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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

SOMERTON MAN: OLD CODES, NEW CODES AND CONCEALMENT 3. SOE CODES & CIPHERS, DOUBLE TRANSPOSITION MESSAGE EXAMPLE


Special Operations Executive

Whilst we are waiting for results from a couple of organisations, I thought I would continue with the release of various code and cypher information from a collection I have built over the years. I am doing this as a direct result of the very positive feedback received from the members of our private list and so I thought I would share more of these examples.

In this post we are looking at an excerpt from an SOE manual for field operatives, it shows how a Double Transposition message is created and deciphered, I hope you enjoy the following:










In the coming days we will post an 'Innocent Letter' example plus a fairly comprehensive list of Secret Inks with development techniques. In all I have perhaps 16 different examples that were in active use in WW2 and probably thereafter.





Friday, 22 September 2017

SOMERTON MAN: THE SPY


THE SPY


Once he was young and brave and fair,
Free from the strain of guilt and care; His mind was pure, his heart was clean,
His face bore marks of happy mien;
His teacher looked with hopeful pride
Upon the joys that thrift betide;
And often said, "Life well begun,
Assures the laurels will be won."

He grew to manhood tall and fair,
With manly strength and shoulders square;
He stood six feet, and every inch
Was borne to work and not to flinch;
When others fainted by the way,
He did his part without dismay;
With all his mind and all his heart
He ever strove to do his part.

Then came the tempter and he fell Before the vile, seducing spell;
He learned to fetch and feint and lie, Which fitted him to be a spy;
Although oftimes he was dismayed,
From day to day he plied his trade,
But proved a traitor to his cause And wronged the mandates of the laws. 

He shrank from man. His silent mood
Made him but fit for solitude;
He hid his face and breathed a sigh,
When he met others eye to eye;
And when a sound came to his ear He trembled much with deadly fear;
And, as his dubious course he ran, He palled beneath the curse of man...



Sunday, 17 September 2017

SOMERTON MAN: OLD CODES, NEW CODES & CONCEALMENT 2, THE POEM CODE


THE POEM CODE

This is the second in our series of WW1 and WW2 codes that were in use by British intelligence services, in fact this particular one was used with great effect by Leo Marks of SOE. An example of his work follows the first few paragraphs.

THE POEM CODE EXPLAINED

This is how a poem code works. Start with a poem which you have memorized: it needn’t be especially long, nor complete. For example, this fragment from Ulysses will do: “for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars until I die.” Select five words as a key from this: say, “for”, “sail”, “all”, “stars”, “die.” String them together and then number the letters, starting with “a” as 1, the second “a” as 2, etc.; or if there is no second “a”, then “b” is numbered 2; if no “b” then “c” gets labelled 2, and so on until we have numbered all letters. The result:


Now suppose we want to encrypt the message, “We have run out of cigars, situation desperate.” Incidentally, encoding must not be confused with encrypting—our message, for example, may be encoded, “Nothing left for Mark Twain to do, dammit” (where we hope the person hearing this is clever enough to figure it out). Since there are 18 letters in our poem selection, we write out the message in groups of 18 letters, padding the end with nonsense letters, like this:


Note the first letter from our poem snippet, an “f”; under it is a 6: the second letter is an “o” and under it is a 12. In our (padded, grouped message) the 6th column of letters is “eud”, and under the 12th is “tdk”. It was more or less standard practice to send the encrypted message in groups of five letters, which reduced (but of course did not eliminate) transmission errors. So the first part of our message would be:  eudtd koekc pmwrt.

SOE Poem Code

The 'Slideshare' presentation below is courtesy of Derek Buff, it discusses a Leo Marks Poem, in fact it is the one he gave to an SOE operative, Violet Szabo, you may recall her name, a film was made of her work and her sad passing, CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE. It is an excellent presentation and one I hope you will enjoy.

We have a number of upcoming posts in this same vein and all related to various war time codes including the Cold War and agents such as the Somerton Man, Pavel Ivanovich Fedosimov..

Friday, 15 September 2017

SOMERTON MAN: OLD CODES AND NEW, POSTCARDS, STAMPS & THE CIA


OLD CODES, NEW CODES AND CONCEALMENT

It seems to me that there are only two blogs who seriously pursue the Somerton Man case, being this blog and Pete Bowes over at Toms By Two, there is a difference between what we write and what we actively pursue. Pete has always been upfront about his style and content which is meant to be part truth and part fiction and it does make interesting reading. This blog has at its focus just the actual evidence, the pursuit of factual information, the hard evidence that was left behind and still exists. That includes the code page, Alf Boxalls book and various documents and images.

As regular followers of this blog will know, we have for some time been pursuing the case of the man TIBOR KALDOR whose story was discovered by Clive almost 12 months ago. The work has been ongoing and laborious and has yielded some most interesting additional facts that have a bearing on the Somerton Man case. Right at this moment we are awaiting responses from a number of organisations regarding Tibor and his possible links to other known players in the case. It takes time.

My thought is that it would be interesting to examine examples of some of the codes that were in use during WW1 and WW2 as well as perhaps some more recent ones, below is the first of them:

POSTCARDS, STAMPS AND THE CIA

Way back when, I posted some documents that had relatively recently been released by the CIA. Amongst them were some notes about the use of 'Secret Writing' , how to create it and where and how to find it and hide it.

