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Was the Somerton Man seriously unwell?

From a layman’s point of view it appears that the internal condition of the Somerton Man didn’t match his appearance. Dr Dwyer must have filled a notebook with the physical irregularities he found when conducting the autopsy as he noted the body had a massively oversized and congested spleen. Acute gastritis haemorrhage. Extensive congestion of the liver. Congestion of the pharynx. Deeply congested stomach. Congestion in the 2nd half of the duodenum. Congestion of both kidneys and the liver contained a great excess of blood.

“But his heart was of normal size, and normal in every way.”


Then we have the known effects of Glycoside poisoning:

The predominant features of acute (glycoside) poisoning include gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea), hyperkalaemia (a higher than normal level of potassium in the bloodstream), generalized weakness, drowsiness and, importantly, cardiotoxicity (bradycardia and heart block, dysrhythmias). These may appear within a few hours of acute poisoning.


The discrepancies between the effects of Glycoside poisoning and the condition Dwyer found the Somerton Man to be in may have indicated he was not only seriously unwell but in need of regular medical assistance prior to his sudden and unexpected death.

And if that was the case, it might follow that the reason for the inexplicable delays and apparent procedural failures in the police investigation, the decades long non-publication of the names of those involved together with the failure of the Australian authorities to find any records of the Somerton Man’s existence was due to the fact he was one of the many ex-Nazis given a new identity and employed at the Salisbury Weapons  Complex. Something both the state and federal governments had gone to great lengths to hide given the secrecy provisions of the Australian Anglo Project. The political fallout would have been catastrophic if it was ever found out that the Australian Govt was secretly paying and accommodating German Nazis and in some cases their families so soon after the end of WW2.

Evatt, Chifley and Attlee – architects of the Anglo / Australian Project

And may also provide an explanation for (Nursing) Sister J E Thomson’s reaction when she viewed the bust as well as explaining the decades of secrecy surrounding the identity of Chemist Freeman if it transpired that Thomson was not only treating the Somerton Man but was using Freeman’s pharmacy for medications prescribed for the various ailments Dr Dwyer found, as well as providing an explanation for the absence of glycoside induced vomiting or diarrhoea about the body seeing as he may have died from one or a combination of some of his myriad illnesses.

1947 Adelaide Directory

It appears that Thomson J E Sister wasn’t above advertising her medical qualifications as well as phone number and address in the local phone directory. Perhaps that’s all it took for him to find her, which may explain why Thomson’s phone number was found written on the back of his Rubaiyat and it was him who called by a Moseley Street neighbour some weeks (?) earlier, enquiring about a nurse who lived locally.

And lastly, if the Somerton Man had indeed died somewhere other than where he was found and was taken to the beach already dead, as the perspicacious Coroner Cleland so elegantly surmised, the difficulties would disappear.

“If the body of the deceased was not that of the man mentioned (seen the previous evening) and if the body had been taken to the place where it was found, the difficulties disappear. If this speculation, for it is nothing more, should prove correct, the original assumption that it was the deceased who left the suitcase at the luggage room, bought the rail tickets, removed the clothing tabs, and put the printed words “Tamam Shud” in a pocket, would require revision.” T E Cleland.


The bit of paper stuck on the left hand side of the bridge of SM’s nose is very strange and the only plausible reason for it is to hide either an identifying scar or a recent wound. The scar or recent wound could plausibly be from a surgical procedure such as the removal an angioma or something similar. Byron Deveson

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matthew Kleid #

    Missing the autopsy report is really frustrating. If TSM was unwell and had frequent hospitalizations it would be expected to find marks of a hypodermic needle, but IIRC none was reported by the examiner from memory or secondary sources.

    February 19, 2022
    • Checking with a Byron D on that, Matt, he’s in the know with things medical.

      February 19, 2022
  2. Clive #

    If the SM was an ex-German boffin, what are the possibilities that he was in the RNSH, being treated, and Jessie was one of the nurses who were sworn to secrecy as to his origins? Far fetched? certainly, but a possibility me thinks.

    February 19, 2022
    • Matthew Kleid #

      TSM would be neither the first nor the last patient to fall in love with a nurse. We do not have any hard evidence that either were involved in espionage, but I do not think it is far fetched to believe so or unreasonable speculate about it given all the strange circumstances. No one claiming the body or even identifying him is a good indication that TSM was far from home.

