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The Somerton Spies

Alfred Boxall provided intelligence to his handler ..

Jessica Harkness codenamed Jestyn who ..

passed it on to an unknown third party who ..

may have been the man murdered close to her home by someone who ..

left evidence that incriminated her.


As far as I can tell, Harkness’ Jestyn codename was not generally known until about 2009 when Professor Derek Abbott was doing his research and published it in the UoA papers, incorrectly assuming it was Jessica Harkness’ nickname.

This unfortunate misunderstanding is so well-ingrained in the public perception of the case it would be futile to attempt a correction and it now joins the Bryant and May matches and striped trousers as lost opportunities in the general understanding of the events that led up to and beyond 30 November 1948.

However, there are other aspects of the case that might now be viewed in a different light.

The following dates times and places have been taken from Gerry Feltus’ book The Unknown Man. Not all are backed up by evidence and some are assumed to have been supplied to the media by the police.


Harkness said she gave Boxall an inscribed copy of the Rubaiyat in 1945.

Boxall said he gave the Rubaiyat to his wife in 1945 and it had remained in her possession ever since.

Boxall’s wife said her husband gave her the Rubaiyat at Christmas, 1944. She showed it a Sydney newspaper reporter (year not known). There was no inscription.*

Boxall came home on leave in October 1946.

Harkness became pregnant in October 1946 then moved to her parent’s home in Melbourne.

Boxall wrote to Harkness prior to her moving again, this time to Adelaide.

Harkness’ Glenelg neighbour told police a man called at her flat about this time, enquiring about the whereabouts of a nurse he once knew.

Harkness told the police she had been married in Melbourne and was living in Adelaide with her husband – neither was true.

*Sydney detectives visited Boxall’s home on July 27th 1949 and he showed them the Rubaiyat he said was given by Harkness. The police made no mention of seeing an inscription.


Harkness – codenamed Jestyn – knew the man found dead two hundred yards away from her home.

When questioned by Stuart Littlemore, Alf Boxall did not deny he was involved in Intelligence.

Kate Thomson said her mother understood and spoke Russian.

Kate Thomson said her mother lied to the police.

Kate Thomson said her mother mentioned the involvement of a ‘higher authority’ in the case.

Kate Thomson said her mother would have been annoyed by her being interviewed about the case.

Harkness was never formally interviewed: her whereabouts on the night of November 30th 1948 never questioned.

Harkness’ codename remained undisclosed until 2009.

There are no public records available that prove the existence of ‘Jessica Harkness.’ Notwithstanding anything held in Professors Abbott’s cache of documents.

No reason has been given why Professor Derek Abbott’s privately sourced DNA results are being withheld by the South Australian Government and the samples he used to determine them confiscated.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. There’s a few issues that really confound me about this. One of which is that on Horace Pile’s war service record there is a letter from the RSL on behalf of a R Harkness enquiring about their uncle’s medals. I haven’t found anyone married to a Harkness amongst his siblings, nor the following generation

    August 30, 2020
  2. пожалуйста #

    Did Boxall leave any descendants who, with the passage of time, might able to share any thoughts they might have on dad’s activities and allegiances?

    August 30, 2020

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