye-witnesses and proximity to the staircase, all point to the same conclusion. Occam’s razor would point to the fact that the one witness, a decade later was mistaken or that there was a likely innocent explanation for what he witnessed.
The Warm Weather Overcoat Wearer
There was a final suspicious man reported as being seen this time on the 1st of December, at 5:30am in the morning, about an hour before TSM was found dead. This mysterious man was walking north, in a direction away from the body. This man was wearing an overcoat which was described as being out of context. Despite time of death autopsy reports being wildly inaccurate in the era (the estimated time of death was given as 2AM), it seems clear that TSM had been dead for some hours prior to this 5:30AM overcoat man walking north of the body. It’s not clear what this man was supposed to have done to TSM (perhaps dumping his body) considering he was likely already deceased. Acting suspiciously near the body would only raise the possibility of getting identified for no real purpose.
The most likely scenario is that this overcoat wearing man, the man carrying another man on his shoulders and the man overlooking TSM’s body are innocent people who post hoc became suspicious. The Texas sharpshooter fallacy can be described as someone shooting a gun randomly at a wall and after this action drawing a target around the positions that the majority of bullets have hit. Akin to this, the suspicious people seem only to be suspicious after the fact which in itself isn’t too damning however there are a glut of eyewitness reports likely placing TSM up against the seawall on the evening prior to his death. This combined with the lack of reason for people to risk getting caught by loitering near the body after TSM had died or drawing attention by means of wearing an overcoat, suggests that the three ‘suspicious’ men were just innocent passers-by or in the case of the decade late police report, likely a misremembered date that as time passed became more cemented as TSM’s disappearance date.
TSM’s journey to his final position on Somerton beach involved a bus journey that travelled past the West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide. On June the 14th 1949 his body was buried at this very cemetery. The S.A. Grandstand Bookmakers Association paid for his modestly attended service that was largely kept secret to avoid curious onlookers. TSM’s body was positioned as the top of three burials within the cemetery plot. A wooden cross bearing the words ‘Unknown Somerton Body’ originally adorned the grave. This was later changed to the tombstone that currently sits above his body.
Part 2- The Rubaiyat Connection
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.” –Quatrain 71 from The Rubaiyat.
Tamam Shud Discovery
During April of 1949, some four and a half months after TSM was found deceased, pathologist Sir. John Cleland re-examined the man’s body and made a number of new observations. The most notable discovery by Cleland was that of a piece of rolled up paper inside the fob pocket of the trousers TSM was wearing on the beach. The fob pocket is now known as an anachronistic small pocket found near the waist of trousers that historically was used for housing pocket watches. The rolled up paper was immersed deep down into TSM’s pocket, so much so that it required removal with a pair of tweezers. After removing the paper and then placing it back in the fob pocket, Cleland took a great deal of time finding the pocket a second time, despite knowing its location; such was the clandestine nature of this fob pocket. The pocket was located slightly to the right of TSM’s fly.
The rolled up piece of paper contained the words ‘Tamam Shud’ printed on it, which would later provide an alternative name to ‘The Somerton Man case’- ‘The Tamam Shud case.’ It was eventually determined that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ were Persian and translated loosely as “finished” or “ended.” It was deducted that a specific book of poetry also ended with the words Tamam Shud and that the scrap of paper likely came from this poetry book. The name of this poetry book was The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and it contained a translation of poems from Persian into English by Edward FitzGerald. The themes permeating the poetry book involve life, death and love with an undercurrent message of living life to the fullest. The poems are framed in the quatrain format that feature four lines with the first, second and fourth lines rhyming. The Rubaiyat was very much in vogue during this era. The search was now afoot for the precise copy of The Rubaiyat this scrap of paper with the words Tamam Shud originated from.
The Rubaiyat Discovery
In July 1949, a chemist by the name of John Freeman read about the search for this elusive book. He remembered that his brother-in-law had left a copy of The Rubaiyat some months ago in the glovebox of his car: a small Hillman Minx. Freeman found that the book was still in the glovebox and noticed that the last page of the book had a quasi-rectangular tear where the words Tamam Shud should have been. The brother-in-law had some months ago found The Rubaiyat on the floor in front of the back seat of the car and assumed in belonged to Freeman. The car at the time was parked on Jetty Road, Glenelg, near the Pier Hotel. Freeman and his brother-in-law recalled that the date they initially found the book coincided approximately with the Parafield air display. This was a large event held on the outskirts of Adelaide on the 20th of November, 1948: some 11 days prior to TSM being found dead.
Upon receiving Freeman’s copy of The Rubaiyat, the authorities forensically analysed the paper and tear and thus determined the book as the exact source of the torn out Tamam Shud paper found in TSM’s fob pocket. Upon examining the book, an officer noticed the back page containing faint writing. This writing has been labelled as both indentations and faint pencil marks; which one of these the writing was composed of remains unclear. Using ultra-violet light, an array of seemingly nonsensical letters were seen on this back page of the book. There was also a phone number written on this back page in small font, ‘X3239.’ There are reports of a local bank’s phone number also scribed according to police officer Ron Thomas and additional conjecture about other phone numbers however this remains contentious.
The X3239 phone number belonged to Jessica Thomson, a former nursing student who lived on Moseley Street at Glenelg; around an 800 metre walk from where TSM’s body was found. Jessica claimed she knew nothing of TSM. When asked about The Rubaiyat, she did mention that she knew of the book and had given a copy to an Alf Boxall, a former army lieutenant in 1945 in Sydney. Alf Boxall was tracked down and found to be alive and he still possessed his copy of The Rubaiyat given to him by Jessica.
The supposed code found on the back page of The Rubaiyat has spawned countless theories and 70 years after TSM’s death it remains uncracked. I recently wrote an article about TSM code and this can be found here. Within my analysis I discussed the nature of the supposed code, examined general theories of the makeup of the code, analysed specific claims of the code being cracked and detailed the idiosyncrasies of the code. My overall conclusion cited the Abbott team analysis which determined that the ‘code’ is most likely an English initialism with each letter standing for the first letter of certain words. I also concluded that it is unlikely these words will ever be determined. I finally theorised that as both the ‘code’ has 4 lines and the quatrains within The Rubaiyat also have 4 lines, it is plausible that the ‘code’ writer attempted to write or recall their own quatrain poem using the initials of the words. They were perhaps inspired by reading the quatrains within The Rubaiyat.
The specific letters within the code are far more ambiguous than people realise. I have written another article analysing what each letter within the code is. I concluded that the code contains the following letters (based on the likelihood for each letter position within the code):
W R G O A B A B D
W T B I M P A N E T P
M L I A B O A I A Q C
I T T M T S A M S T G A B
I determined that the most ambiguous letters within the code are those surrounded by red rectangles below:
All attempts to crack the code to date have failed and many types of code have been ruled out as definitively not the Tamam Shud code or statistically unlikely to be the code. A search by John Rehling of over 20,000 books, to see if the code letters represent the first letters of words within the literature realm yielded no matches. Another feature of the code that should be noted is that it doesn’t resemble the structure of any known WWII code. The second line of the code (the one that has been crossed out) has a close resemblance to the fourth line. This seems to indicate that the person writing the code made a mistake and corrected themselves whilst writing the fourth line.
The Date of The Rubaiyat Finding
The date that the chemist, John Freeman and his brother-in-law recall finding The Rubaiyat is curious. They recollect the book being found at the same time as the Parafield air display which was on the 20th of November 1948; some 11 days before TSM was found dead. The most likely scenario is that this was an approximate date of something happening 7 months earlier, thus the not quite accurate timing. For instance, the brother-in-law may have recalled meeting someone around the time of the Parafield air display and remembered being in their company when originally finding The Rubaiyat. He may have pieced these events together and concluded he found the book around the time of the Parafield air show. Another curious scenario involves the implications if the book was indeed found 11 days prior to TSM’s death. Did TSM visit Jessica and she wasn’t home and therefore he returned 11 days later? Did TSM meet up with Jessica 11 days earlier and things were discussed that resulted in a revisit on the 30th of November?
The Location of The Rubaiyat Finding
Another peculiar element to this case involves the location that The Rubaiyat was found: in the car on Jetty Road, near the Pier Hotel. The chemist John Freeman had a premises situated at 24a Jetty Road and close to the Pier Hotel. Both of these locations are on the southern side of Jetty Road and on the beach side of Moseley Street. This area was and continues to be a hotspot for foot traffic. The car’s bitumen location was surprisingly close to the sand, with the Pier Hotel being the last building before the beach. The position is also near a corner. It is only metres from the Glenelg Jetty entrance and it is on the busy Moseley Square. The place TSM was found deceased was 1.6 km south of this The Rubaiyat location; a direct easy access walk adjacent to the sea. It is thought that on the 30th of November, TSM caught the bus from near the Adelaide Railway Station to the suburb of St. Leonards, (present day Glenelg North). As seen on the map below, the location The Rubaiyat was found was in close proximity to where TSM is thought to have departed the bus, where Jessica lived and where his body was ultimately discovered.
Piecing the events of the day into sequential order is analogous to solving those cartoon picture puzzles that require the order of events to be placed from start to finish. I find it troubling that The Rubaiyat was found so far from TSM’s body. If he had disposed of it, then why wasn’t it found on some route between Jessica’s house and where his body was found? The Rubaiyat was found about a 20 minute walk away from his body. Did TSM visit Jessica’s house then return to Jetty Road and dispose of The Rubaiyat while perhaps eating a pasty then walk 20 minutes south again to where he was found deceased?
It is conceivable that the Hillman Minx wasn’t parked in front of The Pier Hotel when The Rubaiyat was thrown into it. How could the chemist so precisely determine the location the car had been in 6 months prior on a seemingly arbitrary day for the totality of the day? Perhaps he regularly parked in the same location due to the proximate nature to his premises and perhaps the police pieced the Glenelg links together. This does spawn another question; how did the chemist know The Rubaiyat was thrown into his car whilst it was parked on Jetty Road and not when his car was parked somewhere else such as a friend’s house? The chemist’s brother-in-law had picked the book up whilst he was sitting on the back seat of the car but we can’t be certain that The Rubaiyat hadn’t been there for several days and this was the first time someone had sat on the back seat or indeed noticed The Rubaiyat on the ground. A plausible scenario is that around 6pm John Freeman drove down to The Esplanade and parked near where TSM body was found. It’s plausible that many of TSM’s items could have been found in separate cars along The Esplanade.
How Did The Rubaiyat Arrive In the Car?
Let us assume the book was found next to the Pier Hotel as the conventional story goes. There were no shortage of places to purchase alcohol in the vicinity of Jetty Road. The book flung into the back of a car resembles the actions of a drunk person. Did someone drink alcohol on Jetty Road, or elsewhere, and thanks to their lower inhibitions throw the book into the car? Alternately, TSM may have left the book in a pub (accidentally or not) and some other strangers may have found it and thought it humorous to throw it into the back of a nearby car. The dimension of this copy of The Rubaiyat were deceptively tiny. The book would have fit snuggly inside TSM’s jacket pocket. The book was just the right size for TSM to carry around. Below are two images, depending on the orientation of the code, of the size of the book (the outline) and code relative to an A4 sheet of paper.
It is often quipped that The Rubaiyat was ‘flung’ into the back of the chemist’s car. This does seem like a peculiar way to get rid of it- in such a busy thoroughfare as Jetty Road, it would be risky that someone else would see this action. There were rubbish bins around and disposing of the book into one of these would seemingly make more sense. This question keeps occurring to me: why not get rid of the book in a bin?
There are many plausible scenarios explaining how the book came to be in the back of the car; not involving it being thrown in. The book may have been on the ground adjacent to the car and a passer-by thought it had fallen out of the car and thus threw it into the car. TSM or someone else could have been hiding in/lying down in/travelling in the chemist’s car and the book could have been left behind or fallen out of someone’s pocket. The book could have been open next to TSM’s body on the beach with a poem on display and someone may have taken it and thrown it into the back of the car. Jessica’s husband sold cars as a vocation and it is plausible that is some abstract way The Rubaiyat was connected to a car he had sold.
Cars in the era of the 1940s commonly had their windows open and this may provide the mechanism as to how the book arrived in John Freeman’s car. The precise model of the Hillman Minx that Freeman drove is not public knowledge however the car has been described as “small.” There were also convertible models of the Hillman Minx and indeed Freeman may have owned one of these models lacking a roof. A book thrown into a car in this modern era shouldn’t be compared to the era of TSM’s death- a time of relaxed security and with vehicles commonly unlocked with their windows open.
Why Dispose Of The Rubaiyat Into A Car?
Why was The Rubaiyat thrown (or arriving by other means) into the back of chemist John Freeman’s car? This is a pertinent question. Everything else in TSM case details some level of meticulous concealment. From the mode of death, the identification of TSM, any links to Glenelg or the rest of the world, the purposeful removal of identifiable labels (which will be discussed later) and the mystique cloaking this case. The Rubaiyat carelessly perhaps ‘flung’ into the back of a seemingly random car seems out of context. Especially when a phone number is written in The Rubaiyat that threatens to expose the whole case. If the phone number was more visible or The Rubaiyat was more easily linked to TSM, then an element of intentionality would emerge; however, this is not the case. It was quite plausible that no-one would have come forward with The Rubaiyat and also quite plausible that the Tamam Shud paper was never discovered. The Rubaiyat in the back of the car reeks of a game of chance whereas everything else in this case seemingly has precision and reason.
One theory is that the book was purposefully thrown into the back of the car as a signal, in order to let somebody know something. For instance, when person ‘A’ walks past the car and sees the book, they know TSM has been poisoned. It is also possible that it was thrown into the back of the wrong car. The chemist, John Freeman whose car The Rubaiyat was thrown into may have been somehow involved in this case although this seems a long shot. Why would he purposefully hand the book over to authorities and risk incriminating himself if he was involved?
Perhaps the most logical reason, in terms of motive, explaining the book in the random car finding is that TSM was being followed. If someone sought the book and TSM was intent on depriving the book from this follower, then throwing it into a car in a busy street makes sense. Although this scenario makes logical sense, it may belong more suitably within the pages of a spy book.
The Rarity of The Rubaiyat
There have been worldwide and extensive searches for an identical copy of the 1941 edition of The Rubaiyat linked to TSM case. These have so far proved fruitless. Why has it been so hard to conjure up a copy of a book? There may be several reasons for this. There were many editions of the Whitcombe and Tombs ‘The Rubaiyat’. The specific copy in TSM’s case has now been lost but a duplicate copy is elusive. In the era of TSM case, there were a glut of ‘false imprints’ of books. There were many people creating fake copies of books and selling them. Books of the era were the DVDs of the 2000s or the $10 fake Rolex watches sold overseas. In all likelihood, it seems that The Rubaiyat in TSM case was a false imprint. Finding a copy is imperative as the precise words contained within it may be a one-time pad to decode the possible cipher found at the back of the book. Alternatively, some other clue may lie within the precise combination of words in TSM’s The Rubaiyat that may hold the key to cracking TSM code.
Another Copy of The Rubaiyat?
There may have been another copy of The Rubaiyat found around the same time as chemist John Freeman discovered the torn version in his car. Bus conductor Leslie Francis Wytkin who lived at Glenelg found a copy of the Rubaiyat most likely on a bus (the newspaper article implies it was a bus). Wytkin handed in the copy of The Rubaiyat to the lost property section of the Tramway Trust. Wytkin believed that he found the book around the time that TSM was found deceased. Most likely the find was a coincidence and another unrelated person had left the book on the bus however if the bus in question was the one travelled on by TSM, then it adds another level of intrigue to the case. Although presumably detectives investigating the case would have determined this.
Jessica and The Rubaiyat
Jessica, the former nursing student whose phone number was in back of The Rubaiyat had some prior knowledge of The Rubaiyat. In 1945, she met army lieutenant, Alf Boxall at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney. Alf would be on active service soon after this meeting thus on Boxall and Jessica’s second (and last) meeting, she presented Boxall with a copy of The Rubaiyat. She had transcribed verse 70 in her own handwriting inside the cover which read:
“Indeed, indeed. Repentance I oft bore
I swore- but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.
The name ‘JEstyn’ refers to Jessica and may have been a nickname for Jessica. What this gift tells us is that Jessica was well versed with The Rubaiyat and may have had a habit of giving them to lovers. When Jessica was asked what she considered The Rubaiyat to be a book about, she responded “love poetry.” The fact that TSM appeared in her suburb, with Tamam Shud in his pocket and The Rubaiyat lends support to the Jessica-TSM former lover theory. An argument against this theory is that The Rubaiyat presented to Boxall had a personalised inscription from Jessica and TSM’s copy had no such writing. Despite this, it is still plausible that Jessica gave TSM The Rubaiyat without transcribing a quatrain.
If you hear the words “phone number in the cover of a book” you would perhaps think the person who owned the book had written their own phone number down in case the book was lost and it could thus be returned. The phone number written in The Rubaiyat was different, it was in tiny writing. Some people have speculated that it was in micro writing (only 1mm or so high) however this seems unlikely to me. If the authorities had noticed the writing being that significantly small (and likely the smallest writing they had come across in their life), they would have mentioned this. Nonetheless, the tiny and faint phone number writing indicates that the person who wrote it may have been wanting to keep the number somewhat secretive or alternately, they didn’t want to tarnish their book so wrote it softly and in small lettering. It is often assumed that the phone number listed in The Rubaiyat was of Jessica but TSM may have only been interested in seeing Prosper, the man Jessica was in some form of relationship with. What if Jessica was the owner of The Rubaiyat that was later found in John Freeman’s car? An argument against this: why write your own phone number in tiny writing inside your own book and then throw it away into a nearby car (unless TSM was the person who threw their book away)?
Matching The Rubaiyat and Tamam Shud Paper
The torn out ‘Tamam Shud’ words didn’t match the hole in the back of The Rubaiyat found in John Freeman’s car. The hole in the book was larger. The authorities were able to match the two items based on colour and texture. The question is then raised: why didn’t the two items match in shape? The most likely scenario is that the ‘Tamam Shud’ paper was too large to fit inside a tiny fob pocket and thus it was torn again. This secondary tear seemed to be much neater and is reflected in the photo of the words ‘Tamam Shud.’ It is unclear whether the widely disseminated photo of the tear marks on the final page of The Rubaiyat is an image of the actual copy of the book.
Who Placed Tamam Shud into TSM’s Pocket?
The placement of the words Tamam Shud, deep down within the pocket of TSM may support the possibility that TSM himself placed the paper there. The pathologist Cleland had to use tweezers to retrieve the paper from TSM’s pocket, such was its difficulty of access. If you try and place something deep into your own fob pocket, the angle of the arm and hand pushing down seem to make it easier to push the item further into the pocket. If you try and place it into someone else’s pocket it is harder to push the item down as you may become restricted by the length of your fingers.
Another piece of evidence to support the idea that TSM placed the words in his own pocket is the clandestine nature of the fob pocket. If the clothes TSM was wearing were his own (and they fit well hence they probably were) he would be more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his pockets. The fact that the pathologist, Cleland struggled to find the fob pocket a second time suggests that someone other than TSM wanting to place the paper into his pocket might struggle to find its location. It has also been suggested that as the pocket was so difficult to find, the pocket may have been sewn into the trousers and the trousers weren’t originally made with such a uniquely secretive pocket.
Why Place Tamam Shud into The Pocket?
Another intriguing question within the whole scenario is why was the piece of Tamam Shud paper placed within the fob pocket of TSM; by himself or somebody else? The fact that it took 4 and a half months for the paper to be discovered raises questions about the purpose of the concealment. Was the paper intended to be discovered by authorities? In a similar ilk to The Rubaiyat being thrown into the back of the car, we have another item that could have just as easily went undiscovered. It has been suggested that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ were placed in the pocket by some higher-level spy as a calling card type signal. A meeting may have occurred and it could have been prearranged that person ‘A’ would identify themselves with The Rubaiyat and they would provide person ‘B’ with the words ‘Tamam Shud.’ It is difficult to conjure other practical reasons for the words being placed in the pocket, leading to the possibility that it was for a symbolic purpose.
The meaning of Tamam Shud in Persian is “finished” or “ended” and these connotations can gain meaning when presented next to the rest of TSM case. When a dead person is found with the words “finished” in their pocket; there is a degree of intentionality involved. Whether that is suicide or murder is difficult to determine. The base rates of suicide being more common than murders are a tick in the suicide possibility column. The word “finished” could also refer to other elements within the framework of life such as a relationship. Did TSM place the “Tamam Shud” paper in his pocket symbolically as to refer to the end of a relationship? Alternatively, did TSM plan on giving the paper to someone else such as Jessica to indicate to them an end of their relationship or the impending end of his own life? There is no guarantee that TSM wasn’t planning to give someone else the piece of paper.
My main criticism with the Abbott theory of accidental, positional asphyxiation being the cause of death of TSM is that he had the words Tamam Shud (finished) in his pocket. This doesn’t seem to correlate with an accidental death. There is a macabre magic trick that could account for the words “Tamam Shud” being in TSM’s pocket. The trick involves writing on a card “I will die today” and placing this card in your pocket/wallet/purse. When the authorities find the card, be it 10 years later, they will be confounded as to how a person predicted their own sudden death. The argument against this being the case in TSM’s instance is The Rubaiyat having been found with the paper hole within the same timeframe as TSM’s body.
Part 3- The Somerton Man’s Belongings
“In this maze of antiques, she says, are the ghosts of everyone who has ever owned this furniture. Everyone rich and successful enough to prove it. All of their talent and intelligence and beauty outlived by decorative junk. All the success and accomplishments this furniture was supposed to represent, it’s all vanished.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Items on TSM’s Body
When the enigmatic man was found deceased on the Somerton beach, he had a curious collection of items on his body. He had one unsmoked cigarette tucked behind his ear and another partially smoked cigarette nuzzled between his cheek and his coat’s collar. TSM also had a quarter-full box of matches on him that were particularly difficult for the authorities to find and some Kensitas brand cigarettes in an Army Club brand packet. He also had:
- A bus ticket to St. Leonards
- A train ticket to Henley Beach
- Two combs
- A handkerchief
- A pullover (despite the relatively warm weather)
- A half-full pack of chewing gum
- A jacket
- A shirt
- A tie
- A pair of trousers
- A singlet
- A pair of jockey underpants
- A pair of socks
- A pair of shoes (these looked new)
The labels on the clothes he was wearing had curiously been removed. The aforementioned ‘Tamam Shud’ piece of paper was within the fob pocket of his trousers. The shoes TSM wore were surprisingly clean and polished. The lack of certain items on TSM was also conspicuous. He had no wallet, money or identification on his body.
A Possible Breakthrough in the Case
Approximately 6 weeks after TSM was found deceased, the authorities checked with staff at the Adelaide Railway Station to determine if any items in the Cloak Room had been unclaimed. It just so happened that there was a fairly new suitcase that had remained in the Cloak Room since the 30th of November, 1948. When authorities examined it, it was unlocked. It was checked in between 11am and midday of that day. Within the suitcase was a brown cord thread and needle. It matched the stitching on the coat that TSM had been wearing. There was also a match between the thread found in the suitcase and items that had been repaired that he was wearing. There were similarities between many clothes within the suitcase and clothes worn by the deceased TSM. The underwear was of the same brand, the shirts of a similar style, the handkerchief’s matched up and most of the clothing was of a similar size, besides the coat within the suitcase being slightly smaller than the one he had been wearing. The items in the suitcase had also mainly had their labels removed. The exceptions were a tie with the name “T. Keane”, a singlet with the name “Kean” and a laundry bag that was marked “Keane.” There was more than sufficient evidence that this was TSM’s suitcase. There were three dry-cleaning laundry marks found on the clothing in the suitcase.
Within TSM’s Suitcase
There were many items found within the suitcase.
The clothing related items included:
- A pair of slippers
- Several pairs of jockey style underpants
- A dressing gown
- A pair of pyjamas
- 4 ties
- 2 singlets,
- A laundry bag
- A pair of Marco brand trousers
- 6 handkerchiefs
- A tartan design scarf
- A sports coat
- 2 coat shirts
- A shirt
- 2 coat hangers
- A button
- 3 safety pins
- A card of tan coloured thread
- A tin of tan coloured boot polish
- A front collar stud
- A back collar stud
- A brown button
TSM’s suitcase also contained:
- A knife in sheath
- A pair of scissors in sheath
- A broken pair of scissors
- A stencil brush
- An electrician’s screwdriver
- A piece of zinc
- A loupe (a tiny circular object)
- A razor strop
- A razor
- A shaving brush
- A green soap dish
- A hairpin (this resembled the hairpins typically worn by females. It was found inside the soap dish)
- A piece of light coloured cord
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
- An eraser
- 6 pencils
- 2 airmail stickers
- 9 envelopes, 8 of which were large and 1 which was small. These included squarish shaped envelopes
- A glass dish
- A 6d coin found in the pocket of the trousers
- A cigarette lighter
- A teaspoon
The above list provides a superficial insight into TSM’s belongings but by delving deeper, further deductions can be made about some of these items and perhaps about TSM himself.
Determining Where TSM Is From
The coat TSM was wearing had a type of feather stitching within it that was only done in America. This alone suggests that the TSM had either purchased the coat in America or bought it second hand off someone who had been to America. TSM had carried two combs on his body and one of these was an aluminium comb that would have been typically carried by Americans, not Australians. The tie TSM was wearing had stripes running from the wearer’s top right shoulder to left hip. America ties post 1920s were made the opposite way to British ties and thus the stripes run in different directions. The tie TSM was wearing had stripes running in the typical ‘American direction.’ Contrastingly, out of the four ties in the suitcase, two were striped and both in the British direction. TSM also has a curious tie that seemed to be white in colour. This was labelled ‘T Keane’ and was therefore probably second-hand. Seeing people wear a white tie is fairly rare and it has thus been speculated that TSM was a member of an organisation of some sort despite the tie likely being second-hand.
On TSM’s body was Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit flavoured chewing gum. This flavour would have normally been chewed by American adults. A chewing gum habit was also more quintessentially an American adult convention, not an Australian adult habit.
The razor strop found in TSM’s suitcase had the label of “Kent Street, Sydney” on it. It has been written that this is where a factory manufactured the strop, not where the strop was necessarily purchased from. It is strange that this item didn’t have the specific location “Kent Street, Sydney” removed or at least obscured. Was this an oversight or did the person who removed the labels know that this address was a red-herring? The Stamina brand trousers worn by TSM were manufactured in Victoria although this brand also shipped to N.S.W. and W.A.
The pants within TSM’s suitcase strangely had sand in their cuffs. Did this suggest TSM had come from a beachside location? Another possible scenario is that he had been in Adelaide longer than the conventionally agreed upon 30th of November arrival date and perhaps he had visited Glenelg or Henley Beach earlier in the week. Contrasting the sand, the pullover on TSM’s body and tartan scarf in his suitcase suggest TSM may have been accustomed to cooler weather. Another possibility for these items is that TSM was sick and felt the cold. Perhaps the most likely scenario explaining TSM wearing a pullover in Adelaide during the Australian summer is his foresight that he would be lying on the exposed beach that evening and night and the pullover was simply preparation for this.
There were three laundry marks found on TSM’s clothing: 305.3/1, 4393/7 and 1171/7. The precise numbers written are ambiguous. Detectives initially thought these marks may have come from Melbourne however this was later ruled out and no Australian dry-cleaners were associated with the marks. An intriguing aspect of the laundry marks is the length of them. Each mark consisting of 5 digits indicates that they came from a large city in which distinguishing between dry-cleaners requires the use of 5 numbers. American laundry marks may be consistent with having so many digits. This clue may prove fruitful in order to trace TSM back to a location he lived although a previous owner of the clothes may be the person who got the clothes dry-cleaned and thus this exercise may prove fruitless in establishing TSM’s origins.
The airmail stickers found in the suitcase were accompanied by 9 envelopes, including squarish shaped envelopes. Cleland speculated that the airmail stickers meant TSM was corresponding with someone at a distance. He reasoned that this would more likely be interstate than Britain. Cleland further suggested that the square shaped envelopes may have been Christmas cards that TSM had recently sent overseas. The November date may have been too early for the cards to be sent interstate hence the overseas sending theory. Alternately, if TSM had known he was going to die soon, the cards may have been sent early for this reason to an interstate destination. A photo of TSM’s belongings shows a letter card: an item akin to a postcard that has two sides for writing on. TSM’s letter card has the Australian coat of arms symbol on it. There was ample letter writing material found within the suitcase and an abundance of pencils and conspicuous lack of pens. All of this communication material points to the fact that TSM wasn’t a completely isolated person and that he had at least some social links with the outside world. Amongst the assortment of TSM’s items, there were some British based items including the cigarettes and matches found on his body.
The Puzzling Mismatched Cigarettes
TSM was quite the avid smoker as illustrated by his nicotine stained hands. There was something unusual about the cigarettes found on TSM. This oddity it that the packet of cigarettes were of the Army Club brand and they contained 7 cigarettes of the Kensitas brand. This was a more expensive brand of cigarette inside the cheaper Army Club brand packet, although only marginally. Kensitas cost around 2s and 10d whilst the Army Club brand were about 2s and 6d. It is difficult to ascertain if this practice of having more expensive cigarettes in a cheaper packet had some clandestine motive. The people in the era of the 1940s found this cigarette packet switching fashionable although the public would normally place the cheaper brand of cigarettes in a more expensive packet; the opposite of what TSM did. Perhaps TSM wanted to appear as working-class or didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself which is something he succeeded in doing until his death. The most innocuous explanation may be that TSM was running low on Army Club brand cigarettes and a passenger on the train or subsequent bus ride sold TSM some of their loose Kensitas brand cigarettes. The switched cigarette conundrum has also spawned theories positing that the poison that ultimately killed TSM was administered through a cigarette.
The Shiny Shoes Conundrum
The shoes TSM was wearing when found deceased had the interesting property of appearing to have been recently polished. Cleland commented that the shoes were unexpectedly clean and weren’t in the condition one would expect someone’s shoes would be in had they spent the day wandering around Glenelg. There was a small amount of sand on the shoe’s toe marks. Leane supported Cleland’s shoe observation and added “They look as though they had been polished that morning, or later.”
One possibility to explain the shiny shoes was that TSM had wanted to impress Jessica and thus polished his shoes before seeing her. Additionally he may have spent the majority of the day in her house. Another more sinister scenario revolves around TSM being killed and fitted with polished shoes or having had his shoes polished after dying. I think the most likely scenario was that TSM hadn’t spent the day on the beach and had only walked a metre or two from the base of the beach steps to his final location. On a still day (like the 30th of November was), there would be little sand or debris landing on the shoes if you were walking in the suburbs of Glenelg for 30 minutes or so total. The tan coloured shoe polish in TSM’s suitcase indicates that it was most likely him who had polished his shoes and that he had done so that morning. The shoes were described as looking “practically new.” Did TSM buy them just for the purpose of visiting Glenelg or did he buy them to replace other shoes he owned that could be traced to his identity? Also, what happened to the implement, most likely a cloth or brush, that TSM used in tandem with the polish to shine his shoes?
Another trait of TSM that may be deduced is that he was a crafty person. He had a homemade sheath in his suitcase and it appeared that he used thread in his suitcase to fix his clothes. Several tools that would potentially fit into the crafty category were also found inside TSM’s suitcase. There was also a stencilling brush in the suitcase with an unidentified black substance on the end of it. This type of brush was commonly used on merchant ships by those in the position of ‘third mate’ for the purpose of stencilling cargo. This nautical occupation hypothesis, appears with the limited evidence to be one of the most plausible theories as to TSM’s job.
An Extra Comb
TSM was found with two combs on his body. Was he overly conscientious about seeing Jessica and hence had two combs? Did he comb his hair in a peculiar manner in which two combs were required? In the modern hipster world, people may carry a specific comb for their beard however TSM was clean-shaven. Did he previously have a beard and was therefore incognito in Glenelg? Another theory is that TSM may have purchased a second comb with the plan of throwing out the first comb as he believed his primary comb could be traced back to his country of origin or identity. TSM may have subsequently forgotten to thrown away the American linked aluminium comb. Alternately, he may have realised post purchase that the aluminium comb couldn’t be traced to him and therefore he kept both combs.
There was also a normal hairpin typically worn by females found in TSM’s suitcase- within the soap dish. Was this an irrelevant item that just found its way into the suitcase as these items sometimes do or did it have some other purpose such as enabling TSM to disguise his hair? Did the hairpin have some toiletries related use hence the location it was found or did TSM keep it in the soap dish to prevent it getting lost amongst his belongings? Did TSM use this item as a tool? Some people use such items to pick locks. Another scenario for why TSM had a hairpin typically worn by females is that he lived with a female. Whether this be a daughter, partner or sister. The item was possibly a remnant of them using the suitcase previously or it may have simply been caught up in an item he packed. TSM may have found it in his suitcase and placed it inside the soap dish with the hopes of returning it.
Coat Hanger Clues
It’s not clear whether the two coat hangers within TSM’s suitcase had clothes attached to them or if they were loose. The existence of loose coat hangers indicates that TSM either stopped somewhere on his journey to Adelaide and thus required a place to hang clothes or that he planned on hanging the clothes once he arrived in Adelaide and didn’t necessarily expect to die and not return to his suitcase. The two coat hangers if loose could have also been originally attached to the clothes he was wearing on the 30th of November indicating that he was keen to be well-presented that day.
A Lack of Labels
A fascinating and further mysterious aspect in TSM case revolves around the clothing and item labels. All of the clothing labels on the clothes TSM had been wearing had been removed as were most of the labels on the clothing within the suitcase and even a label had been removed from the suitcase itself. The labels on many items within the suitcase had also been removed. A newspaper article from 11 days after TSM was found deceased wrote “All name tags had been cut from the clothing. This appeared to have been done recently.” The label removal process seemed to involve clipping or cutting the labels. There appear to be two primary options regarding the label removal motive. The first theory is that TSM may not have wanted to be identified and therefore removed all the labels that he thought could lead back to his identity being unearthed. The second theory involves other people removing the labels so as to obscure TSM’s identity. This second theory can be broken down into two possibilities: either TSM was killed by someone or someone else was helping TSM conceal his identity.
There are several arguments against a person other than TSM removing the labels. If someone had obtained TSM’s luggage receipt and was thus granted access to the suitcase, then why would the person carefully remove the labels and then return the suitcase. It seems like a superfluous step to return the suitcase and an increase in the risk of getting caught as opposed to just throwing the suitcase away. Another argument against someone else removing the labels involves the selectiveness over which labels remained and which labels were removed. Only TSM himself would have known which labels would potentially lead back to his identity and another person would be required to remove all labels. The fact that the “T. Keane”, “Kean” and “Keane” labels remained supports the notion that TSM removed the labels. Only TSM would have known that the Kean/Keane name couldn’t be traced back to him. Another person may have thought that this was a friend of TSM or some relative and thus would be required to remove these name labels. Incidentally, the “Kean” writing on TSM’s singlet may have originally been a “Keane.” Within the inquest is was speculated that the “e” was washed or rubbed out from the singlet.
The clothes in the suitcase were neatly packed and nicely ironed: If someone else had gone through the case, then rummaging through the clothes and removing the tags may have creased the clothes: you likely wouldn’t iron them again. The number of items in the suitcase seemed perfectly packed together; like a game of Tetris yet certain items were missing; were these never packed or thrown out at a later date? If they were thrown out at some later stage, these items might not have fit into the suitcase.
A further question involves whether TSM always travelled with clothes that had the labels removed or whether he had just done this process for the Somerton beach journey? The fact that all of the clothes he was found in had their labels removed while only some of the clothes in the suitcase had their labels removed indicates that the label removal process was just for this journey. Having said this, the person that removed the labels would have somewhat expected the suitcase to be found or the label removal process would have been pointless. The newspaper article indicating that the labels had likely only recently been removed is difficult to dissect. Was there a lack of fraying on the labels; something that time might cause?
Another question is why would TSM check the suitcase in to the Cloak Room as opposed to throwing it away if he was so concerned about his identity being uncovered? Perhaps TSM may have planned on committing suicide however wasn’t 100% certain on this process. If he didn’t end up committing suicide, then he would have the suitcase and items he could collect again. Alternately, if he did commit suicide, he could ensure that his identity would remain unknown.
TSM’s suitcase had enough materials contained within it for a person to survive for approximately one week. Did this mean he had planned on returning back to his home or did it take several days of travelling for TSM to arrive in Adelaide? Having five ties alone indicates that it was unlikely that TSM caught a train straight from Melbourne to Adelaide and planned on abandoning his suitcase as soon as he arrived in Adelaide. The unlocked nature of the suitcase raises further questions. Did TSM not worry about locking the case as he knew he would not return to it? Was TSM in a rush and running late so felt like he didn’t have time to lock it? Perhaps the answer to this question lies in the era being one of more trusting times and consequentially locks were rarely used. Despite its fairly new façade, the suitcase had the remnants of a sticker on it, like one that airports now stick on bags however this sticker had been peeled off. Did this indicate that TSM had recently come from overseas? Did the newish nature of the suitcase indicate that it was bought primarily for the Adelaide journey, perhaps because it was untraceable? The sticker that had been peeled may have been one of those irksome new product brand stickers that require peeling off.
Similarly to the Tamam Shud paper and The Rubaiyat, the suitcase was another item that could have easily went undiscovered by authorities. This ambiguity over whether the suitcase was intended to be found potentially clouds any deductions. TSM could have easily been found with his travel suitcase next to his body, with it 100% certain that authorities would find it. Alternately, the suitcase could have simply been thrown away, with the certainty that no-one would go through it. Removing the labels off of something that may or may not be found seems like a game of chance.
