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Was the Somerton Man a Prospector .. ?

Version 2

How is it that in the one particularly clear pic we have so many mystery items placed together on a leather masonic folder?

The white, possibly tan tie .

The homemade metal tools … that look just right for sampling bits off a chunk of uranium ore (pictured).

The brush .. that looks just fine for brushing the bits into a mound.



..  into one of these


The small square of platinum foil used to wrap and protect the tools.

The pencils .. something that would leave a faint impression on the back of a Rubaiyat.

Soft hands and clean fingernails.


Edited comment from Byron Deveson

The piece of “zinc” cannot be zinc (zinc is brittle and would not corrugate like the metal in the photograph) and likewise you can’t corrugate a piece of zinc plated steel.

The only metal in my experience (I was once a trainee secondary metallurgist at AIS at Port Kembla) that looks like the piece in the photo is platinum foil and the only people who would have carried around a piece of platinum foil in 1948 were prospectors.

The clean fingernails and soft skin don’t preclude SM being a prospector. I generally have clean fingernails and I have abnormally soft skin (= Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) even when I am out in the bush prospecting (even 150 Km off the Birdsville track looking for uranium). My better half says my skin “is wasted on a man”.

Byron the Prospector, his mitt.

As I have noted elsewhere, SM could have had EDS and this could help in identifying him. EDS is genetic and is rare.

Paul Lawson noted SM’s smooth hands and Paul, as a wrestler, would have grappled with enough bodies to recognise anomalously smooth skin. Anomalously smooth skin is rare and usually means EDS.

I have previously noted that SM’s hypodontia and possible ectodermal dysplasia could also be symptom of EDS.

The lead, silver etc. in SM’s hair is consistent with SM being involved in prospecting, mining or metallurgy (primary or secondary).

Finally, uranium prospecting in South Australia in 1948 would have been of great interest to both our sort of friends (the USA) and our enemies alike.

The USA did not have access to significant domestic uranium supplies until 1949 (neither did Britain or Russia at the time) and the only significant and readily accessible reserves of uranium in the world were in South Australia.

Uranium prospecting methods were considered to be “secrets” in 1948 and would have been of interest to our friends and enemies alike.


Which makes this what ?


and makes this why?

And seeing we can conceivably fill in that hour and a half of vacant time he was thought to have spent at the train station – assume he flew into Adelaide on Nov 30th.

Heading for Glenelg,

and right into the arms of who, exactly?


Current place names.

The code

There’s no use in finding quality ore if you don’t know how to get back to it … and in 1948, whatever place names were used may have signposted the way.

Mining leases and exploration licences over vast areas of South Australia were eagerly sought. Greedily sought.

Perhaps he was in town to see a man with a rough map and a bag full of rocks.

Field testing ore

Testing ore in the field

28 Comments Post a comment
  1. Byron Deveson #

    Dusty, I can’t completely rule out silver foil but the colour of the metal is consistent with it being platinum rather than silver. I have a photo of my piece of platinum foil somewhere – I just checked and if you G**gle “platinum foil” and “tamam shud” up pops a photo of the platinum foil in my prospecting kit. But, it doesn’t matter if it is zinc because a prospector’s kit in 1948 would often contain a zinc sheet for testing cassiterite (tin) ore and who else would carry a piece of zinc, but no socks and other necessities? Only a prospector would do that.

    Platinum foil used for prospecting does become discoloured in the same way as the metal sheet/foil found in SM’s suitcase. Testing samples containing arsenic (a common impurity in many ores) rapidly discolours platinum.

    And I note that a prospecting would have been the perfect cover for someone wanting to gather intelligence about the Woomera rocket range (and the atomic testing sites). It would also be the perfect cover for an agent gathering intel on the uranium resources in South Australia. The USSR certainly would have had a great interest in both skeins. So would the USA, and even the British would have been interested in knowing the details of the uranium orebodies, the prospecting methods etc. because Britain wanted to tie up a secure supply of uranium from South Australia, and soon did so.

    Pete, the soft skin extends to the whole carcass, not limited to just the hands. The whole kit and caboodle.

    The electrician’s screw driver found in SM’s suitcase is unusual but would be essential for someone operating a Geiger counter in 1948, and/or a radio transmitter/receiver.

    January 31, 2020
  2. Clive #

    Apparently, there were a lot of ‘Balts’ working at Woomera erecting buildings, how easy would it have been for a Russian to have been placed there? If a ‘Balt’ disappeared from time to time, would anyone have noticed or even cared?

    January 31, 2020
    • Пожалуйста #

      Balt would be consistent with his Haplogroup. Places him as a Pole or Irish.

      March 19, 2020
  3. gordon1552 #

    75 Balts were flown into Woomera around 15th November 1948, they were from, I think, a camp near Tamworth in NSW. It took two flights to get them across, stopping at Broken Hill along the way. Woomera is one of two places that the 4 SA based Russian spies, the Nosov files tell us, were planted to monitor rocket testing. The other site was Salisbury.

    March 19, 2020
    • So, one conceivable way of Harkness meeting the Balt SM May have been if he became ill and needed treatment .. ?

      March 19, 2020
  4. gordon1552 #

    If Jess had been amongst the Doctors and Nurses recruited by the CPA in the early 42/3, she would have been still within their influence in 1948. Only this time she may have been a member of the Glenelg Branch of the CPA and called in to ‘assist’ with the project. In my view, the ‘Balt’ wasn’t ill, he was the target.

    March 19, 2020
  5. gordon1552 #

    The target, not hers, she was used to administer the drug to him.

