Skip to content

How does overt become covert?


Some think the torn slip and the book it was removed from were a covert means of recognition between two parties on a secret mission who otherwise had no knowledge of what the other looked like – had never met before – knew each other not.

Two strangers on a train. That sort of thing.

Maybe not.

Not likely they would meet in privacy to initiate such a secret transaction, like a hotel room, because until they recognised each other there would be no trust, so a nominated place would have to do – somewhere public – in full view.

Maybe not.

Not likely they would go through the slip and book recognition procedure in public view, like on a bench in a park – somebody may notice. ‘Spies were everywhere’ said the Honourable Feltus, so many of them infested the cities in the late forties they were called sparrows.


Covert Recognition Tradecraft entails one party having to wear, carry or say something that instantly tells the other party that he or she is the one they are looking for. Not two strangers fluffing around on a park bench trying to fit a very small square of paper into a hole on the back page of a very small book. Who would hope to go through that type of secret procedure in public and not be noticed?



Which leaves two questions.

Was the TS slip found in the dead man’s pocket evidence of his suicide?

Or was it put there by somebody else so as to look like a suicide?


17 Comments Post a comment
  1. gordon1552 #

    Good topic. When Harry Gold met Fedosimov in the Eearle Theater in the Bronx, they first had a verbal recognition test, ‘Do you know the way to…’ response , ‘Yes I am going there myself…’ I believe that the shape of the paper wasn’t the identifier it was what was written into it. That being the case then yes, the meeting took place in a private place, hidden from prying eyes.

    February 7, 2019
  2. It doesn’t seem likely the slip would be discarded if it contained information …

    February 7, 2019
  3. gordon1552 #

    Agreed, it wasn’t discarded, it may have been discovered by a person unknown? It was pretty well hidden, rolled up tight so to someone doing a cursory search might just think it was part of a seam. Then again, it’s a possibility that it was planted in that tiny waistband pocket.

    February 7, 2019
    • You’ve jumped a chapter there. If the book was in one piece at the meeting, why then was the slip ripped out and left with the body?

      February 7, 2019
  4. gordon1552 #

    I don’t think the book was in one piece, I think the tron piece was an identifier but not because of its shape. It could be the man with the torn piece may have examined the book prior to producing his slip and didn’t find what he was looking for. It was then that events took a turn for the worse. No match, no deal. Whatever was in the torn piece is where the value lay.

    February 8, 2019
  5. If the fellow with the torn piece was aware of what you say it contained, surely he would have seen the same thing Leane did on the back cover of the book.

    February 8, 2019
  6. Clive #

    If the torn piece was from the ‘Rubaiyat’ found in the car, how come it was found neatly trimmed in the fob pocket? Was it trimmed because there was other writing (password) underneath the printed ‘Taman Shud’ title used as verbal recognition. They met, but things suddenly went terribly wrong?

    February 8, 2019
  7. gordon1552 #

    Not necessarily, Leane used a UV light to see the pencil markings or so we are led to believe and to the naked eye they would be quite feint. When you think about that, if Leane thought that all he was dealing with was a simple suicide, why did he bother to carry out a fairly detailed examination of the book? Would he have just looked at the back cover or would he have gone right through the book? If he did I wonder what he found.

    Personally, I think this was a cover up from day 1 and with good reason.

    February 8, 2019
  8. Gordon, I thought we were dealing with two individuals, both of whom were very aware of covert methods of communication .. but, then again, if the book was only used as a backstop for what might have been written on a piece of loose paper, what might have been its purpose in the scheme of things?

    February 8, 2019
  9. gordon1552 #

    ‘It’ being the torn piece, by itself it may have been an ID but, it may also have also contained a key to perhaps a book code or even the code page which itself was missing but when did that happen? There’s a fair bit of information within the torn piece so it could be one or more of the three. Nothing is ever as straightforward as some would have you think, it only becomes simple when the answer is known.

    February 8, 2019
  10. The rolled trimmed TS slip must have measured three inches by my reckoning. too wide for a standard fob pocket, unless folded or bent into a horshoe form to fit; However it could have been secreted nicely into the elastic trouser waist band opening at the hip. Both Stamina and Marco elasta had this new feature in their self supporting waist styles pre 1942. SM, having being beltless when found, may suggest the earlier version, although it would not have mattered. Perhaps that might fit with Det. Leane‘s fakse claim that the slip was found in his coat pocket, when the cunning old fox spoke to Stewart in ‘77… If this long winded comment has been alluded to before, well so be it; it does have a familiar ring.

    February 10, 2019
  11. Explains why Moss didn’t find it on the day – also explains why Cleland found it in December and had a hard time finding it again a couple of months later.

    February 10, 2019
  12. Clive #

    Perhaps the “Taman Shud” slip wasn’t used as an i.d. Wouldn’t it have been easier for two men to meet and one to ask: “Due you have a Kensitas cigarette”? And the other to reply: “No, I don’t, but I have these cigs instead”? Clive

    February 12, 2019
  13. Remember the little lady looking after the desk at the Stratham, the one who was given a small blue vase by her mystery man, well, do you? And what do you reckon was in it?

    February 12, 2019
  14. Clive #

    Ina Harvey, who, if her story is to be believed, sensed something wasn’t quite kosher with this guest. Why would he have given her a gift, did he purchase it for especially or, had he already purchased it for another woman he knew in Adelaide?

    February 12, 2019
  15. Clive #

    See “The Mail” (Adelaide) 7 April 1934 Page 1 & “The Advertiser” 29 Jan 1937 Page 15. A bit of a ‘gamble” going to the “All Night Café”?

    February 14, 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s