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A fictional account of events surrounding the Somerton Man Case.


The V-2 rocket pictured arrived in Adelaide when it was off-loaded at Adelaide’s Outer Harbour in October 1947. It was not the first V-2 to be sent to Australia – in March of the same year a ship carrying another rocket had docked in Freemantle. That rocket had also passed through Adelaide en route to Melbourne, and was transported to Sydney. ABC News 29 Sept. 20i7

The fiction we are presenting here is that The Somerton Man accompanied at least one of these vessels to Australia and it was his responsibility to safeguard the passage of the rockets at the same time as ensuring that the many packages of spare parts and equipment accompanying them were correctly marked for off-loading. That would have required him to use stencilling tools similar to those carried by a merchant ship’s 3rd Officer.

Tools similar to those used for stencilling and other items found in the Somerton Man’s suitcase

We propose that during the period from March 1947 and his death in November 1948 the Somerton Man met Jessica Harkness, if not socially then in her occupation as a nurse as it’s known he suffered from medical conditions that may have required nursing attention.

This would have been a matter of official record.

That said, we propose that on November 30th 1948, after arriving in Adelaide by train from Melbourne and while visiting Jessica Harkness at her home in Moseley Street – apparently for the first time as the two tickets found in his pocket indicated he was confused as to how to get there from the city – the Somerton Man suffered a fatal cardiac arrest and Jessica, knowing the secretive nature of his work and wary of any connection to him being made public, chose to have his body disposed of with the assistance of Prosper (George) Thomson, a known black-marketeer and minor convicted criminal who is lately suspected as being father of her son, Robin. And if not him then by an associate strong enough to transport the body some distance along the Somerton Beach foreshore later that same evening, as witnessed by two couples, one of whom came forward some years later and provided a statement to that effect as well undergoing an extensive interview and a tour of Somerton Beach with ex SAPOL Detective Gerry Feltus, who found him reliable and with a clear recollection of the evening in question.

The subsequent police investigation was thought to have been brought to the notice of the fledging ASIO, possibly as a missing persons report emanating from those responsible for the Somerton Man’s secret deployment to Australia  – and who, under the overview of an experienced MI5 agent (Robert Hemblys-Scales) who had remained in Australia after the departure of MI5’s Roger Hollis and Percy Sillitoe in late 1948 – and in the knowledge that an inquest was unavoidable – took steps to delay the police investigation until their own was complete. 

It would not have taken them long to establish the Somerton Man’s link to nurse Jessica Harkness who, no doubt, was interviewed and given a warning that anyone speaking about the matter would be in violation of Australia’s National Security and would suffer severe consequences, before giving her name to the police – hence her silence at the bust viewing, her non-committal answers in two interviews with ex-detective Gerry Feltus some decades later as well as the admittance by Kate Thomson that her mother was a woman with a ‘dark side.’

It then follows (in this fiction) that ASIO was responsible for placing the Tamam Shud slip in the fob pocket of the Somerton Man’s trousers during the many weeks his clothing was in the possession of Professor Cleland and which was done to suggest he committed suicide.

ASIO also instructed the police to maintain their silence (a period of over 50 days) after Cleland informed them that he had found the slip, that is until the eve of the inquest and the submission of Cleland’s deposition mentioning same.

After the inquest was adjourned ASIO instructed the police to inform the press a coded copy of a Rubaiyat that matched the Tamam Shud slip had been found inside a car parked close to where the body was found. A photograph of this Rubaiyat was and has never made public despite its importance to the case – and the supposed identity of the car’s owner (together with the three occupants who were with him when he discovered the book) was suppressed for over 70 years.

ASIO was also responsible for creating a meaningless letter-code then instructing the police to say it was written on the back cover of the fictitious Rubaiyat. This code included what could only be a signature hidden in plain sight so successfully it wasn’t discovered for over 70 years. Whether it was done in a light-hearted moment is not known. Spies are not known for their sense of humour.

ASIO was thought to have provided a photo of said code to the investigating police who in turn passed it on to the Naval Intelligence Office who of course were unable to decode it as either a book-cipher or an acrostic as all they were given to assist them with their task was a locally sourced copy of the Rubaiyat. I’d imagine that they were none too pleased.

ASIO was thought responsible yet again for providing a very cooperative and apparently happily married ex-serviceman named Alfred Boxall with a fictitious background in regard to a highly unlikely and regular association he had with the much younger and single Jessica Harkness in a harbour-side hotel bar while she was nursing at the RNS Hospital in North Sydney and he was posted at the Army Water Base near Clifton Gardens almost 8 kilometres away, whilst making sure she followed instructions in confirming same while not failing to include many of Boxall’s personal details, including his home address, marital status and imminent posting to the South-West Pacific when she was interviewed by the police (Detective Errol Canney) who visited her home unannounced some four years after her last meeting with Boxall. Both claimed that it was at this intimate meeting Harkness gave Boxall an inscribed copy of the Rubaiyat.

This was the one and only time she co-operated with the investigation.

This highly publicised and suggestively romantic development gave the police reason enough to discontinue their investigation of any involvement by Harkness in the death of the Somerton Man.


It’s like dropping a long fishing line into myriads of silver fish, every one a fact, and the line is your story. There are a hundred fish in this school and your line has a hundred hooks, and when you’ve drawn your story on board, hand over hand, right to the very end, all hundred fish are caught.

The Bookmaker from Rabaul

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Can’t help thinking that when Boxall came out with his “melodramatic thesis” remark, he was silently putting a finger up to Littlemore?

    August 16, 2021
    • How do you reckon wife Dulcie felt about hubby keeping a relatively steamy inscribed memento in a bookshelf in their living room for over 30 years, one he received from a young, undeniably attractive and unmarried woman he met in a hotel bar?
      Pull the other one, my view.
      Try putting that in a book and see how it goes down.

      August 16, 2021

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