The label removal notion has similar elements to another unidentified person mystery; that of the 1970 case of the Isdal woman. In short, a woman was found dead in Isdal Valley, Norway, her body burnt, bruised and having consumed over 50 sleeping pills. Two of the Isdal woman’s suitcases had been found at a railway station and all identifying labels had been removed. In the Isdal woman case, the evidence strongly points to her being a spy partly due to the number of different identities she assumed. An excellent podcast called ‘Death In Ice Valley’ attempts to identify the Isdal woman and solve the case. TSM case does have parallels to the Isdal woman and the label removal could have been due to TSM’s job as a spy or other secretive profession. Another possibility is that Kean/Keane may have been a false identity of TSM akin to the Isdal woman although this theory seems less likely as surely even the authorities finding even a false identity would provide them with some information to trace the true person.
An Absence of Items
The lack of certain items on TSM’s deceased body or in the suitcase raises many questions. In these locations there was no: identification, hat, wallet, pens or medication. There was also no money on the body of TSM and only 6d in a trousers pocket in his suitcase. TSM had a pair of dark coloured socks on his feet when he was found but strangely there were no socks found in his suitcase. The lack of identification on TSM comes as no real surprise considering the efforts he or others went to in order to hide his identity, by removing clothing tags and the fact that no-one came forth to identify him. TSM wasn’t wearing a hat when he was found on Somerton Beach which seemed slightly out-of-place for the era and strange considering how well-dressed he otherwise was. Indeed, witness John Lyons even noted the lack of the hat on the man in the evening saying, “I was on the sea side of the man. I do not think he was wearing a hat.” It is possible TSM’s hat blew off his head while lying on the beach yet this seems unlikely due to the serene weather conditions. It’s also plausible that he took his hat off while visiting Jessica and accidentally left it at her house. Another theory is that TSM’s hat was lost if he was bending over and vomiting e.g. on The Esplanade. Every aspect of TSM points towards him trying to fit in and not wearing a hat counters this desire. Alternately, every aspect of the case points towards TSM’s identity being concealed and perhaps this is the true reason for his missing hat.
TSM not having pens is another oddity, yet he had up to 6 pencils. The fact that he had plentiful letter writing material and several forms of paper indicates to me that he perhaps had pens and disposed of them. Receiving letters written in pencil is atypical. Some people have their initials on pens so this may have been a reason for disposing of them. Perhaps having an abundance of pencils and dearth of pens is a combination that a spy might possess. The code written in what may have been pencil matches this item being in his possession. This might point to the code having been written whilst on the train to Adelaide. No pencil was found on TSM’s body hence unless it was later disposed of, it seems unlikely that he wrote the code on his bus journey to Glenelg.
The state of TSM’s spleen being 3 times enlarged suggests some underlying illness. Did he regularly take medication? Had TSM given up on treatment or was the absence of medication found in accordance with the ‘not being identifiable’ mantra. There was no dental plate found in TSM’s mouth despite missing 18 teeth. It’s possible that he never had a dental plate, it was removed due to potentially helping identify him or TSM could have vomited and therefore it had fallen out. The glass saucer found within the suitcase may have been a resting place for the dental plate whilst he travelled.
TSM not having any money at all on his body despite not necessarily knowing if he needed to buy something or travel somewhere else is intriguing. It seems unlikely that TSM calculated to the exact cent how much money he would need on the 30th of November and bought transportation tickets and food/drink for the day precisely. The unused Henley Beach train ticket backs up this notion. If TSM was planning on returning to his suitcase, then why only the 6d in there which as it was placed in a trousers pocket seems almost incidental or forgotten about. Although a possible answer to this is that TSM may have thought that leaving large amounts of money in the suitcase was too risky as someone might take it. Most of the items within the suitcase were not expensive or cheap for their specific type. This may provide some insight into TSM’s wealth; a potentially average financial situation.
If the rumours of a bank’s phone number in The Rubaiyat are to be believed then TSM may have taken out his entire wealth and deposited it with Jessica purposefully. Alternately, Jessica may have stolen the wallet although with her unimposing physique, especially in comparison with TSM, she may have required assistance with this task. If TSM had committed suicide, perhaps not having any money on his body would be expected if he wanted to remain unidentified and the money couldn’t be channelled to anyone. Any funds found would be superfluous and wasted; he may have already deposited the money with who he wished inherited it. Another scenario that has been proposed is that TSM’s wallet and money was stolen while he was on the beach. I think this would be unlikely as people wouldn’t necessarily have realised TSM was dead and someone feeling around in his pockets would be risking that he wouldn’t just wake up and they would be caught. How often has someone stolen a wallet from the pocket of someone lying down at the beach? In my opinion this would be a rare occurrence, especially in Adelaide in the 1940s. If the person lying down on a beach resembles a drunk person, people tend to stay away.
A Scarcity of Socks
When TSM was found, he was wearing a pair of socks, with one sock repaired at the heel. It is strange that there were no socks found in his suitcase. Based on the number of other items in the suitcase, it would be expected that 4 or 5 pairs of socks would be found. Did his socks have his initials on them or other traceable features? If so, then was the pair of socks he was wearing the only untraceable pair? Did the sock he wore have some sort of identification mark removed at the heel hence the repair job?
Did the authorities somehow lose the socks in TSM suitcase as they seem like a rather arbitrary and unimportant part of the suitcase, at least on the surface? Most of the other items surrounding TSM suggest he cared about his appearance and hygiene somewhat so it seems odd that he would wear the same pair of socks for his entire trip. Another possibility is that TSM removed the labels of his clothes and placed them in his socks so he could throw them away a bit more discreetly. A scenario that I tend to favour is that TSM kept his money hidden in his socks or travelled on the bus to Glenelg with money in his socks which in turn were in his jacket. Another possibility is that TSM was planning to withdraw money from the bank (there were rumours of a local bank’s phone number in the rear of The Rubaiyat) and he used his socks to transport this money. A general explanation for many of the items that weren’t found on TSM is that they may have led to identifying him
Part 4- Jessica Thomson
“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?” – Haruki Murakami
Whilst TSM had no determinable name, the person whose phone number was scribed into the back of The Rubaiyat has several pseudonyms. Born as Jessie Ellen Harkness in 1921, she also at times went by, Jess, Jessie, Jessica, Jestyn and Jo. Jessica changed her surname in the early part of 1947 from Harkness to Thomson; this was the surname of the man she would later marry- Prosper.
In 1912, Prosper (George) McTaggart Thomson was born in the central region of Queensland and 9 years later in 1921, Jessica was born in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville. Both Prosper and Jessica would move to the Melbourne beachside suburb of Mentone and they spent a chunk of their youth here. It was during this time that Prosper and Jessica first met. Jessica then went on to work as an orderly in a Victorian hospital. At a subsequent stage, Jessica moved back to Sydney and became a nursing student and worked at the Royal North Shore Hospital during WW2. In August of 1945, Jessica would give Alf Boxall a copy of The Rubaiyat at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney before he went overseas on active service.
Jessica became pregnant around October, 1946. She never took her final nursing exam with the reason for missing it listed as ‘vomiting.’ In this era, nurses had to depart the nursing quarters if they were pregnant. After becoming pregnant but before the end of 1946, Jessica moved to the Melbourne suburb of Mentone; her childhood home and the same suburb that Prosper lived in. Whilst living in Mentone, Prosper was in charge of the taxi ranks. He was well known in the suburb as someone that could acquire anything you wanted. This had somewhat carried over from the WWII years in which he dealt on the black market. Prosper’s taxi rank job also meant that he travelled significantly and could pick items up. Jessica provisionally lived with her parents whilst in Mentone. Jessica and Prosper again crossed paths in Mentone when it is alleged that Jessica was about to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. Prosper was serendipitously passing by and managed to save Jessica’s life. After only a brief period in Mentone, Jessica moved with Proper to Adelaide, in the early part of 1947. In Adelaide, Prosper’s occupation was primarily a car salesman.
In Adelaide, Jessica and Proper seemed to feign being a married couple and it was at this time Jessica adopted Prosper’s surname of Thomson. This was despite Prosper still technically being married to someone else. Jessica and Prosper lived on Moseley Street, Glenelg. In July of 1947, Jessica gave birth to Robin McMahon Thomson. As Jessica had changed her surname to Thomson earlier in the year, she managed to evade putting Harkness on the birth certificate. The birth certificate listed Prosper as the father of Robin despite both Jessica and Prosper being well aware that he wasn’t. Almost a year and half after Robin was born, TSM was found deceased on Somerton Beach and Jessica’s phone number was listed in the back of The Rubaiyat- a book whose final words “Tamam Shud” were found rolled up in TSM’s fob pocket.
Prosper allegedly saw other women post 1948. He also had a house in Adelaide, separate to the Somerton Park location. It’s not clear where Prosper was living at the time TSM’s body was found. It has been alleged that Jessica and Proper weren’t physically intimate and indeed they lived very different lives. Proper’s raison d’être was second-hand cars and Jessica had more intellectual pursuits and preferred likeminded people. Prosper went through the procedure of getting a divorce from his first wife in 1949 and this was completed by the start of 1950. During May of 1950, Jessica and Prosper were officially married. Jessica and Proper would later have a child together named Kate. In the early 1950s, Prosper and Jessica would move to the nearby Partridge Street, Glenelg. During 1957, Jessica wrote a letter containing the words “but how to make life interesting when one has two demanding children who have to be fed and clothed?”
During the latter part of the 1960s, Jessica worked at St. Corantyn which was a mental health services hospital. She continued working here until the second half of the 1970s, at which time she retired. Prosper passed away in 1995 and Jessica died in 2007. In 2009, Jessica’s son, Robin died.
TSM and Robin’s Similar Ears and Teeth
In 2009/2010, Somerton Man researcher Professor Derek Abbott presented a theory that Robin was the son of TSM. The background and rationale for this theory will be discussed. After examining photos of TSM, Abbott consulted Maciej Henneberg, a professor of anatomy. He indicated that TSM had a unique ear feature; his upper ear hollow (cymba) was larger than his lower ear hollow (cavum). This characteristic is possessed by 1-2% of Caucasians. Photographic evidence of Jessica’s son, Robin, also shows that he had this rare trait of having a larger cymba than cavum. TSM and Robin also seem to share a similar pointed helix of the ear.
Professor Abbott also discussed TSM’s teeth with dentistry experts. It was determined that TSM was missing both of his upper lateral incisors (the teeth on either side of the two upper central teeth). It is thought that TSM had his canine teeth directly next to his front middle teeth, as opposed to a gap due to lacking the upper lateral incisors. It is posited that TSM didn’t only lack upper lateral incisors but he likely had a rare genetic disorder in which these teeth never grew. Incidentally, actor Tom Cruise lacks an upper lateral incisor. This trait of developmentally missing teeth is an inherited genetic condition known as hypodontia. Upon examining a photograph of Robin, it was confirmed that he too had hypodontia and was born without the exact same two teeth: the upper lateral incisors. Having hypodontia is a rare condition in itself but picking two people at random that are born without the exact two teeth is an extreme rarity.
There is no photograph of TSM’s teeth hence Abbott’s determination of TSM’s hypodontia is based on two primary factors. Dr. Dwyer said of TSM’s teeth “…there were more of the central teeth remaining. Those remaining were the central teeth of each jaw. Anyone looking at him in the ordinary way, if he were to laugh, would notice the teeth missing. If he were speaking, the missing teeth were not noticeable.” The tooth chart that was produced noted the lack of TSM’s upper lateral incisors. It is possible that TSM had gaps where these teeth were meant to be however Abbott has combined the tooth chart information with the Dwyer comment about people not noticing the missing teeth of TSM when he was speaking to make his determination of hypodontia.
Professor Abbott has estimated that the odds of TSM and Robin independently having a larger cymba than cavum and having the precise nature of hypodontia is somewhere between one in ten million and one in twenty million. This Sherlockesque development has major implications for TSM case. The genetic evidence suggests that TSM and Jessica had a child together- Robin.
There has been some criticism levelled at Abbott’s theory that TSM fathered Robin. Amongst those bloggers who regularly post about TSM, there is little acceptance of the theory. Practically speaking, there are some potentially minor holes in TSM-Robin connection logic. Dr Dwyer who analysed TSM’s teeth said “If he were speaking, the missing teeth were not noticeable.” This statement is ambiguous. When speaking, the front upper central incisors (the upper middle two teeth) are commonly seen and depending on the person, sometimes the upper lateral incisors. The main teeth seen when speaking are the bottom row of teeth. Dr. Dwyer’s statement doesn’t specifically clarify what he considered the normal number of upper visible teeth when speaking. It’s possible that TSM had gaps where his upper lateral incisors belonged as opposed to his upper canine’s filling in this space. Dwyer’s statement lacks detailed certainty.
Another potential criticism that can be levelled at TSM-Robin physiological similarities theory involves the ears. The photos below first appeared in 2009 and are purported to be of
A. Jessica’s daughter’s child. The daughter was born after TSM period and hence TSM cannot be related.
B. Prosper Thomson
C. Thomas Harkness (Jessica’s brother)
When these photos are compared to the ear images of TSM and Robin, as a layperson, it’s not necessarily clear which photos match up more closely to Robins. The photo of Jessica’s brother’s ear seems to show a larger cymba than cavum- the same rare feature that TSM and Robin possess. It’s plausible that this inherited feature of Robin’s came from Jessica’s side. Despite these minor criticisms, it seems fairly likely that Robin shared these unique traits with TSM.
Further Evidence Supporting TSM Being Robin’s Father
Although the precise number is contentious, a study found that around 4% of males may be raising a child they think belongs to them yet has a different father. This scenario isn’t rare although the speculation is that in Prosper’s case he knew Robin wasn’t his. There are some additional pieces of evidence that support the Jessica-TSM having a child together hypothesis. Based on the timing of Jessica dropping out of her nursing school exams and returning to live with her parents in Mentone, it seems that she fell pregnant whilst in Sydney. This information is doubly valuable as it potentially places TSM in a location at a specific time: around October of 1946 in Sydney. The fact that Jessica tried to change her name to Thomson and convince the outside world that Prosper was Robin’s father compounds TSM father theory. It seems that Jessica didn’t want others to believe that firstly she had a child out of wedlock and secondly that someone other than Prosper was the father. In the years following Robin being raised, Jessica confided in a friend that it was good of Prosper to raise Robin as if he was his own child. The possibility also arises that TSM was paying child support for Robin and this may somehow be linked to the bank phone number in The Rubaiyat.
The Ballet Connection
Another potential insight into TSM’s life involves his calf muscles. The pathologist John Cleland described TSM as having high calf muscles that were also pronounced. He also noted a slight wedge shaped nature to his toes. Cleland continued on to speculate that TSM may have been a ballet dancer who wore shoes that pointed the toes and that his unique calf muscles were caused by ballet dancing. Cleland also hypothesised that TSM could have been a distance runner. Calf muscles can become pronounced thanks to repetitively raising and lowering your toes such as calf raises. This process is a key feature of ballet dancing. The estimated age range of TSM was between 40 and 45 and this would typically be around a decade too old to be an active, professional ballet dancer. If TSM was indeed a ballet dancer, he may have maintained his calf muscles and overall fit body by having good genetics, practising his ballet dancing or he could have even been a dance teacher who demonstrated to others how to dance.
Taxidermist Paul Lawson noted TSM’s feet were rather “striking features.” He elaborated on this and suggested that perhaps he had worn high-heeled or pointed shoes. TSM’s high calf muscles also led to Lawson’s judgement. Lawson also described TSM as having “wedge shaped” toes. Although TSM didn’t have bunions on his feet, his big toes were leaning in slightly. Lawson’s appraisal of TSM’s feet and calves supports the notion that TSM may have been a ballet dancer. This hypothesis may account for his feet, calves and fitness. Another physical observation of TSM was his lack of calluses on his hands or feet, indicating that he wasn’t a labourer. Also, his hands were described as “enormous” despite his 5 foot 11 inch height and smallish sized 8 feet.
When Robin was still young, Jessica one day, seemingly arbitrarily took Robin to ballet lessons. This was doubly unusual as male dancers in the era were a rare commodity. Robin would flourish in the ballet dancing scene and his career trajectory would result in him becoming a professional ballet dancer with the Australian Ballet. If TSM was indeed the father of Robin, the out of the blue ballet lessons that Jessica took Robin to as a child may have an explanation. Other explanations for Jessica taking Robin to ballet lessons and Robin flourishing are difficult to conjure. Perhaps as Jessica had an abundance of more high-brow interest such as the theatre and poetry, she had always wished for her child to be a dancer. Although this theory on the surface seems less plausible than TSM being a dancer and fathering Robin.
The McMahon Clue
Robin was given the middle name of ‘McMahon’ which may provide some insight into TSM. When Robin was given his middle name, TSM was well and truly alive and thus perhaps Jessica was less wary of revealing TSM’s identity and therefore provided a subtle nod to Robin’s actual father in this naming process. The given name ‘McMahon’ is so rare that according to historical naming websites it is unheard of. As a surname, it is also rare and has Irish ancestry roots. There was an Australia Prime Minister called Sir William McMahon although he became P.M. in the 1970s and was only elected to parliament in 1949, a few years after the birth of Robin. There is an affluent Sydney suburb called McMahons Point that is located only several kilometres from where Jessica resided whilst in Sydney. It’s adjacent to the Sydney Opera House and provides sweeping harbourside views. McMahons Point is just across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Kent Street, which is what TSM’s razor strop was labelled. The possibility is raised that TSM lived in McMahon’s Point, met Jessica here or that Robin was conceived here. An alternate scenario is that the name McMahon is someone linked to Prosper’s middle name of McTaggart- both names have the rare ‘Mc’ prefix. Below is a map detailing the location of McMahons Point in relation to Kent Street, Sydney.
The Beaumont Children Link
Jessica’s brother, Thomas Lawson Harkness Junior married Clarice Victoria whose mother was Evelyn Beaumont. Evelyn was first cousins with Grant Beaumont- the father of the Beaumont children. The family tree linking the families can be viewed here. I have written more extensively about the disappearance of the three Beaumont children (Grant’s children) here. This disappearance occurred in 1966 at Glenelg Beach and the three children have never been seen since; the case remains unsolved to this day. On the day the Beaumont children vanished at Glenelg, they got off the bus on Moseley Street; the same street that Jessica had lived on. The Beaumont children lived only 1 kilometre from where Jessica had lived. Prosper was a taxi driver at the same time that Grant (the Beaumont children’s father) and Maxwell (the Beaumont children’s uncle) were also taxi drivers in the Glenelg region. It is unclear whether the Thomson’s knew Grant and his children. Although Jessica and Prosper had no substantial links other than some tenuous connections to the Beaumont disappearance, it is a coincidence that the two most lingering South Australian and perhaps Australian mysteries have this familial connection, taxi driver similarity and added link to Glenelg.
As the evidence seems to suggest that Robin was the son of TSM, researchers have attempted to trace Robin’s DNA with the hope that it may show some insights into the heritage of TSM. When researchers attempted this task, Robin was already deceased hence they had to use a new technique. In essence, the DNA of Robin’s partner, Roma Egan, was subtracted from the DNA of another relative of Robin’s. The autosomal DNA results indicated that Robin’s father’s DNA line had ancestral links to the U.S.A. The data indicated that a small amount of the DNA that Robin gained from his father contained American Indian heritage. The results also found that Robin was a direct relative of someone called Isham Randolph- The grandfather of former President of the U.S.A. Thomas Jefferson. Forty of the closest individual people genetically matched to Robin had origins in the U.S.A. state of Virginia, on the east coast of the country. In totality, this evidence further supports the notion that TSM, if he was the father of Robin, may have come from America or at the least, had a glut of relatives who lived in America.
When the authorities were handed The Rubaiyat from chemist John Freeman, they detected a phone number in small writing in the rear of the book. This number was that of Jessica who lived an 800 metre walk from where TSM was found and naturally, the police questioned her. It has been discussed in Part 2 of this article- ‘The Rubaiyat Connection’ the conversation the authorities had with Jessica about the poetry book and the link to Alf Boxall. The police also asked more probing questions such as why TSM had her phone number in his book (assuming it belonged to him) however she responded that she was clueless as to why.
There is a curious maelstrom of truth and lies in what Jessica disclosed to police. She did voluntarily tell of the copy of The Rubaiyat that she had given Alf Boxall several years prior when she could have feigned not knowing anything about the book. In all likelihood, she volunteered this information to police as it was a red-herring; information that portrayed her as truth-telling yet she knew it was irrelevant. Jessica also told police that an unknown man had tried knocking on her door in 1948 (she was being interviewed in 1949). She elaborated on this stating that the man had spoken to someone in the flats next door to her house and asked about a nurse living in Jessica’s house. The man had said that he had once known her. Jessica didn’t relay the month of this event to investigators but thought it occurred in the latter part of 1948. As TSM arrived in Glenelg on the 30th of November 1948, was Jessica not home when he knocked on her door?
Jessica’s rationale for divulging the information pertaining to the mysterious man asking about her is curious. Perhaps Jessica was concerned that police would question her neighbours and she knew that the neighbour who spoke to the man asking about her would divulge this information to authorities, thus she told them. On the other hand, Jessica may have known that it wasn’t TSM who knocked on her door and spoke to her neighbour therefore she could tell the police this information. The specific part of the story that Jessica relayed to police about a man asking for a “nurse” relates to her time in Sydney in which she was a nursing student and she may have told people around her that she was a nurse, or would be as soon as she completed her exams. This fits in with the timeline of when she may have become pregnant with TSM’s child.
There were several instances in her conversation with police that Jessica lied. She told police that she didn’t know TSM, which based on all of the evidence appears to be a lie. Many years after TSM situation, Kate- the daughter of Jessica, said that Jessica told her that she did in fact lie to the police. Kate recalled Jessica saying “It is a mystery that was only known to a level higher than the police force.” Kate has spoken additionally of what Jessica had told her, “She said to me she knew who he was but she wasn’t going to let that out of the bag so to speak. There’s always that fear that I’ve thought that maybe she was responsible for his death.” Jessica also informed police that she was currently married despite this not being true. The authorities found her to be generally evasive. Jessica convinced the police not to release her name publically in relation to the case and this likely impeded progress in the investigation.
A technician, Paul Lawson, made a plaster cast bust of TSM. Detective Sergeant Leane showed Jessica the bust, in the hopes that Jessica may recognise the man whilst Lawson was also present for this showing. A cloak lay draped over the bust before a crescendo building removal of the cloak. When the bust was visible Jessica glanced at it briefly before diverting her eyes. For the remainder of the duration of the interview Jessica’s eyes stared transfixed onto the floor; her eyes avoiding the general proximity of the bust. Lawson described Jessica’s body as swaying and he worried that she may faint. In Lawson’s opinion, she was aware of TSM’s identity.
Assuming that Jessica knew of TSM’s identity, then why did she lie to police? TSM may have specifically asked her that he not be identified and she may have merely been following his orders. If TSM was the father of Robin, Jessica may have wanted to maintain this lie that Prosper was the father and identifying TSM may have shattered this possibility. If Jessica had no part in his death, then she may have worried that she would be falsely implicated in killing him if she admitting knowing his identity. A more cynical scenario is that Jessica was involved in the death of TSM in some way, whether he had asked her to be or not thus in the hope of avoiding being caught, she may have lied to police.
The Alf Boxall Connection
Jessica was 27 years old when TSM was found deceased. The two confirmed people that Jessica had some form of relationship with were Prosper and Alf Boxall. Prosper was 9 years older than Jessica and Alf Boxall was 15 years older. If Jessica had an interest in older men, then TSM being an estimated 18 years older than Jessica is consistent with this. When Jessica met Alf Boxall, she was aware that he was married and that he was the father to two children; his second, Lesley, had recently been born. This seemed to be an affair of sorts. Jessica signed the copy of the Rubaiyat that she gave Boxall ‘JEstyn.’ There is much rampant speculation regarding the precise meaning of this name. Was it a nickname, a personal joke between Alf and Jessica or a poorly written lower case ‘e’ that has been corrected to a capital ‘E’? Perhaps a pseudonym was used as it provided an alias on a book that Boxall’s wife might discover. Another more farfetched scenario is that The Rubaiyat was signed ‘J E Styn’ with the ‘J’ denoting Jessica, the ‘E’ referencing her middle name: Ellen and the Styn being her surname. Was Jessica married or in a relationship with someone called Styn? When Boxall indicated to Jessica that he was married, Jessica may have been in a relationship and told Boxall she was married thus she referred to herself as ‘Styn.’
There were many curiosities within the person that was Jessica. Some which may in a vicarious way relate to TSM and his death, while others may be purely incidental. Jessica had a pro-euthanasia viewpoint which provides us with a glimpse into her progressive leanings, especially so for the era. She also had a keen interest in pharmacology which may have stemmed from her years as a nursing student. These aspects of Jessica raise the possibility that she helped TSM by euthanizing him or at least aiding in his suicide. Her pharmacological interest can also be viewed in a darker light, considering TSM’s befuddling death.
Kate has suggested that her mother was able to speak Russian, something that Jessica had kept hidden from her children in their younger years. Jessica had mentioned that she had taught English to a small number of Russian migrants and casually said “I’m surprised that I can still quite understand Russian.” Jessica didn’t elaborate to Kate as to why, where and when she learnt Russian.
Jessica also had a lifelong endeavour to master the French language but failed to grasp its intricacies. A friend of Jessica’s commented that Jessica lacked the self-discipline to learn Russian and treated her supposed acquisition of this language as dubious. Jessica also spent a period of her life teaching English to immigrants that had come to Australia. She also had a keen fascination with communism. Some of these insights into Jessica’s life have caused people to speculate that she was caught up in a spy landscape. Indeed, Kate has raised the possibility that her mother was a Soviet Union spy and that she was in some way involved in the murder of TSM who could have been a Russian agent. Kate has elaborated on her mother by stating that she had a “very strong dark side.”
Jessica’s favourite novel was E. M. Forster’s Howards End. Later adapted into a miniseries and movie. Although the plot is somewhat winding with various themes popping up, a key characteristic of the book involves Helen who gets pregnant to Leonard without being married to him. A family member, Charles Wilcox tries to scare Leonard by hitting him with the flattened part of a sword however through the means of an accident, a bookcase falls on Leonard and he suffers a heart attack and dies. When did Howards End become Jessica’s favourite novel? If it was pre 1948 then any potential parallels between the book and TSM case is likely spurious. If Jessica became interested in Howards End post 1948, then perhaps she could relate somewhat to accidentally killing a man who had made her pregnant. Alternately, Howards End could have been her fantasy and preferred version of events regarding TSM’s death.
Part 5- Miscellaneous
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafisi
There are many facets to TSM case. This section will detail information that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the previous 4 parts.
Arriving By Train
What did TSM supposedly do on the 30th of November? Whilst no definitive actions can be ascertained, there is circumstantial evidence of differing degrees suggesting how his day may have panned out. TSM is thought to have arrived by train during the morning of the 30th of November. The most commonly suggested places he arrived from are Sydney (via Broken Hill) and Melbourne. The trains arriving at Adelaide Railways Station on the morning in question came from: Bowmans, Robertstown, Willunga, Angaston, Melbourne, Broken Hill, Mount Pleasant and the South East. Other than Melbourne and Broken Hill, the remainder of these locations are small rural towns or areas in South Australia. It was a straight railway route from Sydney to Adelaide via Broken Hill.
The Unused Henley Beach Ticket
On TSM’s body was a one-way train ticket to Henley Beach. This is a beachside suburb of Adelaide about 10km west of the CBD. It is about 8km north of Glenelg. The Henley Beach train ticket was not validated and hence was not used. The ticket was for a train departing Adelaide Railway Station. Trains departed for Henley Beach at 10:50 AM and 11:51 AM of the morning in question. TSM had a one-way ticket that cost 7 pence whilst a return ticket that he chose not to purchase would have cost him 12 pence.
Another bamboozling question in TSM case is why didn’t he catch the Henley Beach train if he had bought a ticket for it? It may be that TSM was unfamiliar with the area and asked for a ticket to the beach. There was a Jetty Street in Grange (the suburb adjacent to Henley Beach) in 1948. This historical street directory of Adelaide for the year 1936 shows train stop number 8 is on (or next to) Jetty Street at Grange. The same train line then travels south and comes to a halt at Henley Beach. Did TSM confuse Jetty Road Glenelg and Jetty Street Grange hence he bought the wrong and unused ticket?
Train stop number 9 at Henley Beach, the penultimate stop on the line is next to Marlborough Street. There is some linkage albeit slightly tenuous between Prosper Thomson and Marlborough Street at Henley Beach. Propser placed ads in the newspaper frequently often using the address of 200 Hindley Street, located in the CBD of Adelaide. This Hindley Street address also featured an evening phone number in this 1948 ad. This phone number was located at Marlborough Street Henley Beach. The most likely scenario is that one of many workers at the Hindley Street address lived at Henley Beach and it probably didn’t have any relation to TSM but it does create a tenuous linkage between Proper and Henley Beach.
There was a more substantial link between Prosper and Henley Beach. A spate of ads were placed in the newspaper in 1947 by Prosper. His address listed in these ads was 7 Main Street, Henley Beach. This house was just metres from the last train stop on the Henley Beach line.
According to Gerry Feltus in his book ‘The Unknown Man’, in 1948 there were unconfirmed reports of maps in the Adelaide Railway Station showing a proposed extended train line from Henley Beach to Glenelg. If this information is true, then TSM may have naively bought the Henley Beach train ticket thinking that the train travelled past this stop to Glenelg. Another plausible scenario explaining the unused Henley Beach train ticket is the possibility that TSM was worried about being followed so he may have tried to throw someone off the scent. This process may have been for the ends of attempting to ascertain if anyone else bought both a Henley Beach train ticket and a Glenelg bus ticket to gauge if he was being followed. It seems most likely that some event occurred shortly after purchasing the Henley Beach ticket that made him not use it. Was this a phone call, a planned meet up at Henley Beach that was changed or simply a local correcting his mistaken Adelaide geographic nous?
Following the purchase of the forever unused train ticket to Henley Beach, it has been speculated that TSM used the City Baths, outside the Adelaide Railway Station. There were no areas in the railway station itself for people to shower or shave. The cleanliness and lack of bearded stubble on TSM suggests that he may have shaved on the 30th of November. This location may also have been where TSM polished his shoes.
The Cloak Room
After possibly using the City Baths, TSM checked his suitcase into the Cloak Room of the Adelaide Railway Station. The top part of the Cloak Room ticket was attached to the stored suitcase whilst the remainder of the ticket would be given to TSM. When TSM’s body was found there was no trace of this bottom portion of the ticket. The suitcase was checked in between 11 AM and midday although based on the bus TSM likely caught, he would have had deposited his suitcase between 11 AM and 11:15 AM.
The motive for TSM checking his suitcase into the Cloak Room may be for the purposes of later picking it up, like most people. Alternately, TSM may have left the suitcase in the railway station precinct in order to give authorities the impression he had come by train on a certain date. Depositing the suitcase in a Cloak Room does seem slightly odd if you have just arrived by train and you haven’t arranged accommodation. When people travel away from their homes, they typically organise where they are staying and deposit luggage here as a first duty. Does this suggest that TSM planned to die or did he know he didn’t require accommodation for the night? Just prior to the evening when he was most likely seen lying on the beach, he would presumably have started to get tired from his possible overnight train journey and would have thought about where he was going to stay at night. Lying down on the beach voluntarily seems strange considering the journey back to the city and accommodation that required organising. Does this suggest he planned to die or was killed?
A Bus Journey
A bus ticket found on TSM’s body is an indication of his mode of transport to the Glenelg vicinity. The ticket was purchased most likely in the area of the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace. Theoretically the 7d tickets could have been purchased between North Terrace and the West Terrace/South Terrace intersection. The bus left outside the Adelaide Railway Station at 11:15 AM and was the first bus post 10:50 AM to travel to the St. Leonards area (present day Glenelg North). Coincidentally, the suburb that TSM likely disembarked the bus- St Leonards, Adelaide was the same suburb name as the location that Jessica worked in at the Royal North Shore Hospital- St Leonards, Sydney. A total of 40 passengers caught TSM’s bus for at least some stretch of the journey. The bus would reach the closest point to Jetty Road at the ANZAC Highway- Osmond Street (now Old Tapleys Hill Road) intersection then travel slightly north before its terminus (see the map). It’s not known what stop TSM departed the bus.
Why the Lack of Identification?
Why has TSM’s identity remained a mystery for some 70 years? There seem to be several aspects conspiring together to deprive us of his true identity. Firstly, he or someone else actively went out of their way to remove his ID, many clothing labels and other identifiers. This has made the task of identification challenging from the outset. Couple this factor with his likely non-South Australian heritage and abode and we have an outsider that will likely be unbeknownst to those most exposed to the case; Adelaideans. TSM photograph that has become iconic with the case was dispersed but hardly made its way across waters to the international arena. If the front page of the NY Times and other major publications featured the photo in 1948/1949 then I suspect TSM would have been identified.
Another factor that may have led to the lack of identification is the nature of autopsy photographs. Professor Derek Abbott points out that the autopsy photographs of J.F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe make them unrecognisable due to changes to the body after death. The photograph of TSM was taken one day after his autopsy. As we don’t know what he really looked like, we can’t categorically determine how much semblance he had in the flesh to his autopsy photo. It’s conceivable that someone that knew TSM has seen his photo and not recognised him. The era TSM was found in- post WWII when people were unsure of their friends and relative location due to the recent war is another factor conspiring against determining TSM’s identity.
The Two Blades of Grass
There are several further odd pieces of evidence within TSM case that haven’t been mentioned yet. A single blade of barley grass was found on one of the socks TSM was wearing as he lay deceased on the beach. There was another single blade of barley grass discovered within his suitcase. This second blade was specifically situated on the lower section of a trouser leg. It seems most likely that both of these single blades were picked up by TSM at the same time. Did he take his shoes off and walk around in the grass at some time prior to arriving in Adelaide? Is this suggestive of a stopover on some point of TSM’s pilgrimage to Somerton beach? Perhaps the train he caught stopped off somewhere?
Barley grass is found extensively across Australia and the blades couldn’t be pinpointed to an exact origin point. It would seem strange to pack clothes that had grass on them and weren’t properly washed. Also, if TSM had picked up this grass on the way to Adelaide that hints at him wearing the same socks as the day he wore the trousers that caught the barley grass blade. This potentially points at him traveling with only one pair of socks.
A Strange Stain
Another slight curiosity is the stain on the pair of trousers TSM was wearing. It was determined that the stain wasn’t vomit however its cause and composition remains unknown. The stain could have been caused by the poison being spilt, a bodily fluid other than vomit or something innocuous that may have spilt such as food. The stain seems out of place considering how neatly dressed and groomed TSM presented as. It would seem strange to obsessively polish your shoes if there was a stain on your pants. This suggests that the stain may have been picked up after TSM left the railway station.
The body of TSM was found with abrasions in two of his right knuckle hollows and another further down the back of his right hand. The abrasions seemed to look relatively recent. There are some small clues pointing at TSM being right handed. Did he engage in a fist fight or was there another more mundane reason for his abrasions? Knuckle abrasions tend to occur on the knuckles, not in their hollows which is an added curiosity. Did TSM have a job that caused the uniquely positioned abrasions?
A Clue in The Newspaper Advertisements
An ad was placed in the local newspaper by the Thomson’s, 3 days before TSM was thought to be in Glenelg. The November 27th 1948 ad reads: “Wanted bungalow, pay cash to L1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod convs, rent 22 6. Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239.” The background to this ad is likely innocuous in conjunction with the fact that it only appeared in The Adelaide Advertiser, not interstate newspapers. The timing of the ad is curious though. If TSM had come to visit the Thomson’s regarding the ad, the timing of him arriving 3 days after the ad seems to fit quite neatly. Also, the ad did feature the phone number ‘X3239.’ The same number which appeared in the back of The Rubaiyat. Had TSM written down the phone number for this purpose?
A Missing Gold Watch
Less than 3 weeks after TSM’s death, on the 18th of December, another ad appeared in the local newspaper. It was written by Prosper. The ad asked readers if they had seen a gold, Tudor watch. The ad generalises that it may have been lost in the city or the suburbs. The address and phone number listed were for Jessica and Prosper’s Glenelg house. The possibility arises that TSM somehow stole a watch from the Thomson’s house. Alternately, the watch may have somehow been caught up in the whole TSM case. The watch is listed as “nearly new.” Did TSM give this watch to Jessica as a present? The most likely scenario would be that the watch was genuinely lost and had no relation to TSM. At the time the ad was written, the Thomson’s weren’t linked to TSM and it would be risky to declare a lost watch if there was a chance it was found on TSM thus implicating Jessica and Prosper. If the Thomson’s had searched TSM’s body and clothes and no gold watch was found then another potential avenue leading to the ad is provided. Prosper was quite prolific in terms of the number of ads he placed in the newspaper and this was likely an innocent one.
The Abbott- Robin link
Whilst researching TSM case, Professor Abbott contacted Robin’s daughter, Rachel Egan. Abbott and Rachel spent a few days discussing the case and looking at photos. By the end of the weekend, Abbott had proposed to Rachel. The pair married some four months later and they now have three children together. In a remarkable twist, Abbott’s theory that Robin was the son of TSM, if true, would mean that Abbott’s children now share TSM’s DNA and would be TSM’s great-grandchildren.
Analysing TSM’s Hair Isotopes
Almost the entirety of evidence in TSM case emerged in 1949 or the previous year. There are however some more recent developments and one of these involves the plaster cast of TSM made by Paul Lawson in 1949. It just so happens that a few stray hairs were left behind by TSM when this cast was being created. The hair has been burnt using a laser and the isotopes within the burnt hair have been analysed. High levels of lead, arsenic and strontium-88 were detected. The precise meaning of these results is contentious.
Higher environmental arsenic levels were more prevalent in the era of the 1940s thus this reading may not provide much further information. In the narrowly measured timeframe, the elevated lead levels of TSM were found to be very high around a month prior to his death. As time progressed towards his death, the lead levels dropped. It is difficult to ascertain the environmental lead levels of different cities of the era thus knowing what ‘normal’ is may be challenging. The lead result may be indicative of a job that involves exposure to lead. The elevated strontium-88 levels detected involved a significant deviation around 10 days before the death of TSM. Professor Abbott has suggested that this may be due to a change in TSM’s environment involving a possible journey. It has been suggested that during this period TSM may have travelled from Sydney to Melbourne in search of Jessica and then he potentially journeyed to Adelaide.
