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the francis omerta

Picture four people out for a drive in a Hillman Minx. A family, two in the front and two in the back. A pleasant drive to the beach at about the time a man was found dead at the bottom of a set of steps that lead to the sand.

December 1948.

About six months later this conversation was said to have taken place after the driver read an article in the newspaper about the search for a  Rubaiyat with a hole in it’s back page.


‘Do you recall.’ Francis asked his brother-in-law, ‘when we all went for a drive in my car ….

you were sitting in the back ..

with your wife

and when we all got out ..

the book you were reading ..

you put in the glove box of my car …


The story, as it goes, is that Francis handed the book to DS Leane the next day and after a chat, asked that his name be kept out of it. His wish was granted and today, seventy years on, we still don’t know who he is, or was.

We also don’t know who his wife was, or his brother-in-law, or, indeed his wife, Francis’ sister. No only that, the code of Somerton Silence seems to have enveloped all their families as well because even after all these years, not a word has slipped out from any of them.

Nothing from any of their cousins, nephews, aunts or uncles. Nothing from mum or dad, granddad or nana, nothing from their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

No-one leaked.

Not a drop.

.. down to you, Clive

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    So, all four individuals were in the car, the car stopped, and all four got out. Which makes it a mite suspicious about the book being placed in the glove box, apart from the two men, didn’t the women see where the book was placed? This is assuming that the wives were in the car, and not just two men sat at the front? On the other hand, perhaps, it wasn’t just ‘Mr Francis’ who wanted his name kept out of it, but the other one, two or three also wanted the matter left at the police desk.

    January 26, 2018
    • Clive, mate, the entire episode is bullshit … it’s fake. But the Francis story has become so ingrained some have a problem casting it aside completely. It stifles discussion.
      When you wipe your blackboard clean of Francis other things become clearer.
      A challenge for some, what say for you, Nick?

      January 26, 2018
  2. The man had not only a Rubaiyat but The Rubaiyat, and convinced the police at the time enough for them to go running to all their friends in the media. What’s there not to like about him?

    January 28, 2018
    • He must have been Adelaide’s Godfather to command such silence from his family and friends for seventy years …. and now, probably from the grave.
      But no pictures of The Rubaiyat, Nick, not a one. The only acknowledgement of its existence was from two of GF’s reliable sources. They got anonymity too, bloody stuff is contagious.

      January 28, 2018
  3. For those interested, just posted a link to 57 articles and images on my blog. All relate to the case, some may not be new but possibly one or two will be of interest, it includes a list of businesses on Jetty Road, number, the occupants of 166 have an interesting name. Nick, you can find the doc I was unable to send.

    January 28, 2018
    • Gordon, do you believe Feltus left clues in his book as to who Francis was?

      January 28, 2018
  4. Not at all sure about that. The occupants of 166 Jetty Road were a family, Francis being their surname. Gerry tended to use names that were somehow associated with the real names so the surname Francis may not be correct but, look at the street in the PDF and it seems that almost opposite number 166 was the Morrow Building where you will find JH Upton, Chemist. Reading through the Police files, Det Browne, he clearly refers to a Chemist who had parked his car outside his premises. So, it looks interesting.

    January 28, 2018
  5. GF seemed to have the individuals’ interests at heart when he disguised their real names. Leane’s reason for giving Francis anonymity was an instruction to do so. GF made that clear to me in a reply to my email years ago. I don’t think he had it mind to change the situation in any way when he wrote the book. Wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.

    January 28, 2018
  6. Byron Deveson #

    Gordon, it is possible that “JH Upton” was a lady pharmacist. Or maybe a chemical type chemist “Jim Upton” rather than a pharmacist. I seem to remember that there were several chemistry chemists living in Glenelgy/Somerton in 1948. From memory one chemist lived adjacent to 90a Moseley Street.

    The Advertiser 30th December 1944 page 7
    “Pharmacy Board Elections.
    …..Candidates who did not secure election received the following votes: …… J.H. Upton 133 ……”

    The West Australian 23rd August 1947 page 16
    “Women Pharmacists’ Dinner.
    ……. mesdames ……. J.H. Upton …..”

