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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, 6 September 2014


POST UPDATED 14th September

A big statement but that is what the evidence now says as you will read in the following post. Here we have someone deeply involved in the case openly saying that the original body was to be disposed of and that was in a note of a conversation with a Police Officer.

UPDATE: 10th September. This post will be added to over the next 4 days, more important information to be included.

In October of 2013 I posted on the question as to whether the Somerton Man image was faked in some way, to support it we looked at an image that was broadly publicised and showed where there appeared to have been 'adjustments' made.

In April of this year the profile image of the man immediately before his burial was posted and made another detailed comparison. The images appear to be quite different and many have commented that the second image was an entirely different person.

Both of these earlier posts have been incorporated in this page.

The evidence:

For those who aren't aware, Lawson was the man who created the bust of the Somerton Man and it has often been said that perhaps Mr. Lawson knew far more than he was saying.

Trawling through the information I found what could be a damning statement written in Lawson's diary, here's the image taken of the entry made on June 8th 1949:

Read the top section in particular:

Police Job
Interview with Detectives (Brown + 1)
Ring from Constable Durham re DISPOSAL of ORIGINAL Body
Casting of ears and piecing together mold.

Does that sound right to you? Why say 'Disposal of Original Body' ? The man was to be buried. Why not just say 'burial of the man'? You 'dispose' of something unwanted, you bury a body. The use of the word 'original' also sounds odd, you might use 'original' if there was more than one body involved which may have been the case.

Why 'Detective Brown + 1', who was the other one? Surely Lawson knew the name of the other Detective if that was indeed what the extra person was?

There is something decidedly chilling about the terminology used in this diary entry. What was Lawson really saying?

September 14th, update..

As promised, I have added to this post by including two earlier posts related to the images of the Somerton Man that appear to show some significant differences in one instance and what might be evidence of alterations made to the picture in the other.

The issue here is that taken in isolation, each of these posts raise serious questions about the identity of the body that was buried in June 1949. When you bring all three issues together, the Lawson Diary entry, the Somerton Man initial profile image and then the pre-burial image, then there is quite an argument that the body in the grave in Adelaide was not that of the man found on Somerton Beach on December 1st 1948.

This information and the images is presented for you to make your own decisions.

Nick Pelling on his Cipher Mysteries Blog puts forward a different view and I encourage you to visit his page and gain an insight into his thoughts on this matter. But first, here are the earlier and very relevant posts made on this issue.

Original Post Dated 15th April 2014

In the previous post we looked in some detail at the post embalmed image of the Somerton Man and attempted to highlight what appeared to be differences in his facial appearance.

Please note that working with digital images is a fine art and whilst I have some level of skill I am not a technical person in this regard, having said that I have made every effort to maintain the integrity of the original images and to present as accurate a picture as possible.

In this follow up post we look in greater detail at just where those differences lie.

The challenge was to ensure as far as possible that we had comparable images in terms of size on which to base the analysis. I have used a simple grid approach and as you will see there are 4 distinct areas that do not appear to match. I have used the ear as the basis of sizing the rest of the image and then plotting the additional areas from there. As you can see the ear is very close to being an exact match in shape, size and location. 

To the grid:

A. At point A we can see the forehead, you will see in the lower image that the forehead has a pronounced bump, this bump occurs at the point where I believe another facial image had been superimposed on to the Somerton Man's head, you may well see the light line that commences on that bump and continues to the hairline and then beyond. Others have written that the bump is a relic of the autopsy but in the post embalmed image there is no such bump apparent. Is that because it was never there or because of the effects of the embalming process and subsequent cold storage? My belief is that it was never there and is the result of adding and superimposing another face on the SMs head.

B.  The bridge of the nose at point B in the lower image shows a pronounced 'dip' which is not there at all in the upper image. A different shaped nose.

C.  At point C we can see that in the upper image the nose appears to be significantly larger and of a typical 'Roman' type. Again, this appears to be a different nose type and shape to the lower image.

D.  Finally at point D, the lower face appears quite different to the upper, post embalmed, image. In the top image, the area above the mouth appears to have more depth and the lips and chin are at a different angle and moved forward, some of this is no doubt due to the jaw having dropped and manipulated in the embalming process.

Elsewhere on the web the upper image, post embalmed, has been described as flattened, in this comparison, the opposite appears to be true.

From Post Dated 25th October 2013:
A big question. Was the whole Tamam Shud Case a cover up right from day one?

