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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, 22 July 2017

SOMERTON MAN: A BOOK OF REASONS & ANSWERS




About a week or so ago, I came across a press announcement regarding the release of a new historical account of Australia's involvement in the massive code breaking efforts of the Allies in the Pacific Theater of War.

I was able to contact the author, David Dufty to congratulate him on the release and told him that I was looking forward to reading it as I had a particular interest in the topic. He kindly wrote back and I believe we will continue our discussion.

I acquired a copy and immediately I started reading it, it was clear that the author wasn't just writing an account based on pure academic research, he had completely immersed himself in the subject and the complexities of relationships between enemies and friends during this time of a war the likes of which no one had ever experienced. 

Being involved in the Somerton Man case, like many others, you get used to reading texts about WW 2, and the early Cold War years and, of course, about espionage and the work of the intelligence services. They all seemed much the same.  However with this work, right from the get go, I wasn't just reading a book, I was being taken on a fascinating journey and became quickly engaged with its content. Those others involved in the SM case will know that when researching if you can find just one nugget of information amongst the many hundreds if not thousands of pages we all must read, you will have done well. With David's book, you feel like you've struck the mother lode. Page after page of really useful and relevant information is contained within its covers.

One example of this relevant information relates to the leaking of top secret information from the higher levels of the Australian Government which had a significant impact on the nature of the relationship between the US and Australia to the extent that information sharing between these Allies was greatly reduced and became even more closely monitored. It turns out that leaks from Australia were detected much earlier than 1948 when Roger Hollis and Percy Sillitoe paid their visit to the Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley. A series of Japanese reports, The Harbin Special Spy Reports, contained secret information that in the end could only have come from Doc Evatt's department or from that of the Minister of Supply and Shipping, John Beasley. This information had come via the Russian Embassy in Canberra. The date was Christmas Eve 1944.  Even though it was to be 1954 before this detail was made public, it was obvious even then that the US, UK and Australia knew of the problem years earlier than the MI5 visit.

Yet another example is that of Australian Code-Breaker, Eric Nave, a man, who of late, has been the subject of much, heated, discussion between two rivals in the blog space covering the Somerton Man case. As David reveals, whilst Eric Nave was a well-respected member of the team at Central Bureau, there were doubts held about his proficiency to the extent that his superiors were disinclined to recommend him for an award at the conclusion of hostilities. The reason given was that whilst Captain Nave had made significant break throughs with Japanese air to ground codes there were thoughts by some that he had breached security on a number of occasions and that his work constantly required supervision.

For me at least, both of these examples, and by the way, there are many others in the book, have shed further light on the background to the Somerton Man case. It is a great resource and I am sure I will be using it as the trusted book of reference it undoubtedly will be. David's 'human' touch made it a thoroughly readable account and an engaging experience. I thoroughly recommend it to all who are serious about following not only the Somerton Man case but also the many other intelligence aspects of the world's greatest conflict.

David Dufty

David Dufty is a Canberra-based writer and researcher. He completed a psychology degree with honours at the University of Newcastle, has a PhD in psychology from Macquarie University, and has worked as a statistician and social researcher at the University of Memphis, Newspoll, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. His previous book, How to Build an Android, described modern developments in robotics and artificial intelligence.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

SOMERTON MAN: PAUL LAWSON INTERVIEW PART 2, A CAMP DIVIDED



In Clive's interview with Mr Lawson, a lot of ground was covered including Paul's comments on the nature of the environment within the CIB office. In his view, it was indeed a divided camp when it came to the Somerton Man case. There were those officers who were decidedly very protective of Jestyn and those that wanted to pursue the case with her as the prime suspect. As we all now know, Jestyn's supporters won the day.

HOGAN'S HEROES

Digging a little deeper, Paul referred to one of the officers as a version of 'Sergeant Schulz' of Hogan's Heroes fame. It was this officer who controlled the case and who either allowed or disallowed the inclusion of various evidence presented to him. 'Sergeant Shulz' did not act alone and we are left to consider who else might have been in his faction. Those familiar with the case will have little problem identifying 'Sergeant Schulz'.

As the discussion progressed, Paul went on to talk about the verse that Jestyn had written in the book she gave Alf Boxall, specifically he referred to the signature and the letter 'E' that seemed so unusual. He believed that according to those involved in the case, the use of a second capital letter may have had something to do with Jestyn's association with the Persian religion he had mentioned at the earlier interview. As best we can make out, that religion was probably Zoroastrian, more details in the first post on Clive's discussions with Paul. We are following up on the signature issue with members of that religion currently.

The picture is emerging and it increasingly suggests that Jestyn's supporters were following specific instructions from on high. I say that because I would find it difficult in the extreme to believe that anyone could effectively block the progress of an investigation in what appears to have been a murder without some kind of direction from above.

POST IMAGES

The above image is dated June 1948, it shows SA Police first radio car and in the image, I believe the gentleman on the right is Detective Sergeant Leane, not certain of the identities of the other 3. These radio cars were operated by CIB and were on the road between 4 p.m. and 6 a.m. Whilst this vehicle was operative from June, the new SA Police Radio centre did not kick in until August 1948.