During February 2018, further hairs of TSM were analysed, this time for their mitochondrial DNA. It was determined that TSM and his mother originated from the haplogroup known as H4a1a1a. This haplogroup seems to have origins in northern Europe including Scandinavia and Great Britain and Ireland. The more general group of the TSM of H4 is rare with a prevalence of about 1% for Europeans. More genetic information may be forthcoming and if TSM is eventually exhumed then a large amount of information about him may be potentially derived.
On the 70th anniversary of the death of TSM on December 1st 2018, Attorney-General of South Australia, Vickie Chapman, agreed that the state government would give their “conditional support” for an exhumation of TSM. This previously hadn’t been the case and the government had blocked exhumation requests. There are some caveats. The public are required to finance the cost; something that has been estimated at $20,000. Also, “sufficient supervision” of the exhumation process is required. An exhumation would be the gold standard of genetic testing in this case. Consequential of an exhumation, a bone isotope test would yield information about a country of birth of TSM. A surprising number of other inklings into TSM’s life may also be generated. For instance, a tooth and bone analysis may provide habit and lifestyle clues.
Part 6- Cases That Are Potentially Related
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Death of George Marshall
A man named George Marshall (born as Joseph Marshal) was found deceased in Ashton Park, Mosman- a suburb of Sydney on the 3rd of June 1945. His body was situated on a rock ledge which overlooked the adjacent Taylors Bay. He was found near the water’s edge. What was peculiar about the death of George Marshall was that a copy of The Rubaiyat lay open on his chest. Quatrain 23 was underlined in pencil, which read:
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie.
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer and-sans End!
Marshall’s head was laying on a newspaper dated the 20th of May 1945 and it was estimated that he died on the 21st of May. A glass was found next to him as well as barbituric acid powder and liquid in a lemonade bottle. Marshall had tried to commit suicide twice previously and his death was attributed to suicide. On the day of his disappearance, Marshall had eaten with someone called Gwenneth Dorothy Graham and he had sent her a 200 pound cheque. Graham provided evidence at the inquest into Marshall’s death. She was found 13 days later naked, in a bath with her body face down and her wrists slit. Graham’s death was considered to be another suicide.
If you delve into the details of the deaths of Marshall and Graham, they both seem to be clear suicides- so how does this potentially relate to TSM? The location of the body of George Marshall was close to the Clifton Gardens Hotel where Jessica would give a copy of The Rubaiyat to Alf Boxall a few months later. The death of Marshall was reported in the newspaper and Jessica was living in Sydney at the time this occurred. It seems probable, considering the proximity to where Jessica lived and visited that she was aware of Marshall’s suicide through the media or local gossip. If TSM was also living in Sydney at this time, he may have also read of the finer details of Marshall’s death.
The similarities between TSM’s death and Marshall’s death are striking. Men found next to the water, lying down with The Rubaiyat related paraphernalia on their bodies, 3 years apart. These are perhaps the only two The Rubaiyat documented deaths that have occurred in Australian history. It seems like more than a coincidence that Jessica was living near both of them at the time. The most likely scenario in my mind is that TSM or Jessica were aware of Marshall’s death circumstances and thus this concept of combining the words Tamam Shud with death was born.
The Mangnoson Mystery
Another case that has been linked to TSM is that of the Mangnoson family. 7 months after the death of TSM, on the 6th of June 1949, a two year old boy by the name of Clive Mangnoson was found deceased in a sack amongst sand hills in Largs Bay. Largs Bay is a beachside suburb situated around a 22km drive north of where TSM was found. Keith Mangnoson (Clive’s father) was found alive but in a weak state next to Clive’s body. Keith ended up being housed in a mental institution. The pair had been found in the sand hills by someone who said they had a dream of where the father and son were the previous night.
Clive’s mother, Roma, was later threatened by a man wearing a handkerchief over his face. He told her to stay away from the police with the added warning of “or else.” Local officials were phoned and threatened and told they shouldn’t investigate the Mangnoson case. Roma believed that the whole situation was related to Keith’s efforts to identify TSM. Apparently Keith believed TSM to be Carl Thompsen who he had worked with in Renmark a decade earlier. Looking holistically at the Mangnoson case, it seems likely that Keith’s mental illness played a part in the death of his son. The subsequent person terrorising Roma and the authorities was thought to be the same man who had frightened another woman who lost her husband in a tragic situation. Alas, it didn’t seem to relate to TSM case in any way. The identity of Carl Thompsen as TSM didn’t pan out and it seems that Keith was like the hundreds of people who thought that they may be able to identify TSM, to no avail.
The Strathmore Hotel
Another potentially related case to TSM involves someone called Ina Harvey. She was a receptionist at the Strathmore Hotel and believed that TSM stayed there on the few days preceding his body being found on December 1st 1948. The hotel was situated across the road from the Adelaide Railway Station where TSM’s suitcase had been checked in. The bus to St. Leonards that TSM is thought to have caught departed on the doorstep of the Strathmore Hotel. Harvey described the man who stayed at the hotel as middle aged and fairly strong and fit. Harvey also commented that he looked distraught and spoke in a quiet voice as if he were tired. She apparently grew suspicious of the mysterious man and thus told a fellow employee to search his room. The employee supposedly reported back to Harvey that the only item in the room was a small, black case. Within the case was a single item- a needle. At the end of the unknown man’s stay, he apparently gave Harvey a box of powder as a gift in tandem with the haunting parting words “I won’t be seeing you again.” When Harvey was later shown a picture of TSM, she was struck by the similarity between him and the enigmatic hotel guest.
On first glance, the account by Harvey seems plausible. Upon deeper examination, there are several problematic aspects to Harvey’s recollection. Harvey’s story only came out in a newspaper article in 1982. If Harvey was so confident of TSM identity, she or the other workers at the hotel would have reported it to the police at the time. All the information in Harvey’s story lacks the ability to be verified such as her forgetting the name of TSM, the records of who stayed at the hotel being lost and her lack of recollection of the employee’s name who supposedly searched the mysterious man’s room. The needle mode of death hypothesis also seems unlikely with pathologist Dr. Dwyer stating that he didn’t see any evidence on TSM’s body that a needle had been used. Harvey’s story sounds quixotic as she recalls the man thanking her for the compassion she had shown him and presenting her with a parting gift. Harvey’s story was examined by police and nothing transpired from it. Harvey’s family labelled her as strange and attention seeking and indeed this seems to best account for her story given the available evidence.
The Perplexing Motorbike Theft
A further potential case that is linked to TSM occurred on the days leading up to his death. On Friday the 26th of November 1948, a 17 year old boy from Broken Hill stole a motorbike from outside the Broken Hill Power Station. He rode the motorbike to Adelaide and on Saturday the 27th of November abandoned it within the sand hills at Glenelg. The boy then dumped a suitcase containing a man’s three piece suit, a shoe, an overcoat, sports trousers, several pairs of socks and a rifle stock missing a barrel at Somerton beach. When these items were found they were waterlogged and at the water’s edge. The items were dumped 3 days before TSM arrived at Glenelg and 4 days before he was found dead at Somerton beach. The next day, Sunday the 28th of November, the boy arrived at Port Noarlunga after walking the significant 20km distance there. That same day, the eclectic belongings was found at the Somerton beach location. Curiously, the suitcase wasn’t found. The boy stole a car that day from Port Noarlunga and was later arrested whilst driving back to Adelaide. Incidentally almost 7 months later on the 18th of June 1949, Prosper left a ‘wanting to buy’ note in the newspaper asking for a specific model of an automatic Winchester rifle.
A boy dumping a suitcase containing an abundance of socks and a rifle stock on Somerton beach 4 days before TSM was found dead on Somerton beach sure is a coincidence. Indeed, Somerton beach is only 1.2 kilometres in length- a tiny fraction of Adelaide’s beach coastline. The lack of socks within TSM’s suitcase is a peculiar facet of the case and the disproportionate number of socks in the suitcase dumped on the beach is also strange. Also the fact that the suitcase was never found is interesting; especially considering that a suitcase was one of the key items of TSM’s.
Also of note is that Prosper wanted to buy a rifle. Did he want to originally buy the rifle that was left on the beach however couldn’t hence was seeking another rifle? Alternately, did an event happen to the Thomson family involving TSM that made Prosper want to protect his family thus the request for a rifle purchase? On the day TSM is thought to have arrived at the Adelaide Railway Station, a train arrived from Broken Hill at 9:17am. This adds another potential connection between the two cases.
The names of the boy (Frederick William Pruszinksi), the person whose car was stolen and the person whose motorbike was stolen were released and don’t seem to have any link to TSM on the surface. The boy was a member of the Broken Hill rifle club. Researching the details of this story some 70 years later results in few tangible leads to follow. In all likelihood, the links between the suitcase dumping and TSM are coincidental but if connected, they provide another perplexing twist on TSM case.
Part 7- Theories
“So many things are possible as long as you don’t know they are impossible.” – Mildred D. Taylor
Within the above six sections, I have written about various possibilities regarding details within TSM case. This section will look at some big picture scenarios. I should stipulate that there is no direct evidence that Jessica, Prosper or TSM committed any crimes and the following theories are simply conjecture.
The Spy Theory
The spy theory has numerous permutations. The central premise is that TSM was a spy and in most scenarios, he died due to the very nature of him being a spy. There is some circumstantial evidence that TSM was a spy. He most likely carried with him a book containing what appears to be a code. The writing within the book was faint which indicates that it was intended to be hidden. The Rubaiyat thrown into the car may have been a message to someone informing them that TSM was dead or instructing someone to kill him. An alternative is that The Rubaiyat was thrown into the car by TSM as he was being followed by another spy and he had to hurriedly dispose of the book. The Tamam Shud paper found on TSM may have been a message to someone from TSM or from another person who left the paper as a calling card; showing that they had personally killed TSM. The hidden nature of the fob pocket could also have potentially been spy related.
The physical attributes of TSM including his physique, neatness and ability within Adelaide to be unnoticed by the public are spy traits. He also had any traceable labelling removed from the clothes he was wearing, clothes in his suitcase and other items in his suitcase. This is consistent with the Isdal Woman who died mysteriously in Norway with labels removed from items in her suitcase. The Isdal Woman was thought to be a spy and this case has many parallels with TSM case including a strange death, unidentified victim and suitcase deposited in a railway station.
The Henley Beach ticket that TSM bought and didn’t use may have been to throw someone following him of his trail. The ticket could have been purchased by TSM to see if anyone was following him before buying the ticket for the St. Leonards bus.
There are some other spy-related cases of the era that share similarities with TSM case. Captain Ulrich von der Osten was hit by a taxi in 1941 and ultimately died. His clothes had the labels removed and he turned out to be a spy. TSM spy theory doesn’t necessarily involve TSM himself removing the labels of his clothes. The murderer or an ally of TSM may have removed these items to thwart his identification.
The death of TSM also remains mysterious to this day and it has been theorised that he was killed in a separate location to where his body was found. The primary theory that TSM was poisoned is consistent with how a spy might be killed. The most commonly named poison: digitalis was what killed Harry Dexter White in August of 1948, just months before TSM was found deceased. It was later made public that White was a spy and involved in Operation Venona. This case involved a USA counterintelligence program that ran from 1943-1980 and involved decrypting Soviet Union intelligence messages. The poison in TSM case was undetected and this may have been the modus operandi of a spy.
The late 1940s involved a high degree of spying relating to the Cold War and some of this occurred in Australia. Two years prior to TSM’s death, the Woomera rocket range was announced as a project. This range was also located in the state of South Australia and involved military testing in conjunction with the United Kingdom.
Jessica was a communist and informed her child that she knew Russian. This may be why TSM had her phone number written down within The Rubaiyat. Jessica had also given The Rubaiyat to Alf Boxall in 1945 and he was involved in a special operations military unit and would be promoted to Lieutenant. When asked if TSM could have been a spy, Boxall responded with a carefully constructed and non-definitive answer, “It’s quite a melodramatic thesis isn’t it.”
Jessica’s own daughter, Kate, has proposed that TSM and Jessica were both spies. Jessica also said that TSM was “Known to a level higher than the police force.” This comment verges on a confession from Jessica that TSM was likely a spy or somehow involved in the intelligence community. For Jessica to use the term “higher than the police force” and to have known this fact, she too may have been a spy.
There are several key arguments against the spy hypothesis. Adelaide was a provincial backwater in 1948 with a population of around only 400,000. The Woomera rocket range was around 500km away from Adelaide and it’s difficult to imagine an espionage homicide trail playing out on the streets of humble Adelaide. The ASIO records from TSM era are now public and there are no mentions of Jessica Thomson within these. The background of Jessica is largely accounted for and there don’t seem to be any spaces to insert the occupation of ‘spy.’ The Rubaiyat had already been linked to Jessica through Alf Boxall in terms of romantic connotations and thus this second TSM linkage is also most likely love related. This is doubly likely when the love meanings within the book are examined. Boxall’s refusal to directly douse the spy hypothesis was, his family claims, due to his enjoyment of the spotlight and his nature as an exhibitionist. The supposed code within the back of The Rubaiyat doesn’t resemble any WWII codes and an analysis suggest that it’s likely an English initialism not a cipher.
There are alternative explanation for the lack of TSM’s labels, other than the spy hypothesis. These include him not wanting to be identified or Jessica not wanting her baby’s father’s identity known. If Robin was TSM’s child as the evidence may suggest then it is difficult to reconcile this factor with the spy hypothesis.
The Suicide Theory
The suicide theory obviously has as its central pillar TSM killing himself although there are many possible peripheral details to his suicide. The Tamam Shud (meaning finished) note in TSM’s pocket can be viewed as a suicide note of sorts. The links between the death of TSM and George Marshall are indisputable. Both had The Rubaiyat paraphernalia on their bodies and both were found near the water’s edge. The close proximity between Marshall’s death and Jessica within Sydney (and perhaps TSM) may indicate that TSM was aware of Marshall’s death through the media or local gossip. The fact that Marshall’s death was a clear case of suicide may indicate that TSM’s death was also suicide and a copycat version.
If Robin was TSM’s child then it would be make sense for TSM to see his child one last time and this would involve saying goodbye before killing himself. TSM was well dressed and this is sometimes a feature of suicides. The method of death of being poisoned seems to be the most likely manner in which TSM died and this is a common suicide routine. The labels may have been removed from TSM’s items because TSM had planned to kill himself and didn’t want his family or friends to find out.
The phone number in The Rubaiyat linked to Jessica may suggest that Jessica rejected TSM’s proposed relationship and this could have been part of the rationale for the suicide. The final possible meeting between Jessica and TSM on the 30th of November may have been TSM saying goodbye to Jessica or asking for her love. Jessica may have rejected this and hence TSM suicided. TSM may have brought The Rubaiyat with him to show Jessica or try and woo her with the love poetry to no avail and the tearing out of the words ‘Tamam Shud’ are then fittingly symbolic of the end of TSM’s life and the end of the relationship. TSM also may have asked Jessica if he could raise Robin or live with her and she said no thus prompting the suicide. The carelessly thrown out The Rubaiyat into a car may have been a sign of TSM’s anger at rejection.
The last quatrain of The Rubaiyat, above the torn words can be construed as a suicide note. Suicides are a common occurrence and if one views TSM’s death based on likelihood of events then the frequent nature of suicides is a much more plausible scenario than the other possibilities. The authorities widely viewed the case as a suicide and this is perhaps the simplest theory. Essentially, if you have a suicidal man who wants to see his son one last time before dying and he doesn’t want to be identified, then most of the events played out how one would expect.
There are several arguments against the suicide hypothesis. There was no poison or receptacle of any kind found near TSM’s body. If TSM did kill himself you would think he would have consumed the poison whilst lying on the beach in his final resting spot. Taking it earlier wouldn’t guarantee that he would be able to physically reach the beach. The exact type of poison wasn’t detected and a suicide in 1948 wouldn’t typically involve something like undetectable poison. There was no clear note found on TSM and the Tamam Shud paper was hidden making it hard to find. Normally a suicide note wouldn’t be as obscured because the person who had suicided would want it to be clearly found. A public beach, near some steps in the early evening in a new city does seem like a strange choice for a suicide. Indeed witness Olive Neill said of the man she spotted in the evening, “Where he was lying was a fairly public place, not the sort of place a man would be likely to choose if he wanted to go somewhere and die quietly.”
The Murder Theory
This theory excludes all remnants of the spy hypothesis. What TSM case is on the surface is a man who has died through a non-natural cause. His body is found an 800 metre walk away from someone he has the phone number of. TSM has likely come from interstate or overseas and knows only one person in the vicinity. These factors conspire to point the finger at Jessica as being the potential killer of TSM. If TSM was (as widely thought) inside Jessica’s house just before he died and then is found dead nearby, the timing and location do make things look suspicious for Jessica.
Kate, Jessica’s own daughter, did say that her mother had a “very strong dark side.” Kate also elaborated on this by stating that her mother told her that she lied to the police and did indeed know the identity of TSM.
One possible scenario involves TSM visiting Jessica and his child, Robin. TSM may have been upset that Jessica was claiming Prosper to be the father of the boy whilst TSM knew that he was the father. TSM may have wanted more time with Robin, to be allowed to raise him, to live with Jessica or he may have been threatening to expose Jessica’s situation of a false marriage and child out of wedlock. There are an abundance of potential reasons that Jessica may have felt cornered by TSM’s visit. Jessica was known to have a proclivity for pharmacology and she could have easily poisoned him. If she knew TSM was visiting in advance (as suggested by TSM having Jessica’s phone number), she would have had ample time to find a formulation that could kill him. This is where the murder theory diverges into three possible paths:
- A. TSM has been poisoned and Jessica asks him to leave the house so he walks down to the beach to lie down as he isn’t feeling well and dies there.
- B. TSM is brought to the beach deceased or close to deceased like the ‘Weekend At Bernie’s’ movie and placed onto the sand with a cigarette added to provide the illusion of life.
- C. TSM dies at Jessica’s house. She goes through the clothes he is wearing and removes the tags, wallet and hat as well as the Cloak Room receipt. TSM’s shoes are polished while the clothes are being examined. Being an avid fan of The Rubaiyat, Jessica can’t help but place the words ‘Tamam Shud’ into TSM’s fob pocket, perhaps to bolster the case for suicide or maybe she is angry with him and this is an extra touch of vengeance. When night-time arrives, Jessica enlists Prosper to drive or carry TSM down to the beach to dispose of his body. A random man with striped brown trousers was lying down and enjoying the beach the previous evening in the vicinity of where Prosper dumps TSM’s body. This is fortuitous for Jessica and Prosper as witnesses would come forward and falsely identify TSM as the same man seen alive the previous evening. Prosper adds the final touch of a cigarette on TSM’s lapel to give the illusion that he was alive and smoking in the beach location. Prosper notices a book in TSM’s jacket pocket and throws is into a car on Jetty Road. Prosper or Jessica travel to the Adelaide Railway Station and find TSM’s suitcase. They remove all identifiable and traceable labels from it and then return it.
The murder theory accounts for the lack of poison receptacle found at the scene. It also explains why there is not vomit in the vicinity of TSM and no clear signs of convulsions, these events occurred at Jessica’s house. The missing labels are simply to cover the Thomson’s tracks so TSM isn’t identified and the close proximity that TSM is found near the beach steps is due to Prosper struggling to carry him further. Jessica’s own daughter, Kate has even feared that Jessica may have killed TSM, “She said to me she, she knew who he was but she wasn’t going to let that out of the bag so to speak. There’s always that fear that I’ve thought that maybe she was responsible for his death.”
The murder theory runs into a litany of potential criticisms. ‘A’ suggesting that TSM was poisoned at Jessica’s house then walked down to the beach fails to take into account the typically immediate effects of poison. An 800 metre walk would be a Hurculean effort for someone who had been poisoned and would soon die. Also, the path from Jessica’s house to TSM’s final resting spot was largely south, parallel to the beach, surely this is a superfluous route for someone who had been poisoned and simply wanted to reach the seaside.
This theory also doesn’t explain when TSM’s clothing tags were removed unless they were done so at the beach. Doing so at the beach would seem to have a higher risk of getting caught near a body outweighing the benefits of removing the potentially traceable labels. The evidence around TSM on the beach also doesn’t suggest that the tags were removed at this location. There was only a trace of sand on TSM’s shoes and in his hair (presumably from the wind or seawall). If the labels had been removed from his body on the beach, this would involve TSM being forcibly rolled onto his face and other strange orientations in order to remove all of the labels. To be 100% sure that all labels were removed, he would have been covered in sand. The lack of sand on TSM’s body suggests that this beach label removal simply didn’t happen.
Also, if TSM was aware that he had been poisoned, he could have simply stopped someone on his route to the beach and asked for an ambulance and implicated Jessica. Jessica letting him out of the house would be risky in itself from her perspective.
The ‘B’ theory that TSM was taken to the beach in daylight hours has the problematic aspect of carrying a body and not being seen. Taking a body to a public area with houses overlooking the vicinity whilst people are milling around means that at least someone would have identified the suspicious behaviour and likely the culprits.
The ‘C’ theory overcomes this obstacle by suggesting that TSM was placed on the beach overnight. This theory does however neglect the plethora of sightings of a man lying in the same position TSM was the previous evening. The man from the previous night not only had such a “dead to the world” demeanour but also an awkward lying style at a very specific location. It was almost certainly TSM who was found deceased the next morning.
Theory ‘C’ also posits that the labels of the items within TSM’s suitcase and the clothing he was wearing were removed. This doesn’t seem like a priority if you have a deceased body. Also, it would be risky removing the labels from within the suitcase at a later time as the police could well be waiting for someone to claim the suitcase. The question also arises as to why return the suitcase after removing the labels, this seems like a superfluous and added risky act. Leaving the ‘Keane’ labels would also be a perilous strategy as this name could have been a friend or relative of TSM and his clothes were passed on to TSM; the clothes could perhaps be traced back to unmask TSM’s identity. Finally, adding a cigarette after placing the body doesn’t seem particularly useful. Surely getting a distance away from the body as fast as possible would be the main concern of the culprit. When people are typically murdered, the body isn’t moved several hundreds of metres away to a public location; instead, the murderer tends to bury the body in order to hide any trace of the person. It has to be queried why this didn’t happen with the possible murder scenario of TSM.
TSM Came To See Prosper Theory
The police were handed The Rubaiyat with the phone number ‘X3239’ written faintly in the back. There were two people who lived at the address of this phone number, Jessica who seemingly had few connections and Prosper who may have been involved in black market dealings, buying and selling items with an abundance of people and performing potentially shady dealings. TSM may have travelled to Adelaide to buy something from Prosper or sell an item to Prosper. Prosper had frequently left the phone number ‘X3239’ in newspaper advertisements and TSM may have written this down in The Rubaiyat. If a dealing went badly then it may have been in Prosper’s interest for TSM to be killed. TSM may have been a contact of Prospers from when Prosper lived interstate. TSM may have been in Adelaide to exact revenge or he may have been upset about something Prosper had done. The bank’s phone number in the rear of The Rubaiyat could have been for TSM to pay Prosper for a purchase or for Prosper to deposit money into TSM’s account. The lack of labels on TSM’s clothing could have been due to TSM’s work on the black market and criminal activity.
There are some potential problems with the Prosper- TSM connection theory. It is difficult to foresee a specific suicide scenario resulting from TSM seeing Prosper unless TSM was some relation or Prospers. This leaves the murder possibility which has been critiqued in the section above. TSM likely brought The Rubaiyat with him to Adelaide and this book had strong connections with Jessica indicating that TSM was in Adelaide to see her, not Prosper. If TSM was connected to Prosper’s business dealings, he would have likely told people he was travelling to Adelaide and the person would have been identified immediately when they didn’t return and TSM was found.
The Rape Theory
Although it is difficult to imagine TSM as malevolent, there is no evidence that he was virtuous. If TSM raped Jessica whilst she was in Sydney, a mechanism would be provided as to why she left Sydney hurriedly and fled to her parents’ house in Melbourne. Rapes are often done by someone close to the victim and TSM may have known Jessica by name and thus been able to track her down in Adelaide. It seems that Jessica was keen to hide the identity of the real father of Robin and the rape hypothesis provides a valid mechanism as to why. The rape would also provide an added explanation as to why she tried to commit suicide whilst in Melbourne. The situation would have been horrific for Jessica.
TSM may have wanted to track Jessica down for a number of reasons. These include him just finding out that he was a father, wanting to know if Jessica’s baby was his, to pursue a relationship with Jessica, to apologise for his actions or even to rape her again. The rape hypothesis not only explains Jessica concealing the baby’s father’s identity but also explains why she lied to police and why she attempted to cover up the situation. Jessica may have sought revenge on TSM for his actions and hardship caused and the visit would provide the perfect setting for her to poison him.
The rape scenario criticisms can be levelled into two areas. Firstly if TSM raped Jessica then came to visit her and committed suicide and secondly if the rape resulted in a visit and TSM was murdered. Both of these scenarios have been critiqued in the above sections. There are however some unique problems with the rape theory. The Rubaiyat was thought of by Jessica as a book of love poetry and this implies some sort of romantic connection between her and TSM who brought this book to Adelaide. TSM would have likely informed people he was travelling to Adelaide and therefore his disappearance would have been noted and thus he would have been identified. The story that a rapist would travel interstate to track the person they had raped 2 years earlier who now had a husband and child doesn’t necessarily correlate with the real world and seems quite outlandish.
The Accidental Death Theory
TSM had a spleen three times enlarged and liver problems that may have been pre-existing. The sizeable spleen would likely have been a pre-existing condition and TSM may have been in a weakened state. The accidental death theory splits down two paths:
- A. TSM was at Jessica’s house and an event occurred that resulted in the death of TSM. This may have entailed Jessica providing TSM with some painkillers and an accidental overdose ensued. Alternately, TSM may have experienced some form of allergic reaction to something Jessica provided him with. Another scenario is that Jessica and/or Prosper wanted to scare TSM and maybe wanted to sedate him but TSM reacted badly resulting in his death. The accidental death hypothesis fits in with Jessica’s favourite novel of Howards End. Within the text, an unplanned pregnancy occurs and the soon to be father is hit with the flattened part of a sword in order to scare him however his death results.
- B. TSM died on the beach due to the unique positioning of his body and head. The death was thus caused by positional asphyxiation and ultimately, TSM suffocated. This theory removes the need for a poison receptacle on the scene and takes into account the curious and somewhat unnatural body positioning TSM was found in. The weakened state of TSM with an enlarged spleen and liver problems may have predisposed TSM to positional asphyxiation. Taking certain drugs may also contribute to positional asphyxiation and it is plausible that TSM was on medication for his health problems. The lack of vomit in the vicinity of TSM is accounted for with this theory and this hypothesis also suggests that the eyewitness reports of a man lying on the beach on the evening of the 30th of November were accurate descriptions of TSM.
There are several potential criticisms of theory ‘A’: the death occurring accidentally at Jessica’s house. Many of the criticisms have been mentioned above due to the overlapping nature of the theories. Hypothesis ‘A’ likely means that the body seen the night before TSM was found dead was not TSM and this seems unlikely based on the eyewitness reports. The necessity to remove the labels from TSM’s clothes and suitcase is also questionable. Also the careful positioning of a cigarette on TSM’s lapel seems to involve a high degree of risk in terms of getting caught near a deceased body with no real purpose.
Theory ‘B’ involving accidental positional asphyxiation raises major questions as to why and who removed TSM’s labels and traceable identification from his clothes and within his suitcase. It’s possible that TSM always wore clothes and had items without labels for some reason, yet this seems unlikely. The major critique that can be levelled against this theory is that the words ‘Tamam Shud’ (meaning finished) were found in his hidden fob pocket. It is likely these words were placed there recently due to The Rubaiyat with the tear being found in a Jetty Road car probably on the evening of the 30th of November. The purposeful placing of these words on TSM indicates a level of intentionality pertaining to the death of TSM. The accidental positional asphyxiation theory doesn’t explain this aspect. The physiological findings of the autopsy of TSM seemed to convince all of the experts that TSM had died from poison. It seems unlikely that a positional asphyxiation death could so carefully mimic the effects of poison and thus fool all of the medical experts.
There are several further theories that may explain TSM case.
- A. It has been suggested that Jessica was a serial killer and TSM was one of her victims. Her interest in The Rubaiyat may have led her to place ‘Tamam Shud’ in her victim’s pockets. Occasionally in the news, an item appears discussing a nurse who euthanises a large number of patients- could Jessica have been such a nurse?
- B. TSM may have arrived in Adelaide with another person such as a brother. This person may have helped TSM commit suicide or indeed played a part in murdering him. This theory provides a rationale as to why there was no poison receptacle found near TSM’s body; the other person removed it. This secondary person may have also thrown The Rubaiyat into the back of the car. The mismatched cigarettes of TSM may have been provided by this secondary person. Also TSM’s could have been possessing this person’s comb hence why TSM was found with two combs. The hairpin found in TSM’s suitcase could have made its way there as he was travelling with a female and this item became mixed up amongst his possessions.
- C. TSM may have had some form of psychiatric condition. Trying to make sense of the bizarre elements of this case is therefore futile.
- D. TSM could have been the biological father of Jessica. If TSM was about 46 years old at death, he would have had Jessica as an 18 year old. This may also explain the genetic similarities between TSM and Robin as this would make him the grandfather. TSM going to an extra effort to present himself well on the 30th of November also correlates with something a father might do when seeing their daughter.
Theory ‘A’ that Jessica was a serial killer only provides a partial motive as to why TSM died but not an explanation of who he was and why has wasn’t identified. There is also no evidence that Jessica was in any way linked to other deaths. The euthanising nurse scenario lacks the evidence of Jessica doing this to any of her patients.
The ‘B’ hypothesis that TSM arrived in Adelaide with someone seems plausible. If the person assisted with TSM’s suicide or contributed to his murder then the previous objections of these categories largely remain relevant. If a second person travelled with TSM and was involved with his death, it raises the question as to why Jessica likely lied to police about not knowing TSM.
The ‘C’ explanation of a person having a psychiatric illness can be applied to any mysterious case with unusual happenings. There is nothing unique in TSM case to indicate that TSM had a psychiatric illness. The code written on the back of The Rubaiyat based on statistical analysis seems to reflect the first letters of English words and thus have some meaning. The words ‘Tamam Shud’ in the pocket of TSM suggest some knowledge of their meaning: finished. The case doesn’t seem to involve arbitrary actions but things that are linked together and make sense on some level.
The ‘D’ theory that TSM was Jessica’s biological father doesn’t have any evidence to support it. The romantic connotations of The Rubaiyat and unknown father of Robin dictate that it seems far more likely that TSM was the father of Robin as opposed to Jessica’s father. Pathologist, John Cleland estimated TSM’s age to be between 40 and 45 and Jessica’s age was 27 at the time of TSM’s death. This probably makes TSM too young to be Jessica’s father.
Part 8- My Theory
“Circumstances rule men, men do not rule circumstances” – Herodotus
In the shadow of WWII, Jessica Harkness worked as a student nurse within the confines of Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital. She shuffled from one room to the next on her usually tedious morning duties. She entered room 112 and provided the patient with the mandatory “Hello” before skim reading through his paperwork.
-Admitted July 27th 1946
-First name: Robert
-Disease status: Terminal
“How are you today?” a foreign voice chirped. The tone seemed incongruent with a person who had a terminal illness. Jessica hadn’t heard enough words to decipher a country of origin for the accent.
“Good thanks Robert” Jessica politely responded.
“Haha, most Aussies call me Rob” he chuckled.
The man had been lying flat on the hospital bed with his head resting against the back of the bed at a peculiar angle. He sat up, revealing broad shoulders that underlined his sharp jawline, grey eyes and light coloured hair.
“What part of America are you from?” Jessica probed, hoping she had correctly identified the accent.
“The North-East part” Robert replied before adding “I’ve been in Sydney for a couple of years for work.”
The conversation progressed from small talk and provided a refreshing escape from the job for Jessica and reciprocally provided Robert with a fleeting distraction from his health. Although the powerful accent drew Jessica’s attention initially, the man’s erudite background is what provided the spark. Before trudging on to the next hospital room, Robert gave his phone number to Jessica.
Jessica had memorised the hospital rules for nurses verbatim. Rule 7.1- Relationships with patients are strictly forbidden. It was as if these words only encouraged her. They provided a foundation for the rebellion. It was akin to someone writing ‘Do not open’ on a box thus transforming it into a box that begged to be opened. Just a year earlier Jessica had a flirty rendezvous with a married Mr. Boxall. Robert exemplified the forbidden facet of lust.
Consequential of several pub meetings, the pair’s attraction grew. They shared a common interest in the arts, had a shared penchant for progressive political views such as voluntary euthanasia and enjoyed a passion for the classics of literature. The couple often recited poems from The Rubaiyat to one another, providing a verbal outlet to cement their pent-up feelings. Jessica was obliged to keep this relationship clandestine. Her future career was at stake.
After several public meetings, Robert invited Jessica to his humble house located within the harbourside suburb of McMahons Point. Soon after this get together, Jessica discovered that she was pregnant. On rare occasions in life, an event occurs that dictates to you that your world will never be the same again. This was Jessica’s event.
The pregnancy consequences were immediately evident to Jessica: 1. She wouldn’t be permitted to become a nurse. 2. The father of the baby couldn’t help raise it due to a terminal illness. 3. She couldn’t disclose the relationship to anyone, firstly because the baby would be born out of wedlock and secondly as it belonged to one of her hospital patients. Another side effect of the unintended pregnancy dawned on Jessica: She wouldn’t be allowed to stay living in the nurse’s quarters of the hospital and would need a new abode. A sardonic underlining of the situation was Jessica’s morning sickness forcing her to miss her final nursing student exams. Jessica deeply considered her options regarding the trying situation. She finally decided to move in with her parents who lived in her childhood suburb of Mentone, Melbourne.
Within Mentone, Jessica constantly dwelled on her situation. A wasted period of time studying, a lack of a husband, a world void of stability and an impending child that she would have to raise alone and out of wedlock. She feared this last aspect particularly and the consequence of being shunned by society. The grievances accumulated and soon crescendoed with Jessica standing atop a cliff, intent on ending her life. She stood perched in this Schrodinger’s cat like state on the cusp of death and life.
Prosper Thomson navigated the corner. He noticed a silhouette resembling the Christ the Redeemer statue, immobile on the edge of the rock face. Prosper first recognised the vocal cries, then the petite body the voice belonged to and finally the face confirmed the person’s identity. The girl was a memory of his childhood- Jessica Harkness. The serendipity of Prosper’s timing and the meaning of his name, Prosper: to flourish, indicated to Jessica that this was a sign. Prosper talked Jessica down from the cliff, into his arms and listened to her travails. He also provided much more than this- solutions to her problems. “We move to Adelaide, away from the judging eyes of those who know us. Next, we get married and tell the world that the baby is ours.”
Jessica’s life had been on life-support. This was the resurrection she so desperately craved but couldn’t articulate. Although this was a skewed quid pro quo, in return, Jessica vowed to support the new image ‘family-man’ that Prosper wished portrayed. For Prosper this was for the ends of settling down and becoming a car salesman. At this stage, Jessica kept in vicarious touch with Robert who was in deteriorating health.
Prosper and Jessica settled down within the beachside area of Glenelg, a suburb that flanks Adelaide. This location appealed to Jessica who had always had a fondness for the seaside. A baby boy was born in July of 1947 and Jessica who had a tendency for wordplay named him in honour of ‘Robert of McMahons Point.’ Thus the given names, ‘Rob-in McMahon.’ Despite only the façade of the traditional family unit, the stresses of Jessica’s life diminished. Contrastingly, in Sydney, Robert was told at the Royal North Shore Hospital that he didn’t have much longer to live. He had a spleen approaching being three times enlarged, liver problems and a scattering of unpleasant symptoms that comprised his illness.
A lingering memory of a poetic suicide of sorts niggled at Robert. He recalled a proximate George Marshall having poisoned himself whilst lying down, overlooking the water. The Rubaiyat was opened on his chest and a quatrain was underlined pertaining to his life and death. George had given a friend a sum of money prior to the suicide however the friend later killed herself. This was perhaps due to the stress of testifying at the inquest into George’s death. Robert wanted to rebel against his illness. He didn’t fancy being killed by his disease and he wanted to control his destiny. Robert also wanted to avoid making the mistake of George’s suicide and not harm those around him. He concocted a plan and phoned Jessica to discuss the logistics of implementing it. A sympathetic Jessica reluctantly agreed to help.
Robert falsely informed his local friends that he was leaving Sydney and returning to his home country of America. They never knew of his illness with Robert reasoning that his disease was less realistic if people weren’t aware of it. He removed the identifiable and traceable labels from his clothing and belongings before catching the train from Sydney to the interim outback mining town of Broken Hill. During the journey, Robert wrote prolifically to his friends and family in America; people he had hidden his illness from. He told them a semi-truth, a white lie that people have a tendency of justifying the telling of to themselves. Robert wrote that he was married in Australia and had fathered a one year old boy. He expanded on this, with padding details he thought consolidated a lie. His elaboration stated he was living a happy life and would reside in Australia permanently although he would live in a remote town that didn’t receive the post. Upon arrival in Broken Hill, Robert stretched his legs and posted his letters, knowing the Broken Hill stamp mark would be visible to those receiving the letters. He then relaxed by skimming his feet along a rare patch of Broken Hill grass. It was the small things in life that you appreciate when facing death.