The question is prompted by a recently released Trove News article dated December 1st. 1948, that date should ring a bell, it was of course the day that his body was found on Somerton Beach. To be precise he was found around 6 in the morning and this News item was posted in the Adelaide News, an evening newspaper which I think came out at around 4 p.m.

In a busy Police Station, the sequence of events would have been something like this:

1. 6 a.m. body found and inspected for any obvious signs of violence or unusual marks
2. Transport arranged and body taken to the morgue
3. Body again inspected for any wounds or marks cleaned up and prepared for an autopsy, a Police Officer sometimes known as a 'Coroners Officer' would have had control of that process and may even have organised or carried out the washing.
4. A detailed description of the body would have been taken by the Coroners Officer and that would have formed part of an initial 'sudden death' report.
5. A duty, uniformed, inspector would have authorised the release of the mans description to the press
6. The News Police reporter at the time would have made what was probably a regular daily phone call when he came on duty sometime around midday on the 1st December.
7. The press article, based on the Coroners Officer's information would have been prepared for publication.

Worth bearing in  mind that at this stage there was no hint of poisoning or Codes or the Tamam Shud torn piece.

As you will read via the link below, is that the Coroners Officers description of the man was as follows:

Height 5ft 11 inches, quite precise
Build, Well built, again a reasonable description
Hair colour, Fair, quite definite
Eyes, Hazel and again quite definite.

The problem is that subsequent descriptions of the Somerton Man were quite different, in those he has been described as having auburn hair and blue eyes.

Does the picture below look like his hair is fair?

Remember that in a recent post the Police announced that a 'Reconstructed photograph was available for inspection' that very weekend following the finding of his body.

This image is the one posted earlier that appears to show that his photograph was manipulated:

When you examine this image carefully it could well be that the face of the man in this image is not that of the Somerton Man, if it's true in this case then it could also be true of the full face image shown here:

Two of our followers, photographers, agreed that it was likely that one or both had been altered, I checked that with other photographers and they agreed. The question is why would you go to these lengths, and it was a tricky process in those days, to alter a photograph? Any other photographers out there, your input would be appreciated.

So here we have it, the first description that was released, one which would have been written by the Coroners Officer who would have been an experienced man to hold that position, described the man as having fair hair an Hazel eyes. The man in this altered image does not have have anything like fair hair as far as I can see.

Did the December 1st Press release about the discover of the mans body on Somerton Beach slip through the 'net' and is that why the Police hurriedly announced the availability of 'reconstructed' images? Why did his description change so quickly after the first press release?

Add to this, the 14 instances of fingerprints not being taken from the mans possessions, the laundry marks that were supposedly traced to Victoria but never followed up, the evidence, in terms of his clothing, possessions and the book, being destroyed despite it still being an open case and I would say there is genuine cause to think that something was sadly amiss at the least and that it was a deliberate cover up at its worst.


Anonymous said...


I'm sorry for being a bit off topic, but maybe this comment could poke a bit of a discussion into this.

Yesterday (Sept 6th) it was reported in the Daily Mail that a British businessman had personally funded DNA testing into the identity of Jack the Ripper. Two living relatives were found (one of the victim; one of the murderer) and the Ripper has now been (fairly confidently) identified as one Aaron Kosminski, who was an original suspect and confined to an asylum some time later.

Obviously, there has been no greater mystery than Jack the Ripper, I think because in that circumstance it seemed a bit preposterous that he couldn't be caught, even with limited resources of the 19th century.

Anyway, my point is this: do you think that this will help set a precedent and sway the decision (in favour) of exhuming his body?

I'm sorry I don't have anything constructive to add regarding Lawson's diary entry - I'm not sure why he'd use the word dispose of, as Australia seems like a very Christian country and would have been even moreso in the 1940s. As such, I don't think he would've referred to consecrated ground as essentially a rubbish tip (if you see what I mean). It's for this reason, isn't it, that he won't be exhumed? Because the argument is the need has to outweigh the disrespect for consecrated ground and the moral dubiousness of disturbing a resting body.

So it could very well be careless wording (it is, afterall, a diary - other people aren't supposed to read it). But maybe not...

Gordon332 said...

Thanks for the comment, it is really well presented. I have read the article about Jack the Ripper but having said that, the Daily Mail has something of an unenviable reputation and I would take the report with a large pinch of salt until there is further evidence.