One particular aspect I found fascinating not because it was clever, which it undoubtedly was, but because it referred to micro writing over the top of a stamp, an orange stamp in this case to be precise. The method was to use a red coloured ink to write in miniature across shaded areas of the stamp.

This where the story starts to evolve a little, amongst the items found in the suitcase that was recovered from Adelaide Railway Station was a suitcase and in amongst the many items there were some pre paid airmail letter cards. These letter cards had orange coloured stamps. That was an interesting item but nothing conclusive about it, purely that there were some cards with orange stamps and the CIA many years later released some notes that discussed how they could be used to communicate with little chance of being discovered. Nothing had been found on those cards, they were unused.

That was that until quite recently when I came across a postcard that dated back to 1943. This was one was from Spain in fact and it to bore an orange coloured stamp of General Franco. What was also interesting was that the postcard with its stamp was headed for a destination in Melbourne and its colour was red. I managed to chase down the addressee, James Roberts, he was apparently a labourer at the time.

Nothing wrong with that except that he had never been outside of Australia and there is no sign of the writer: Luis Santasulagna, ever having visited Australia and yet the writing clearly suggests otherwise. You can also see that the censor has been at work which was very common in those times. You might also look at the censored lines, the felt or paint brush used leaves an effect not that dissimilar to that used on the Somerton Man code page. In addition you can see the handwriting and it is quite normal even under magnification, the franking though, well we'll leave that for another time.




Here's the grey scale version:


And now the negative version:

And finally, this version has been turned negative and to grey scale:




Two questions for those interested, if you were involved in espionage where and how would you hide a message in this postcard?

After some chasing around I found another Franco stamp from the same era, in fact the stamps were the same but they bore different colours and different values.

I am posting two of the stamps here because there is something more than a little amiss about the Orange Franco stamp and I thought it might be a good exercise to have the site visitors take a look at them and see if they can spot the differences between what are essentially the same stamp apart from the colour and value issues.


This is the Orange stamp dating back to 1943 and which was affixed to a postcard heading for Melbourne from Spain. The franking, no pun intended, that you see is from two sources, in fact on the postcard there are a total of four. One is the normal circular frank and the others are all censor franking.

Take a good close look at this stamp and bear in mind the CIA suggested method of writing in red ink and in shaded areas across the face of orange or red coloured stamps.
 Now on to the second, control, stamp. It is from the same era and as you can see the colour and values are the only differences, well at least on the face of it they are.

On this stamp look closely at the forehead, there are some other areas worth inspecting but for now, take a good look at the forehead in particular.












To help a little, we also have a side by side, in colour, comparison.









Here's a negative shot of the red stamp, there are some quite distinctive 
markings to be seen here.

 Now here's a negative image of the grey stamp. Again the markings are quite clear


And now here's a side by side comparison of the negative images of both stamps:


Now the differences that you may see could be accounted for by the variations in colour and the way the stamps were printed no doubt in different batches but using the same plates I would have thought.

Now here's some good news, I have been able to track down other examples of this 45 CTS stamp and here it is. This as you can see is unused and quite a lot of detail can be seen.



See if you can spot the differences between these two stamps could be a raised eyebrow and maybe more?

Similar techniques are being used here as were used in the Hay Bank notes.

NEXT POST: THE POEM CODE



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

SOMERTON MAN: DID TIBOR"S LAST LETTER CONTAIN ANOTHER CODE?



ANOTHER CODE?




The previous post showed a video of Tibor's last letter, it was written on thin, air mail style paper and the sheet size was believed to be foolscap, an old British and Commonwealth standard and with Australia being a Commonwealth country it would not be unusual to see that size available here.

Many months ago, I ran the contents of that letter through an acrostic decoder, many will recall that the exercise resulted in a single name emerging, DANETTA. In Clive's last visit to the SA Archives, he examined the actual letter as much as he could given the lack of suitable facilities, and he found what appeared to be part of that name 'etta' written beneath one of the words on the first page.

Given that we have shown the presence of micro written letters and numbers on both sides of the sheet of paper on which the letter is written, it begs the question whether or not there is yet another code to be found within the letter. We had some success with the acrostic decoder but could there be yet another code hidden within the writing?

Another question that is raised relates to the manner of Tibor's demise. Was it suicide or did he meet with foul play? Tibor was Jewish, he stated it on his various forms, yet in his letter, he requests a form of burial/disposal which falls well outside the norm for those of the Jewish faith. Was he trying in his last hours, to tell us that something was very wrong?

Look closely at his signature above, look at the smudging around the signature itself and compare it to the other words, no smudging. Is it possible that the signature had been traced?  Some research into forensic document examination techniques of the time may give us a better idea.

The Youtube video clip below, whilst heartrending and sad in the extreme, shows the ingenuity of one of the poor souls who was held in Auschwitz. In these horrendous situations, people found ways to conceal things of value. Tibor escaped his possible fate in the camps but did he conceal things just in case? And were those things later hidden amongst his personal possessions? We probably will never know but we do know that he used an Acrostic code to pass on a name, what else did he leave us?