On-board the Adelaide bound train, Robert lit one of his last remaining Army Club brand cigarettes. Smoking it reminded him of the train ejecting smoke. He was like a Russian nesting doll inside the train. Robert replenished his supply by purchasing some loose Kensitas brand cigarettes from a fellow traveller on the train however their unfamiliar flavour tarnished their appeal. Robert then read poems from The Rubaiyat to himself; a lonely contrast to the halcyon days of sharing the poetry with Jessica. This thought encouraged him to pen his own quatrain to Jessica. He tried to memorise the poem by pencilling in the first letters of the words on the worn back cover of his copy of The Rubaiyat.
Robert awoke from what he imagined was a few hours seep as the train tottered to a stop. He made inquiries that led to a shower and shave at the adjacent City Baths. Robert laid out and dressed himself in his final attire. He then drenched his shoes in brown shoe polish as the final touch to his appearance. Robert was dressed smartly for Jessica although wore excess layers to account for his illness symptoms. His next duty in Adelaide was to deposit his travelling suitcase inside the railway’s Cloak Room. Robert then asked the ticket seller at the Adelaide Railway Station which train travelled closest to Glenelg.
“The Henley Beach train is what you’re after” the man insisted “Although you’ve still got yourself a bit of a walk.”
“Okay, I’ll take a ticket” Robert replied.
“One-way or return?” The man queried.
“Just one-way” Robert said mournfully as it dawned on him what he was doing.
Robert then reflected on the conversation and asked a local how long it would take to get from Henley Beach to Glenelg. The local informed Robert that the walk was indeed too far and his most efficient route would be the bus that travelled to St. Leonards. On the bus, Robert pulled out his copy of The Rubaiyat and reflected on his memories this book had brought him in life as well as the lessons imparted. He flipped to the back cover and used the letters to recite the quatrain he had written.
As the bus reached its destination, Robert disembarked and proceeded to withdraw his life’s saving from a local bank. His forethought meant that he could store the money in the 4 pairs of socks he had brought with him that he in turn stored in his pockets. Robert arrived at Jessica’s house and embraced her. He was then guided to Robin’s room and his eyes connected with the child. The baby’s resemblance to him was uncanny. From the grin, to the same twinkling eyes and ear shape. Seeing Robin in the flesh was a key motivator for the journey. This was his legacy for the world. Robin spent the afternoon sitting on Robert’s lap. As children have a supernatural knack of doing, Robin’s sticky hand left a mark on his father’s trousers. In a way this was emblematic of the impression Robin left on Robert.
Robert handed Jessica his socks, filled to the brim with money. Jessica was moved to tears; she hadn’t expected this. Robert insisted that his savings be spent on raising Robin and providing him with the best childhood imaginable. He stipulated that ballet lessons would be suited to Robin. For several hours, the two adults and Robin wove together poignant memories; reminiscent of what life could have been like if not for Robert’s illness. Robert recalled the poem he had specifically written for Jessica.
The last piece of the plan orchestrated by Jessica and Robert was to be put in place. Jessica grabbed The Rubaiyat of Robert’s and drew two lines.
“These are the stairs leading down to the beach. This cross here is where you will lie down relative to the stairs.” Jessica added more specifics, “Walk straight down to the Esplanade and turn left. You will go down to this lot of steps at Bickford Terrace. It is away from the house, the first group of stairs are just too close and suspicious. 6 PM is the time.” Jessica handed Robert two bottles.
Robert emotionally left Jessica and Robin and walked north to Jetty Road to appreciate a final supper of sorts. He enjoyed a pasty. On Jetty Road he reiterated his plan to himself. Robert’s body would be unidentifiable to save Jessica from any inquiries or criminal convictions. He also knew Jessica didn’t want Robert to be known as Robin’s father. He patted his jacket pocket and felt the outline of The Rubaiyat. Robert had thought obsessively about this. He had considered an open The Rubaiyat on his body but thought this was too derivative of George Marshall. Instead Robert ripped out the parting words of the book, ‘Tamam Shud.’ They appeared above his favourite quatrain. The poem that he hoped people would celebrate his life by:
And when like her, oh Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter’d on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One- turn down an empty Glass!
He pulled out his watch from his trousers fob pocket. It showed 5:30 PM. He placed the words ‘Tamam Shud’ into this pocket as a final epitaph. He threw his watch into a bin. Robert considered throwing The Rubaiyat into the bin also but second guessed himself. He reasoned that the book may change someone else’s life like it did his. He tossed it into a Hillman Minx car parked on Jetty Road- the last car on the road before the corner.
Robert ventured south. He walked along The Esplanade road that hugged the contours of the sand. As instructed, at Bickford Terrace, he spotted the steps he was to descend. Robert sniffed the air. A salty-seaweed amalgam filled his nostrils. As Robert descended the 25 steps he noticed the parted clouds framing the sun which in turn illuminated the sand. The scene was heavenly. Robert lay against the seawall in order to prop his head up and take in the ambiance. He swallowed the digitalis tablets with a drink and placed the receptacle and bottle into his hat, sitting it down next to his body. Robert lit a cigarette and began to smoke it. This was short-lived hedonism. Jessica had been watching from a distance. She cautiously navigated the stairs and subtly grabbed Robert’s hat containing the contents. Jessica rubbed his cheek with the back of her hand and then left, leaving only her footsteps in the sand. Robert’s footprints had stopped forever at his body yet his journey would not be finished. It would be continued by Robin.
“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill
Once each mosaic piece of TSM case has been examined, the mystery makes less sense. There seems to be no likely and consistent theory accounting for how TSM died; yet we know he died. The identity of this perplexing person remains a mystery yet it seems probable that he fathered Robin. The idiosyncratic removed labels, lack of socks, mismatched cigarettes and unused train ticket are proverbially hors d’oeuvre mysteries preceding the crux of the case- how does one explain The Rubaiyat code and ‘Tamam Shud’ slip of paper? This article has attempted to provide theories and possible answer for every question. Despite the widespread ardent conjecture, many of the answers to the case likely went to the grave with TSM. An exhumation of TSM could unearth some much sought after answers. The words ‘Here lies the unknown man’ currently ornament TSM’s West Terrace grave. The sands of time will hopefully one day trace out a name on the plaque for the Somerton Man.
More background to work with for the case…
Mainstream morality is Christian conservative.
Laws of the time. Murder: death penalty. Abortion: considered murder. Assist in suicide: considered murder. Failed suicide: fined and/or pay court costs and/or mental treatment. Non-heterosexual acts: arrest, possibly(?) mental treatment.
Social stigmas. Pregnancy outside of wedlock. Birth outside of marriage. Not knowing who the paternal father is. Sex before marriage (traditional, particularly for females), marriage infidelity, not attending church services.
After the turmoil of WWII the Cold War sets in. Very much a man’s world.
Re: Accidental Death Theory ‘B’. Factor in PT as enlisted on strength. Fireman’s carry. Unique positioning of body and pooling of blood at crown of head. Livor mortis.
Thw time of death i think might need revisin. At 7 pm a couple spoted a man lifting his arm and letting it fall to his side. There is a little know reflex called the lazurus sign in which brain dead lif the arms and drop it eitheron the side or cross their chest
Re:TSM physical condition. Being a station hand that was enlisted to a light horse brigade would account for the developed calf muscles and wedge shaped toes. Gloves for the smooth hands with no evidence of manual labour. Recent abrasions on the deceased between knuckles? Ask a stenciller (or sign painter or artist) to demonstrate how they hold their brush. Chief Superintendent Brown quoted on short-lived ABC TV documentary series Inside Story, episode title: The Somerton Beach Mystery (1978), “He would most likely have been a Third Officer on board a ship because at that time that was part of a Third Officer’s duties is to stencil the cargo”. Feltus’ book, the Unknown Man, records that an ABC employee in Sydney recognised the deceased as his sister’s husband who’d (apparently) worked with navy and headed to Adelaide, by rail, supposedly for employment purposes. Feltus’ book also notes that police case taskforces were not in place there around 1948.
Regarding the overlooking man…
There is a fair behavior in thee,
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of
I will believe thou hast a mind that
With this thy fair and outward
I prithee—and I’ll pay thee
Conceal me what I am, and be my
For such disguise as haply shall
The form of my intent.
Act I. Scene ii. Twelfth Night, Or What You Will. By: William Shakespeare.
The green soap dish (pictured: soap box) with “normal hairpin typically worn by females” in it may support the money-in-socks as payment theory with the hairpin used as paper money clip disguised in the soap box.
Ten indicators that he may have been a ballet dancer
(1) His wedge-shaped feet. A physical peculiarity often shared by ballet dancers.
(2) The unusual, muscular development of his calves. A physical development often shared by male ballet dancers.
(3) His highly developed physique. A physical development often shared by male ballet dancers.
(4) His large hands, smooth palms and well-tended fingernails. A common adjunct to the overall appearance of professional male ballet dancers.
(5) The tools found in his suitcase. Suitable for making / repairing ballet slippers.
(6) The dark powder shaken from a brush found in his suitcase. Possibly dark rosin powder of the type used by ballet dancers to prevent slippage.
(7) His lower body suntan. Not unusual to be found on the bodies of male ballet dancers, many of whom were known to visit metropolitan beaches whilst performing in Australia.
(8) The heavy metal traces found in his hair. A ingredient present in make-up compounds commonly used by ballet dancers.
(9) Sand found in the cuffs of a pair of his trousers. Not unusual to be found in the clothing of ballet dancers who were known to visit metropolitan beaches whilst performing in Australia.
(10) A possible influence on Robin Thomson, his alleged son, who became one of Australia’s better known ballet dancers.
Lifted from here:
Read (7) only followed by (9) only. Perhaps some of these ballet dancers visited the beaches of metropolitan Australia whilst wearing cuffed trousers pulled down to their ankles.
Why didn’t I think of that?
It was Neil McRae who found Keith Mangnuson (who claimed to know the identity of TSM) and deceased son, Clive.
I have it as this. Neil, Keith and JEstyn were together at Heidelberg Military Hospital. If I recall correctly, my source for this was a post to Nick Pelling’s ciphermysteries website.
If the post is accurate, then I say JEstyn was holding court at the hospital with at least the other two as her subjects. They listened to her thesis about the Rubaiyat and euthanasia.
So, when Neil came across his mate Keith, he assumed that – given the unnamed by the media nurse who had her number found in the deceased TSM’s Rubaiyat – the nurse may have something to do with Keith’s disappearance.
Neil, almost certain who the nurse may be, tries to draw her out with… his “dream of where the father and son were the previous night” via the press.
The nurse had nothing to do with Keith’s disappearance and Clive’s tragic death. Was it war neurosis? Or, was it the Fourth Man and his female partner?
There was never any evidence forthcoming to suggest that Jestyn, Keith or Neil were ever in Heidelberg together and If it had have been seen on Pelling’s site, it would have been promptly dismissed as a furphy.
Re: HC Reynolds as TSM.
Someone on the Websleuth website posted a genuine Seaman’s ID card for comparison with HC Reynold’s ID card.
“Searches by the US National Archives, UK National Archives and Australian War Memorial Research Centre – at the request of the Sunday Mail – have not uncovered any records relating to the H. C. Reynolds in the ID card.” – Sunday Mail (SA), 20 NOV 2011.
The Unknown Man at Somerton was linked to UK and US clothing. HC Reynolds was supposedly UK-born travelling on a US-issued Seaman’s ID card.
Fake ID? Anyone?
Perhaps it was this HC Reynolds who introduced Boxall to Jestyn. Might explain why Boxall was so ruthlessly shut out of the Transported Man illusion.
No 4 Marlborough Street, Henley Beach? Perhaps the house numbers on Marlborough Street have been re-numbered as No 4 is near the junction with Tapleys Hill Road, Fulham Gardens-nowhere near the railway line. Prosper was living at 7 Main Street, Henley Beach, and at that time, about a 20 second walk to the Henley Beach railway terminus (site now occupied by SAPOL). Clive T.
@ Clive T
Thanks for the info about Prosper’s Main Street, Henley Beach address; this is curious. I’ve edited the article to include this in it.
According to this ad: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/44931914 (the bottom of the first column) the 4 Marlborough St address was in Henley Beach in 1950. The street directory I’ve been using as a resource (http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Gregorys1936Adelaidedirectory.pdf) is from 1936 (so a few years early). On page 25, Marlborough is a short street only in Henley Beach. Strangely, on page 26, there is a ‘Marlboro Ave’ listed that is a short street that veers off Tapleys Hill Road. I assume that the 2 roads have now merged and the street numbers are relatively new hence number 4 now being at the Tapleys Hill Road end.
Thanks again for the comment.
There was no 7 Main Street according to S & Mc of ’47, with Military road running between 5 and 9, but there was a 7 Marlborough St. with a Miss Ward listed as tennant if that helps.
Living a 4 Marlborough St. HB was Paul Bethge originally out of Port Germain and Victor Harbour, presumably a tailor like his namesake dad from Germany and born circa. ’06 Aust. We did speak a bit about him quite some time back I seem to recall.
I think that Prosper was living at Main St, Henley Beach in early 1947. Two questions that are intriguing and remain unanswered, as far as I am aware are:
1.When did Jessie move to Adelaide?
2.What was her address?
Yes, I know, just two questions, out of all the hundreds that still remain unanswered, especially how Jessie managed to describe herself as “Sister Thomson” in the Adelaide telephone book in 1948!
Interesting that telephone number L8409 was for 4 Marlborough St, I’m presuming that Prosper was responsible for the advert in “The Advertiser” 13 May 1948 Page 8. He also advertised in the same newspaper on 28 Feb 1948 Page 12 giving his telephone number as X3239. So, it looks possibly that Jessie lived at 4 Marlborough St and/or at 90a Moseley St-was this a ploy by Prosper to keep his wife, Queenie, from finding Jessie’s address?
Re: Sister Thomson. Upthread, I posted hints that gender identity may factor into this unknown deceased case.
This from the current entry on Wikipedia. “Sissy is a pejorative term, especially in the U.S., for an effeminate boy or man, with connotations of being homosexual or cowardly.” An article on Vice(dot)com claims the term “sister” in this context was coined by African-American drag queens.
Now, here’s what I propose the conversation between “Teresa” (nee: Jessica) and Boxall went like. Keep in mind their two meetings were briefly over a “quick snort” of prohibition alcohol.
Boxall is introduced to Tess. Tess would be aware not to ask an enlisted man during wartime any sensitive information. Also, keep in mind that in 1942 the marriage age for women was raised from 12 to 14 for women and 14 to 16 for men in Tasmania. Other Australian states followed suit and a woman’s place was in the kitchen, not getting tertiary education for a career path.
AB: “Pleased to meet you. So you’re a nurse, eh?”
Tess: “That’s right.”
AB: “Your husband must give you a big stick to beat all us wounded ones off.”
Tess: “Well, I’m not…”
AB: “Pardon me for intruding. Listen,I was born in London. Hammersmith to be exact. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s quite famous.”
Tess: “Sorry, I haven’t. What’s it famous for?”
AB: There’s a massive picture theatre there. The Gaumont Palace. Seats well over 3000 people. It gets all sorts of colourful people in. Theatrical types. Mums and dads. Kids.”
Tess: “I take it you’re married.”
AB: “Yes, with one child.”
Tess: “Was your wife born here?”
AB: “Yes, she was.”
Tess: “I don’t know how she could cope with the thought of losing you to the… oh, I’m sorry.”
AB: “The war? No fear of losing me to the war. It’s as good as over.”
Something along those lines. I’m open to correction on Boxall’s first child being named Lesley which, I believe, was a middle name for one of Tess Thomson’s children.
Anyway, at their second meeting by chance Tess makes sure to bring her personalised Rubayat, inscribed with a boy’s name, Jestyn. It’s an obscure name. Ironically, it means: popular. Jestyn gives the Rubaiyat to Boxall and explains to him about the Cup Bearer, the Saaki, of Persian poetry and how it’s gender ambiguous.
The Rubaiyat was a Malay-English edition. Malay is the national language of Singapore. It’s also where Joseph Saul Haim Marshall was born. You know. The Jewish fellow who was declared suicide by poison near where Tess and Boxall met. Found with his body was a copy of the Rubaiyat and a newspaper (making sure his death is noticed by the press).
I am of the opinion Jestyn was setting herself up to be a sort of quasi-spiritual to those like her and Marshall with gender dysphoria. Her guide book being the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Jestyn may have felt this was the reason she was born the way she was. Her purpose. To make the world a more colourful place.
She’d be the one who placed and arranged stones in the Jewish tradition by the grave of the Unknown Man at Somerton.
AFAIK, Alfred Boxall was introduced to Jestyn at a Clifton Gardens bar. But, by whom? Was there a reason?
Clifton Gardens, the suburb, is located in an isolated area right in the middle of the entrance to Sydney Harbour at Chowder Bay. Access back then may have been by tram and ferry (nowadays there’s an infrequent bus service). To get there from Randwick Council area where Boxall resided and worked would have been a long-ish out of the way journey even by direct tram. Perhaps, he did some temp work in the Chowder Bay area?
This, from a post by Steve Langley to mosmanmemories(dot)net.”It was wonderful to sit in a building that was once filled with the military personnel of the Chowder Bay Army Water Transport Base…”
A reason may have been the Sydney Push movement. It was a predominantly left-wing intellectual subculture in Sydney from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Bogle and Chandler were part of it.
Jo Thomson had 2 children and neither of their middles names were Lesley.
The “overlooking man” and the “warm weather overcoat wearer” were the one and the same disguised, Jestyn. She had recently severed ties with Alfred Boxall so as to effect a consummate performance.
This, from the current Wikipedia entry for, Travesti (theatre), “Until the late 17th century in England and the early 19th century in the Papal States – although not elsewhere in Europe – women were conventionally portrayed by male actors (usually adolescents) in drag because the presence of actual women on stage was considered immoral.”
Somerton Beach SA in 1948 from 30th November to 01st December overnight (no Daylight Saving) there was a new, not full, moon. Streetlights went on about 19:30 to 20:00, if I recall correctly.
As can happen after dress rehearsal…
a best laid plan has come undone.
I cracked the code in 2012 when it was published in the SMH.
The code is someone dictating the direction he has to go once he gets off the bus/train.
so “turn left at the cross road would be “TLATCR”
If you get the map I traced a route that fitted the letters. I got stuck on QC (but my notes say ‘Queens College”?)
the W or M is actually 2 parallel lines denoting the road/train track with a zigzag between them
the 2 parallel horizontal lines after the second line with a X means “cross the river”
Note that he gets the 2nd line wrong as the dictator revises the second line.
The deleted second line is repeated with corrections in the 3rd line – after he crosses the bridge.
This explains the untidy writing – its written in haste prob over the phone- prob using one hand.
Also its written using a fountain pen or nibbed pen which you can see if you zoom up the writing.
He prob borrowed that too.
Find the dictator for more info !!!
if it was a secret code he would have been much neater and unhurried.
Also if it was a secret code you wouldnt write it in the back of a book like that!
The Rubaiyat was irrelevant in the “code”.
He grabbed the first piece of paper he could find which was the book , and then tore out the instructions.
He was in a hurry.
How did he die? again most obvious – natural causes. stroke? heat stroke?
he had a cigarette half burnt hanging out of his mouth. This was not a painful death.
If he was poisoned or ill he wouldnt feel like smoking!
He prob was going for a job interview, hence suit (on a hot day!) and polished shoes,
And his tool kit in the case.
Im sure the undesirables at midnight would have taken opportunity to rob him.
No one goes around with no cash at all on them during a trip. Even if he had given it away he would retain some cash for travel and phone.
He was robbed. The most logical conclusion
Life is very logical most of the time.
Its not Sherlock Holmes which would be very boring if true.
Logic is very boring but is the usual solution.
So no Russian spies, no poison, no micro dots!!
just a hurried route dictation.
By an ordinary guy who may have popped in to see his X
cheers paul simpson, sydney
BTW the left hand “I” at the beginning of the last line i think is “road” – 2 parallel lines-not an “I”
I did this in 2012 and havent had time to reconstruct the route . Ill leave that to you!
so there may be an error or 2 eg ‘bridge’ maybe ‘river’ etc
I didn’t do much with the ‘V’ or ‘I’ just called em tracks, followed by Tram Terminus Moseley Tartlton Somerton Alvington Mansion STairway, Glenelg Along Beach. That was the last part of a simple ‘there & away’ directional instruction effort which did include the bus journey to St. Leonard and the long walk to Somerton via Adelphi Anzac and Colley ? from memory of four years ago which didn’t turn out to be a crown pleaser, for in those days there tended to be a little more friction between the SM punters and I came along as a newby with no provinance.
1910 A5h5 r r Newland
1921 Eva Cos t er
194 Joseph Marshall
A few questions yet unanswered …
Why did Jessica Harkness tell the police everything she knew about Alfred Boxall yet nothing of the Somerton Man .. ?
Why didn’t Harkness tell the police anything about the Somerton Man .. ?
Why was she shocked to see his likeness .. ?
Why wasn’t she categorised as a Person of Interest .. ?
Why wasn’t there a follow up interview .. ?
Why wasn’t Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks, Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, asked for an opinion on the condition of his feet .. ?
Why was it left to Paul Lawson, Taxidermist .. ?
Why were there no socks in his luggage when he carried spare ties, shirts, trousers, underpants, singlets, coat, shirt, comb … ?
Why wasn’t Harkness asked by Feltus if her pet name was Jestyn .. ?
Why was a box of Bryant and May matches later included in his possessions .. ?
Why were two tickets left in his pocket when everything else that identified him was taken .. ?
Why did these tickets lead back to the train station and the suitcase .. ?
Why didn’t the police pursue this line of enquiry .. ?
Why did they wait for Detective Brown to issue a general enquiry about missing luggage before the police visited the train station luggage office .. ?
Why wasn’t anyone seen lying by the Childrens Home steps before 7:30 pm or after 8:30 pm on the night of November 30th .. ?
Why has SA Major Crimes taken possession of the previously authorised DNA samples legally obtained by analyst Blackie .. ?
Why, considering they took them over seventeen months ago, did it take so long for the seizure to be publicly known .. ?
Why was Gordon Strapp’s Deposition ignored when it would have effected the inquest outcome .. ?
Why do we take for granted that Littlemore’s question to Boxall about involvement in Intelligence related to his service with the Nackeroos .. ?
Why do we believe the Nackeroos were involved in Intelligence when they were a commando style unit .. ?
Why then did Boxall admit working with Intelligence .. ?
Why didn’t Stuart Littlemore ask Boxall if he knew a man named Keane .. ?
Why didn’t Littlemore ask Boxall if he knew Harkness as Jestyn .. ?
Why was the identity of Chemist Freeman withheld for seventy years .. ?
Why did the lividity on his upper body contradict the position his body was found in .. ?
Why did Harkness, a young single woman, give Boxall, an older married man, a copy of the Rubaiyat prior to his overseas posting .. ?
Why didn’t Boxall’s wife give him a copy of the Rubaiyat prior to his overseas posting .. ?
Why would Harkness inscribe Boxall Verse 70 when her relationship with him was only occasional .. ?
Why did he have Kensitas cigarettes in an Army Club packet .. ?
Why was a handkerchief, singlet and a pair of jockey underpants added to his possessions .. ?
Why wasn’t Harkness asked if she had any digitalis in the house .. ?
Why wasn’t Prosper Thomson asked if he took digitalis for his haemoptysis .. ?
Why didn’t the police pursue this line of enquiry .. ?
Why was a half-smoked cigarette found on the body when he didn’t have the means to light it .. ?
Why didn’t Stuart Littlemore ask Boxall if Harkness wrote the inscription .. ?
Why weren’t the airlines checked for arrivals on or about November 30th .. ?
Why wasn’t the Rubaiyat handed in before the inquest .. ?
Why has the code defied generations of code-breakers .. ?
Why were his feet ‘wedge shaped’ .. ?
Why didn’t the ABC interviewer ask Kate Thomson if her mother’s pet name was Jestyn .. ?
Why was the cigarette found on the body not retained as evidence .. ?
Why was there no correspondence in his suitcase when he had enough envelopes to suggest he wrote regularly .. ?
Why don’t we know who marked up the code .. ?
Why was the code marked up .. ?
Why were there no scorch marks on his skin or clothing given he had a partly smoked cigarette wedged under his chin .. ?
Why did he have such an exceptional physique .. ?
Why didn’t the police take note of the number of second-hand, already inscribed Rubaiyats on the used book market .. ?
Why wasn’t Jessica Harkness interviewed, for the record .. ?
Why did Leane’s Deposition include a box of Bryant and May matches when his initial listing of possessions didn’t .. ?
Why did Leane’s Deposition differ from Moss’ in regard to the box of Bryant and May matches .. ?
Why did it take so long for the police to find out what Tamam Shud meant, seeing as the Rubaiyat was very popular in Australia .. ?
Why was he stripped of all his identity .. ?
Why are we accepting that Jessica was nicknamed Jestyn .. ?
Why didn’t Feltus ask Harkness if she was known as Jestyn .. ?
Why are we accepting that the man seen the night before was the same man seen in the morning .. ?
Why were there abrasions on the knuckles of his right hand .. ?
Why would the police have thought a ship’s 3rd Officer would improvise his own tools .. ?
Why did he have cigarettes and no matches .. ?
Why has the witness statement that tells of a man carrying a man along the foreshore on the night of the 30th been withheld .. ?
Why was the only officially released image of the code marked up .. ?
Why isn’t there a photo of the unmarked code .. ?
Why has SA Major Crimes held the DNA samples for over seventeen months .. ?
Why was Senior Government Analyst Cowan unable to identify a black powder shaken from a brush that was part of a homemade set of tools taken from the man’s luggage .. ?
Why does the thought occur that the man has already been identified by SA Major Crimes through their analysing of the samples taken from analyst Blackie .. ?
.. why does the thought occur that the any official findings of the DNA samples will be suppressed .. ?
Neither Margaret Grasby or Effie Collyer, being fortunate enough to have brothers, we are no doubt missing a brother in law for either of the Freeman’s lads Col or Jack, thereby leavingtheir alleged connection to a Hillman Minx somewhat short on a pure factual basis. Perhaps Derek Abbott’s alternates, Dr.Doug Hendrickson and brother-in-law Dr. Graeme Robson may have been a better bet afterall As a matter of pure speculation, all too common throughout SM related online offerings these days, neither Jack or Collin Freeman, nor their up town ladies, would have lowered their status by driving or being seen in a lowly Roots made vehicle. In Adelaide of the day, Coventry Motors, owned by Maggie Freeman’s Dad, were S. A. distributers of prestigious post war Armstrong Sidley models like the Lancaster Saloon and sporty drop-head Hurricane Coupe, either of which woud be deemed more in keeping with the status of our friends. Speaking of Prestige, Century Autos could have done a fair deal on a pre loved, pre war re duco’d and doco’d fully imported Minx (NZ) with an ROK giveaway in it’s open parcel tray, Mrs. Page would surely vouch for that, woulnd’t she Prosper?..
This will hopefully serve to correct a mindset that has apparently prevailed with undoubting universal acceptance. That is until details surfaced on the excellent anemptyglass site recently, all to do with similar design concepts of SM’s trousers, one worn and one stored ie. dark pair of Stamina and a like pair of Marco Exacto-fits. Both brands essentially alike, were of a self supporting design pioneered by Marco Manly Isaacs in 1931. The all important self supporting priciple relied upon a tough expanding part elasticised belt and cross over flap, partly housed within a cavity formed in the waist lining so as to move freely through it. From 1942 the elastic extension was dicarded (war shortage) the flap merely extending further into the recess. We’ve seen a slightly different double flap design registered after WW2 by the company, though we don’t recall it from our personal experience with the Marco brand…..Down to the nitty gritty, folks can forget all the various leads about fob pockets, which SM’s pants may not even have had, secret sown in pouches and even coat pockets (Leane ’77) effectively concealing the elusive Tamam Shud slip until April ’49. We suspect that it was located, initially by Det. Harry Strangways, at the scene or shortly after, who must then for some reason have disclosed this to Jim Cowan his associate from the munitions factory (1942-45), known to have been present with J.B. Cleland and R.L. Leane when it was extracted with tweasers from it’s rather clever hiding place. There you have it and hopefully cut, dried and ready for universal acceptance until discounted by our honourable detractors..
It would have fallen out during the fireman’s carry.
Or when the coroner’s removed the trousers from the body.
As an out of turn postscript to our previous offering on the trousers, we’ve come to the conclusion that the rather delapidated pair of Elastofits being held up for Lionel Leane’s appraisal by Dave Bartlett in the pic, are almost certainly post 1942 duds re-configurated to have the non elastised flap extend further from it’s original elasto sleeve, stayed now by adhoc tacking. Such a set-up would allow for creation by the wearer of a secret recess nook for pound notes or TS slips etc.. This pair were more likely to have come from the new military uniform factory at Wollongong NSW, than from a mysterious Wilson contract in Victoria identified by Feltus in his publication.
Where have I read that voice before, We ?
The only answer that We of the never never can offer with any degree of confidence in respect of Peteb’s quiz, relates to our man’s exceptional physique. Shoulders like Joe Louis, hands like dinner plates and calf muscles like Johnny Raper’s sister, are only common to one calling in our estimation. Ever heard of circus high wire trapeze catchers, the unsung heroes of the ‘big top’ troupes in the old days. Most likely a little over the hill for Worth’s and fancyTivoli stage shows but still a sight in his fancy togs and 204B MacNaughts. Now there’s your SM; unless of course he was a carnival axeman which must also be considered. A pretty beach Bolshoi ballet dancer nor a 7 stone 5 foot jockey, both of which are currently favoured by two blogheads we’re aware of, would of course not come within cooee of SM’s proportions unless their combined physical attributes might be melded into a single entity to compensate.
Same. The masked man that terrorised Ms. R. KWM turned out to be a young lady from Larg Bay (questioned by SAPOL) cutting connections.
Wednesday 22nd June, 1949.
An Adelaide newspaper reported a young lady from Largs Bay questioned over the masked man that “terrorised” Ms. Roma, her family and certain dignitaries within the local community; Detective Bond investigating.
The terroriser being a young lady masked as a man.
Now, where have we heard that voice before?
I thought of another one but don’t want to be to be flogging a dead corpse
Advertiser, Adelaide SA
Wednesday 22 June 1949, page 2
CURIOUS ASPECTS OF UNSOLVED BEACH MYSTERY
“…the same man had frightened a young woman in a nearby district who had also lost her husband in tragic circumstances.”
Advertiser, Adelaide SA
Wednesday 22 June 1949, page 1
POLICE QUERY WOMAN OVER PHONE CALLS
“There was a surprise development in the ‘Mangnoson phone call case’ today when police questioned a young Largs North woman about having made calls threatening violence.’
BREAKING SOMERTON’S FOURTH WALL
Boxall responds to the interviewer. The edit cuts short Boxalls cheeky grin. He knows the nurse will be watching when the doco goes to air on national TV.
The nurse’s heart skips a beat. He’s used that line before. Over 30 years ago. She swore to repent no more. On his return she’d be true. For herself and others like her.
Despite the years. Despite their distance. Despite her denial. Boxall still remembered. Still accepted. Caring enough to exit with this final impression…
The seconds tick by as the interviewer awaits his reply. Boxall knows he’ll have an audience. There’s only one viewer he wants to connect with. To let her and only her know…
“Quite a melodramatic thesis, isn’t it?”
What ever the metal object is between the Lyon brand toothpaste and the type face cleaning brush, amongst the suitcase contents, does not seem to be described in the list shown below. It has the typical configuration of a mini frame hacksaw set up, as used by locksmiths and tool setters etc. The piece has some form of whitish residue on the blade which may prove more identifiable with photo enhancing.
Would the author of this most informative blog be able to advise whence the artist’s impression of the beach body’s pocket contents derived eg. from a newspaper of the time as it appears to be, from a related publication or perhaps posted on an SM web site. We are particularly interested in the detail ie. ‘federal matches’ as opposed to most oft mentioned ‘bryant & may’ and whether it was compliled from the 1949 inquest exhibit lists..
Thanks for the comment. I’m afraid I don’t know the original source of the artist’s impression of TSM’s items. My source was the Stuart Littlemore Inside Story documentary at around the 5 minute mark of part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnPqlYPQ9lY The preceding segment of the Inside Story documentary shows a naked Somerton Man in the same drawing style as his items. This may provide information as to the date of all the illustrations.
I’m intrigued by the Federal matches illustration contrasting the widely mentioned Bryant and May matches. I’ll look around more for the rarely mentioned illustration’s primary source. If you find it, please let me know. You’ve got my interest up now!
Having had a good overview of the inside story sketches, it’s difficult to assess whether they were 1977 contemporary or from the correct period ie. 1948 which would certainly favour Federal matches (NSW) against Brymay (Vic), the latter having been in some short supply until ’49 due to a long strike, no pun intended. We having grown up in the fifties in country NSW only ever knew of Federal matches so we can’t can’t argue with what Sgt. Leane told the inquest, whilst our personal feelings must be in favour of the last named brand. Now as for the juicy fruit gum whence our sketch artist depicts the four candy tablet variety, that also presents a problem; it being to our knowledge only Wrigley stick variety might be had in juicy fruit flavour (along with arrowmint), the smaller tablet packs always coming in a yellow wrap affair called PK. We’ll stand corrected of course, but it would indeed be nice to get some clarification.
I say, the purported code was perchance indentation, given that JEStyn & TSM would never have written directly into the ROK knowing what it was going to be used for.
SS Karatta was the main passenger and cargo link between the mainland and Kangaroo Island, it’s outgoing service included regular departure from Port Adelaide at 7am Tuesdays with a stopover at Glenelg for onloading mail and light freight plus pick up of city rail/bus passengers. It is conceivable that Somerton Man, had been intending to meet someone at the teminal offJetty Road; or had some package for delivery, perhaps contemplating a day trip to the island himself, with no need for cumbersome baggage. This of course is fanciful and offered up in support of other confusing aspects of his apparent mixed up travel arrangements earlier that morning. Of course only a visitor to Adelaide would have gone to such trouble in hooking up with a now defunct service, this being due to Glenelg pier having been destroyed by a freak storm earlier in the year. Upon finding himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, SM feeling tired and hungry, may have opted for what any stranger might do on a nice sunny day, try a much vaunted local pastie and have a nice rest at the beach before heading back to the station for his kit pm.
Amongst the jottings of 92 year old Professor Cleland, addended to a report for the the resumed SM death inquest in 1958, he recalls that our ROK volumn had been thrown into the back of a utility vehicle and not a city businessman’s car as was originally offered to the press by R.L. Leane. We are now led to believe from very recent developments that chemist John Freeman of 24A Jetty Road is now the nominee for handing in the W & T ROK with missing Tamam Shud slip, not a doctor, chemist or dentist as we had been led to believe, Some time ago we became aware that a city businessman of 7 Pier St. Glenelg, Walter Bridgland, an alderman and later Glenelg Mayor, was known to use a Hillman Tilly utility for furniture and model shop deliveries which is interesting. In his daughter’s bio she claims that during the war years her dad always carried what she called a small ‘Hebrew’ psalm book even though he was not raised as a Jew. Incidently Wally Bridgeland grew up in and around Somerton and had from 1939 served with the AIF in the Middle East, New Guinea as a harbour master and finally as Commandant of Mclaren Vale SA POW work camp from til 1945.
Correction should read ‘not a doctor, businessman or dentist’. Speaking of doctor, a previous nominee for handing in the ROK to police was Douglas Hendrickson sans brother-in-law, who lived opposite Alderman Bridgland in Pier Street and was later a key figure with son Don in the Beaumont children abduction searches at Mena sand dunes adjoining Somerton Beach.
The chap nicely spotted by young Olive on Somerton beach overlook was most likely associated with SM’s demise by our reckoning and of course we have some ideas on who he might have been. Indeed our main suspect, a famous man of letters in his own right, once made a pertinent comment to a news reporter at the very pinackle of his fame. We offer it by rote, only substituting 1948 brand names “Only a mean spirited ‘ratbag’ would spend five minutes of every single morning transferring his expensive Kensitas virginia cigarettes into a lower grade Army Club pack to save a extra round”. It seems he wouldn’t have been too fussed about having taken a man’s life with such an attitude and SM was most likely not his first victim of betrayal or payback. Brings to mind a like minded assassin, also a little rough around the edges but an American in this case, who gave us a little gem to the tune of ” I never would kill a man that didn’t have it coming, nor give a damn after”. Almost poetic in it’s just cause countenance, sort if like like the ‘every good boy deserves fruit’ memory aid, which is indeed food for thought as if we need to be reminded in this investigation.
Another fellow who was known to have a Minx utility set up, least ways in the very early fifties was our murder suspect aforementioned, who also owned a WW2 Blitz truck, a horse and a rifle according to photos listed and now kept at U of Qld. As to his possible victims, though by no mean how many, one was a chemist dispenser who hailed originally from Semaphore and was of an original Adelaide family involved with Breweries. His suspicious death shall remain as such until we see his inquest papers as, although reported in some states, it was strangely ignored in his own hometown, as were details of his burial which remain unknown. As for the second victim, presumably SM, if our theory holds then, whilst we are still not sure of his real name by any means (Greek?), with Thomas or Stanley used by him in WA, NT and NSW since 1916, we are certain that he had been at one time closely associated with victim 1 and our assigned purp in Darwin.
It might certainly have solved some problems for Coroner Cleland and the medical witnesses to the ’49 inquest, had 23 year old intern, Dr. John Barkly Bennett not been available to give his take on T.O.D. (not before 2am), based merely on general appearance and a bit of a touch up for stiffness perhaps. It certainly seems to have fallen into place with the pre preped visual witnesses too, like Jack Lyons, Gordon Strapps and young Olivetti the typist, all of whom wanted to say “The chap was dead when I saw him “. That they dared not in the interests of discretion, would be my best take, from some considerable experience with witness cultivation and the like. I’d also find this a better outcome for the evening of 30/11 and what was evident the next morning, though you certainly can’t discount likely interference. Such would include late evening body switch ops (?), ghouls or early morning scene setters and facilitators. I’d certainly like to hear logic based viewpoints but not from multi IP soviet linked cranks.