The car itself is a General Motors Model, you can tell that by the emblem on the hub cap, the predecessor of the GM Holden released in December 48. Interestingly the Holden company was in existence for some years prior, they were the vehicle body makers for many of the cars/chassis' imported from the US and the UK and who were eventually acquired by GM hence the name GM Holden


SOMERTON MAN: INTRODUCING MR FRANCIS


THE NEWS, ADELAIDE, 4th. FEBRUARY 1949
 


Over the years, so much time and so much effort has been applied to the question of just who was Mr Francis?

So, when Clive was doing what he does best, he came across a certain Mr Francis and he is connected to the Somerton Man case. Here we have someone who, possibly, had the name that was later applied to the owner of the car in which the copy of the Rubaiyat was found.

This Mr Francis, full name Harold Clayton Francis, had a record, he served 9 months for indecent assault in 1944. Reading through the brief report it would seem that 'Clayton' is quite an appropriate name for the man.

The 'Francis' referred to in the case is a 'Ronald Francis' and it was not his car but that of his brother in law according to the Sydney Morning Herald, November 28th. 2012:

'Amazingly, on July 22, a Mr Ronald Francis recalled seeing a copy of The Rubaiyat in the glovebox of his brother-in-law's Hillman Minx. When Mr Francis called to inquire, his brother-in-law told him he had discovered the book lying in the back of his unlocked car. On November 30, the car had been parked in Moseley Street, the street above Somerton Beach.
The next day, Mr Francis took the book to the police. The torn-out page matched the book and, what's more, the book contained a code and a telephone number written in pencil. The case had just become even more complicated.'
This account is at odds with Gerry Feltus's account which attributes the ownership of the car to Mr. Ronald Francis and not his brother in law.

But, to the point, was Harold Francis's surname used in part as a pseudonym for the finder of the book or was there another connection? I understand that the clipping from the News has been talked of before but, as far as I am aware, no one has linked this Mr Francis to the finder of the book.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

SOMERTON MAN: ANOTHER CODE PAGE?


THE ADVERTISER  MONDAY, 29th AUGUST 1949







Have to admit, I never saw this but thankfully the eagle eyed Clive most certainly did!

This was the code page as published in the Adelaide Advertiser on 29th August 1949, page 2. Apart from the apparent numbers and letter X at the end of the PANETP sequence, the edges are entirely different and there are traces of what appear to be more letters and numbers in numerous locations on the page.

Make no mistake though, this is decidedly a low-resolution image, 38 pixels per cm, but it is showing details that are just not visible on later versions of the page shown in the press.

Here's the full article:



Pete Bowes, you may be interested in the wording of the article. 'The letters appear on the back cover of a copy of the Rubaiyat....'


Friday, 14 July 2017

SOMERTON MAN: INTERVIEW WITH PAUL LAWSON, PART 2


FOUR FACES OF THE SOMERTON MAN




Over the years I have published a fair number of images and comparisons of the 4 different faces of the Somerton Man. There were a number of things that troubled me, the major difference between the full face images post autopsy and pre burial, the two images to the left above, and then full face image differences between the bust and the IR 3D organised by Professor Abbott.

I pointed out in 2013that the post autopsy image had been altered and backed that up with information from TROVE which clearly stated that the Police were working on a 'reconstructed photograph' of the man. It's now generally agreed that the image had been altered, the question is by how much? I believe they were major alterations, which may go some way towards explaining why those that came forward to identify the man from the picture in the press thought he looked quite different when seen in the morgue.

Prior to Clive's recent interview with Mr Lawson, we had discussed what questions he might put to him and one was seeking to know whether or not Mr Lawson had used the early post autopsy photographs as an aid when he made the bust. His answer was quite simply 'Yes'.



If you look closely at the plaster bust image and compare it to the IR 3D scan, you'll see that they bear little resemblance to each other and the bust does not look anything like the pre burial image and also different to the post autopsy photograph on the far left above.

Mr Lawson went on to say that the body looked smaller than he thought it would be, the nose was markedly different, he put these things down to dehydration. Given that the body had been in deep freeze I wonder whether that would have been possible. We need to check out the date that the body was actually placed in the freezer which would have been following closely behind the time that the embalming took place at least one would think that would be the case.

He went on to describe how the body quickly became very wet and that he had three detectives to assist him in turning the body whilst he applied the plaster which was done in a piece meal way. They first had to towel an area dry and then the plaster was applied one small area at a time.

Interestingly he said that when the plaster had dried, they literally had to break it away from the body. I am sure that was the case but how then was the plaster bust made if the mold was broken?

We are left with more questions, not the least being which photographs did Mr Lawson use? I and, I am sure, many others, have the view that there were more than the two that have been published.

There is still more to come from this latest interview. Many thanks to Clive once again for doing such an outstanding job as well as to Mr Lawson for sharing his unique insight and knowledge on the Somerton Man case.