    March 19, 2020
    • Gordon, in the spirit of a free and objective exchange, something I’m only beginning to get used to – why would an alleged CPA member such as Harkness have a hand in killing an alleged communist spy?

      March 19, 2020
      • Пожалуйста #

        1) Because she’s a double. Recruited by Boxall.
        2) Because he’s a defection risk and she’s following orders from Москва.

        March 19, 2020
        • At we talking about assassins, men and women who are trained to leave no trace of their passing ? Except for the bodies.

          March 19, 2020
          • Пожалуйста #

            For me, either still feel too melodramatic. The TWOCer or Petrol Coupon spiv angle is more compelling. But there’s plenty of room for theories like this between the scant bits of evidence. So I can’t fault GC’s tenacity and insight.

            For either 1) or 2) to be true, the focus would have to shift to Jess and Prosper. And the rest of the family. They’d know or at least suspect something, surely, because this would imply a lifetime of mum (and dad’s ?) furtive tradecraft, forensic and security awareness, etc. And yet, the Prof seems adamant there’s no spy angle.

            March 19, 2020
            • Who would leave his suitcase unlocked and a ticket in his pocket that led to it .. ?

              March 20, 2020
              • john sanders #

                For someone who’s supposed to be self isolating and incomunicado, y’man seems to be out there spreading the word; or do we call that oscillating…

                March 20, 2020
  6. gordon1552 #

    My view is that she was recruited when in Sydney via the Russian Social Club. They boasted having doctors and nurses on their books who were dedicated to the cause. These people could be called upon at any time to carry out any kind of work within Australia.

    When Jess moved to SA, I think but cannot yet prove that she joined the local Glenelg branch of the CPA and they would have access to her records from Sydney. It is possible that meetings were held at the Durham Street, Glenelg home of Alfred Watt, State Secretary of the CPA.
    Jess would have been selected because of her background and training. She would have been a member of the team and was there to administer the drugs, nothing more.

    Other members/s would have been skilled interrogators and one ‘may’ have been equipped to deliver the final coup de grace.

    The staging and timing including the suitcase and tickets etc were all planned.

    Interestingly, once you remove the ‘litter’ aspects and put in place the use of Sodium Thiopental, the truth serum that was known to cause enlarged spleens (splenomegaly), it almost becomes a ‘join the dots’ exercise.

    The Soviets were past masters at assassinations that left no trace of extremely hard to find evidence of poison type. It is only later years when the existence of the ‘Poison Factory’ was publicly revealed that people became aware of the Soviet drug SP-117 truth serum. It was developed specifically for use in interrogations of suspected double agents or soon to be defectors by the S Directorate. Dependent on the outcome of the interrogation, the subject was either assassinated or free to go.

    In the end, Jess may have been part of the process but left before the killing. It is equally possible that Jess was a double agent which would make sense given the farce of her interview.

    March 20, 2020
    • Why leave any trace of him at all .. ? The body I understand, but why leave the case where it could be found?

      March 20, 2020
  7. gordon1552 #

    Done purely to muddy the waters, mislead, confuse and lay a false trail. It’s worked for over 70 years so not a bad effort. It’s part of the Soviet MO for assassinations.

    March 20, 2020
    • Why lay a false trail when there wasn’t a trail to begin with?

      March 20, 2020
  8. gordon1552 #

    It’s about chewing up resources Pete, people followed that trail and spent hours, weeks and months trying to make sense of it. They would chase down a lead and then see how it might fit with the suitcase and contents and of course it didn’t.

    Using up a resource by diverting people away from the real core was a very valid technique.

    March 20, 2020
    • I would have thought that the less time authorities spent on the case the better it was for the perpetrators … keeping it alive for so long would not be in anyone’s interest.

      March 20, 2020
  9. gordon1552 #

    You have to consider the times, politically, it was an all-out assault by the CPA aided and abetted by the Soviets. Take time to read through the happenings in each State during this same period.

    The more they could tie up valuable Police and Intelligence service resources the better it was for them. The 6 foot tall White Russian Chef in Sydney who hung himself from a 4 ft 6-inch sapling soon to be followed by friend Tibor Kaldor and all in quick succession. How many seasoned officers were caught up? Not many in TKs case, just maybe they were on to the game. This was all done whilst they used the same events to ‘clean up’ their back yards. It was all very clever.

    I am reminded of the time IRA agents, knowing that MI5 were tracking mobile phones, used their phones within seconds of each other in London and caused havoc. Don’t underestimate the smartness of such people, they were deadly serious. Indeed, as they are today.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. What about you?

    March 20, 2020
    • I’d rather consider what we have to hand. The abandoned Rubaiyat for instance. What grade of assassin would throw such a vital piece of involvement away? Where is the ‘clean up’ evident there?
      By the way, don’t forget to post my last response on your site .. let’s share the action.

      March 20, 2020
  10. gordon1552 #

    I see the troll has arrived, deal me out.

    March 20, 2020
    • It is the season for forgiving, old mate, and don’t take the easy way out.

      March 20, 2020
  11. lowly troll #

    Interupting a self imposed isolation means you gotta start again from scratch..don’t it ?

    March 20, 2020
    • Stop mucking about Sanders and put your hand up for a position. All you’ve ever done is take the piss. One more chance, scribe. What was he? Prospector, spy, ballet dancer, car thief, victim of a jealous rage .. ? Your move, champion.

      March 20, 2020
  12. Пожалуйста #

    OT, but: if an exhumation is now only dependent on $20k and an Adelaide professorial salary is around $200k… why hasn’t it happened yet? It’s peanuts, right?

    March 21, 2020

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