Whence did the general acceptance of Jestyn being born in Marrickville, Sydney NSW derive. The year1921 is understanndable from her reported age of 51 athe the time of mother Ellen’s passing in 1982, however we don’t see how the p.o.b. stacks up. In fact there is a more likely case scenario which suggests another distant suburb and city, with fair probability that Jo’s mum reluctantly gave her up to the birthing institution. Whilst the basic speculative details are at hand and appear to tally well with her unknown upbringing, getting confirmation is not so easy. I’m sure someone out there could assist the process of extraction of old ‘Salies’ ward and adoption records if still available 99 years on.
It can be seen by their respective testimonies that neither Hall nor Holderness, on SM’s proposed bus/tramway trip to St. Leonards, that they were merely doing lip service to what police considered to be a likely time of travel following the highly speculative missed train to Henley Beach. Whilst Holderness did speak of an alternate service to Somerton every thirty minutes, turn about, it’s mention never appeared to have been seen as a game changer for undetermined reasons. From the city, the route followed the same outward route via West Terrace then along Anzac Hwy south along Partridge St. Glenelg and west at Broadway thence south again along Tarlton to it’s turn around at Whyte St.Somerton. Not only would that get the deceased close to his destination on the beach, be aware that bus drivers were in the habit of detouring down Ferris to make drops and or pick-ups right by Alvington steps, two or three yards from where he was found flat out on the sand? next day.
Coming as it did as a direct take from mum’s funeral death notice in ’82, we have the ages for Jo Thomson and her siblings, a fairly strange offering, perhaps mildly sus one might say, coming as it did not so long after interest in nurse Jestyn first broke. We can recall how Alf Boxall referred to her as being just a young girl and when Stewart asked “how old 20 (25)?”, Alf replied “No..No..No. most emphatically. In mid 1945 when the paur met at Clifton Gardens hotel, Jestyn the nurse was by rights a mature wonan of 25 and a little old to still be still in training at that, when considering these were war years where qualification periods were usually cut short a year Of her siblings both boys nominated standard C of E for their own faiths upon inlistment and demise, though mum & pop were cremated without preferred rights, likewise middle sister Joan Carr, of course our Jo was buried as a Jewess. ….So what ever happened to little sister Ellen bn. ’25 who could only have been 20 in 1945, the age whe Alf was presented with the Rubaiyat to take along as a gift
to his posting amongst the palm trees up north and never the twain shall meet. There has never been mention of marriage for young Ellen nor are there records of school as with sister Joan in the 30’s and most strangely, nothing of her passing.See what I’m not suggesting for a minute can you; and having four Ellen’s in the one family perhaps one of whom may have either died in infancy or was given up at a young age, say around 1921, it might have been convenient for a little sister to use her birth certificate in order to satisfy the age criteria to become a trainee nurse in 1941 at the tender age of sweet sixteen.
In mid 1977 John Ruffles tried his best to identify the girlfriend of Tom Musgrave, 13 WT Small Ships, who is said to have introduced Jestyn to Alf Boxall at Clifton Gardens, with no joy (ptp). I’ve come up with a number of Joy/Joyce combinations with Irvin/Irwin/ Irvine (suggested surnames), if people are at all still interested. The women ranged in age from 19 to 27 in 1945 (Tom said about 20) including two Victorians, one a trainee nurse from Mordialloc aged 19, the other a munitions inspector 27; another was from Qld aged 20 serving with naval intelligence as a coder at Potts Point, whilst a single Sydney born lass of 25 worked at an ordinance depot making bombs or stacking blankets. I doubt that their respective part time military jobs would have gone well with a civil nursing career, if that’s what Tom’s Joy was, though it must be remembered, Ruffles (very thorough), found nothing on records at RNSH for either Joy or Jestyn using evert conceivable name variation.
I guess we have it from the horse’s mouth in new Attorney General Chapman’s OK for a privately funded exhumation of Somerton Man. So we might assume that she is not a potential relative of the deceased, not like her pre decessor John Rau who’s grandmother Marg was in fact a Keane from Barossa. No wonder JR was himself most hesitant to give approval. Why take a chance with antescedants who could well swing the vote against you, though in hindsight he lost his seat anyway.
John Rau seems to have been the child of his dad Arthur’s post ’46 partner, which makes Margaret Rau nee Keane aka Kain the ex AG’s paternal grandmother. What’s interesting is that she does not get a mention amongst her 12 siblings in the family tree, her parents being John Richard Kain and mother Juliana Marie nee Roediga. Alongside this branch were the Dickers from Broken Hill and no surprise they were included in my earlier inquiry regarding Adelaide’s illicit gambling of the ’30s. On the off chance that there is more to the cagey old lawyer/AG’s uplift ban, I’ve been back through the kids born to Juliana (Mary) from 1884 to 1901 and can say that of Margaret’s seven brothers, only Bruce bn. 1897 remains to be scratched from the SM suspect list. ps: Not sure whether the Irish RC Kain alternative, used by some in the family was ever researched. Perhaps Margaret was disowned for marrying a non papist of German descent just prior to WW1.
To finish off on our Rau roller coaster ride; After the SA ex AG’s Cork born Great Grandfather, John Richard passed in ’35, his wife Mary moved to a house in our own Moseley St. Glenelg and remained until she died in ’44. Meanwhile back in the Rau household at Main St. Henley Beach, just a chain or so from SM’s intended train destination, the future barrister/politition’s dad Arthur, had just returned from his RAAF war service in Moratai and found that his wife Mabel had ‘up and off’ with her lover to Port Pirie, this ended in a 1946 divorce and her losing out of the house. The saga ends there more or less, but it seems Leading Aircraftsman Rau found a good woman who begat young John in ’59, who in-turn got himself educated well enough at Henley schools to enable an eventual Labour Party ticket along with a seat in the SA Parliament, then eventual promotion to a position of power where the mofo could make nay decisions on such things as exhumation of possible kith and kin.
I have a pretty good idea where our nurse was born, though it was nowhere near the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, which to my thinking must have been introduced as a diversionary ploy to throw off well intentioned, or maybe not, internet detectives. Over the insuing years from about 2008, we have generally come to accept as fact, details of her mysterious past without questioning its dubious provinence; likewise her spurious birth year and missing record as a trainee nurse with RNSH at the mature age of 21. Something has surely been overlooked and is most likely the reason why sleuths have not been able to make headway, including those pursuing Jestyn’s fanciful links to Alf Boxall’s postwar Intelligence service or soviet inspired espionage and the like. Jessie Ellen Harkness was never listed as having attended the weddings of siblings Thomas or Jean, nor any family gatherings that we’re aware of and she did not go to Mordialloc College with Jean in the thirties as some crudely altered photo offerings might have us believe. I’m keeping mum on Jestyn’s birth details because they are not complete or varified so release at this stage would be most imprudent .
The Unknown man was not the first beach Somerton beach body for Constable Moss of Brighton Police. On 10th June 1943 Sqn Ldr. Bob Bungey, just back from RAF duties in England and a widower of two weeks, took his year old son Richard in a stroller, down to the beach from the family home in Tarlton St., whereupon he drew his service revolver and you know the rest. A holiday maker found the dead man, with his critically wounded son, plus a guard dog named bomber, called it in and Moss attended with another officer. They did their job well and in delivering the child to a doctor at the nearby Crippled Childrens home, undoubtedly saved it’s life.
What if anything does this have to do with Somerton Man, probably nothing at all by all accounts; However, it was mentioned in the official inquiry (NAA display) and in newspapers of the day that, following the tradgedy, one particular Squadron buddy in England, thought to be one of several Polish inductees into Bungey’s famous 452 Spitfire Squadron, continually wrote inquiring after baby Richard’s health, expressing sympathy to the family and so on. Not so long afterwards the unit transferred to Australia under the command of ace Bluey Truscott and saw out the war against Japan in the far northern regions and the Pacific Theatre until disbanded in 1946.
Some might consider the possibilities of someone in Bungeys very unit, similarly damaged by the constant fear of death in battle, being tormented by the fact that of the many, he should survive to suffer alone in an unfamiliar and threatening new world order, which he was not able to cope with. It would make things infininately worse had the ex pilot been a foreigner, left in Australia to take his chances without the support of comrades, like his long dead heros Truscott and Bungey. I for one can well imagine such a fellow coming to Adelaide by train, having decided what must be done on the journey, then following through on his ultimate decision.
Following the round about journey from the station to a sought destination only half recalled as a place with a beach and a Jetty Road (how many could there be?), he eventually gets to Brighton Cemetery and visits with his long dead wartime comrade. Some time around late afternoon our despondent SM makes his way a mile or so to Alvington house, near to where the trajedy must have taken place and after having a bite of something to help the medicine go down, he descends to the beach, takes up a comfortable position then quitely drifts away to-wards his happy childhood, later life as a bold aviator fighting in defence of his homeland and any remaining lovedones.
Of course I don’t give this yarn too much chance of being true however, it was prompted by revelation just this day, that a 76 year old well known historian and writer, also avid WW2 fighter plane enthusiast, Adelaide born and raised, has just released a book about his boyhood hero and father Robert Bungey DFC who took to the skies over Europe as the leader of his brave 452 RAF ‘Circus’ Squadron and died at just twenty seven on Somerton Beach, through traumatic war caused events, well beyond his control. Perhaps something similar occurred with our own ‘Unknown Man’ perhaps not, though eventually I’m hopeful that we can find out for certain and end all speculation.
Before getting jumped on for a historic blunder, I now recall that 452 Sqn RAF was tranferred to Australia (RAAF) in early 1942 under command of BlueyTruscott, whilst Bungey took up administrative command posts in England for reasons unclear as he should’ve come home with his old unit and by now pregnant wife. In fact Truscott had died in a training accident off the NT coast in March 1943, three full months before the so called ‘Somerton miracle’ event in June…As a matter of interest the Bungey’s, Sybil and Robert were interred together at St. Jude’s Church cemetery on Jetty Rd. Brighton and some Keane observers may recall the red white and blue RAF style dress tie, said to have been worn worn by SM on the day of his own passing five and a half years on
Not as difficult as expected, going through photos of 452 Sqn.pilots connected with Bob Bungey, in that all but two were dead by war’s end. The surviving pair not in the shots, Flt. Lts. R.J. Cowan, a POW and Justin O’Byrne can be cleared as both were still well short of SM’s estimated age by 1948. One can’t help but notice when viewing wartime pictures of infanteers, combat pilots, gunline naval crew and their like, how much older they appear to be than their known ages. Had SM been of the type, then we might need to revise his age downwards from mid forties to say late thirties; just a thought.
A British RAF fighter squadron of WW2 only comprised 12 aircraft; In the case of 452 they were Spitfires, so with pilots and service crew about fifty men all up, not so many and with the unit’s transfer to Australia in June ’43 to defend the north against the Japanese threat, quite a few of the old hands stayed on. People such as Bluey Truscott and a Leading Aircraftsman named Arthur Bruce Rau, being of the same age grouping and near locality as Sqn. Ldr. Bungey might well have known him growing up. One can only wonder if anything his dad had ever said to young John Rau concerning service affiliations, or his Keane bloodlines, ever came to mind when he, as Attorney General flatly rejected all appeals to have Somerton Man exhumed.
“The precise location the Somerton Man was found in” according to Google maps, who are usually reliable, was at the seawall across from Ferris Street, with historical site logo alongside to prove it. This being a hundred yards north of ‘X marks the spot’, alongside Alvington beach stairs, that most of us (not all) are familiar with. Its also only three hundred yards from Jessie Thomson’s residence at 90A Moseley St. and the Bungey house next door but two..
The only eye witness who attested to the body actually being supported by the sea wall was Jack Lyons, though later he recanted quite emphatically, stating that on his second sighting at 6am it was flat out on the sand. This being supported to a certain extent by Olive Neill and Constable Moss in their testimonies, as well as Neil Day in his own recollections of the particular morning. Had the medical experts have taken a more open view of the evidence being played out in front of them, it is more than likely that their worries of lividity to the shoulder/neck region might have heen resolved…Amongst the inquest tendered exhibits, included ‘Tamam Shud’ slip amongst items found on the body #C.1, dental chart #C.2, Prof. Hicks list of poisons #C.18 and a sundry ‘piece of paper’ that does not seem to have been mentioned in the testimony* #C.9. Anyone know what it was?..* Moss made mention of the TS slip and a piece of paper with writing but that tallies with his tendering of #C.1 so it cannot be the spare paper.
If there was an exhibit C9, I say it was a useless piece of paper planted by the Fourth Man with him taking back a shoddy Merchant Seaman ID card placed on the First Man by the Third Man.
Fourth Man [hands Third Man the fake H.C. Reynolds ID card]
Third Man: “This isn’t what I asked for.”
Fourth Man: “You asked for a Merchant Seaman’s card.”
Third Man: “A used Merchant Seaman’s card. Where’s the rest of it?”
Fourth Man: “You mean the travel marks?”
Third Man: “So, you know what’s supposed to be on there, but you didn’t do it.”
Fourth Man: “How can I possibly know what they look like?”
Third Man: “Mate, when someone asks you for something like this it’s not for a fancy-dress party.”
Fourth Man: “What if the cops get it it? And they check the travel marks?”
Third Man: “I don’t believe this. You really don’t know your job. Nobody’s going to be checking anything. I could have knocked this up in 10 minutes. And, I’d have gotten the date of birth right.”
Fourth Man: “But if I put in the real date of birth I could be nicked for fraud.”
Third Man: “If you put the real date of birth it’d match the photo and you wouldn’t get nicked for fraud.”
Fourth Man: “Okay, I can do it. I just need a bit more time and maybe a small down-payment so I can get the proper travel marks.”
Third Man: “You don’t get it.”
Fourth Man: “I can do it.”
Third Man: [turning to exit] “Stop wasting my time.”
Fourth Man: “My card!”
Third Man: [stops, turns back around] “The card’s useless. Now the photo is too because you’ve stuck it on your useless card.”
Third Man: [exiting, holds up the card as he walks away] “I’m talking back the photo.”
There was most certainly ‘a piece of paper’ listed as exhibit 9. It came without evidence attesting to it’s assignment as such and stands in need of better explanation
Some time between discovery on the beach by Jack Lyons and the two Jockeys and his arrival for processing at West Terrace about mid morning, Harold Strangway, working out of Glenelg detectives office, was provided with reliable information as to identity of the body. That same evening, prior to deceased being photographed or a description being published, Edwin Cecil Johnson 55, a baker of Payneham went along to his local police station far from Somerton to report his continuing state of well being. Not too many people would have seen the dead man’s features and phys well enough to make any sort of reliable comparison with Johnson, as might be evidenced by his lack of stature and a missing middle finger (sticking out like a sore thumb), which would be known to any associates. Yet Adelaide’s most experienced street detective must have felt confident enough to give the man’s name to the press without hesitation..Whence did such confidence come from?. It could could only have been something found at the death site, or amongst the dead mans possessions eg., a piece of paper like # exhibit C.9 or some item of clothing displaying the given name (in full).
Edgar Cecil Johnson not Edwin, which reminds me, there were others with similar names who flew with the RAF including Air Vice Marshall Edgar C. Johnson aka James Edgar aka ‘Johnny’ who was England’s greatest ace who few with Robert Bungey and a Group Captain E.C. Johnson of WW1 vintage who headed an RAAF delegation to Portugese Timor in 1940 to inspect air defence facilities, not to mention that Bob Bungey’s poor wife Sybil who was a Johnson in her own right, with a British military family background. Who knows if there is anything in all this and more unknown detail that might connect to Somerton Man.
Before we get too far ahead; Harold Strangway had been Adelaide’s top crime investigator for thirty years before the Somerton case came to him in 1948. As first Detective at the death site, he alone undertook to do the initial scenes of crime work, assisted ably by uniform local man Constable Moss. And yet he was strangly not called to testify at the inquest. Rather odd, wouldn’t you agree?..
Should there still be people interested in our Somerton Man conundrum with it’s infinate miriade of twists and turns over the seven decades of it’s existence, perhaps some quiet recapitulation and reflection might be in order for the holiday period. I would certainly recommend overview of an alternate case scenario concerning a planned seaborne delivery of the body to it’s final destination via the bum boat of a small refrigerated coaster MV Benjo Maru, having just cleared Port Adelaide. The hypothesis is not at all difficult to envisage, for it’s purpose is quite within the realms of credibility, the operation the culmination of a typical maritime excercise with nothing left to chance…The set ends on 1st April 2017 with a final confused summation by our resident April fool…@Ciphermysteries ‘Sand in the Somerton Man’s hair’ with 78 comments…Have a safe and Joyous festive season all. js
Not so long ago, I’m sure that I made mention of a body, not formally identified though presumably that of a miner, found close to a large Northern Territory station homestead, a piece of paper simply bearing the name ‘Charles Hamilton’ beside the body . It was reported in newspapers the very same day that young Semaphore S.A. chemist and newly hired Darwin Hospital dispenser/dresser Percy Williams had overdosed ‘accidently’ on his own morphia/chloral supplies. These deaths occurred on 4th January, 1934 way before Somerton Man. A former dispenser X. Herbert had just returned from a year in England and after a spot of ‘knocking about’ in the bush south of Darwin, was fortunate to land his old job back at the hospita,l as well as the plum posting of superintendent of Kahlin aboriginal compound on the grounds.
I was prompted to report this, having been reminded of something interesting picked up on line some years ago, which I had seen no need to bring up (bearing in mind my very low status vis a vis Somerton Man expertise), by a respected blooger Pete Bowes. On to-days thread Pete in his very own carefully crafted prose, asked readers to bare in mind that the Tamam Shud slip found in SM’s secreted trouser fob is the be all and end all key to resosolution of his spy case. From that hint I just remembered having found amongst some archival documents, a 1930 post card from Darwin depicting the very same Kahlin compound, interesting in that it was without any franking mark and the only writing on verso was the by now immortal unadorned initials ‘T S’ (Tamam Shud) which might remind us of those plain post cards found in the Keane suitcase.
Not wishing to make things more complicated; it is also a fact that a Castellorizian Greek named Tom Savas (T. S) a mate of Xavier, just happened to be the head cook for the Darwin Hospital and food ration facilitator for Kahlin compound from about ’27 to just after poor Percy’s dispensary ‘accident’. The pair re united in far off Sydney on US Indepenence day 1942, not far from where former hospital wardsman and fellow Inquest attendee Jack Cooper happened to be living. Nobody seems to know what became of Tom since then, rumour suggests that he may have found work cooking for POWs in one of the wartime camps.
For most Christians, Noel is upon us and will be over before we know it. For those folks of the Hebrew faith it’s all just so much schutzpar and more hard earned cash to dole out for quaint New Testiment non orthodox extravigances. As a Jewish converts, Jo Thomson’s offspring probably missed out on all the mainstream kiddies celebratory treats, but looked forward to passover season with a similar relish. It seems that Joe took her new faith rather seriously, in comparison to her being raised to the strict principles forced upon her by Salvation Army protectors during childhood and as an adolescent in service, learning basic midwifery skills. In her declining years as poor health overtook her, as noted by Gerry Feltus from his interviews, she must have known when her time was up, then so according to the best principles of her faith, she returned to her birthplace to seek last rites of passage, the prescribed fullfilment of life’s trials and eventual interment for the promised eternal rest. So according to my best leads, the person known to ‘most’ as Jessica Ellen Thomson nee Harkness, was born and died near the town of Hamilton between 1924 /25 and not the oft touted ’21 which never seemed to fit the rather tight agenda on offer.
Yes, the Irish surname McMahon is not so common, but well known in Australia nonetheless. How Robin got have it as a middle monicker would seem somewhat unusual, there being no Irish amongst the Harkness or Thomson clans. Same with sister Kate being given another rarity in Helena which doesn’t sound Gaelic either.. Not so uncommon was poor dead Elizabeth, their much older step sister whose mum was Queenie Wilder…Helera Elizabeth Monica McMahon was a famous WW2 nurse whose long career went from Wangaratta to Colac hospitals pre war, then through beyond the end of hostilities as Matron (Colonel) in charge of military hospitals in all the war zones including post war Japan. She had the opportunity of meeting Prosper Thomson during their presence at Heidelberg military hospital for convalescence in 1943 and served with both Thomas Leonard and Edward Keane at 130 Australian Hospital in Kure Japan during 1946. Alternately there was a well known leftist Democratic Party senator in the US named McMahon who pushed through his ‘Nuclear non prolification bill’ in 1946 with the help of American communists, so I guess it’s at least feasable as an alternate origin, that young Robin was given his weird middle name in support of the so-called international peace corps dupes and not the war weary old nurse from Smoko Victoria.
It is evident that during lead up to ‘The Inside Story’ national televised review, John Ruffles and the Munro team’s real efforts were concentrated on tracking down Sister J. E.Thomson to bring the Omar Khayyam/SM/Boxall/Jestyn/Intel. bacon home, which did not bare fruit. Though to their credit the show went on, allbeit without achieving the desired wham effect that her presence would have had. It’s well known in police and official circles that Jessica had been one step ahead of similar such efforts since the fifties and it’s no wonder the late comers of 1977 and since couldn’t run her to ground while she was living. Too late to get off on the old Jewess after she’s flown the coop so to speak.
It seems that since that big public exposure, which must have come very close to letting the cat out of the Harkness/Thomson bag of tricks, the family and minders have gone to even greater efforts to bury any exposed skeletons, of which there appear to be plenty, sweeping the trail clean as each new lead gains momentum. No real breakthoughes in the case have been chronicled since the ‘Smithsonian’ days when Mike Braish was Mr. Tamam Shud super sleuth; Those that followed, being left to fuss & feud over so many dead end or made up spy versus spy leads. I’d suspect that Edmund Harkness, WW2 naval Intel., saw the danger from afar and closed each door in accordance with his ‘Loose lips sink ships’ training..
Back in the old days, from Somerton on down towards the Hove dunes, some great surf/beach fishing could be had, there being a fairly deep, rip chanel close onshore where school squid congregate and upon which huge sand whiting, lurking in shallow white water further out, would rush in for opportunistic feeding. Depending on state of the tide and onshore patterns, keen anglers could try their luck at the waters edge, or with strong spring tides running, take up positions along the South Esplinade overlook and cast way out with extra long Rangoon poles and heavy Ajax Cedar multiplier reels. By the time Jack Lyons hit the scene at 6.15am the run out would have started, best time of all for the bait casters to get out even further amongst the lunkers and start filling their handy manilla cane, shoulder strapped surf creels.
At 4.35 on Wednesday morning, first day of the Adelaide summer, the Spring high tide had been strong and at 9feet, more than large enough to ensure early morning beach fisherfolk and the usual groups of young bait collecters being already out and about at dawn, in their haste to take advantage of the perfect conditions. So why were’t any about on this day of days?, there having been no reported evidence of hitherto described scenes on Somerton foreshores at all, that is apart from the presence of two bathers, a pair of excercising race horses plus their inquisitive strappers and, in due course an old local copper, who showed up on call to preserve the scene, for plain clothes investigators. No need for Constable Moss to do crowd control which must certainly have been anticipated had word got out of ‘a body on the beach’ which it should have by 7am.
Is at all possible, likely even, that some predawn official presence had dampened the enthusiam for other usual beach scene leisure activities. I know from my own inquiries, that new mobile police radio-car patrols should have stopped off at the Alvington steps for closer scrutiny for any untoward doings below the overlook, on a number of occasions up until 2am. In fairness to lack of a reported sighting by such patroling police, this might well have been due to them having no direct line of site to a body from a position atop the blind embankment where they may have parked. We are not aware of other SB operations or excercises which would also include presence of the water police of Port Adelaide in their big launch, out off shore to preventing illegal entries, smuggling contraband and the like. Something sure seems to have kept the beach croud at bay on such a glorious day so what the hey?
That blessed Henley Beach train is destined to drive us all nuts if we can’t get the guist of all the service related intricacies ie. that SM’s used or unused single second class ticket, marked as being vended from the previous day’s double star box. To complicate matters, part time SAR employee Townsend told the inquest of having commenced duties at 6.15am, that he was the only 2 star vender on duty and that SM’s undated ticket No. 691172 was the first one of only three sold by him during his shift. He claims no knowledge of recalling the particular issuance or the time, although it was before he went off duty at 2.pm and coming from the previous day’s lot, it had been marked with a line through the number for audit. Note that the ticket displayed above (artistic impression) does not show any such marking.
All sounds pretty fine, though not necessarily, in fact there is a further unknown factor to complicate things. We just had the SAR timekeeper Bill West inform the Coroner in no uncertain terms that, according to the official Adelaide station records, three early morning, on time train departures for Henley Beach had been logged prior to Doug Townsends shift start time of 6.15am, these being 5.13, 5.23 and 6.03. We might consider that he was not singularly responsible, as claimed for ticket issuing to that seemingly unpopular destination, so it’s possible that another vending clerk had been on duty in the double star booth and sold SM his ticket before the part timer came on duty. Perhaps Gerry’s mate Tiny, the SAR guru might like to offer opinion on what the double star box means and it’s location.
There seems to be a suggestion, some well meaning, others pure fantasy, that Jestyn had herself interacted in events that came into play on SM’s last outing to Somerton Beach on 31st November, 1948. It is my firmly held view that on the preceeding day at least, the Thomson family were probably hundreds of miles away in Melbourne, Jessica at the Mentone home of her parents with baby Robin and Prosper attending the gala inaugural opening festivities of the GMH Fisherman’s Bend plant. I recall that when she was later interviewed by Errol Caney and asked about her whereabouts, relating to SM’s discovery on the beach near her house, she might well have given that explanation. This perportedly as a reason for not being aware of specifics in the well reported finding; then when given details, recalled that during her abscence from home, a stranger had made inquiries of some neighbours concerning her whereabouts. This is only heresay I guess, but it does ring true and perhaps some validation or otherwise might yet come to light from undisclosed Sapol police files.
There was of course another Jessie Thomson who lived close to Jo and ‘George’ as Prosper was known in the local and Port Lincoln auto scene. Not only that, her late husband was also George and before her marriage in 1940, she was part of the well heeled Muir McFarlane clan also of Port Lincoln. Jessie was just a little older than her namesake at thirty in 1948 and a widowed mother of some long standing. It appears that when her husband died in ’41, leaving her with title to a large rural property near Gladstone, she sold up, moved to the beach with her daughter and remained virtually unknown for the remainder of her life. She is recorded as having been interred at Centenial Park, whilst the public cemetery in her hometown also lays claim to her remains. What are the chances that Prosper Thomson, saw a golden oportunity with Jessie Thomson’s PL connections, her financial attributes and her widowed status. He and Jo must have known of her circumstances, how to play the dual identities lurk and perhaps even use the dead husband’s name to good effect with little risk of getting caught out.
Jessie Muir Thomson nee McFarlane’s dad was Walter Muir McFarlane. a grazier, auctioneer and businessman, well known throughout the Port Lincoln region and affar. Her mum’s name was Douglas, yes Douglas and I think a bit of a homebody to boot, but also busy too with quite a few athletic boys to raise. Whether it be related to the Taman curse or mere co-incidence (more likely); a namesake kin, Walter Muir Mc. was drowned not so long ago in a tragic lone fishing/boating accident just off the Port Lincoln coast.The body being retreived by police with the boat’s motor still running at three quarter throttle, the failed stearing gear found to have veered the boat violently causing the poor chap to be thrown overoard in his heavy fishing attire.
Now the New Year reviving last year’s Debt, The thrifty Fisher casteth wide his Net;
So I with begging Dish and ready Tongue Assail all Men for all that I can get.
Indeed, indeed, Retrenchment oft before I swore—but did I mean it when I swore?
And then, and then, I wander blindly forth, to destiny on Somerton’s Dark shore.
Just a little something for New Year compliments of Rudyard Kipling (mostly) taken from his ‘ The Rupaiyat of Omar Kal’vin circa. 1910?
A note on the cigarettes and matches which Constable Moss attested to having found amongst clothing along with other paraphetnalia such as tickets, combs, gum and a handkerchief on the Somerton body. These items were included in a lead story on the inquest by police roundsman for the Advertiser newpaper, Frank Kennedy who must have been present at the Coroners Inquest. Based on this we may conclude that when the witness depositions were later typed up by the court registry typist, transcribed from the deposition clerk’s own shorthand eg. ‘smokes’ and ‘lights’ as one word; the matches as an individual evidentiary item were lost in translation. Fortunately they were included and even brand named by Det. Sgt. R. L. Leane in his own deposition which was faithfully transcribed…NB: Frank Kennedy gave police the Tamam Shud translation and was well known to George Thomson in later years, apparently.
The Somerton man’s brown polished shoes, as depicted in the colour photo inset, which includes other items from the body and the Keane suitcase, really doesn’t portray especially high quality manufacture or newness in my opinion. Noteworthy are the partially glued soles, typical of average quality and quite unknown to the high end bespoke trade of the period, the brogue styling being unimpressive and internal lace lining parted due to low cost metal lace eyelettes. It is mentioned that John Cleland recorded the name McNought or similar along with a style number 204B which does not equate with made to measure practice and infact the name possibly referred to a well known shoe manufacturer and retailer in Sydney of the day. A seemingly all seeing espionage schooled blogger makes mention of these much overated shoes in the context of their being likely too well cared for to have belonged to a man of British background, which some might deem as being quite illconsidered and worthy of rebuke.
It may be little importance, now although you never know; in respective of Les Wytkin, bus conductor who first reported his version of the Rubaiyat as opposed to the more desired Jack Freeman version. The post photo of young Les in his tram conductor uniform is quite unflattering and for a good reason, the depiction being one of his dad, also a conductor and taken around 1930. I seem to recall that Misca as Sue d’Ninh queried the ages some time back and we etablished that Les was only forty in 1948, dad having himself been mid fifties when the snap was taken.
There has always been a deal of whining from SM dedicated blog sites and others alleging gross judicial inefficiency, tampering with evidence inluding one tiresome allegation of witholding evidence by police and coronial officers. Whilst I can side with those citing proceedural shortcomings and failure to pursue certain good leads, I doubt that this would amount to any breach of the law by either the Coroner his witnesses or police perse. Irrespective of what judicial or investigative failings may have occurred in the past, it is well and truly beyond our control to rectify now, nor should we try. Being mere armchair detectives, having little or no investigative skills and very little factual leads to go on, the best we can do is use those available tools like more sophisticated information sources to the best our ability. Quibling over alleged past missed chances by those charged with handling the initial SM investigations is not going to help solve this case and there is no point in crying over spilt milk.
The law is frequently said to be an ass and that goes for all those associated with it from Judges and Magistrates all the way through to lawyers and police, all of whom are at times equally critical of it’s idiosyncracies etc. By the same token these very same upholders of law & order have not been able to come up with a better way to ensure the same spirit of fairness for all who seek truth in justice. And so it is that the laws on evidence are that part of jurispudence that regulates the mode by which courts are proceed in determining the existenc or non existence of the facts at issue to a particular proceedings or part thereof. They’re known as the Judges rules of Common Law and they have necessitated little ammending since time immemorial. Both the ’49 and ’58 Somerton death inquest sittings were conducted along the lines described and we might therefore be confident that all efforts were made to ensure the best judicial outcome under those specific terms..
None of our major SM players including Detectives of the R. L. Leane investigation team or male members of the Freeman & Hendrickson families ever went off to war as did the majority of patriotic men in their age range. That would include fellows like Prosper Thomson, Alf Boxall and the majority of those who have come and gone over the years, with Keith Mangnoson, E.C Johnson and Coroner Tom Cleland being notable exceptiions. Of course all this means nothing, as with Detective Sgt. Leane’s having aquired long sought after copy of the ROK from an aquaintance in John Freeman chemist, suspected peddler of illegal snake oil remedies and the like; or does it?…
SM’s spare parts analyst Robert James Cowan never went after the hun either, though he had a ligitimate excuse, being the chemical examiner for explosives at SA’s wartime munition plants. Did you know that during the pre war period at least Bob lived with his family at 57 Moseley Street, Glenelg. So what? one might be inclined to ask, it’s a long street and after all, some of our other players seemed to like it there too. In this case his house belonged to a woman named E. Freeman who may not have been Chemist John Freeman’s wife Effie, though possibly a revelation (sic). No matter because 57 sort of backs on to the Pier Street home and nextdoor surgery of Doctor Doug Hendrickson anither once nominated Ron Francis candidate who was a cobber of Detective Len Brown.
Some testimony that could have been crutial to the Coroner’s Inquest, yet were enexplicably not tendered in evidence were, Jack Lyon’s wife who first raised the issue of SM’s unusual position, his unamed companion of the next morning along with the strangly unidentified horsemen, Detective Harold Strangway, the essential initial scenes of crime investigator, H. Craig the cloakroom attendant who was not called due to being on holidays, Roma Mangnoson who had informed an earlier inquest of having been harrassed due to her husband’s SM identification, then of course Detective Caney, Sister Thomson and John Freeman for the much later 1958 resumation hearing. Even though the aforementioned had been given immunity, their testimonies might have been tendered incamera without being named. So yes their were inexusable mistakes made, notwithstanding the manner in which other evidence was otherwise properly presented for evaluation. Evidence that was not able to assist the Coroner in any of his most difficult deliberations.
It must be said in support of poor Tom Celand, that his best attempts at resolution were frustrated by a number of positional inconsistencies, timings and the like given by witnesses Lyons, Gordon Strapps, Olive Neil and the attending Constable Moss who, for reasons best known to themselves were it might be said were neither dependable or altogether truthful. Same case might be made for both the Henley Beach and St. Leonards ticket sellers, who may also have been verbaled to corroborate the police version of events. Thus giving the Coroner no choice but to declare an interim sine die adjudication in the interests of proper legal process, whether he agreed or not.
I’m happy to report that as a consequence of some fairly serious online case history research, mainly dealing with asytolic arrythmic ventrical occlusions and other enlighting case histories involving sudden death syndrome (flat lining), I’m more than satisfied that Somerton man wasn’t poisoned at all and that he most likely died from natural causes. That is to say pathologist Dwyer missed many standout alternative natural cause possibilities in his haste to find evidence of poisoning that he was convinced of despite Bob Owan’s negative findings.. Needless to say his two highly regarded oversighting colleages J.B. Cleland and Sir C.S. Hicks, neither of whom examination the deceased, seemed more or less satisfied with Dwyer’s assessment. I find it astounding that no one else picked up on such an obvious cause of demise, noting also that there is no such medical term as ‘in Systole’ which seems to have been yet another innocent court stenographer’s or registry typographical error that has persisted despite there being a wealth of so called experts in our mix that should have picked up the faux pas.
Probably be my second-last post, here.
Team Jestyn’s plan had one major flaw. It didn’t take into account the stringent coronial process. That is, if a death is suspicious the police become involved.
Even if the flawed ID card was perfect and not retrieved, and TSM’s heart didn’t stop on the systole the heart stopped on the systole, there was no receptacle, vomit or excrement. Were we to believe a man presenting with chronic and acute conditions simply chose where and when to die?
Certainly, the rigor mortis and livor mortis was considered given the excessive clothing TSM was found wearing and Prosper’s neck contortion, death throes acting.
Overall, the plan was ingenious but too holistic.
As for the pastie. It was for old times sake. And, perhaps this is a so called old wives tale, “if you’re going to vomit it’s better to have something to vomit than dry wretch.”
I am also of the opinion TSM and Mother Teresa chose the location by the crippled children’s home for a reason. To give his life and death a greater purpose. Mother Teresa wanted TSM to be a founding archetype associated the the Rubaiyat. For all “crippled” children with their condition.
Marshall with his Rubaiyat and newspaper wanted similar but with TSM the father of Tess’ child… theirs was a love story. They shared their love with the Rubaiyat.
I find it possible that Mother Teresa may also have intended to eventually tell her son who her real father was but that the ignominity of the awkwardly posed death mask prevented her from doing so.
Was JEstyn a serial killer? That would depend on two things. One’s definition of, serial killing. And, if one views Tess as involved in Marshall’s suicide based on circumstantial evidence.
As has been mentioned in the first comment, (assisted) suicide was illegal throughout Australia, back then.
“Holistic” is the only word I could think of at the time. Over-reaching (whilst underestimating coronial procedure) is a better fit. Turns out, amazingly, everyone involved got what they wanted to their end. The actions of the Fourth Man, any error by The Third Man, the police and coroners only made the mystery exceedingly difficult to untangle. What’s more, there was no unintended harm to anyone in on the scam and none to anyone in the general community.
For what it’s worth this site, it might be said, is the only remaining dedicated SM related blog available for free, honest and open discussion by non pseudo players wishing to have their views heard without fear or favour. It’s a pity that interest in our subject seems to have wained in recent times, possibly due to the likes of some particularly ruthless and destructive elements with self serving agendi, unrelated to any proper objectives. For those still keen to follow, please come forward and let us know you’re there, if only to discuss the relative merits of Adelaide Station XX ticket booth for instance. It keeps the lines of dedicated communication open for me, a fellow poster and not some charlatan with malicious intent, waiting opportunity to strike with ‘asystolic’ consequences..
Sure enough 30th November, 1948 was indeed a Tuesday, the day Somerton man was spotted by Jack Lyons, not Monday as has been cunningly misreported by TS/BS to fit a certain suspected soviet assassin’s disappearance. Of course we must be just as familiar wth the Lapstone Conference having commenced on the Monday, not Tuesday as we are with GMH Holden’s official start at Fisherman’s Bend Vic. on the same day being 29th November too…..The tedious thread, follows assassin ‘Nokimof’ going AWOL to Adelaide with hls blond KGVD teaser to take down defecting soviet victim Pavel Fedosimov (37) with a double barreled dose of agent digitalis. We’re also treated with a new cut & paste job that does nothing to disguise old Pav’s long tall & stooped, narrow shouldered, tiny handed, saddle nosed, buck toothed, Slavic features that frankly look as much like our poor SM as did the bust of Wolgang A. Mozart with or without the wig…So long as we keep up a watchful eye on those attempting to thwart our pursuit of answers, sooner or later we’ll get them in one hit.
