Skip to content

What am I looking at?

1949

A room in Adelaide, a meeting table and two chairs.

Two men.

One a senior South Australian policeman, the other RAN (ret) awaiting deployment to ASIO.

‘What am I looking at?’ Asked Nave of the policeman.

‘We found faint indentations on the back cover of a book, sir, this is what one of them looks like.’

 

Nave examined the photograph closely with a small magnifying glass.

‘You’ve given me a photograph, why?’

‘We thought it would be all you require.’

 

Eric Nave,  RAN. SIB. FRUMEL. SIGINT, placed the photo on his desk then sat back in his chair.

‘Where’s the original?’

‘Locked away, sir, evidence in an ongoing investigation.’

‘Does it look any different to this?’

The policeman shook his head.

‘I don’t understand, sir.’

Nave picked up the photo and waved it at the policeman.

‘What have you done to it?’

 

8 Comments
  1. A nice piece, my comment would be that I don’t think that the mark up was done by the Police.

    July 18, 2017
    • Neither do I .. but that’s for later.

      July 18, 2017
  2. We know the exact day the local navy codebreaker saw the Rubaiyat page (27th July 1949), and indeed pretty much the time (the afternoon). My guess is that Nave had been called over by his father the previous day, and arrived on the morning train from Melbourne.

    The Rubaiyat page may have been the last code he tried to break: cryptanalysis wasn’t part of his job at ASIO.

    Yet we don’t know what he was shown.

    July 19, 2017
  3. More guesses?

    You guessed Nave was shown the code.
    You guessed he determined the code was an acrostic.
    Now you’re guessing his dad rang him up,
    and you guess Nave took a train from Melbourne to Adelaide to examine the code.

    July 19, 2017
    • Petebowes: if there’s anything wrong with making small guesses on the basis of solid documentary evidence and labelling them clearly as guesses, I don’t know it.

      The difference between this and outright speculation is that it can be tested, e.g. if Eric Nave’s diary for the period was checked.

      July 19, 2017
      • Show me solid, meanwhile we can add two ifs to four guesses.

        July 19, 2017
        • Petebowes: ifs and informed, evidence-driven guesses are the boundary-markers on the edges of our historical knowledge. That’s just how things work, sorry.

          July 19, 2017
          • But …… there is no evidence to drive the guess that Nave was involved: same with his father, the phone call and the overnight train from Melbourne, or, indeed, no evidence to drive the guess it was Nave who decided the code was an acrostic. Which puts you in a fragile position seeing as how this long chain of evidence-free guesses constructs the basis of your certain interpretation of the code as being an acrostic. An interpretation dear to your heart despite the multitude of evidence-driven guesses – to use your parlance – that point to the code as being an example of steganography, a word you admit has not been used in any of your Somerton Man posts.

            And my guess is that it never will.

            The following has been copied from The Somerton Man’s secrets – Part 1. Cipher Mysteries.

            What was revealed by this was several lines of mysterious cipher-like letters, and either one or two phone numbers (though it is still unknown which). This was quickly passed on to a well-known codebreaker (who was, without any real doubt, Captain Eric Nave): he determined that the letters seemed not to be a code or a cipher, but were instead an acrostic – the initial letters of a sequence of words.
            Further, Nave deduced from the statistics that the language of the sequence was very probably English, but was unable to take this line of reasoning any further – there simply wasn’t enough known about the rest of the case to draw any strong inferences.

            Perhaps it could read like this:

            What was revealed by this was several lines of mysterious cipher-like letters, and either one or two phone numbers (though it is still unknown which). This might have been passed on to a well-known codebreaker Captain Eric Nave after he might have been contacted by his father and might have travelled to Adelaide from Melbourne by train where he might have determined that the letters seemed not to be a code or a cipher, but were instead an acrostic.

            The problem is this wording doesn’t wear the same robe of assumed authority as yours, yet they both say the same thing.

            I’m reminded of the Emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale.

            July 20, 2017

Comments are closed.