    The Mail (Adelaide) 17th November 1951 page 12
    Stainless steel etching claim Mr. Rod Lightfoot, of Blackwood, claims he has discovered a secret formula which stains stainless steel. A young etching expert, Mr. Lightfoot said today he had worked two years on the project and tested more than 100 formulas. He produced a sheet of
    stainless steel with a series of advertisements stained in black on its diver face. Mr. Lightfoot said his discovery resulted from a request from a Sydney friend for a black etching on a stainless steel X-ray component. ‘My uncle, Glenelg chemist Jim Upton, has made inventing as a hobby — his best effort was a vacuum pump, which now has world patents— and he gave me the clue which led me to success,’ said Mr. Lightfoot…..

    January 28, 2018
  7. Clive #

    Hi Byron, Per DA, it was a James Harold Charles Hughes Upton who was ‘J H Upton’ at 115 Jetty Road, Glenelg and died on 6 March 1984.

    January 28, 2018
  8. Where are we going on this?

    January 28, 2018
  9. I think where we are going is that there was a JH Upton, Chemist, who had premises on Jetty Road Glenelg, exactly opposite the premises of a Mr Francis. Detective Browne made a clear statement that the ROK was found in a car owned by a chemist, which car was parked outside his premises in Jetty Road Glenelg. It, therefore, seems possible that we may now have identified the Chemist and owner of the car hitherto referred to as a Mr Francis.

    January 28, 2018
    • Don’t believe a word of it .. in fact I’m more than positive the entire Francis episode is FAKE News .. we’ve been chasing down these bloody rabbit holes for years and got nowhere.

      January 28, 2018
      • … and I don’t have a lot of time for Detective ‘Nigger Poison” Brown, or the notes of his interview with a journalist whose name I forget that mentioned Boxall’s number was written on the back of the Rubaiyat … Feltus would have read all of Brown’s reports yet he made no mention of any his findings with regard to possible clues as to who the anonymous Francis may have been.
        For Brown to go searching for Francis would mean he was acting in complete opposition to Leane’s directive, ie, keep everything under wraps.

        January 28, 2018
      • So… what evidence do you have for thinking that “Ronald Francis”, his story, his Rubaiyat, the police response, the media story, and even Gerry Feltus telling us that he had met “Ronald Francis” a number of times is all fake?

        January 28, 2018
        • An email, bar the meeting. That’s something you were told.

          January 28, 2018
          • So why isn’t that email in the post?

            January 28, 2018
            • Because it was meant for me, and me only. If you want to read GF’s official response, go to page 388 of the Bookmaker and you will read what GF asked me to write.
              You see, I’m as susceptible to influence as he is.

              January 28, 2018
  10. Mike #

    Ron ~= Don ~= Donna ~= Woman in several languages
    Francis =? Frances?

    GF makes a point of saying ‘doesn’t matter if blah, or blah; man, or woman’

    blah = doctor, chemist, dentist, jeweller, business person….
    Presumably this is the different occupations that different accounts have – have certainly heard, ‘doctor, chemist, business person’ – and ‘jeweller’ rings a bell possibly because of Lyons.

    So why mention Dentist?

    January 29, 2018
  11. Mike #

    Also, people make a lot of ‘there must be some code to how GF did the Francis thing’. ‘Teresa’ (Powell) was used so that you could substitute Tessie for Jessie and it all still sounds the same. There’s not really any reason to think there should be a similarity between Ron Francis’ real identity and his pseudonym. But we can look for a Frank McDonald if you like.

    January 29, 2018
    • Mike, the Francis legend is made up of 29 pieces of information, all in order, a long thread of mistruths that can be likened to the body of a snake, with Francis as its head.
      Well, as we all know, when you chop off the head the body dies.

      January 29, 2018
  12. Byron Deveson #

    Mike, I seem to remember that in Janet Fife-Yeomans’ article “The Man With No Name” printed in the Weekend Australian Magazine, 15-16 September 2001, the RoK was said to be found in a car belonging to a dentist.

    January 29, 2018
  13. Clive #

    Interesting, perhaps? We have a R Smerdon (dentist) at 97 Jetty Road and a Frank L. Smerdon (dentist) at 118 Jetty Road. Frank L. Smerdon also owned 103 Moseley St-opposite to 90a Moseley St.

    January 29, 2018

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