Masterful shit, dusty, classic.
Folks griping about the inadequasies of the Aussie NAA might well count their blessings compared with the dismal offerings available on other government archival sites. Notwithstanding that their forgotten promise some time back to have all WW2 records and many others of similar vintage available on line gratis is well over due; same with Trove updating which is frustrating in it’s own way. Somewhere within these records there is likely, as likely not, the information necessary to close this case and in knowing that, but for the prohibitive search fees we’d have had it done and dusted years ago is a bummer.
A little more on E.C. Johnson, the baker with a missing digit, who used it to good efffect in convincing Payneham Police on day two that he was alive and well for the time being. So how did this come about and in such a short interval following the body’s discovery ie. Police had to have had the full name Edgar Cecil Johnson and not just initials or else they would certainly have been chasing up all the other S.A. E.C.’s of that age group, at east six by my count. No they must have had the full title and it could only have come from something on the dead man’s person. Like the name being found amongst his possessions, perhaps the name was written on the scrap of paper tendered in evidence as exhibit 9.
Back in the day, tabloid sheets, the stuff of yellow journalism, came in editions. Morning editions. Afternoon editions. As always with press outlets it’s a competition to be the first with a scoop. Daylight second. Fact checking, a possible third place.
Mention something and the press will likely beat it up into a story with “legs” they can control. Feltus nods to their then power in his book.
Both names initials followed by a two syllable surname.
Both provided us courtesy of the fourth man. The same man that defiled the deceased first man’s corpse with an extra comb, chewing gum, arranged cigarettes, a one-way transport ticket and possibly cheap shoes. That same man took a book from the deceased and placed it into chemist Freeman’s car.
The chemist Freeman think’s he has been double-crossed by the third man. Knowing the third man has something to do with the Parafield air crash involving the wife, Freeman nominates to SAPOL the date of the air crash as the date of the Rubaiyat being thrown into his car, for self-preservation purpose.
The book was thrown into the car early on 01 December 1948 by the out of place man.
Whilst the police apparently dismissed the missing Darwin typewriter mechanic and clerk R.E. Davis as viable Somerton man suspect, due apparently to his given height of over 6ft, his true identity and whereabouts was never established. Informants in this case, couple of government fellow clerks said that their workmate Davis was known to be heading to Adelaide overland and likely promising to get in touch but didn’t. The only other detail we are aware of is that his wife was in Townsville Qld., from which we can surmise that he may also have been a banana bender. I recall that there were light tropical style shirts in the Keane suitcase, along with electrical screwdriver, a small cleaning brush with black (typewriter ribbon) residue and that SM had seemed to be overdressed, as if he had lived in a much warmer climate ie the Capricornian northern regions where town dwellers went mainly hatless.
The man is interesting for a couple or three reasons, first and formost being that he was identified by two people, apparently from southern newspapers and that his profession and married status was also provided, though little else. As with their E.C. Johnson, police never revealed Davis’ full name, though with some intuitive backround research, I’ve come up with a similar name that seems to fit the bill within the realms of possibiluty. Richard Edward Davies hailed from the north and was born in 1906. Apart from record of a three year old child of the same name dieing in Cairns in the early seventies, nothing else has come up to date apart from Dick having served up north with the AIF til discharge in late ’45. I need some help to chase up this strangely missing family man, who by the way originally hailed from Argentina..
Suitcase found discarded at railway station likely not part of the plan.
Bally: Yes in his 1977 interview with Stewart Littlemore, then Supt. Len Brown almost let the cat out of the bag with his blooper “The suitcase left in the railway rest….. ahh cloakroom”. Our SAR cloakroom witness also mentioned other left items from 30th November ’48 including a particular piece of baggage which was never identified. The fact that SM didn’t have the collection stub in his possession, would seem to support my earlier suggestion that the ‘mislaid’ Keane suitcase was checked in by a railway platform attendant…Is that what you mean? or perhaps not!…
A person with severe dental issue and teeth missing due to weakened gums does not chew gum.
Fob pockets aren’t so anachronistic. Today, I can go to a department store and purchase a pair of men’s business trousers with fob pocket where the opening is exterior. I can also purchase a pair of beach or volley swim shorts with an interior opening fob pocket. Cleland was more thorough than his colleagues, it seems.
I must take exception the well intended standard comment on another blogs with regard to the alleged superior quality of Somerton man’s shoes, which for some unfathonable reason seem to have taken on a life that they really are not worthy of. That is to say, the pair known to have been worn by the deceased when found, are usually described as being of superior hand stitched, bespoke quality’ whereas they are in fact of a very ordinary run of the mill factory manufacture using inferior grade leather and weak a joining process. It is easy to spot the glued soles, non leather inner linings with evidence of two piece tongue separation and typical cheap metal eyelets that have no part in the fine hand made shoe trade. How that 204 B stamp marking came to denote bespoke quality, we might never know, however it was more than likely to have been a factory style identity with the ‘B’ standing for brown. Surely we can do better than to run with erronious supposition based on mere posted heresay.
Numerous highly speculative ussumptions relative to Somerton man’s supposed arrival at Adelaide from intra or interstate cities by rail on the day prior to his death 30th November 1948 have been debated. These include theorised movements based on the flimsiest of evidence and which have generated much healthy debate over the years depending on a proponent’s level of imagination. Absolutely nothing of a definitive nature has come from any of this inexpert opinionised guess work and no wonder, all critical timings being based on finding two inter suburban tickets for hairy fairy stated departure times and a host of p,otted final destinations. This all of course mostly dependent on the assumption that SM deposited his luggage at the Adelaide Station cloakroom between at a certain fifteen minute period. A recent suggestion that the deceased may have actually flown in on one of the morning departure multi stop flights from other state capitals might have some merit if not for the apparent afternnon arrival times from Sydney/Canberra – Perth and probably the Melbourne/Mildura flight as well.
There has been a deal of recent opinion on one particular dedicated Tamam Shud site relating to the pathologist’s comment on his subject’s tanned legs from groin to feet which he may mistakenly have attributed to effects of sun burn. During his service in the Middle East, Dr.Dwyer was unlikely to have had experiance with the side effects of atabrin, the standard American malarial suppressant in the Pacific war theatre. Apart from being the most effective medication then available, certain well known side effects including palate blackening, skin and nail discoloration were common, gradually fading over time with the discontinuation of treatment.
Full lower limb extremity darkening could well have convinced the good doctor, that in his beach body, he was seeing a last season’s suntan. Atabrin was also known to effect internal organs such as the liver in some cases with extended usuage, so this might also have been seen as something associated with disease symtoms during the autopsy as reported. It is most unlikely that a full leg tan from the groin down by oassing the arms and other upper body, could merely be passed off on a day spent at the beach by a sun loving Bolshoi dancer.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA RAILWAY TERMINAL, Adelaide. November 30, 1948. 09:17 a.m.
A steam train slows to a halt.
A passenger onboard, neatly attired in hat, coat and trousers, opens a carriage door to alight. His smallish feet wearing polished shoes easily makes the narrow carriage step down onto the platform. His trailing arm held by his companion. Clear of the carriage he turns to it’s door. The companion, also neatly attired in hat, coat and trousers, struggles to alight with two suitcases.
“Home sweet home”, mutters the first man that alighted.
“Home sweet home”, repeats his companion, the second man.
The station’s neo-classical interior is vacuous. Overhead announcements reverberate, barely intelligible. Some passengers scurry across the polished floor. Others tarry.
As the first and second man make their way across toward the luggage storage sign the second man says, “Now would be a good time, the book.”
The first man reaches into his coat pocket to retrieve his copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
As they walk side-by-side a third man, similarly neatly attired, also carrying a book, completes his hastening approach to them with a few lunging strides.
“Pardon me”, says the third man almost excitedly. “I couldn’t help but notice your book. It seems to be the exact same copy as mine”.
As they compare books a fourth man is in the background, leaning against an entry to the terminal, pretending to be reading the broadsheet newspaper in his hands.
Behind him is a busy Adelaide street intersection. Busy for Adelaide.
This fourth man continues to observe the first three men as they continue toward the luggage storage. He hurries to a ticket window.
“One for the train to Henley Beach”, he asks the teller before turning around to keep an eye on the other three men.
“Single or return”, replies the teller.
“Oh, ah, I dunno. Better make it a single”, says the fourth man.
The fourth man has been observing the comings-and-goings of the third man for days.
So, it is this fourth man, then, who has taken the Rubaiyat from the body of the deceased first man and deliberately thrown it into the Hillman Minx vehicle owned by the chemist Freeman parked on Jetty Road. The same chemist the fourth man he observed dealing with.
Months later, the chemist Freeman steps forward to present the Rubaiyat found in his vehicle to the police who are searching for it.
Freeman doesn’t want to implicate himself in a possible crime he didn’t commit. However, he does want to assist the authorities. So, with his brother-in-law, they confabulate. They confabulate to police that the Rubaiyat was found at the time of the a local Air Show some two weeks prior.
The fourth man has a grudge against the third man and wishes to expose him.
Why would someone take a book off a dead man and throw it ina car??
Cash and valuables maybe
With the owner of that car nominating the RAAF Pageant at Parafield just outside Adelaide CBD as the date (20 Nov 1948) as to when the Rubaiyat was thrown into his car. The same Parafield where Prosper’s first wife, Queenie Elizabeth, was on board a first MEL to ADL return flight service when it crashed. Apparently, Queenie was lucky to be on that flight. Her seat secured at the last moment. She was also lucky to survive the crash.
The fourth man fancies the third man and suspects the third man’s marriage is a sham. The fourth man, a cigarette smoker, gifts a stolen ID card to his son. His son gifts the stolen ID card to his daughter.
If we make the above mentioned fourth man a Port Adelaide born Australian Army Lance Corporal named JDM McIntyre, that could explain how his son AM McIntyre came to be in possession of the HC Reynolds identification card.
Hypothetical… JDM McIntyre and Prosper connect briefly over their enlistment. The senior McIntyre fancies Prosper to the point of stalking which includes the day of the lead-up to the Somerton Man’s death. JDM McIntyre spends the night trying to figure out the body switch. He tampers with the corpse which includes removing the identification card. He eventually gives it to his son as an inheritance.
Fact is… when AM McIntyre was in his first marriage, he allowed a now convicted paedophile to form a relationship with his own son when he was a minor. AM McIntyre eventually gave the identification card to one of his daughters as an inheritance.
In this, we have further connections between the Somerton Man Mystery and the Disappearance of the Beaumont children.
There was no brother-in-law Max, but sibling Collin could substitute I guess.
A final thought on former S A Attorney General Rau’s intransigence over the desired exhumation of Somerton man, wuth discovery that his grandmother was a Keane. We now also have an elderly great uncle or even grandfather Rau being reported for unpatriotic pro German acivities in Adelaide around WW1 of which somebody made sure in the 80’s that it had blown over. Now we don’t know too much about young John Rau’s own past because there is strangely no online bio details for such an important chap. Only that his dad Arthur, ex RAAF was of the same age as Prosper Thomson and both lived in Main Street, Henley Beach in 1946. It’d be interesting if somehow we could obtain the precise address, knowing that Jessica’s soon to be partner lived at No 7.
It would seem that Prosper Thomson had himself some fairly interesting friends and associates down through the years, some based on mere hearsay and others quite definate. Det. Ron Richards of Perth CIB got him off on a GB rather than gaol time in June ’38 because he felt sorry for the young offender. Off course Ron was later responsible for the Special Branch ‘Australia First’ prosecutions in W.A., then later as front man for Spry’s ASIO, ran the Venona/defection brief. His mate Det Errol Canney, who interviewed Jessie about the ROK and knew the Thomson’s socially, (as did Det. Ron Thomas), went on to head all United Nations Peace Keeping forces in Cyprus. There were also the two high ranking Victorian AIF nursing sisters he seems to have known from the war years. Matrons Monica McMahon who Pte.Thomson probably met as a patient in 115 military hospital Heidelberg, as well as the very intersting associate Matron Grace Mudge who seems to get accreditation in Prosper’s uneventful service file. Grace went on to marry a surgeon in ’45 and as Mrs.Brown moved from Mentone/Malvern to the western Sydney suburb of Concord where the Thomson family had once lived. One undeniable friendship was that forged between Prosper the vintage car enthusiast and a similarly addicted Adelaide Advertiser reporter Frank Kennedy of ‘Tamam Shud’ interpretation fame; the pair can be seen in Trove’s ‘Vintage Cars Chug Again’ newspaper caption from the 50s.
Folks, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A man walks into a bar and says to the barman, “H.C. Reynolds’ car is going to be stolen…”
Barman sez “Horace Charles”?. Man sez “No Debbie!”. Sorry mate you it coming.
Couple or three things that ad rem might like to chew over relating to his/her recent well intentioned comments; Firstly it serms most likely, in light of the known facts that the so called Tamam Shud slip was well secreted in the inner belt lining cavity of SM’s self supporting trousers, not in a fly or pocket fob which were not listed with the style specs.as far as we know. Secondly chewing gum is not only enjoyed by those with a gob full of pearly whites, of which I am most deficient and yet am able to chew chew chew til my jaws drop off. As for the Phoenix Hotel Chrysler theft in late ’47, that sting has been aired on numerous occasions around all the dedicated sites and is of no interst apart from it having gone down right by the main Russell Street CIB office.
It wasn’t a sting.
It was an attempt by the fourth man, or representative thereof, to connect with the second man at the same time as drive (pun unintended) a wedge between the second man and the third.
The fourth man knew there was money to be made somehow involving the second man.
The fourth man knew this because he was at one time commissioned by the third man to provide a fake ID for a first man.
When that deal fell through the fourth man felt double-crossed by the third man. Cheated out of his entitlement. A gambler’s fallacy, of sorts. Heated, personal words were exchanged demeaning the intelligence of the fourth man.
It doesn’t take a gang of thieves to acquire a duplicate set of keys to a car and let it be known when one individual hot-wiring it, in secret, will suffice.
Enter the aforementioned overnight motorbike rider from Broken Hill.
Necessitating the performance by the sea wall where a stocky, overdressed, overseeing man wearing a top hat was observed.
…No interest in the H.C. Reynolds car theft other that it involved dedicated car thieves, which brings to mind Prosper Thomson’s alleged involvement with organised car theft. Some how his involvement still has some hard core support, though based on absolutely no physical evidence whatever. Somerton man being named as a most likely accomplice merely because he was found on the beach near to the Thomson rented pad and that possessions included items best suited to stealing cars than for a host of other more practical uses that come to mind.
Just don’t ask him for one …
Screwdriver (insulated) for turning screws & testing curcuits, plain lead pencils for penciling & sketching, mascara brush (black gunk) for applying black face to B&W minstrel performers, scissors for numerous material cutting applications, utility knife for gutting fish and stalking horses, zinc plate for general protective sheathing purposes…Of course any or all of the above might well be found in possession of your average car thief, although the zinc sheeting might take some time to pull a current for auto hot wiring as peteb suggests, being not so hot in low voltage auto applications.
“The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.”
I could go on, with other available car breaking tools like the sewing needle which, along with handy hair pin will defeat a car door lock, or aternatively a coat hanger to bypass the lock altogether. If not successful the tyres might be slashed with the cutthroat razor, car set alight with the Greens lighter if of a mind and the slightly soiled undies used to wipe face and hands before decamping…I’d personally recommend forgetting about the middle aged grand theft auto scenario and instead concentrate on Bob Wake’s brilliant ‘The Case’ operation which included the soviet espionage shakedown of the Asia Pacific Economic summit, held at the Lapstone combined services country club and future RAAF Eastern Command H.Q. in November/December 1948.
Our Somerton man was certainly neatly attired, a credit to our blog master for not going for the usual lily guilding ‘immaculately dressed’ and educated Britisher, that we the gullible are accustomed to. The clothes worn by SM when found, were of decent store bought quality, showing signs of age related ware and tear, though still serviceable. As for the alleged ‘bespoke’ hand crafted shoes, the pictures prove otherwise in that, although they were found to be nicely buffed at the toes, quality was plainly sub-standard to the eye. Most noticeable to your average cobbler would be the cheap sole to body fit stitchings, cloth leatherette inner linings and most telling of all, the cheap metal lacing eyelets. Of course there were darned knitted socks, a non silk tootal tie and a very standard separate shirt/stud-collar setup, hardly suitable for the upper crust respectable gentleman dressed to the nines for his own funeral sadly.
Our Somerton Man had a bunch of tools in his case that assisted him in obtaining illegal entry to locked cars prior to hot-wiring them. A skill young Prosper T may have been familiar with, given his occupation and police record.
Our Somerton Man also had Prosper T’s Adelaide phone number.
“Your” Somerton man was fortunate to have Gerald Feltus, to give him that certain aura of notoriety that some in the past have alluded to, and that others such as your good self have now bet their reputations upon. Our Somerton man on the other hand, was found dead on a beach with nothing in his possessions to pinpoint an identity or likely calling. The attempts to connect him with a suitcase found or left at Adelaide Station is too neat and cosy for me, though I’m first to admit that the theme seems to sut most half smart punters; which of course allows them to then spruke all they like about certain tools and fanciful uses thereof. If all this connects him to Prosper, ‘grand theft auto’ and his partner’s phone number, (most likely recorded in the ROK by police), it can be further speculated upon with gay abandon.
This from a bloke who wouldn’t know a Barbour thread from a basin cut.
Too neat and cosy was the jacket in the discarded suitcase. The jacket a tad too small for TSM. It belonged to the Second Man.
The Barbour thread that I’m most familiar with came with my army housewife kit..No not the housewife like Marjorie who should have used them to sew up the lips of her miscreant urchin surfer child Kerrie Leigh …..
You go straight to personal when you’re in a corner, Dusty, you belong where you are, digger.
Not really wanting to get too personal Pete, but dad and his craven flyboy mates who showed their true colours initally when they failed to provide air cover in the sinking of two capital ships Repulse and Prince of Wales off Kuantan in ’41, shame that we Aussies must live with in perpetuity (not perpetual life). Later when they deserted their squadies in Singapore to save their miserable skins is an insult to our Anzac legacy of mateship. Did Fred ever have a yarn to cover his cowardly conduct and more importantly, is it at all likely he just happened to bump into malingering Prosper Thomson when he slunk back into Adelaide full of piss and vinigar in ’42.
I was not intending to re- introduce Fred Leigh DFC (Duck For Cover), though that may be a lead to SM’s possible Airforce connections. All depends on your behavior henceforth. I did get a chuckle from your “bums rush” respone to the imposter’s graphite rosen suggestion if that helps to ease the burden.
Just came across an interesting segment on the disturbing element’s own rarely visited site, entitled ‘Fiction & Foxglove’, the fiction being that Sir John Cleland handed a piece of paper to the coroner with names of two poisons. Offender was of course Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks, a real knight, whereas the old professor did not have that distinction in 1949, the time of the inquest. Anyhow, some mothers do have em, so Pete may be pardoned yet again for his recurrent spate of unintentional faux pas’ . Sir Ced’s poisons info. notation isn’t quite done with though, for when it was tendered by the great man, it was marked exhibit C18 and so holds a ready reference in the original inquest file. Yet what of it’s mate, the so called ‘piece of paper’ with the exhibit notation C 9, which strangely never appears to have been mentioned amongst the listed property of SM or amongst the contents of his alleged suitcase, nor by any witness to these proceedings. Yet it was certainly deemed to be of sufficient evidentiary merit for it to have it’s own exhibit number, as opposed to the other individual property listings entered collectively as either exhibit one or three. Only difference being we have no clue where or whence it transitioned nor what, if anything it had written upon it , though could not have been the Tamam Shud slip which is listed earlier with Somerton Man’s beach findings…
Fred had been a junior adviser to a former head of Australian Military Intelligence, both before and following WW2 hostilities. Like most other young chaps, eager to get ahead he inlisted for combat, got a commission then spent most of his later service behind a compositors desk in a safe zone avoiding the Japanese who has given him such a fright back in ’42. During pre service career Freddy was almost certainly on favoured terms with his wealthy boss, a patron of the arts and known, supporter of justice for the privilaged few. He was also known in the early war years to have been a regular of Sydney’s foreign expatriot clubs and other lefty hang outs like Pakies where soviet plants like Leon Woizikowsky, a mate of the boss’ and undercover member of NKVD held court. Fred carried a loaded gun, boasted of his proficiency and used it to get his own way on at least one memorable occasion. Just the type of unsavory character that a power broker might consider using to be rid of a threat, and as far from home turf as conveniently possible..like Somerton Beach perrhaps.
Everything was going along swimmingly and quite plausably so, with Bally’s latest contribution; that is until the strange news of Freeman’s claim to Sapol that his ROK find had been at the time of Queenie Thomson’s plane misadventure at Parafield. Maybe I’m missing the point, but the plane crash was in May of 1946 to the best of my hazy recollection, so a good while prior to the air pajeant in ’48 if that makes sense. OK I guess I’m missing connections to fake news stories and that police miss reported times dates and places for cover-ups and the like, which may take time for this retarded old suit to get to the bottom of.
A small factor of interest re Somerton, though not necessarily connected with SM, is that when Fred the gunslinger was prosecuted for unlawful possession of a firearm in 1952, he told the judge that it was his personal officer’s issue during the war and that he retained by mistake. Being somewhat familiar with the model in question, a Webley service revolver in .455 calibre, which did not tally with details given in the indictment ie. 45 Colt ACP, one might have reasonable grounds for suspicion. Especially in knowledge that such a weapon with an umistakable ‘civilian’ conversion characteristic was found beside the body of an alleged suicide victim at Somerton in 1943. Of further interest is in that, following police investigation and a military board of inquiry, the death weapon was said to have been put into military service, possibly then ending up in the possession of Fred, himself a former Army intelligence officer whose file noted wartime subordinate was raised at Brighton, the next beach along from Somerton..
Not only was Queenie lucky to secure her seat on the ill-fated inaugural return flight to Adelaide from Mebun as Tom correctly states, but so was her young charge, the little French schoolgirl Michelle Cau, who was going to spend the May holidays with her mum, C. Cau who lived somewhere along South Esplinade, Glenelg according to the News press release. Strange that we never heard from either of them again, although her uncle Pierre, who served with Alf Boxall on the good ship Crusader got a mention here and there through the fifties and ended up in crook as Rookwood of all places. Still there too with the rest of the herd.
Pierre, according to Army records was only fifteen when Michelle was born, so he was most likely to have been an uncle or cousin, though you never know with the French. Two kin families, one from Melbourne t’other Sydney and wool buyers going way back to colonial times and tied up with business throughout Australasia.
One or two things stand out in Fred’s case; from humble beginnings in Darwin NT as a government clerk, to top of the heap in leafy O’Connor ACT a couple of years after de-mobbing and back to the clvil service grind until retirement by the sixties. Long stays with Esma (accnts clerk) in tax free Manilla/Hongkong between ’67 and ’72, same as my other even harder toiling Fred who’s similar longish stays in tax free havens of Fiji & Raratonga ’67 and ’72 could hardly have been mere holidays, if you see what I mean; he having had his own humble abode, in the most celubrious street in Australia according to Wiki. I don’t envy the well heeled at all, though I would prefer those fortunate sons to have come by said gains from their own enterprise and not derived from the hard honest toil of us less deserving ‘arcadians’, to use a well intended term of the latter. As for their freeloading offspring, I wish nothing but bad tidings of course.
There can be no doubting that Pine Creek Fred Morris and his young side kick Fred Gubbins of Brighton came from their respective humble origins into sudden wealth after hostilities had ended in ’45. When the American allies departed stateside, they left behind in Australian territorial regions a wealth of written off wartime materiel stores, weapons and equipment in scattered underground dumps in the outback.. Anybody having the various cashe coordinates and means of access, collection and transportation had first dibs opportunity to make considerable gain from such a treasure trove. Apart from these likely lads whose vast experience in these desert regions is set out plainly on NAA newly posted files, I can think of other with the knowledge who could also have had similar intentions, and all of whom were most likely known to the others These would have included Bob Wake of ASIO and his Vlademar Augenson, DCA investigator, the Herbert brothers Dave & Xavier whith their access to native labour and shipping as well as foreign markets, the Boxall cousins with their mate Peter Cau, each of whom knew where all the island cashes were buried and finally a group of hesitant RAAF fighter pilots who before retreating from Batavia to Adelaide in early ’42 had time to hide their aircraft and spares for later recovery and conversion. Where and whence our Somerton man might fit in with such a potentially rewarding enterprise and whether disputation within such an organisation had led to his demise, is best left for others to try and fathom.
Gee whiz, I see that a new deliberately secreted Tomsbytwo thread line has most blatantly replicated (with pics) my own recent low key description of the skeleton sewing needle, bobby pin trick to countering a pin lock key housing. And after all the deflating things I chose not mention about our Stalking Horse Groomer’s own rather delicate historical skeletons which, in light of such chicanery, I must now reluctantly reconsider.
We must try to placate poor Pete rather than to test his resolve, no matter how inane his ideas might seem. Afterall his ‘Bookmaker of Nepal’ is the bible of SM knowledge and every word crafted to maximise his own estime no less. Our self claimed angry intellectual can surely take his spiteful place along side the likes of the great Joseph Conrad (his favourite), who is seems unwittingly put down a couple of rather fitting epitaphs in ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘The end of the Tether’.
The only things of note stemming from two everyday smash & grab heists, as reported on Tomsbytwo by misguidedly groomed informant ‘dude’ are the names of the attending Sapol detectives Whitrod and Canney, both of whom are known to us on our Somerton Man brief. Dude can be excused for getting his detail of the offence dates incorrect, but what’s most conveniently missing from the resolutely dedicated ‘grand theft auto’ site, is that both break-ins, one a jewellery shop, the other a residence were opportunistically motivated; So no need for the car lock picking and sundry tools so frequently referred to by Peter Bowes on his stalking adventures both here and elsewhere..
I have finally received reply re my email to Maryvale Salvation Army Maternity Hospital, Newcsatle for records on the Harkness girls and their mother Ellen’s having laid in there during the 1920s. That benevolent organisation’s historical research arm advise that, in consideration of there being a known living relative (Kate?) and consistent with their policy, they are not at liberty to disclose any information on the proposed birth details of “Jessie Ellen”….God Bless the Salvos for their discretion, which satisfies my long held suspicion that ‘my gal sal’ was not from Marrickville. Most folks may not be aware that the Harkness family had lived in the large NSW steel city of Newcastle-on-Hunter during a good part of the roaring twenties.
George was a fence, dusty, out and out.
George played his once in a lifetime part, down to a tee, even if the costumes weren’t quite the same for that occasion.
Prosper T. couldn’t down a whole pasty, depight it being ever so tasty. So rather than chuck the last half in the can, he spiked it and gave it to Somerton Man….George was a dealer but not a great scammer, got caught once or twice just avoided the slammer. As for a fence me thinks surely not, ever more likely to end up in the slot.
He knew how to fudge a title, learnt the hard way in 37/37…. then he went into the car exchange business – your heap for £50 cash or swap for horse and cart – small beer.
Not so great in ’38 but things were fine by ’49. Queenie’s skipping might have cost her; should have stayed in Perth with Prosper.
There had been an add firstly for a governess in ’47 thence a companion in ’50? for a Mrs. Archie McTaggart, well heeled Grazier’s wife from over Port Augusta way, for the period of her Xmas holiday stay at Somerton with her littluns…Me thinks the well groomed curry munching stalking horse, is somertimes a little over the top in his enthusiam in serving two demanding masters.
Crikeys, Pete almost beat us to the punch over there, thanks be to Milongal on the 60 minutes post and devious Byron Deveson from his time redmud camp out west.
Dusty, in your wide and self-fulfilling life experience, is the bloke who sparks up a car the same fellow who sells it .. generally speaking ?
Or does he need a phone number, like X3292 ?
Course not Pete; he gets as far from it as he can; even further if he knows the sting.
…and by the way Petebowes, before you stalk by next, check to see you give the right quoted detail. Thomsons phone number was X3239 not X3292, as I like to keep punters on this blog reliably informed.
How does he collect?
Cox brothers (Aust.) Collection agency. See Errol Canney 17th January 1950, part time servant of the company and a social aquaintace of the Thomsons. Any further queries ask Trove but be expansive and try our deceased teenaged bike thief from Broken Hill for the final touch.
Who killed him?
“The yeller feller” , with a little help from his friends is my take. Keep it mum until the uplift if you’d be so kind. I need the fame.
Dusty, I have to say, old mate, your old chaff doesn’t do much for me … but you are an entertaining fellow.
And I have to say old mate, that in those heady post war years, your man Prosper seems to have had his greedy fingers in a lot of pies (pasties); but you know what? Tom Keen (sic) aka something similar), was neither, a Russian spy, a jilted lover, a U.S. military deserter, a nit keeper and almost certaintly not a car thief hot on the trail of Vauxhall ’48 Wyvern in contemplation of a change in ownership without consent. I’d say my chaff beats your fairy floss hands down on that sweet note..
That’s what I mean, dusty, you’re just another voice on the sideline, someone who is never in the game.
See you around, old digger ..
Peteb: You might consider sending your man ‘dude 4711’ over this way, now that his term of useful exploitation is over. We’re sure to come up with some lock jobs for him to mess with, after which we’ll kindly put the old stalking horse out to pasture on his recognisance..
So we now have ‘dude 747’s gift input posted on Tomesbytwo under the Bowes byline with three aces and headed ‘Keane Thomson and Harkness’ as in end game with a itemised offering of all bases covered. Very simple very logical and rather typical of very easily effected cop out. One ingredient non proof that blows the rest away with is, you guessed it and peteb knows it; Prosper Thomson was never convicted of any crime in his life, that includes automobile theft or crooked dealing. Can you guess what US grunts did with the Ace of Spades, perhaps we can effect something similar with our horse stalker groomer in chief eh dude.
What makes peteb so sure that Prosper had a heart condition necessitating the use of digitalis to get his ticker pumping. On the contrary his war record goes the other way, mentioning heamatopsys or chucking up blood and some other ism in addition to post traumatic concussion, none of which needed digitalis treatment. Where did he happen by that convenient poison source for the despatch of his old car thief, while jacking off over by the sideline would be a good guess..
Seems that Nazi Germany’s Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler was a closet libertarian, for it was reported from Denmark in 1942 that he had implemented laws enabling nudists to go about their uninhibited business of defrocking in certain public places providing that such conduct did not offend public decency….Not so in staid old Cronulla Beach Sydney, where in 1947, eight unattired males and two similarly denuded females were picked up by the fuzz. It took ten law enforcers, two of whom posed schnapper anglers, rods in hand, to arrest the offenders and book them under strict moral decency statutes of the time….What’s this got to do with our Somerton Man some may well ask. All goes back to the autopsy where our pathologist noted that his client was tanned on both legs from the groin down which does not, in my own estimation fit with any trade or calling, where a cove would likely have tanning to sun burning of that nature, allbeit from a previous summer as Dr. Dwyer observed.
I appreciate everyone’s contribution to this case here. I don’t want to block any comments so please refrain from any personal attacks here. Thanks 🙂
I well understand your concern re some undesired recent content to which I must confess being a party, only excuse for my being my deemed prejudicial conduct being merely in retaliation to barbs and insults posted on another SM blog at which I am shut out. The offender, well known over the years for his use of sites like this to harass and denegrate those who go contrary to his oft changing personal agendi. A secondary ploy for this ‘disturbing element’ is to target a gullible dupe with initial praise, follow it up with well rehearsed grooming regime to gain confidence and the hook is set. A friendly invitation to his place as a respected guest with similar views to those expressed by his dedicated team of admiring zombi adherents. Then when the newby starts to voice opinion of a questioning nature, as is their need to clarify some point at issue, the welcome mat is unceremoniously pulled, the offender being accused of treachery in daring to self opinionise contrary to strict house rules…..that’s how I see it from my lonely little place, my apologies going out to any I may have offended in defence of the old foolish pride. Things may actually have resolved in reference to the self proclaimed Dangerous Intellectual’s last post of “Game over” if that can indeed be his intention. Perhaps now we can get back to business and hopefully put the March hare mischievous ritualistic antics behind us.
I’ve finally gotten hold of some pretty credible information on a couple of the inquest exhibits from a retired senior court officer of State Coronors jurisdiction. He informs that in the sixties through nineties exhibits such as those in the Somerton Man case, listed as his death possessions, would have been quick sketched by a newspaper employee contemporaneously upon presentation to the coronor for his viewing and edification. Thence the sketches were finished, usually in a recess and sent off asap with the court reporters notes for favour of the editor’s decision on publication. From that we might therefore assume that the matches were of the NSW Federal brand and not from Bryant & May company which had at the time been in limited production due to a prolonged strike. As for the metal comb, I am quietly confident that it was not military, certainly not American GI issue or for that matter Australian. I have reason to believe that it may well have been a tick comb for animals of domestic type like dogs or ponies, perhaps even those issued to tick gate inspectors for quick checks.
For those interested in a little history of the Federal Match company, it was founded by the Swede Carl Sundstrom in Sydney pre WW1 and they, along with the English pencil pencil makers Royal Sovereign, co operated in a white poplar peel wood division in the Federal forests of northern NSW. The factory was originally set up in Alexandria Sydney, but by WW2 it had moved closer to the supply near Grafton where it expanded to take advantage of military supply contracts. Interestingly Royal Sovereign brand pencils were found in the Keane suitcase at Adelaide in 1948, most folks believing they were of English manufacture, a falacy most likely. These days the village of Federal close by the old denuded cedar forests in the hinterlands west of Byron Bay is said to be settled by just a few graziers and some alternative life city bushmen clans. It has also been rumored that a depraved sect of dog breeders practicing beastiality rituals lurk in the area. Not likely in my honest opinion.
Any subsequent comments in this thread that aren’t on topic or contain anything even remotely personal about another commenter will result in the person being blocked from this thread. I don’t want to block any individual’s comments or get involved in any personal disputes, I am only interested in the Somerton Man mystery. Everyone posting has a wealth of great ideas and different angles they approach the case from that should be respected. I enjoy reading all the different perspective and research. We all share the common thread of unravelling the Somerton Man mystery so I appreciate all future comments adhering to this.
It was never proven absolutely that traiter Harry Dexter White died from the effects of digitalis, indeed his physician Dr. Emerson, although absent on another case (Keene) insisted demise was due to his medicated pre existing heart condition and not digitalis perse. Death occurred almost three days after the alleged suicide overdose was consumed aboard a train taking him home from giving his purgered testimony at the McCarthy hearings in August ’48. I can’t see how this contect’s necessarilly with the alleged similar chain of events that transpired with Somerton Man by spy theorists. When all is said and done, he could have accidently self asphixiated or else been assisted in a like manner by others with nefarious intent. At least SM had the benefit of an unconclusive autopsy, which Harry had avoided by his somewhat hastily convened cremation, against Hebrew custom; so I guess we’ll never truly know though that lovely word ‘asystol’ could spell the difference.
For my money Somerton Man was more likely to have expired whilst lying flat out on the sand, there being just as much evidence to support such a synopsis as to the more popular propped up against the seawall. In order for my proposition to work we might have to put accidental self asphyxiation to one side, that theory being part and parcel to the noted lividity around the neck shoulder region. Initial body examination by police indicated the real possibility of at least part immersion from exposure to the morning high tide. Had that been the case lividity could have thus been caused by tidal undertow, with the heavy shoulder area working into the shifting sand base and lending to it a lower position for blood to settle. I do believe that first attenders, possibly the jockeys raised the body to it’s described position against the seawall to keep it from being saturated, a natural reaction which was never considered by investigators, or anyone else for that matter.
Some of the never surrender category are known to become totally convinced of their positive SM identifications and will not admit defeat despite any number of clear signs that they are most assuredly mistaken. Charles Mikelsen advocates are of that order it seems, based on the sad resumption of new claims of him being our man. Truth being known, similarities to SM are pretty well non existant.including a host of other valid arguments, including his death in 1940 and physical scaring that have been raised over many years. It is just not feasable that his nomination should be conciously considered for inclusion yet once again on one particular, site with all respect to the well known confident proposer of course.
Has it occurred to anyone that, apart from evidence derived from the June, 1949 inquest, just about every thing brought to our attention in the interim, is based either on hearsay, speculation or both. Unfortunately that pair of imposters forms the basis for most SM online commentary to-day, used for argument and clarification as if it were absolute proven factual first hsnd knowledge; which of course it is most assuredly not. I would caution that stories passed down over time are bound to have been enhanced or altered to such a degree that they are counterproductive and unsafe.
A little debate has been joined at another place regarding the bus from Adelaide Station to Somerton Beach in 1948. One ex denizen of The Broadway Somerton refutes quite resolutely my well researched data on this important aspect of the investigation which I’ve commented on quite often, to no effect apparently. The old Somerton double decker Leyland bus operated turn about every hour with the oft mentioned St. Leonards service from town. Approaching Glenelg along Anzac Hwy. it turned east onto Partridge St., then west along The Broadway, east again at Moseley St. and continuing through a dog leg into Tarlton then through to it’s final stop in Whyat St. whence it resumed its return trip via. Partridge St or later Brighton Rd. I’ve been able to ascertain that minor deviations were sometimes permitted to benefit residents of the Crippled Children’s home (Alvington) on Sth. Esplinade. The online Fuller’s Adelaide directory of 1948 should settle the matter once and for all.
Dad’s name was Sandy Sanders and he being of a race not indisposed to tribal head hunting rituals and the like, accepting the Kings shilling along with the number 136, he took to war like a shiftless Coogee surfie takes to an early swell and old CES dole queue of an arvo. I did not get to know daddy of course but shit happens and then besides I’ve got a picture of him from his old village kitted in for Rugby (no boots of course), looking like an Easter Island monolith for all money….Strangely I can never recall being at a bar in Singas but I’ll stand corrected if you can show your cards. Hate to be confused with a military deserter or imposter Heaven forbid.