I found the entry in the diary to be unusual and as you have suggested not what you might expect but perhaps careless wording. There's value in your comment but it does seem that the case has more than its fair share of such unusual aspects, the lack of fingerprints was recently put down to slack attitudes of the Police at the time for example. When do we stop making such allowances and say, 'Hang on, there's something not quite right here' ?

On the diary, it is an official Government diary and when the notes were written there would have been some thought about them being available for reading by others. With regards to exhumation, it's something I don't feel comfortable about and have given it a great deal of thought, I am still uncertain about it and hope that we can find another way to resolve his identity. My motivation is that if he was a spy working on behalf of another power, it's time he was sent home and for his family to have some closure after all these years.

Thanks again for your comments, they are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, On first reading the diary entry, you could think that Constable Durham was meaning the actual body, not the cast that Lawson was making. But, when you read the interview Stuart Littlemore had with Lawson, Lawson was seemingly very wary of giving too much away. This, together with your two photos of, supposedly, the same body, makes Lawson's diary entry very suspect and evidence of a well engineered coverup to say the least. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Thanks Clive, It does seem most odd, when you stand off it and view it fall from a distance you see so many different little pieces of the puzzle. A lot of questions to be answered.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Following on to the diary entry-Gerry Feltus mentions, on Page 83/84 that Lawson had a call from Constable Roger Dinham & that Detective Brown "and another police officer discussed the case" I presume that means "Brown + 1". I wonder where this Roger Dinham came from, he is never mentioned again in Gerry's book and, no one else seems to have mentioned him in the various SM cases. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Clive, There you go, I read it incorrectly as Constable Durham when you're correct it says Dinham. The words seem to indicate that they were about to dispose of the body. Curiouser and curiouser. The Detective Brown + 1 is fascinating, why no name? There is a reference elsewhere when Detective Brown kept referring to 'They did this ' on a few occasions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Looking at "Interview with detectives (Brown & 1)" I wonder if Lawson was really meaning having interview with detectives i.e. more than one, then only Brown turned up-so Lawson put Brown & I in brackets later, to signify it was only himself and Brown who had the interview? Clive

Gordon332 said...

I see what you're saying but I think that, because it was written after the event, he recorded that Brown turned up with another as was indicated by the word 'Detectives' The difference being that this was a diary and not an appointments record? Had it been as you suggest, he wouldn't have needed to record the word 'Detectives' and Brown + 1, he would have simply put 'Interview with Detective Brown.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Yes, you would have thought he simply would have recorded the interview with Detective Brown. So I wonder if the other "detective" was from interstate or, Canberra possibly. I'm surmising that this case and its implications, for the Australian Govt, went, possibly, all the way to the top and another "John Doe" was involved. Strange, though that Gerry Feltus doesn't query the difference in the photos before and after the embalming process, then again, I don't think anybody else did either-until you, yourself raised this issue. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Good thinking Clive. I agree with your views, the pieces are all available and if you were to ask me I would say there's more than enough to go knocking on a few doors with a warrant.

Elements of this are the first profile images of SM, the pre-burial images, the diary entry, the evidence by Jimmy Durham where he spoke of writing found on the man, the lack of fingerprints from the suitcase and contents as well as from the book and torn piece.

Lots more to discuss and will post further thoughts over the next few days. Your input is valued and I encourage you to keep it up, it all helps.

Josh Meeks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

How is the woman's number found in the victims discarded copy of rubaiyat not the focus? She's been connected to 2 copies of this rare book. She gave a copy to Alfred boxall at a location where a few months earlier Joseph Saul Marshall was found poisoned with a copy of the same rare book.

Gordon332 said...

Hi Josh, Good questions and I'll do my best to answer them for you:
1. The woman's phone number was on the back of the Rubaiyat, they traced her location from that.
2. The torn piece matched the paper type of the book that was found so it was a reasonable assumption that it came from the same book.
3. The phone number was in the name of a 'Sister JE Thompson'
4. The Rubaiyat was quite innocuous, it was deemed to be quite fashionable in those days to have a copy and to quote from it. Both copies were from different publishers, I have a number of copies from that era including one of version given to Alf Boxall.

I agree it does seem odd that two men of approximately the same age were apparently given copies of the book by perhaps the same woman.