      February 19, 2022
  3. Byron DEveson #

    Matthew, yes, the missing autopsy report is frustrating, and fuels my suspicion of a cover-up. IMO there are just too many irregularities with TSM investigation for them all to be accidental. In 1948 very few people would have ever received an injection (drug addicts excepted) apart from vaccines and there were very few injectable drugs available. Even blood tests were rare. Injectable penicillin and insulin would be the most common injectables in 1948 and this could be checked by reference to the British Pharmacopoeia 1948 (this was the official Pharmacopoeia in Australia in 1948). From memory the examiners specifically looked for traces of any injection marks, but none were noted.

    The bit of paper stuck on the left hand side of the bridge of SM’s nose is very strange and the only plausible reason for it is to hide either an identifying scar or a recent wound. The scar or recent wound could plausibly be from a surgical procedure such as the removal an angioma or something similar.

    February 20, 2022
    • I’ve just updated the post with the pic Byron mentioned …

      February 20, 2022
  4. Byron Deveson #

    Hi Pete, yes, the plaster bust shows a cut of some sort at the location where the autopsy photos show a piece of paper (or something similar) stuck to SM’s nose. So, a recent wound or a recent surgical scar. And hidden. And not mentioned in any report.

    February 20, 2022
    • Byron, if you have a look at the video Matt posted in one of his comments on the why Colleen Fitzpatrick chose her words etc thread, about 9 minutes in, there is a very clear picture of the bust …

      February 20, 2022
  5. Byron Deveson #

    Well spotted Pete! The cut mark is not present in the images from the video, but it is clear in the photo you have posted. I noted that in the video the bridge of the nose seems to have been built up, and the only plausible reason for this would be to hide that cut. And Paul Lawson (and Gerry) must have known this. And this explains why Paul’s answer to my query regarding the piece of paper on SM’s nose seemed evasive.
    This reminds me of a pharmacological study that I once looked at. The evaluator of the study noted that some rabbits (these were the test animals) seemed to pop in and out of existence and the evaluator said he wondered if the study was being conducted by a magician. As it turned out, as some rabbits died they were replaced and the study rolled on with the doppleganger rabbits with the same cage numbers and false identity of the previous occupant. I don’t know if this was just accidental, or some sort of try-on. Probably a convenient “accident” in keeping with Big Pharma mores.

    February 20, 2022
  6. I’ve just added another thread to this latest tapestry and am suggesting that the earlier caller who enquired of a Moseley Street resident about a nurse living nearby may have been SM seeking medical assistance.

    February 21, 2022
  7. Byron Deveson #

    One of Jessic’s relatives told me some time ago that she had a strong interest in pharmacology. I have asked around in the past if this extended to herbal medicine but no replies were forthcoming. The remains of the supposed pasty could be a herbal medicine concoction. Maybe with foxglove (digitalis) which was a folk remedy in Scandinavian and some Celtic countries (Ireland) so Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia pop up again.

    February 21, 2022
  8. What confounds me is that if he died at 90A and in the full knowledge of nurse Thomson, it doesn’t follow that she would have been so shocked to learn six months later that he was the man found dead so close to her home.
    Harkness may have been all her daughter said she was, a woman of deep and dark secrets, but that day in the museum in front of a bunch of detectives and as witnessed by Paul Lawson, she was emotionally stripped bare.

    February 21, 2022
  9. Clive #

    Which suggests that (1) he didn’t expire at 90a or, (2) Jessie was not living at 90a at that time? Or, (3) was Jessie confronted by a stranger’s face and, she then realized a ‘switch’ had been done?

    February 23, 2022
  10. Switch? Don’t lose me here, Clive, switch from who to who?

    February 23, 2022
  11. Clive #

    Perhaps the man she knew had been followed and ‘a higher authority’ had his follower taken care of? Jesse realized as soon as she looked at Lawson’s work what had happened. GF in his book, page 108, mentions a stranger asking about a nurse in Glenelg. The stranger must have had some information to be in the same area where Jessie lived-why no record of this by the police?

    February 24, 2022
  12. David Morgan #

    My initial search for the Somerton Man came about because of an interest in facial ID. Betaface finds Nazi Rudolf Mons using the Somerton Man image. What intrigued me was a search of Vienna newspapers do not produce a Rudolf Mons before 1941 and that Tibor Kaldor was also supposedly from Vienna. The other suicide in Adelaide.

    If you create an average image of the clay death mask or 3D scan with Rudolf Mons they fit perfectly together.

    But facial ID (MXface) says they are not the same person.

    So it makes Carl Webb a ‘near’ doppelganger of Rudolf Mons. A case of mistaken ID perhaps?

    September 29, 2022

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