Last week I wrote “Any subsequent comments in this thread that aren’t on topic or contain anything even remotely personal about another commenter will result in the person being blocked from this thread.” Since this occasion, I have had to reluctantly block a commenter. I hope all future comments will abide by the guidelines. Thanks 🙂
Has anyone ever given any thought to how often the name Muir seems to crop up amongst our Somerton Man players; with the Thomson and Harkness families being connected to it in various degrees eg. Prospers grandmother, Jessies sister Jean and uncle John, also her unrelated near namesake Jessica Muir Thomson also of Glenelg. Understandably Scottish input is most likely the key, although Muir and it’s derivitive Moor (fen or sea) don’t seem to be all that common and for that matter the Thomson and Harkness families were apparently long removed from their original Gailic roots.
Just to clarify a couple of furphies that are being put out, either as an attention grab or alternatively to misrepresent the facts as we know them. Paul Lawson the Adelaide taxidermist who did a plaster cast of Somerton man 6 months after his death, has admitted that his job was beset with problems, not least of which involved pressure to complete the job by Adelaide police and the effects of body decomposion. In interviews over the years Paul has acknowledged that the facial features are not representative of the ‘original’ recently deceased body as depicted in newspapers of the day. With regard to identification based on his cast, there was no positive results stemming from those who saw it including Jessie Harkness. In her case she was said to have shown some degree of physical discomfort when confronted and seemed to swoon, her answers to police being in the negative and refusal to answer questions as has been claimed on an unamed blog. Reason for her state of unease may have included her having been in the early stages of a pregnancy with daughter Kate at the time, also that the eerie white bust with it’s protruding red body hairs might well have been enough to put the devil himself in a spin. Another attention grabber on the same site topic header, states that the body, when found sported bloodied knuckles, as if it were evidence of a much prefered pre death altercation. The pathologist described said “bloodied knuckles” as some grazing in between the knuckles which he considered of no particular relevance…If we can keep things on balance we’ll be better for it I can assure you from some recent experience with phonies and their preposterous claims and by the way, my last inquiries on Paul suggested that he was still with us and active enough for a man of almost 102.
On my daily outward jaunt along the trail leading away from a little used foot bridge near my camp, I was surprised to see a wild rabbit hopping by just off the narrow pathway through the bush. A little over two hours later on the return journey, having crossed the same rickety bridge, I surpised a fine young cobra on the river track. After a respectful standoff we both went on our way and it was then that I recalled my last sighting of either creature having been fifty years ago, both being shy and reclusive so not often encountered, even in the countryside where I live. Wiki tells me that brer rabbit is a sure sign of coming good fortune and the cobra a harbinger of some forthcoming enlightenment. Standby for developements.
I think I’m duty bound to report on a deliberately misleading identification, this one part of a recurring disinformation tactic being put out. On this particular occasion they would have us believing that poor Keith Mangnosson of Carl Thomsen SM identification fame, had a sibling (brother) working as an Intelligence operative. Our Keiths older and only brother was Cyril John Wilson, bn 1906 Broken Hill NSW Aust. ( he says Cape Town) a vagabond who never amounted to much and died about 1985. In theyir typical espionage connecting style is obviously attempting to make dead beat Cyril into an ASIO or like Intel. operative named Magnossen (or similar) who was active in the 50s and referred to often.The latter was most certainly not related to our Keith.
A Commonwealth Invstigation agent named Magnussen was assigned to undertake certain surveilance work in connection with the Lapstone conference in 1948. Whilst his first name was not divulged in the Hembleys Scales covering report, he is mentioned in some later papers for similar work undertaken at behest of Big Bob Wake during his tenure as director of ASIO field operations ref. Inky Stephenson surveillance?
Yet another interesting theory has been observed on another site, a new reason for Jestyn’s shock horror at seeing SM’s plaster bust, which occurred on 26th July 1949, a full seven months after his body was found at Somerton. The poster, who likes refering to his murder victim as T Keane believes that “Jestyn” and her man Prosper had been in company with him on the day of his demise, that being 1st December 1948, Yet he describes her reaction on seeing the bust as being due to a “recent” live meeting with the victim, which to many would not be considered all that recent. PS: Said site has determined that Prosper Thomson and his partner were at the very least, co-conspitators in the mysterious death.
My latest efforts de metamorphasising Helenic name variations has met with a complete failure to make even the slightest headway necessitating re evaluation of a childhood liking for everthing Greek including little Nancy Malonas. I’m positive that even philosophers of old including Plato or Aristotle wouldn’t fare any better than my own abysmal efforts. For a starter, any proud son of Pythagoras, be they Athenian, Cypriot, Castelorizian or Rhodesian (sic), when deciding to make a new start in a more favourable foreign clime, have this habit of adopting a short common local name like Tom, Mick or Con which has nought to do with one that mother used to call them to dinner as kids. They’ll hook it up with the day of the week they set sail, throw in a respected aunt’s middle label eg. Zafero or Eleni, add the misspelt district of their ancestral home and finish it off with something simple like Kyriakos, Gregorios or Moutzouropolis shorted to say Tom Gregory or Con Morris for when they’re arrested. What’s left is then melded to create a nice sounding full monicker that they will switch about with gay abandon at a whim. Before kicking the old fetta bucket, your average Greek will ensure that their eternal repose is marked and recorded for research purposes under dear mother’s orthodox maiden title that they had never been known by during their lifetime…My long standing candidate for SM will only be identified by his NAA thumb print from about 1916, if only I can come up with the name he used when he registered for alien status on arrival at Paraparap.
There has been much debate over the years regarding veracity of chemist John Freeman’s alleged claim of having found the W&T 1st Edition coded Rubaiyyat in his car; the auto in particular being named as a ‘little Hillman Minx’ by Detective Gerry Feltus, author of ‘The Unknown Man’. It has been suggested that, bearing in mind it’s perported size and that the book had been found in the rear passenger area, possibly the foot well, that we are likely looking at a converable model. In that case look no further than the one parked on South Esplinade, right there above the death scene. The car in question is most assuredly the right model, it being a Hillman Minx drophead coupe of a vintage between 1937 and WW2…The car appears in the only known press photo of X marks the spot and far enough away from the nearest stairway, so as not likely to be the photographer’s; but conversely in the very best position to facilitate a dead body being removed from the back seat, rolled down the nearby embankment and re positioned for maximum effect against the seawall for later discovery…I was never a great fan of this particular scenario, but one more elaborate like the General Macarthur’s celebrated off shore arrival, though in saying that, the described alternate version has a certain simplicity about it that begs for closer attention..
“I also feel that the complete lack of one credible identification indicates “Keane” was a new face” , proposed offhandly as a self serving and simplistic excuse for SM having gone seemingly unoticed by bus drivers, railway staff and Adelaide public in general; does not mean that his picture in the papers necessarily went unoticed by relatives, aquaintances, accomplices or others, who for any number of reasons, didn’t choose to come forward. I can think of ten off the top of my head and I’m sure other more imaginatives folk could do better..Try these and see if you can add;
Kin embarassment or shame, Criminal association, Ins.claim denial (suicide), Not my business, No desire to get involved, No net gain for coming forward, Likely to be innocently of some crime, Coming to notice of police, Some derived windfall or, of course having some minor involvement in the lead-up to, etc etc etc….
If anyone has ever wondered about the accumulated hair left on the floor of a salon and thought perhaps it may have been used by fine plaster casters, they’d be right on the money. Of course it’s sold off for use in the trade or mixed with course horse hair to line split forming cases before creating the actual solid replica of their bust, in the case of Paul Lawson that should have been Somerton Man and of course just about everone must know by now (I’ve spoken of often enough) that those few celebrated hairs taken from the completed bust, years later for DNA analysis, could not those of the original mortuary specimen, whether that be the beach body or a substitute. One reason I can be sure that the extracted hairs are not original, is that when Paul spoke of creating the cast, he also used a gel solution to keep the scalp hair from impeding his delicate laying on process.
My best SM candidate to date could be described as being a statatuesque Adonis type, of Greek descent around fifty and a true Rhodes scholar though without the usual fancy letters or labels. Known as Tom, Stanley or Gregory with an Hellenic surname that converts quite readily to the English Keen (no derivitives), at ease in several continehtal and middle eastern languages to the extent that an NT trove listing refers to him as Court translater in 1927. Aside from that his (NAA) online vocation is listed as government cook (caterer) before WW2 , former resident of Darwin since arriving to work for Vestey Paraparap NT in 1916, but after outbreak of WW2 was running a fish cafe near Sydney’s Circular Quay where he is known to have been an allied informer (NAA entry). A person similarly named co-purchased property in Adelaide in 1942 (NAA) with a soon deceased old aquaintance from Darwin. What happened to my man after that is at most speculative, difficulty being with the mish mash of Grecian names and a tendency of it’s former countrymen not to be so particular which one they choose to be officially known by. I’m probably on the wrong track but will persevere until something more interesting comes along.
At risk of being called nice guy, hale fellow well met or Mr. Bonhomme, none of which would be appropriate, let me reiterate on the ‘nit keeper’ subject that seems set for yet another run on two SM fronts. Nick Savas’ WW2 NAA file indicates that during his CMF service in the eastern states he gave two addresses, 209 Lonsdale St. Melbourne (Kastelorizio club) and 74 Goulburn Street Sydney (Hellenic club), the latter of which was a known rendezvous for army Int. man Fred Morris and his informant Tom Savas. Whilst it’s likely that the two Greeks were at least known to each other, I have no direct evidence of it. There are quite a number of un searched NAA files in a variety of names that seem to refer to a single entity. Sadly the cost for displaying them all is prohibitive at present, good fellow or not.
From the Adelaide papers we gather that Chemist Freeman found his W & T Rubaiyyat some six months prior to police puting out their ‘million to one’ quest on 22/7/49 (how?). Had any John Citizen made such a discovery, first cab of the rank would be to call the local X number penciled on the cover with a view to returning it to the owner. We never heard of any such call , which points to there most likely having been no such number on the book before he dutifully handed it in on Friday 22/9/49…The papers came out with details of the find the following day, but not until Tuesday 26th do we hear of the RNSH nurse’s story as reported by Det.Leane. How likely is it that it took four full days to spot her number and to identify the subscriber off their own ‘reverse phone book’. Stands to reason that Jess’s phone number was written on the cover only following her making contact on Monday morning 25/7, a good neighbour call to let the law in on her ROK deal with Alf Boxall back in ’45, simply to be helpful…Had there been any more to it, following her then interview with Det. Canney, the negative bust ID and Alf’s aquittal on 27/7, the sine die Coronial inquest would most certainly have been resumed post haste with a view to establishing what fresh developments had occurred since adjourning a month prior.The fact that it didn’t until nine years later and heard no testimony, hardly needs explaining..Neither the Thomsons (Jess & Prosper), Alf Boxall nor the whole tribe of hearsay interim connections thereto, should ever have been put up as being anything but a sideshow, having nothing to do whatsoever with SM, as an old Sapol team member related years later to anyone who cared to listen.
….and for the deliberate mistake the ROK hand over was Friday 22 July, the same day police put out the all points bulletin for it, which was indeed a smart response considering it’s chances were stated as being a ‘London to a brick’ against..
It being merely a narrative, the 29 scenario over the way, is quite imaginative as far as hypos go and I’ve said as much, albeit with some suggested minor alterations that have been accorded their usual silence as ascent…Rather than to change travel plans which goes contrary to the original ‘Overland’ train arrival on Tuesday 30/11/48, I’d be inclined to stick to the plot and have Somerton Man bump into the Thomsons in tge buffet car on their way back from the big Holden car launching on Monday 29th. That way the following day’s events might then go ahead unaltered, culminating with SM’s assumed accidental demise and his subsequent, sanitising and dignified dumping on the beach later in the evening. Now in all seriousness it would have been folly for Prosper to hit the Keane suitacase money stash first thing on Wednesday morning, with coppers already likely to be checking the unused rail ticket lead and the left baggage office at Adelaide (inexplicably not). It would also not have been wise for him to start spending his newfound wealth like a drunken sailor (which apparently he did) but to let the situation cool, lest police be looking into a local connection to the death. As for the fellow’s defacto Jess, Detective Canney visited her home months later, presumably upon noting her telephone number in the ROK ,carelessly dumped by Prosper in a local car. She was most unlikely to give him details relating to Alf Boxall and her ROK presentation in Sydney, which might have given rise to some need for her visit to town (as did transpire); rather that she tell him of her having included the unwanted book of poems in a box given to charity ages ago..” I’ll put the kettle on Sgt. Canney and we can have tea and an Iced Vo Vo or two on the sofa. Pitty that old George has taken off to Broken bloody Hill again the basket”…
Another narative which could also fit the same general plot, overlooked for most part by most but fits very nicely with the rail arrival contention. Suggestion is that SM being familiar with Adelaide and as such more likely to have come in to town from a country region on one of several arrivals before 8.30am. He likely then purchased his Henley Beach ticket at the concourse double star booth on his way out of the station, though what transpired in the hour it took him to drop off his case and catch the west bound bus can only be guessed at. My idea is that he always intended catching a west bound bus, possibly due to an appointment near to the destination, St. Leonards or Somerton but not Glenelg. I think that he may also have had a call to make somewhere close to Henley Beach and that he intended to use his pre purchased ticket for the trip back to the city. Most folks wouldn’t be aware that only one (if any) of the HB line stations had ticketing so buying one in advance would have been necessary..
Don’t be deceived by recent erronious assertion that a telephone number X7407, seen on a Commonwelth government letterhead dated December ’48 is in fact that of the Savings Bank of S.A. and confirmed as being the other number from the ROK code page. In fact it is nothing of the sort and reported accordingly, even though the informant has just repeated the claim again . The number in question was a private line, one of two that had been in service with the Commonwealth Investigation Service from 1946 at their 4th story office in the new SBSA building at 97 King William Street Adelaide. The bank itself had it’s own 9 line exchange switchboard number C6111 which serviced it’s own depts. and perhaps other tennants at the same address. If X7407 has been found on the Freeman? ROK as ascerted, then it could only have been for reference to CIS.
“Keith had no explanation and was committed to a mental ward” is just a small part of what PeteDavo has recently spun into a list of coincidences connected to the espionage conspiracy hypothosis. He insists (as does his handler) that the name Mangnoson, comprising only Keith and his immediate family must therfore have been related to Magnussen the CIS surveillance operative if that works. There were in fact quite a few Mangnoson’s in Australia in those days including an ex copper who ran amok in a doctor’s surgery in Vicoria and of course there was young Ian, who took off from Payneham leaving ten thousand quid in his savings bank (as yet unclaimed). As for the Bob Scales/Dr. Sprogg many times removed in-law relativity connection co-incidence, Petodavo should go back down that “rabbit hole’ he’s so fond of for something juicier, or better still pull a few more out of his hat for laughs.
For whoever created new interest in the Mangnossons, Joyce May Louise married Harry Ernest Coad in 1934 and not some Herman fellow. Violet Isobel or her twin Isobel Violet (hard to pick ’em) married twice as did younger brother Ian, big brother Cyril and surprisingly our star ID man Keith….As a bonus, it seems that Miss J & E Thomson lived in a Methodist church owned house in Bath St. (off Moseley) in ’47, it being noteworthy that Jo used the Thomson name by then and both her mother and sister were Ellen. Personally I’m no longer connecting Mangnoson or Thomson to the case and have not for some years.
Did I forget to mention that Jessica Muir Thomson (nee McFarlane) 24 moved to Glenelg following the death of husband George (29) at Gladstone in ’42. She had a daughter Janet in 22/8/4 never remarried and connections, if any with the other Jess & George Thomson are unknown. Details of her death in the late 80s and multiple claimed burial sites were discussed earlier.
Anita and Ernie ‘Dodger’ Ross were occupiers of notice at 90A Moseley St., in 1948 having lived previously at the old Broadway family home before it was knocked down for development. What they were into is a mystery, but it certainly seems that they must have had some close connections to the Thomsons, Ernie apparently being a Glenelg boyo who kept his nose clean, unlike his dad.
Where this goes who knows but here goes nothing. We have an American from a small town in a western state (Colorado)) of USA who came to Australia in the early post WW1 period, hooked up witha local lass from an old affluent Victorian grazing (merino) and politically active family. After marriage and their first trip to the states as a couple in 1930 they then took up residence in Mooney Ponds and had two children one perhaps born at sea on the return voyage to Melbourne, the other a girl who came along in1934.
Very little has been gleaned about what our man was into, although he is at one point referred to as being some sort of doctor and connects with the arts or even as a US distribution rep. In one Adelaide family notice circa 1923 he is thanked by the widow of a recently passed Movarian Brethren settler from Hambly Bridge; this includes similar message to a farming family at SummerTown north of Adelaide (Henley Beach & Somerton sound confusingly similar). He was born in 1894 which would seem to still be within our cut off age for SM (barely) and his wife in 1904.
My candidate’s Aussie wife tragcally died young in Colorado USA late 1942 and her remains occupy a grassy garden plot with photo in the small rural town alongside other members of her husband’s probable kin, his surname not being that common. Whether Harley (got it) was there for her (Ivy) passing, we’re not to know at this stage, although he is certainly not with her now, nor can he be found amongst the usual search indices in Australia.
…and as a little sweetener for any of the ‘so what’ fraternaty, y’man was at one time known to be an aquaintance of a fellow named Thomson from Melbourne..Prosper McTaggart no less, but that was in the mid thirties back before the war so people can decide for themselves if this line is worth pursuing. I’m borderline interested enough to follow any leads that may emerge.
Delete “the same particulars” Adelaide arrival of 1950. I’ve since confirmed that he was an English migrant youth worker and unlikely to be related.
If you’re over this way Boris, re your query on the 18th January, ’49, I guess you’d be refering to the Advertiser article in which Leane makes the comparison with the mending of clothes and the card of Barbour thread. This as opposed to Pete’s pig headed suggestion that it was John Cleland’s discovery six months later which I’ve told him abiut repeatedly (as lare as two weeks ago) so therein lies your problem in trying to convince the fellow of anything to which he’s got a contrary view about, despite the evidence being in plain view… Regarding the film of secondary protection for the razor sharp e.p.n.s knife blade, we came to a conclusion long ago that it is a simple covering of durex/sellotape to enable inspection so as to avoid a nasty cut; plain and simple.
….and for your additional information the non oxidising piece of folded silver sheet was an old bushman’s method of sterilizing his water, with a greater surface area than silver coins it could do the job in an hour as opposed to overnight with a handful of threepenny bits. So forget about using it for hot wiring and incidently Pete’s resident expert on car stealing originally used it for duplicating a vehicle’s compliance plate. See where this is taking us.
Boris you are wasting your time trying to get glean insight into those things in the suitcase you are inquiring about and my explanations are as usual not being posted where you are. The so called loupe was an invention of one particular blogger to support the view that SM was involved in espionage which unfortunately is now excepted my many. It is in fact an equine lead ring usually attached to the cheek piece of a halter harness and if one looks closely, three small projects can be seen, which are for the purpose of ensuring that the attached lead strap is secured tightly where it connects to the neck band. The consulted minerologist cum chemist has an agenda closely alligned with that of the so-called coupe expert so you might consider seeking a second opinion as to the folding metal sheet if you don’t wish to accept my far from expert opinion. By the way, your last postrd pic of the suitcase contents clearly shows what resembles a standard spring frame mini hacksaw set up, its blade displaying a bone hued residue.
It’s most likely that the Tommy Reade of ‘Cycle’ that Det. Leane was checking on, which turned out negative in terms of relevance, was a Thomas Clarence Read, bn. Minlaton S.A. 1906. He initially served as an engineering instructor with Water Tpt. then joined the navy in 1943 and did his trade on numerous non operative posts in Australian waters until war’s end. He does have a viewable naval service record on NAA, however if there’s desire to obtain a possible photo from his army file, there is the standard pay to encounter.
Like the majority of those who’ve attempted variations to the original Feltus acrostic translation to the so called ROK code, one suggesting a South Australia Moverley Street connection, I’ve always thought my own were more likely to have been on target. I’d long since given up on such attempts to impress with my logic and wit, realising that other players are not likely to be remotely interested in them, or much else that I put out for that matter. Bare with me and I’ll give it one last attemp for adudication.
Over the last few days I’ve become interested in an American doctor named Harley out of Bent County Colorado who married a girl from a well heeled Australian family of staid Methodist background. I have a hunch that he was Catholic hence no mention of a wedding in Melbourne social columns of the day. Before demising prematurely in 1942 she had purchased ‘his & hers’ side by side burial sites in the local graveyard. Ivy occupies one and her brother in law the other, that intended for hubby who was last heard from upon his arrival in Sydney from Auckland in 1938.
I had a memory jog whilst checking through the Bent County burial records, noting mention of a Catholic Church in nearby Colorado Springs, the nearest large town; it being dedicated to Saint Gabriel. The last line of the code message which is S T G A B with it’s crossed initial S (Holy) sprang to mind and I recalled some punters in the past having mentioned it in their solutions without detailed explanation. I wonder did anyone come to the realisition that the code, being a message is actually signed off under the auspices of St. Gabriel, patron Saint of ‘Messengers’.
Our generally neglected osteopathic Nunns of 15 Sth Esplinade Somerton beach, may not have been present when SM death investigations were taking place. Indications are that the family left for America in June ’48 and did not return until September ’49. Doug’s wife Ella had family there and it is likely that the couple attended Still College MO to undertake post Grad.refresher courses in their chosen profession. So one may wonder who, if anybody was acting as locum or indeed caring for their house which, being located mere feet from the body’s location, must surely have been visited by investigating police at the outset.
Some crank has suggested that Ella had been under the eye of Australian security when Doug brought her out as his bride, fresh from college in 1940, however her file blemish was likely a wartime formality, one of her grandparents having been a German Immigrant to the US in 1492 or so. The muddled informant also spoke of Doug’s brother of which he had not, being an only son born into well heeled Kidman linkage in 1916. He and younger sister Dora spent time on the continent growing up and he had met his wife Ella on campus in Missouri, both graduating as Doctors in the trendy new Osteopathic field whence they set up shop in Adelaide
It does seem likely that living next door to Alice (Crippled Children’s home), the pair may well have plied their therepeutic skills there, this baring in mind that the Australian AMA in the forties were rather unimpressed on benefits of Elizabeth Kenny’s hands on methods. In 1939 clinics had been set up at the Royal Brisbane, Newcastle and North Shore hospitals when the Kenny system was first acclaimed but since becoming less so, any private institutions who dared, were likely to have been using non registered practicioners like the Nunns on contract presumably.
Some time back Celeste, posting on a reliable SM site of tge day, claimed to have certain knowledge that Nurse Jestyn (as known then) was at one time working at CCH which is indeed likely, had she been early involved (as oft claimed) with one of the hospitals mentioned, this also baring in mind her close residential proximity. If she did work there in late ’48 and knew that the Nunns were away, who knows what might have transpired with regards access to the vacant property. Perhaps she had even moved in by some agreement with Ella for the time stipulated. Such might certainly account for her not being registered in ’48 as tennant of 90a Moseley Street, two or three blocks distant.
For those who have been following my posts on a certain doctor from Colorado and shown some interest, they will almost certainly be rewarded if theyre wanting to know who Somerton Man was. The story behind this case concerns more than the death of an outright crook and resultant years of intrigue, it’s origins go back to the early 20s when a determined criminal family from America decided upon an undertaking that would leave many rural Australians and New zlnders out of pocket but too proud to report their loss. It seems that a former collector for the family, in collaberation with a friend in the SA CIB decided that they would like to take over operations from the aging flim flam brothers in1948. It was a simple case for the unsuspecting younger brother to be lured to his doom in any one of the numerous methods hypothesised over the years. I’ve still got work to do in proving my case which will take a little time and money, but please feel confident that the remaining proofs needed can be had which will put this one to bed.
Whilst I am quitely confident that my leads regarding who SM was and what he did for a living, certain proofs are going to be delayed somewhat depending on the mail so to speak. What I am prepared to give up now in it’s stead, is a couple of clues for punters to contend with, on the name he usually went by and the title of his crooked ‘front’ company. The initial clue derives from three pencil types found in the so called Keane suitcase, the second from a combination of the two known pencil brands…Let’s see who’s been keeping up to date on their SM facts and if so, who’s half interested in what a decrepit old street suit can do when push comes to shove.
For Boris whose Isdall woman comparison with SM has not had the disired effect on an imoderate postmaster’s limited linguistic perceptions. One of my own original thoughts on the body’s possible tranfer from a likely death site to it’s terminal position, actually fall well within the 75 metres distance criteria. I laid this out quite clearly on the Ciphermystery site some years ago and even identified a likely fresh drag mark from the road embankment down through the sandy seawall vegitation. My recent post here on the Nunn residence opposite the scene must surely be food for thought.
Back in late 2018 a supposedly well drilled SM Postmaster asked a CM resident where the Somerton dugouts were located and was answered quite helpfully as I recall, “somewhere to the south of Broadway towards Whyte street and the dunes” which he reiterated in more detail a day so later, indicating that this had come from ‘the Unknown Man’ book. I note to-day, in response to a query on his SM dedicated, blog, the very same in touch Postmaster has put exactly the same question to his previous informative co-respondent. I’d suggest that should the inquirer need any further informative detail pertaining to this inquiry, he might do well to visit us here where information comes without conditions.
In the early fifties, a few years following SM’s demise, the company of scammers operating out of the same Sydney address with the same name is advertising the very same made to order product as it had done from the early twenties. Only difference is that the American connection has been replaced by an all Australian crew with a long established background in the printing game. Early days yet but the name Ross is prominent, which some may recall connects (for now) with my ‘Dodger’ Ross’ of 90a Moseley St. Glenelg circa. ’48. At any rate only the oldest of the original Oregon/Kansas flim flam brothers was still in place at the time, a man in his mid sixties who claimed to immigration in ’57 that he was working as an officer cleaner with an Australian owned white goods manufacturing concern in Sydney. A woman presumed to be his wife was buried at Ryde in ’76 which sounds fine, although he ain’t with her.
….Oh but he is indeed with his good lady Margaret whom he married before the war in Vic. no less. An original 1917 US doughboy from the wild west, Elva was 83 when he passed in ’75 just a year before mum, not too bad for a shyster and vagabond.
I’ll stand corrected, but my take on things is that there were six pencils in Keane’s suitcase which comprised three all purpose Royal Sovereign hard black HBs, a single 1937/38 King Edward commemorative with eraser and two soft art shading types 5H/6H of unknown brand. These would normally be sufficient to satisfy the needs of a travelling fairground sketch artist or rural door to door drummer who, with a small kit of adhoc craft tools might also cash in on silluettes. In earlier years, a man would likely be supported by a back-up to supply fancy frames and earn his fee from commissions. In the case of Somerton man of scratchy post war years, he would have needed to move constantly to increase his potential customer base and be in a position to ‘shoot the moon’ when he felt the chances of be recognised by an unsatified customer despite altering his appearance. One thing he may earlier have used effectively, his yankee cowboy accent, amusing gum chewing and nonchalent conviviality was becoming a caution by 1948. Such may have made him more insular in his habits and less inclined to social intercourse and SM would well have known that a man of his calling could end up dead if he didn’t watch his back.
Four brothers Grimm (not their real name) out of Scott City Kansas, Authur A. Dr.Harley Raymond(St.) or Charley, Leland R. Elva Clarence and W.P. in that birth order from late 1880s to late 1890s, but perhaps there were more, arriving in Australia from NZ, Frisco and Colombo between 1922 and say 1930. The synicate’s business in water colour reproductions of family photos was advertised nation wide and backed up by a flim flam debt collection front from flash premises in Sydney. The boys all seemed to have married local lasses from as far afield as Auckland, Qld., Victoria and perhaps NSW in Authur’s case. They also employed local crooks as agents, one in particular named Prosper Thomson and in his case it seems likely that his unsuccessful trip to Perth in 1938 was as understudy to Harley. It is almost certain that business was adversely affected by a prosecution in Adelaide in 1939 when the court twigged to the front collection company’s involvement, and with war on the doorsteps, the lads went stateside for the duration. NAA only reports on Elvas’s return in 1948 and we’ve mentioned his later employment with Malleys. As for the others, Leland is with Harley’s Moony Ponds missus at rest in Colorado and he may also be insitu under cover as Charley though, with a different birth date than that recorded in Australian indices. A real can of worms this one, but I guess we’re up to it now that Prosper has shown his true mettle.
You should check out Arthur A Burch’s ear in his passport photo on familysearch (free with registration), listed under his wife Muriel V Burch. Too bad he was born in 1876.
PS He has a different father than Harley Raymond Burch.
….forgot Roscoe E. who occupies similar residency in the Bent County burial ground as Aussie Eva and the lads, which is not to say there is more of the clan habitating other mid west boot hills. A good while ago I did manage to find old Pa and all his three brides spanning forty years and it seems that there were quite a few offspring, something in the order of twenty. Some including the aforementioned Roscoe may not have yearned to wander too far from the nest.
Seems that we now have a candidate for brother? W.P. who has credentials enough to be a shady member of the family’s framed art & photo sales, though with one small problem; my Walter Percival who seems to have named his second child Elva, after his Kansas born brother, shows up as being a second generation Australian born in Port Adelaide. No probs about Wal’s line of work, having been prosecuted for using a pre registered art frame design and being identified as a commercial photograher in court. His lurk was to board overseas ship arrivals and peddle photos of same mounted in Aust. map frames to the onboard crew. Sounds very similar to how the land based contingent operated so all things (but one) being equal, Wally must have been part of the cream team in the mid thirties at least. He and Muriel are resting together in Cheltenham but there is no sign of the girls Briar 1917 or Elva 1926 as yet.
…….Found Briar, Wally’s little sleeping beauty who married a Keith Tonkin in ’44 which we can keep in obeyance for the present. She passed in 2002 .
Links with photographer Walter Burch and his US cousins goes back aways and is a little tenuous but appears to be in the form of Isaac Benjamin P. Burch, a barque captain out of Newcastle NSW who died in NZ 1884. Seems he was born in the 1830s, a Connecticut Yankee, sailed the South Seas most of his adult life and was particularly well known in Port Adelaide where Wally’s dad Isaac John was whelped. The original Burch mob were from the US Eastern states and many went west with the rest of the forty niners in contessa wagons, so who’s to say the family ties were not renewed with clansmen in the Antipodes years later.
I’m quitely confident in my disclosures that Somerton Man was likely to have been an American and a recent visitor to the states at that. This partly based on his being part of a US family run business in Australia from1922 and one of it’s members having been a known associate of local shyster Prosper Thomson since the thirties. Certain items found with the beach body also point to likely US origins including a certain small item of apparel worn by the deceased that has been for most part overlooked for unexplained reasons.
Men’s Jockey briefs were developed by the American clothing company Cooper in 1937, though in reality not popularised until after 1945 due to the comany’s wartime committments to military clothing. Even so they became well known soon enough with distribution and foreign manufacturing rights being sold to Canadian and European garment makers. It wasn’t until 1957 that the Speedo company of Australia got approval for their ‘Jockey’ branded products to be locally made, therein lies the secret to my thoughts
Even though the parent company permitted wide ranging access to the new ‘brief’ style, it was not until introduction of their newly patented post hostilities ‘piss flap’ opening mode in late 1947 that the actual trade name ‘Jockey’ became an integral tag feature of the made in USA Cooper product. So for Somerton man to have been sporting a branded pair, plus another in his kit, as was reported, one might feel comfortable in reasoning that he was likely to have been in the states not long before his death. Unless he had access to an overseas US military PX outlet.
Accoding to an article in Adelaide Register of 17/11/28, Leland Glen Burch, another member of the notorious family, found himself an unlikely star witness for the prosecution in an uproarous Adelaide part heard criminal proceedings which co-incidently had expert fingerprint testimony from a youngish James Durham. The case allegedly involved a stolen NSW registered Buick auto belonging to business manager Burch of Sydney, and three local hoods who had allegedly used same in commission of several hystes which netted large quuantities of booze, cigarettes, clothing, a strong box, explosives etc. At one stage during proceedings some bright spark called for the forty sticks of nitro glycerine cartridges and detonators to be tendered as exhibits to satisfy due process. When it was found that the unstable stuff had been bundled up together in one chaff bag, those in the know including His Honour all took to their heels leaving the surprised defendants to contemplate whether it was their cue for justified escape..
Having hopefully enjoyed the heisterics (sic) aforementioned it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of identifying our dead mate and bringing this baby home. The key ingredient in satisfying the validity of my American SM hunch is likely to rest with the identity of a thus far unencountered member of the Burch clan, originally out of Scott City Kansas and later Las Alimas Colorado USA. So far we have Prosper’s pal Dr. Harley Raymond Burch along with his brothers Leland Glen(n), Elva Clarence, Aurthur A., Julian ‘popcorn’ and Aussie cousin Walter Percival, the artistic talent from Port Adelaide. Two other villains of post war years Paul Ross and Richard Geake may be cover aliases, although there was a copper named Geake in Melbourne around 1930 and of course an A. Ross (see dodger) was given as an occupant of 90a Moseley St. Glenelg in 1948.
After a little more research, it seems that the brothers Burch were born in several states of the union depending on their ages e.g. oldest brother Roscoe 1884 Ohio and the youngest to date Julian 1896 in Texas, although the family had gravitated to Scott Kansas, KC & St. Louis Missouri by 1920 then to Colorado by WW2. In 1938, both Julian (manufacturor) and Harley (one of many entries) arrived in Australia on 20th October, but on different ships, Julian from Capetown and Hustler Harley from Auckland both for Sydney which would seem rather well timed. By 1948 big Julie’s business had bottomed out and was taken over by his major stainless steel supplier which might well give rise to wondering what then became of him. According to a farely reliable free genealogical source, he died in Miami Fla. 1967 but a grave search from the same mob came up negative. No luck with Dr.Harley Raymond Burch and Australian born (’34) daughter Beverley Anne, there being no appearance from ’42 onwards (apart from the suspicious Charley P. Burch ’50 plot with photo at Las Animas cemetery Co.
During above inquiries, I came upon J.R.Burch secretary of the new Rutherglen Tennis Club (12/38) but he turned out to be John Raymond, a well known citizen of long standing. However it jogged my memory of Dr.John Dwyer (Patho.)discussing SM’s calf muscles and top to bottom tanning of the legs. No one ever nominated our man as being a Keane tennis player from memory, so we’ll slip that one in for a chance hit at some later juncture.
According to Ross, historian ofJulian’s take over company, he retired from business when his peanuts/popcorn enterprise was sold up and moved to Florida for his leisure pursuits of yacting and game hunting. He has the same death details as earlier reported.
The problem with Prosper’s mate Dr. Harley Burch is that he shares almost the same DOB as Charley from Las Animas cemetery according to a number of US goverment records listed with ‘Ancestry’. Only problem being these dates are way out of kilter with Harley’s Australian DOB entry details for his arrival at Fremantle in October 1938, leaving us in a bind. If we could find post birth info on Daughter Beverley Anne bn. Melbourne 1934, who was living when mum Ivy passed in ’42, we may sort things out, alas she’s gone missing completely.
Little mistakes like an entry through Fremantle instead of Sydney from Wellington on 8/10/38 are not acceptable should a fellow researcher be led down the wrong path because of it. It also might have some bearing that anyone trying to run Harley down in Australia or Newzlnd should be aware that Harley may have been inclined to using the name Hurley on occasions. I’ve gone just about as far as I can for free on this case so until my 750 dollar govt. bribe comes through, if it does, I’m out of gas.
Here’s something not so new but worth repeating, since it went down so well (lie) a few seasons back. I’m still confident that the police TS/ROK was likely to have been a special printing undertaken by Whitcombe & Tombs in its rather expansive supply contract with Union Steamship Co. With more information to hand I’d go further and add that the particular copy, which would have originally had the Union Co. logo on it’s dust cover, arrived in Sydney on 10th October, 1938 aboard the blue riband TSS Awatea. Not merely supposition based on my passenger Hurley Burch, but by the presence of a code like series of letters on it’s inner back page. It just so happens that upon Awatea’s completion in ’36, AWA had an Australian designated radio station call sign installed in part for broacasting on board programs which never transpired. Instead it became a very widely used transponder facility for interested passengers and international ham radio enthusiasts who were able to put it’s exceptional signal strength to good use. So in the end it may be that the code nor it’s host are of little if any conseqence, it being simply taken off board upon arrival in Sydney for no other reason than leisure time reading material.
For anyone wanting a better grasp on the whole ROK book versions conundrum, I’d say go no further than to Ciphermysteries excellent related thread, ‘In search of the Somerton Man’s Rubaiyat’ of 1st June 2016 along with it’s most interesting after comments. Should one wish to obtain a further great insight into how Tamam Shud code cranks and phonies spin their co-conspiratorial web of lies with a common goal, check out Dave’s linked comments of 3rd June in that series. He’s the possibly sincere Kiwi guy with some scans of his old Gran’s W & T Rubaiyat ’41 copy, who had some rather turbulent encounters with a particularly well known pair of diabolic TS/BS charlatans, both of whom are still up to their old tricks, though no longer as partners in crime…apparently?
I’m no great shakes at family tracing, though I thought I’d like to give old Prosper Thomson’s first T&S Queenie Elizabeth Constance Wilder a run through the traps for fun. She was born to Emily and Alfred Willder or Wilder at Rosebud Vic about 1915 from memory, married our man in ’36 and sadly lost her new born daughter Elizabeth in 1942 when her soldier boy was away fighting japs in a base ordinance depot far from the front….Anyhow I did manage to come up with an Emily Wilder nee Freeman (interesting) who was interred at West Terrace in 1930, a row or two from where our ‘main’ man SM was given a top bunk closer to the pub. Seeing that Adelaide Em was in her 94th year, mother daughter relationship with Queenie’s mum seems unlikely, but the excercise was worth it. Mind you l for one would like to know what happened to ex Mrs.Thomson later on in life ie. re-marriage, kids, demise and scandal..