Worth bearing in mind that the phone number had also been published as a contact for a number of items for sale or lost by her partner including a rifle and a gold watch (made by Rolex)

Complex isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The whole fact that she gave boxall the book in a spot where 2 months earlier Joseph Marshall was found poisoned and with a copy of the rubaiyat. It's very intriguing

Gordon332 said...

Not exactly the same spot, some distance away in fact at a hotel, an upstairs room I believe with another nurse and another army officer. Worth looking at a map and noting the location of Army Intelligence Training facilities in relation to the Hotel. If you pursue the Marshall case you'll find an interesting variation between the page and verse of the book found beneath his body and the page and verse of other versions of the book. In fact the Marshall book was found to be a 'false imprint' a cheap copy? Maybe. Totally agree about the intriguing aspects, in my view the SM case reaks of deception and concealment techniques well beyond the bounds of coincidence.

Anonymous said...

And how could people have observed a man of the same description, laying in the same area almost 12 hours before the body was discovered... And nobody walked up to check on him? Even if you don't care about some drunk on the curb, he was by a crippled children's home. Wouldn't you want to keep that area danger free??

Gordon332 said...

Another good question. Whilst he was seen in that location he was also seen to raise his arm, some may have taken that to be a wave. There was a period of time when there was no record of him being seen, through the night. But when morning came the horse trainers spotted him and thus the mystery began>

On the point you raise regarding the proximity between SM and the Children' Home, a thought would be that in those days the appearance of a man in these circumstances may not have been as threatening as it would be today. He would not have been thought to be behaving suspiciously as all he was doing was lying there. I would agree with you that you would have thought that someone would have contacted the Police, not sure just where the nearest telephone box was and that may be a line worth pursuing?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more about Jestyn. I'm interesting in her origin, where her ancestors came from?
I have a theory that SM was an Irish dance dancer. I found that "from the 1940s the INA ran Irish dances every week at St Benedict’s Church Hall on Broadway." It's ~4 km to the South from McMahoms Point that ~3 km from the place where Jestyn lived in Sydney.
It would be nice if volunteers check Irish dance schools that were exist in the late '40s or some dance floors that were popular.

Anonymous said...

Hi Again, being a amateur to all of this I dont have the means to research if there is any info on this man post 1948 but has consideration been given to Thomas Keane, born 1910 in Ireland? He is listed a 2 inches shorter in his military enlistment however I know from experience these wernt always correct.



Gordon332 said...

Always a possibility but he does seem to be a bit on the young side. Any chance of digging out a photograph and maybe a detailed description?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I tried to embed his photo both front and profile but it didnt work, is there a address I can send it to?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'd like to point out that in many older B&w photos "ashy" or "mousy" fair hair often appeared dark. SMs hair was described as mousy- a colour that can be described as anything from fair to "strawberry blond" (reddish dark blond) depending on who is judging and the light availability and type. Also eye colour of corpses can change with time, becoming more blue. Depending on the knowledge of the observer, this may not have been factored into the observation.

Anonymous said...

It has been a cover up of what was thought to be Joe Kennedy Jr's remains, the older brother of JFK. The family left a memorial to him in France where he was thought to have gone down. Everybody sees I color and hair color differently. Men are not as good on these points as women. It was once thought that he made it out of the plane and into France and lived through capture by Germans. The truth is stranger than fiction. The book was sold by a family in the Pacific Northwest. It's out there.

Anonymous said...

The tartan scarf belongs to the Kennedy clan of Ireland.

Anonymous said...

There was a phone number of a bank in the back of the book. Did police call that bank and ask who the account belonged to?

Gordon332 said...

Had a quick look on line, previously I had seen an image of the Lamont clan tartan which seemed to bear some resemblance and I think the same of the Irish Kennedy clan, the O'Kennedy clan I think? There
s a link here: Thanks for the comment!

Gordon332 said...

There are varying opinions on that issue, Detective Brown makes no comment on it and I am not quite sure of the source of the information. Caould you let us know where you found that? If you haven't already visited Prof Abbott's Reddit page, here's the link. He seems to have a fair bit of relevant information and you could pose the question there:

You might also email to Gerry Feltus, author of the Unknown Man, he was directly involved in the case.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Lawson's diary: any entries known for 7 June 1949? In his diary he's crossed out 9 and 10 June and changed dates to 8 and 9 June. Clive

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Apparently, the other Detective with Lawson, on 8 June 1949, was called Schwartz. Per Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Quite a few unusual aspects to the diaries. They still exist apparently. There are many more pages that could relate to the SM case and we may never get to know just how.

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Quite a few unusual aspects to the diaries. They still exist apparently. There are many more pages that could relate to the SM case and we may never get to know just how.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Apparently, the Detective Schwartz, with Lawson on 8 Jun 1949-Could he be a L.H. Schwarz? He was a Sgt in the early 1940's and lived in Prospect-same suburb where Lawson lived, a bit of a coincidence? Clive

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, With your revelations about Lawson's diary and "original body" entry. This got me thinking about the Keith Mangonson issue, he thought the SM was a Carl Thompson, with whom he worked with in 1939. Was he on the right lines? and that's the reason his wife was threatened in the street? I wonder if Carl Thompson was the "John Doe' who ended up being buried in West Terrace and Keith M. was on to it but, couldn't prove it.

Johnny said...

The Identity of the Somerton Man might possibly be found in the Limerick region of Ireland. Ireland was neutral during WWII but the port of Limerick was of immense strategic importance to Britain, from whom Ireland gained independence in 1922. A modus avendi saw the port of Limerick being made available to the allies, and known as a Treaty Port. Limerick was thus a very important seafaring city. It was also a very poor place, anyone who has read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt will be impressed by the poverty and unemployment in Limerick in the early 20th century. Many of the cities sons went into seafaring to better themselves and I would suggest SM may be one of them.

Keane is a very common name in Limerick. The official language of Ireland is gaeilge. The Gaelic for Thomas is...Tomás. Similar in spelling to the word on the scrap of paper found on SM, Tamán. The marking above the letter a is known as a 'sineadh fada' is commonly applied to Irish words. It would be most unusual to find the fada in use in the Southern Hemisphere in 1948. Did SM see this in the book, found it similar to his name and retain it for reasons of nostalgia?

Pastimes in Ireland in the early 20th century would have remarkable links to what is known of the SM. For instance the pathologist notes that the deceased had feet and calf muscles which would indicate he was a dancer. Irish dancing is renown internationally and male participation in dancing is ordinary. Note the popularity of Michael Flatley's Riverdance.

It has also been suggested that he had the physique of a boxer, again boxing was very popular in Ireland at the time. In fact it still is, note that Irish MMA star Conor McGregor initially schooled as a boxer and is returning to this discipline.

It is noted that there were no tags found on the SM mans clothing other than T. Keane. The property found in his suitcase inferred that he worked as a third mate on a ship. It is reasonable to assume that shipmates removed name tags from lost clothing left on board the ship which they then kept for themselves as good clothing was still in short supply in years post war.Seafaring folk will also be cognisant that it would be most unfortunate if you were drowned but wrongly identified because you were wearing a name tag referring to someone else.

With reference to the code found in the book, I would surmise that they are just shorthand for an Irish poem or ballad. I infer this because of the use of certain letters. The Irish alphabet has 18 letters, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u. As discussed earlier the sineadh fada occurs on certain letters Á á, É é, Í í, Ó ó, Ú ú.


A lot of Irish ballads begin with 'M' I.e. Mo Nora Beag, (My little Nora) or Mo Chuisle (My Heartbeat). The handwriting used is also similar to Irish cursive handwriting particularly the 'R' and the 'S'.

It is my opinion that SM was a very ordinary Irish seaman from the Limerick region of Ireland who enjoyed singing and dancing and boxing. The Irish also enjoy poetry, and thus a book of poetry would not be unusual in his possession.

Anonymous said...

Hey Johnny,
It's an interesting thought. Any thoughts about the markings Kean (rather than Keane)? Obviously could've been written by someone else, but so far haven't seen too many satisfactory explanations for why he simultaneously had Keane and Kean labels (the fact that it was on the singlet rather than the laundry bag suggests to me that it was labelled by someone in an institution where they were responsible for washing clothes - and either by someone other than the person who labelled the tie and laundry bag, or at an earlier time before they realised the spelling of the surname).
Secondly does the sineadh fada ever occur on first letters in a word and in your opinion do there appear to be any indication of them on the SM text (of course their absence is inconclusive, because the coppers or journalists who traced the letter weren't looking for any diacritics)

Gordon332 said...

Whilst I don't actually agree with your theory, I do think that it is a lateral thought that just might fire up more thoughts from others. Interestingly the man would not be the first Irishman to be found near an ocean and to be associated with a copy of the Rubaiyat. I hope you research that, it is a great piece of Irish history.