Well things are certainly looking up for my dubious claimed connection to SM’s sad ending through involvement with Prosper’s yankee criminal family, some of my assertions are indeed looking less tenuous by the minute. Folks will recall a week or so ago that I made mention of the osteopathic Nunns, living over the way from the death scene having headed back to Kirksville college in mid ’48. Turns out that our flim flam brothers old mum Ida was born there when the population was 500. Of course it don’t mean nuthin, but it does give one satisfaction that their not straying too far off the beaten track. Better than pinning all of one’s hopes on grand theft auto or soviet intellegence involvement what?
By the early thirties all three non resident Kansas hay seed brothers Burch had taken local brides and reduced their travelling sales work, having trained up eager depression roadies to push the company’s colourised and fancy framed family photos far & wide for non contractual sales commissions and “expences”. In 1931 Empire Art P/L an offshoot of it’s Missouri parent E.H. Roberts Portrait Co., which the Burch lads set up in 1922 had expanded to the extent that ex FBI agent now shifty business man Leroy Howard Dorsey was appointed it’s Australasian Chief of Operations along with F. L. Wirth as the Sydney based regional Art Director. The latter’s signature and the individualised black stencilled company logo is a feature of all Empire Art Co. picture frame backs.
From then on it seems that brothers Harley, Elva and Leland were mainly involved with supervision of the company roadies, many of whom would have been old lags and reprobates in need if close scrutiny should they not meet expected standards of dishonesty. They also took over the debt enforcenent side of business from their Universal Debt Collection (& extortion) office in Sydney and were often out of the country altogether, making trips to New Zealand, South Africa, Europe and Stateside. In 1947 the US Federal Trade Commission issued the parent company a Cease & Descist notification as a consequence of it’s art scamming enterprise at home. It seems that despite local bad publicity, Empire Art’s scamming continued unabated til 1970 by which time only Prosper’s mate Harley was unaccounted for (seemingly).
It seems we too…”… now know that The Nurse knew who he was” going by NP’s recent disclosure to a his similarly knowledgeable bete noire mate over at Tom’s. This refers of course to some hitherto unsubstantiated relationship between Sister? Jessie Thomson and the ‘Unknown Man’ and so is sure to be welcomed by those who always suspected it but were not so bold as say so without proof. Nick also seems to have hinted on newly aquired intel on the Somerton Man nit keeper theory of which he is still a most fervent believer. His appeal being based on the word of two Melbourne gamblers who identified the beach body from a newspaper death photo as being that of a shadowy figure known vaguely to them for a short while back in 1944. As expected the citizens had diligently informed the local Russell St. detectives whose brief already included checking 27 similar ID claims, all of which were subsequently discounted, including that of our baccarat boys. I for one will be happy to pass on any hot news from the frontline.
If you believe like many, that the dead man’s suitcoat was of U.S. manufacture due to it’s featur3d feathered stitched gusset lining, you’d stand a fair chance of being wrong. Truth is we don’t rightly know, having been told little about his DB jacket apart from it being of a standard brown wool blend with a grey pin stripe and that it had been roughly mended on one shoulder. Fact is that Ugo Pozza, the former NY tailor’s determination of origin was based on examination of the smaller fit sports jacket found in a suitcase; it being the one that J. Cleland thought might be a little tight for him; surprising in that SM was known to have a very well developed upper body, our attesting professor being rather diminuitive by comparison.
……And as to what became of the dead man’s hat we shall never know of course attired as he was in typical 1948 walking out Adelaide regalia, he was sure to have possessed one. In those days a gentleman would rarely go abroad without a lid unless of course his was in for it’s annual clean & block; so we can say with some confidence that SM had either deliberately discarded his or else it was taken from him for nefarious reasons. In those days hats were likely to bear traceable marks well familiar to some professions. I was just reading in an old Smith’s Weekly about a heap of skeletal remains complete with all telling hang rope that was discovered along with a broken watch and delapidated hat in suburban bushland. Sydney detectives (best money can buy) in the thirties, took just hours to identify the owner from a jeweller’s mark inside the watchcase and a few still legible cleaning marks inside the turned out hat-brim lining, put there for record by the long deceased owner’s regular blocker. How about that for cooperative effort.
The Red Hen had been a pretty popular little cafe at the fancy end of Collins St. in pre war Melbourne which sold for £35 thou in the late thirties. The proprietress was a Kiwi woman named Clarinda, wife of Leland Burch who, along his with Kansas clan members Harley, Elva and possibly Julian started Empire Art Co. and it’s lowly affiliate Universal Debt Collections in Sydney around 1922. Getting back to Clarinda, by the start of hostilities she was then operating her round the clock Red Hen cafe very successfully in busy St. Kilda, no doubt catering to Yankee dough boys. I could find nothing on her later life or that of her man apart from that she passed on in Auckland ’69 and her man, who once likely chauffered around Adelaide in his sleek black Buick saloon, has his name on a vandalised veteran’s plaque in sleepy old Las Animas Cemetery with a death date in1981..
Prosper Thomson’s friend and likely employer from the 30s, Harley Raymond Burch advertised in the Melbourne Age (23/1/40) for two experienced portrait salesmen with good salary/commission potential. This likely puts him back at Moonee Ponds with the Crichtons (in-laws) and up to no good. It is the last word we have on him in Australia, though he was presumed living when adversely named in a U.S. Federal petition of 1947, but likely deceased prior to 1950 in a US city directorate listing. PS There is of course that grave plaque at Las Animas dated 1950 with the odd name Charley P. Burch that needs clarification.
A nice little tidbit for any who might just by chance have any remote interest in my all American flim flam family: I was finally able to get some sort of a lead on little orphan Annie, Beverley Ann(e) actually, born Essendon 1934 to Dr. Harley and Ivy Burch nee Crichton. Mum & Dad being deceased by 1950, she seems to have made her way to the big city of Pueblo where she attended Centenial High, graduating in ’51. She was said at the time to be popular and who liked dancing to her own records which one can take as they will. Her free on line grad snap reveals pleasant roundish facial features with a nice nose and fair curly hair, not disimilar to those captured on Illford chrome by Jimmy Durham at West Terrace mortuary not long before. It is rumored that our Bev later went to Michigan, though unless someone from the treasury forwards my entitled Covid 19 payment I’ll never likely know.
I’m thinking (once again) that it seems a little strange that a fellow with a cool name like Prosper would go and take on a plain every day handle like George. Some may remember that a lass named Jessica McFarlane married a farmer named George Thomson from the bush in 1940 and not long after, the poor fellow up and snuffed it without giving any reason. She in turn moved with daughter Janet to Glenelg, as did her near namesake Jess Thomson with boyfriend Prosper aka George. He had worked in Adelaide as a salesman in 1941 prior to inlisting in the army and I’m now wondering whether his adopting the name of a dead man with no history could have been a good cover for his new line of post war empoyment. Oh and our poor dead cocky was born in 1912, same as Prosper just by coincidence I bet.
I have a feeling reading between the lines, that by the time Leroy Dorsey and the Canadian F.L.Wirth took over the reigns of power at Empire (heritage) Art Studios in Sydney, the Burch Bros. had recused themselves from management. This may have come about due to the company beung named as respondent in a bankruptcy petition from the previous year (1930). So it is no surprise seeing Dr. Harley Burch advertising for portrait peddlers from Melbourne under his own name; at least by WW2 and likely well before in my view. No doubt soon to be George Thomson was a drummer for the mob during the thirties and indications are that rural regions of Victoria, the wheat belt of Sth Australia and north to Broken Hill were most likely targeted areas for our man Prosper.
Just a year after her Port Lincoln marriage to George in late 1940, Jessie Thomson became a widow and a young mother too. It seems that she never remarried through to her death in the late eighties and retained the name Thomson, as did her daughter Janet Elizabeth, in her case until the seventies, by then aged thirty plus all being in order. My instict suggests otherwise eg., that her real dad was not her mum’s husband and that farmer George’s death went unreported for reasons other than due to poor health or accident, two of which stand out. Anyone notice, as I did that the name Elizabeth connects not only to Prosper’s first wife and daughter but also to his neighbour Jessie’s strangely fatherless child Janet Elizabeth Thomson.
There doesn’t seem to be much detail come to light concerning the other Thomson boys, Adrian, Rollo, Gaston or Quenton after their respective service during WW2 and that is somewhat remiss of investigators, baring in mind suggestions of the latter pair having been rather footloose and fancy free like their big brother Prosper. Actually attempts to get any good leads has not been at all productive, likewise information turned over from old blogs is mostly unsubstantiated gossip and might be deemed spurious at best. Of course Rollo gets a pass, having died in a wartime plane crash, but all the others seem to have enjoyed long lives doing goodness knows what to keep out of gaol and it would be nice to know what. As for sister Isobel, all I’ve been able to come up with is that she may have been nursing at the Crown St. Wollongong general hospital pre war.
….and for that matter, I don’t remember having seen the name Harkness in any official connection with the name Jestyn, Jessica, Jessie, Jessi, Jess or Jo all of which handles Sister J. E. Thomson was variously known by from 1945 to 2007. In fact, apart from the name Jessie and age 53 having been used to connect her with alleged kinfolk, namely parents Thomas & Ellen and siblings Edmund, Thomas, Jean & Ellen in a suspiciously over done single newspaper death notice from 1982 we have nada on her antecedants. Likewise we have not been shown paperwork relating to her birth, her assumed nursing credentials, her marriage to Prosper in Perth or of her having given birth to either Robin in 1947 or Katherine in 1950. Of course taking on the name Thomson must have had some varifiable credation e.g. passport, electoral rolls and probate papers, but perhaps little more was ever necessary. For all we know she may as well be an alias, perhaps for Prosper’s own sister Isobel Thomson whom we only know by name and likely vocation, not such a stretch if we’re looking for some viable alternative to the bunch I.D. non- proofs we’ve been force fed down tgrough the years!….
The only missing member of the Harkness mob from memory would seem to be youngest sibling Ellen Mary who may have married Athol McLeish a soldier and amateur boxer in the ’40s. They returned from a trip to blighty in the early sixties, having lived variously in Newcastle Brisbane and Sydney beforehand. She had supplied the somewhat unusal full family details at mums passing in ’82 and had given sister Jessie’s age as 60 not 53 as earlier reported. Brother Ted the WW2 RAN telegraphy CPO and possible govt. Int. Op. post war, died in the same year as his wife Charlee 2000, brother Tom the cycle mechanic and sister Jean along with her man Roland Carr of Port Adelaide making it five in quick succession.
I guess one or two non auto theft gang hit or soviet defector wet ops. take out sanction will have followed with interest my post related to the Burch family who terrorized un suspecting Aussie pastural folk with their cunning art repro scams from the early twenties. They appear to have commenced operations upon their arrival from the states where such rip offs were already widespread in the rural areas.
Rather than for me to describe how the flim flams pulled their stunts on the unwary, let me recommend that you google up a condenced layman’s layout of how the game was played according to one particular action instituted at behest of numerous petitioners against one company caught out and shamed. The company from Chicago was ‘International Art Co.’ and the action described was in summing up of its cease and decist order of the US Federal Trade Commission, plaint 109F 2d 393 7th Circuit Ct. Of 1940.
In 1923 a company of that same name was referred to in a newspaper article from Hamley Bridge Sth. Australia with particular mention of Prosper Thomson’s buddy H.R. Burch (Harley Raymond) who you will surely his recall in his connection with another Federal action of 1942/47 when representing Empire Art Co. If you care to check NAA there is mention of application for a picture frame design filed for International Art presumably filed by brother Leland, fresh in from Wellington in 1926 and another similar one by Walter Burch a few years later.
I think I’ve figured out what’s behind the lurk in the TBT introduction to ‘Blah Blah’ Vigorito aka Darkie or Nig Vigoretti, ‘Grand theft Auto El supremo, over at Pete’s and a big hats off to his man Borris. The neat tie in to the TS code with a pet name Gabriel’s mama might have once used to call her little messenger….Of course most of us would understand that shipping hot ’42 Caddies to a well customs controlled destination like Adelaide in 1948, might involve a few unforseen hurdles for a prospective new owner. Even if suitable shipping arrangements and a local import agent could be arranged to land the Yank tank and obtain clearance with his own ‘C’ man, local compliance proceedures and state registration would most likely pick up some amomalies worth delving into. Of course driving an El Dorado around town might be inclined to raise a few local eyebows and before too long some honest Motor Squad suit would be on the case and wanting to know answers to those tricky where and whence type questions that only J.Edgar Hoover’s mob Stateside could answer.
After meticulous research I can, with a degree of wiki born expertise, advise that Somerton Man’s extra comb is most likely to have been for good luck than personal use. The original press artist did an exceptional job of recreating a standard issue aluminum WW1 U.S. Army comb circa 1917, issue specifications being 6 inches long with 40 non graduating square teeth. I could not find an original photo of the type however, Krest Co. fortunately still produce one of a very good likeness. No need to remind folks that at least two of the Burch brothers, Elva and Leland as well as cousin Julian served in France during the war so it is not so difficult to imagine such an item being retained as a keepsake or for luck in much the same manner as the lucky silver sixpence found in the Keane suitcase.
When attending Adelaide Hospital intern John Barkley Bennett made his death pronouncement of the incoming beach body, he based his conclusions on an examination of the deceased, fully clothed and upon a stretcher strapped into the back of a police ambulance at the delivery point. He stated in evidence that he recorded the time of arrival, 9.40am from memory and thought death had occurred no earlier than 2.00am from the extent of rigor, which did not seem include usual mandatory temperature compliance. So we can only take for granted that he must have hopped into the van and did some physical manipulation of limbs to gain the given time. Months later when Sir Cecil Stamford Hicks claimed to have performed his own “cursory examination” he told the same inquest that he was in full agreement with Bennett’s conclusions, adding that his own opinion was based on physical presence of cyanosis or liver mortice discolouration which, to my layman’s understanding should no longer have been apparent so long after demise. I can’t help but to make my own unprofessional conclusion that we are not getting even remotely close to the factual realities.
I was somehow not so surprised to learn that on 26th July ’49 following Sister J. E. Thomson’s disclosures to Sapol concerning her inadvertent connection to the case through Alf Boxall, no Adelaide newspaper mentioned Royal North Shore Hospital specifically and that remained inplace. We might also assume that Det. R. L. Leane, apart from agreeing to anonymity for her coming forward, also fixed things with Prosper’s veteran auto pal Frank Kennedy, to offer his Advertiser readers only the bare essentials of the nurse’s past work history; Frank was supposed to have given Leane the TS slip translation notwithstanding the DS having been an ROK fan. The only North Shore Hospital I was able to find is in Auckland of all places, almost next door to where the little W&T Courage and Friendship books were printed though we can be sure Jessie didn’t nurse there in ’45.
Depending on which SM authority you’re prepared to believe, our nurse was either confirmed as having trained at RNSH teaching hospital from 1942 through ’46 whence graduation was duly gazetted or, there is absolutely no record whatsoever of a nurse Jessie Harkness ever having been at RNSH hospital period; there being also several degrees of yea and nay betwixt. I’ll go with the naysayers until such time as evidence to the contrary emerges from the depths of our accredited experts vast store of documented proof one way or another. In the meantime it suits my flimsy case to put forward Royal Newcastle Hospital as more likely; closer to her birth place of Maryville for starters and only a couple of hours by train from her alleged tryst rendezvous with Alf Boxall at Clifton Gardens. PaP on a rostered day off with point to point direct line transport to and fro.
John Cleland certainly made his mark by attesting that the Barbour Irish linen threads from the Keane suitcase were favourably compared to mending of the Somerton Man’s apparel, being in his view a warm sepia colour which another might see as mid tan or something neutral as has been offered elswhere. Of course it was Detective Leane’s initiative that resulted in the discovery, comparisons and press release details following immediately thereafter. So we might consider the likelyhood that planting evidence to suit some desired outcome would be on the down side of maybe or probably not. In the latest TS/BS offering the thread is used to good effect in the Piper’s puting forward his ‘litter’ based theory which connects to other cases of planting seeds thereby confirming soviet intervention and ultimate wet sanctions aplenty. If one were looking for an ironic twist, a descendant of the original thread company named Peter Barbour was seconded to Australia’s newly formed ASIO intel mob direct from college at it’s outset and eventually became the Director in 1970.
My input is obviously as popular as a bucket of day old offal with sauce at old West Terrace mortuary in summer; nonetheless persistance must eventually win out. When John Dwyer, dressed up in his splash proof gear and covid 19 style full face mask, took his first practice pass over the dead fellow’s bread basket, he was only doing what he had become accustomed to in both war and peace. His job as a mortuary pathologist was simply a voyage of discovery simply put and no briefing was called for or on offer to provide any causal informatiin as far as he was himself concerned. Years later he still recalled with clarity the non specific outcome of this strange case.
Overall Dwyers examination of the cavader was methodical and particularly well documented as far as his testimony at the inquest went and he held nothing back regarding personal shock of there being no identifiable chemical poisoning in his system without puting blame on Bob Cowan’s findings of no common poisons being found. Though we have strangely never been privy to the full report, I was personally impressed by descriptions given of the organic breakdown including the brain anurisms and blood pooling abnormalities. His comments of last food intake re a pie or pasty meal three to four hours before demise certainly not pertain to time of death as been so recenly misquoted by TS/BS.
There has of late been a determined effort by some dudes to take the collective initiative and identifying our Somerton Man as Keane, seemingly a giant leap forward they would have us believe, but born about undoubtedly by frustration on their part as opposed to conclusive supporting evidence. A solitary US army tie bearing that name or something similar, along with a washing bag and singlet with Kean, found in a left suitcase at Adelaide station a day before the body was discovered is deemed conclusive in their view. So called proofs are sadly lacking in substance and so the ‘Unknown Man’ must remain just that for the present.
To get things into a better perspective on likelihood of our unknown man having been American as opposed to anything else, lets itemise those assetts in order to gain some confidence to make a prediction of U.S. nationality.
1. The aluminum US service comb, a WW1 keepsake likely not for general use.
2. Three pairs of ‘Jockey’ brand briefs not common in Australia circa. 1948.
3. The half pack of Wrigley juicy fruit gum not so popular with older folk locally.
4. The suit coat with feather stitched gusset lining not available in Australia.
5. The open weave US military tie likely of post WW1 or interim WW2 issue.
6. The Johnson? and Sons scissors Canadian? which were also available locally.
7. The blue equine halter lead and tie ring with its US style anti slip projections.
8. The separate stud shirt collar out of fashion locally but still common Stateside.
9. The slippers, dressing gown and scarf not part of Australian travelling attire.
10.The ornamental glass ashtray/saucer with its Kansas sunflower emblem.
11.The single King Edward pencil with eraser made by Arrow NY (and others).
12.The wrist innoculation scars and foreskin typical American late 19th century.
So that’s my even dozen for favour of consideration and any additions or critique; deliberately extended so as to set the cat amongst some detracting pigeons.
A month back at the outset of my own renewed interest in Somerton Man having been of American origin, I csme upon a good candidate in Julian Burch, possibly related to the brothers Burch, a former 1917/19 dougboy born 1896 Texas. By the early 1920s he was living in Kansas City and had patented a gas fired carnival pop corn machine which was the marque in it’s day. I picked up on his trail when he arrived in Australia from Capetown in December 1938 declaring at Fremantal that he was a manufacturer and giving his temporary adress as Australia Hotel Sydney. Coincidentally Dr. Harley Burch of Kansas landed at Sydney from Christchurch also in December ’38 but as yet I’ve not made any tie-in between the pair though that was the last time that either man was recorded on any Australian government index which is possibly misleading from experience.
I was able to get a little bio backgriund on ‘Mr Popcorn’ and learnt some detail of his life after selling up the company in the 1940s. By that stage he was known to have gotten the adventure travel bug with a lust for big game hunting, who later lived a solitary life aboard his yacht in the Florida Keys. My old heart was pumping with this news recalling Dr. John Dwyer’s description of Somerton Man’s unusual old groin to foot sunburn, though quickly deflated when I was sadly informed of the gentleman’s reported passing in Dade County Fla.around 1967, which I don’t doubt yet can’t confirm. As for what became of Harley after his own Awatea arrival in ’38 just one of many, some recorded, others not, I can’t enlighten apart from tracing a 1950 grave with a possibly incorrectly recorded name of Charley P. Burch and an undetailed US city directory on Ancestry tentatively recording Harley R. Burch’s demise pre 1950.
It seems that separate shirt collars with securing studs was a fairly recent white collar social trending lead that originated in America around 1850s and was well out of vogue in Australia by the mid 1930s; due mainly to shirt buttons and fixed collars having gained ascendency for military convenience in WW1. How our dead Unknown Man came to be wearing an out of fashion separate collar, we’ll never be sure, however it’s quite a possibility that in being a conservative Kansas farmboy he was not all that that up to date with trendy new fashions common even to staid old Adelaide by 1948. Of course we never knew anything of design detail for that extra white shirt in the Keane suitcase though we might safely presum that it came with attached collar….NB: 13 The SM’s 1927 patented Tootal striped tie was of typical American anti heart to sword pattern not generally favoured by soldiers of the King.
Having read through every newspaper item related to our man on trove, from the post Feltus input by a dedicated researcher in Mike Braish plus going back through the 1949 inquest offerings, along with random selections from earlier on point contributors to Ciphermysteries, I can find no record whatsoever of the Barbour brand name being mentioned in Sapol’s suit case discovery releases nor talk of carded linen thread(s), all like references being to cotton of an unusual type, or in the case of Detective Leane “a common thread”. At least a local paper wrote of it being brown and on a card which suggests heavy duty, as opposed to another telling readers it was a reel of cotton. I’m not sure how this most important piece of evidence was covered in Gerry’s book, one full of inuendo, irrellevant side issues, second guessing and a self serving reliance on quoting press coverage of the day. If the old walloper did, I’d bet he proferred no questions re dubious validity of claims made for the brand BARBOUR. There is only a single unaccredited, undated B&W pic of said Barbour threads and I have strong evidence based suspicions that it was a false flag planted innmore recent times by someone with a desire to thwart any successful conclusion to this case.
We can say definitivly that the Sapol attributed suitcase & contents disappearance, has thankfully been resolved with it’s appearance in one of the TS gallery snaps as good as new. Seems that it was located stored carefully amongst household spares including a Sony CRT Trinitron style TV of 2000 vintage, a twin connected neon tube set of similar modern manufacture and another piece piece of electronic equipment that awaits identification. The original attribution for the suitcase file photo may have been Derek Abbot in which case he will undoubtedly be in a position to provide some additional clarity on this and other evidence discarded by Sapol in their fit of spring cleaning back in the early eighties.
I’m not sure as to when the original gang of four set themselves up with Derek as head honcho to ensure that the purloined physical evidence amassed between them remained secyre within their so called inner sanctum group, pledging never to permit it to enter the uncouth public forum which they dreaded most. Things eventually soured within the collective of so called experts when differing opinions and egos came into conflict with former peers and co-conspirators. Due to an inherant distrust of each fellow member’s ability to keep SM discussions secret, there was never a genuine fraternity or ‘band of brothers’ trust and as such each respective member was often too busy in collecting dirt on their partners in crime to play theur part in solving the case, the purpose being to guard against any future betrayal…What we have now, all these wasted years down the track is exactly as one might have predicted; no progress and each embittered egotist intent on sledging their old non contributing pals for all their worth. Why so afraid to come clean on existence and whereabouts of the SM pariphernalia when surely it is known that we live in a tolerant society in which the Truth will surely set us free. But alas don’t count on and leniency for our criminal gang of four plus Derek the Abbot who if given no choice will come out as both accuser, Judge and executioner in his own right.
Who do we know amongst our likely lads what might have hissef a little hinterland hideaway with few acres in the style of a Pitt Street farmer, with a nag or two and a couple of lap dawgs for mates instead of bludging ex beach bum buddies from an idle past. Reason being, that out of the four or five thus known former ROK search team failed detectives, only his nibs would be likely to have a piece of equipment like what I’ve just identified out in the spare back room. Nice little job and all, about 1.5 kva and practically new when the Keane suitcase snap was taken, my guess being 2010 or thereabouts. Now we know it’s not likely be CT, GC, or DA they being poms with not a clue on how to start a gen set, with GF who as a retired copper like others of my aquaihtance, couldn’t afford the upkeep. In my view this leaves only one likely contender, the bloke what’s more interested in how honest folks amuse themselves in the quiet waters of the Northern rivers on any Sunday.
It is my understsnding that when a warrior died on a battle field far from his home and family, if able to do so his comrades would make a concerted effort to ensure that his feet pointed towards the place he had called home and where loved ones awaited his eventual return. I’m satisfied based on my modest military map reading skills, that triangulation from the nearest horizontal controll point at Glenelg to X marks the spot where Somerton Man was found, his size eights may well have been pointing directly towards his old homeplace which does no longer shows on any US State and Territories maps of post war printing history.
I really don’t see that our failing friend’s use of baby scrawl imagery is likely to convince many old SM punters that a 16 months old toddler, 3 months more than yesterday, might have been responsible for the code. Then again if Jessie allowed little Robin to play with a cut throat razor as is seemingly depicted in the family snap, I wouldn’t be arguing; even if the little fellow took pen in hand to run off a fair copy of the Gettysburg Address.
; Our product is labeled ‘Threads’ because that’s just what they are, some clever employee having come up with a way to market the short otherwise wasted thread end lengths. I’m still not able to say for certain that the product was made post 1949 although that is my best guess based on the readable promotion blurb beneath the remaining threads and possible inclusiin of the letter ‘N’ for Northern Ireland beneath the hand logo on which I’m awaiting advice.
…..above the left finger tip would be more on the money for the offending letter ‘N’.
If we’re to take Feltus at his word, and there’s no suggestion that he knew any different from assertions, that the Keane suitcase was thrown out in a fit of spring cleaning when the evidence room at Adelaide CIB was relocated in the early 1980s. Prior to that the last occasion on which it was seen by the public was when Len Brown showed it to Stuart Littlemore along with it’s contents at Adelaide Museum in about August 1977. The show went to air a year later and as I recall it was never displayed hence.
It seems likely that Brown had it brought along to the interview so as to reinforce facts related to the Somerton Man case in which he took the most active role just prior to his retirement from Sapol. Others in attendance and who also provided interviews at the same location were John Ruffles and Paul Lawson who brought out his molded SM deaths head handywork. For all we know the trio may have been the last to see the suitcase and it’s quite conceivable that it remained right there when the boys went off for their long lunch at expence of ABC Television
So what became of the suitcase if it hadn’t made it’s way back to the evidence room as I for one suspect. Only two people, Ruffles and Lawson had shown interest in the case from then on and if said suitcase was known to be in existence long after it’s alleged disappearance then we may as well put their names foward as being most likely to know of it’s whereabouts there afterwards. I’m not suggesting that there was any nefarious intent by either person at this stage but one can’t help but to wonder who else could conveniently have ended up with possession and who may know it’s whereabouts now.
There is no doubt that certain people knew more about the contents as late as March 2011 when the Adelaide University face book group was formed by Derek Abbott which included Ruffles, then afterwards with the so-called Inner Sanctum gang headed up by Feltus which didn’t last for reasons most likely to do with competing idiologies and egotistical incompatabilty. In my opinion Lawson would not likely be a party to any cinspiracy but could well have the answers we seek. His coerced interviews?
The Barbour Threads & tools display was a staged event , resultant photo being of a quality made possible with pins to secure individual items to the back board and facilitated with a tripod and close-up camera lens not likely to have been the sort of gear Sapol would consider necessary for such an investigation. Proof of this is evidenced by the fact that this particular photograph did not appear in any press coverage of the time and had police been so particular, why then were no efforts made to examine the respective items for prints or any signs of what the specific implements might have been used for…So when was the shot taken and why; my best guess being at some time after the so called “Spring cleaning” that Feltus was so quick to point out in his flowery novel.
There is another close up pic of the Keane tie which was taken during Len Brown’s inside story interview with Littlemore in ’77, appears in better shape than one taken for the Barbour thread expose. It is folded and tacked with an ordinary pin to keep tongue and tail neat. From the size of the pin which can be seen along the name, it appears that ‘Keane’ extends for about an inch which I found surprising. During the said interview, Det. Brown made it quite clear that the coat identified as having had American feather stitching was from the body and not that from from the suitcase found in the “refresh ah cloakroom”. Detective R.L. Leane, when giving testimony before the 1949 inquest seems to have thought otherwise, puting his money on the spare jacket in the suitcase, a difference of opinion within the team which is sadly not the only one.
Another thought on the dreaded Barbour photo, hopefully the last, should anyone still be following the thread. Just a week or so back Boris (Brody) was wondering about the piece of opaque tape covering a section of the custom utility knife at the hasp end. Whilst I thought it might be to safeguard against accidental mishap, I’m now of a view, baring in mind my belief that the whole display is a modern sting, that a more likely solution is at hand. The original knife for mine has the shape and general appearance of a nice English dinner set piece, exception being the stark white immitation bone handle which ain’t Sheffield. Reminds me of the stuff made in W.Germany in the fifties and lately Korea. So there you have it , the tape was put there to mask the give away place of origin stamped right there on the left side of the blade.
I’m still trying to make sense of Rob’s suggestion about dealers and receivers of the Adelaide trade in stolen cars, apropos Prosper’s alleged Melbourne connections using a corny old Alan Furth spy technique utilising complicated identification exchange codes to bewilder the SA motor dealer’s squad &c. As for Nick Pelding’s quasie assertion that George the cabby may have sold a hot job to John Freeman the chemist, deserves even more cautiin baring in mind that in 1946 he married into arguably the biggest new car dealership in town so to what end. Puting that all aside, if one reads John Cleland’s notes from 1972, the ROK was through into the back of a ute and to my mind that would make a deal more sense that the Hillman Minx offering of Gerry Feltus, and for that matter double barrel money laundering to win the prize for initiative.
The black tattered binder upon which the suitcase items were displayed is as can be seen clearly decorated with a symbolic baseless triangle which was used as a logo for a 1923 thesis on ‘The Meaning of Meaning’ (Ogden & Richards) which was used in teaching applications when in vogue. For those suggesting that this emblem on the front was proof of masonic lodge involvement with the SM case, they are sadly out of luck. Note that the similar masonic triangular divider shape is without the usual sign of God beneath it’s apex and has neither a base nor the usual intersecting square measure device below. One can but wonder who came up with the Freemasons connection and why; sounds like somone with a pretty deepseated grudge against fraternal brotherhoods and God.
I recall just days ago giving the most reliable detail concerning the dual language version of the ROK which Alf Boxall produced for it’s first airing to Littlemore in ’77. As stipulated the book was printed and published by the Australasian Publishing Company/Harrap in 1944; Compiled by A.W.Hamilton and re-illustrated by S.W. Stirling, both Government law officers in post WW1 FSM. To correct the repeated assertions by TS/BS that the volume was printed and or published by Collins UK is quite misleading as Collins and APC, never known as Australasian Book Company were in fact competitors and both British owned.
It was W.G Sirling (William George) of course, not S.W. and he also illustrated the first Hamilton dual language edition of ROK in 1932, which although of a similar layout was not identical and was printed by a Singapore publisher. The pair had a long working relationship, being of the same age and of English background, both having come to Asia before WW1 and co-operated in numerous educational books until the thirties. Hamilton eventually settled in Perth and even there continued his writing until old age, whereis his old made retired to blighty and passed away in ’51. A facinating pair indeed, indeed and worth ckecking out on line.
I’ve noted that part of the more recent erronous information on TS/BS re Alf Boxakll’s ROK has been re hashed to correct ‘deliberate’ publishing information mistakes having been caught out.. But we must now be allert and on our guard against anticipated follow up attempts to deceive because rest assured we are dealing with a very devious determined operator; mark my words.
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The passport application photo’s available on familysearch.org are out of order somewhat. Above, I was actually looking at Leland Glenn’s photo which comes before Raymond’s passport application (free on Familysearch) and before his photo. They also have Arthur A’s photo but Julian is only listed as a spouse on his wife’s application, although I believe he’s eliminated even without a photo. However, I think you’re on the right track here, and right family definitely.
According to an Ancestry Family Tree, the Burch family is connected somehow to the Swope (originally Schwab) family, the branch of TSM’s “close cousin” match’s family tree that married into the Virginian branch that everyone keys on. (The cousin’s (or nephew’s) mother is listed as a ballet dancer in a Maryland newspaper in 1900.) That narrows the field to about 10 people, including her brother, William Augustus Mathias, b. 1884.
I’m happy at last to report that after an age of there being essentially no progress in this case, a most favourable outcome is now in the offing to those prepared to give full value to credible evidence that the Beaumont kids are almost certainly still with us and living successful lives near to the very place of their masterfully planned and and executed so called abduction. Chance discovery of an in plain sight, apparently unsighted newspaper up-coming marriage notice and attesting geniological entry for Nancy Helen Beaumont nee Ellis to Bronte Maurilyan Snoswell has now turned this case on it’s head, exactly as unorthodox Sapol investigator Stan ‘killer’ Swaine had predicted. This followed receipt of details on two possible safe house locations prepartory to the kid’s permanent relocation sight, yet another clue from the same discedited old detective which involved fairly routine projection. Consequently more intense inquiries produced a string of corroborative evidence suggestive in effect that the Beaumont abductions were in all likelihood contrived to thwart attempts of later discovery indefinately. My belief is that this all formed the basis for what may have been the perfect crime, motive being to simply give Jane, Arrna and baby Grant an edge over the other dirt poor, no chance little blighters from Somerton Park ‘houso’ neighboring families to secure a better future in uncertain times. There may have been alternate grounds for commission of such an audatious crime that I may have alluded to elswhere of which evidence is not forthcoming at this time so we’ll leave that in obeyance. ps: full names and details of Arrna and Grant are at hand awaiting decision on question of rights to disclosure. Jane’s present status is not known though she married in 1975 at age 20 and was still living in 2017.
Jillian/Jane has al last been traced to the rural town where she and her younger siblings Helen/Arrna and David/Grant were raised by their presumed surrogate parents, as their own. The points of similarity between these now late middle aged successful, very well situated adults and the Beaumont kids 55 years ago have remained constant including facial features which may form part of my brief. To date only a single minor flaw has been detected, in that David Grant’s high school graduation in 1980 seems a little late though the upheaval taking place for him as a lad of four in 1966 may have delayed his education.. I’m happy to field questions so long as they are not too intrusive or disrespecful to anyone, except your informant which is only expected in this informal venue….The sooner this new development can be addressed and dealt with an appropriate jurisdiction the better for all I say.
Apologies for any confusion. The two posts above are not related to Somerton Man having heen inaverently inserted by the writer; whereas they should have been placed below on the additional Beaumont Children/Phipps thread where they belong.
Puzzled. A message for you, personally. The code. In every complete line the letter A occupies the seventh position. Perhaps you might update your impressive post. Best, pete
it is his farewell letter:
Will forgot about all and
my Life´s a voice.
When taste bid me
passing not ev´n the Perfume
Methinks familiar but oblivion
saint and frequent came.
Setting moment starts and make stars to
Nightingale and Branches
To decode, you start with unique letter sequence RGO of the first line of the poem, which lead you to verse 9. There, you find the words ABout and Will. Now you have finished WRGOAB.
The next unique word is voice (OI) in verse 2. Here you can find BD and MLIAOI.
Just move through the text. I can provide an .odt file describing the whole proceedings.
It is a simple code.
Might your solve help point to suspects named William because the poem says “Will foRGOt”.
I’m keen, shall we say, on suspects like William Mathias. He’s Prof. Pleasants’ uncle on his mother’s side. (The DNA result indicates TSM is a “close cousin” equivalent match of Julian Randolph Pleasants.)
Has there been any further information gleaned since the recent exhumation of the Somerton man?
The forensic scientists and anthropologists are still examining his bones. The process is expected to be complete within the next few weeks. Following this, the forensic scientists and police will meet and the DNA testing processes will occur. At some stage, the South Australian police will be briefed by the forensic scientists and they will hopefully make any information public. Hopefully this will be as soon as possible!
The forensic genealogist who worked with Prof Abbott in the earlier stages of the DNA search was provided with one of his wife’s hairs in the hope the DNA traces would (1) link Rachel to her natural mother (Roma) and (2) provide a link to her father who Abbott hoped was the Somerton Man, making his wife Rachel the Somerton Man’s granddaughter.
Colleen Fitzpatrick found two links after returning to America. Roma proved to be the mother and one of the Thomsons the father. Possibly Prosper, either him or one of his brothers.
Abbott, understandably was rendered speechless.
Correction. Abbott was hoping the father was Roma’s husband, Robin, and he was the product of an intimate and successful union between Roma and the Somerton Man. I think I’ve got that straight.
I believe the genealogist found that Rachel shared some DNA with Prosper Thompson. If true and depending on the amount, this could simply mean that her grandmother Jessica Thompson married her cousin. Otherwise how do you explain the close American cousin matches (2nd to 3rd)?
The best answer I’ve got is that convinced Prof Abbott to walk away from the lights and cameras. DNA linking is a science beyond me.
Just hours ago it was announced that the Somerton Man is Carl “Charles” Webb. Webb was born in Melbourne in 1905 and was an electrical engineer and instrument maker. Webb married Dorothy Robertson aka Doff Webb. The couple filed for divorce and Robertson moved to Bute- a country town 140km north-west of Adelaide.
Webb enjoyed betting on horses and writing his own poetry. There was no genetic link between Robin Thomson and Webb. Although the Somerton Man now has a name, there are still many mysteries that linger in this whole saga.
Hi again Kyal,
Something that may interest you: listings of Chas. Webb and Thos. Keane from the Sands and McDougall Melbourne, 1945:
Thanks so much for sharing this. Hopefully we can get more clues like this that will help paint a picture of who Charles Webb was.
Whoever he was, he had a hairdresser’s touch with bleaching his hair.