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Updates 1 & 2 … Is the Somerton Man’s identity and occupation still too politically harmful to be made known?

Updates at end of post ..

“If the body of the deceased was not that of the man mentioned 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.”

Coroner Thomas Erskine Cleland. July 1949.

Nine years later …

“I am unable to say who the deceased was. He died on the shore at Somerton on the 1st of December 1948. I am unable to say how he died or what was the cause of his death.”

Coroner Thomas Erskine Cleland. March 1958.

Five years on …

“He stated that at about 10pm on the evening prior to the body being found on Somerton Beachthe following day, he saw a man carrying another man on his shoulders along the foreshore.”

Detective O’Doherty, 1962 / 63


Cleland changed his mind. Unsurprisingly. Nobody wants an unsolved case hanging around too long and as far as everything requiring revision, old news. Justice must be made to move on. Trim the untidy corners and sign it off.

Except we have the inconvenience of O’Doherty’s report.

Which brings us back to Alfred Boxall and his performance with Stuart Littlemore. Now nobody wants to go through that interview again; Littlemore acts like a University toff and Alf’s got a head like a pineapple so where’s the value? But … if someone was to do a little revision a la Coroner Cleland then Boxall’s inscribed Rubaiyat looks a good place to start, particularly as now we know a lot more about what was going on in Adelaide at that time.*


This will do nicely thinkest the Boxall

What I’m getting at here is after J. Harkness was bailed up by SAPOL to account for her phone number being linked to a body found almost at her front door, someone who knew it had to eventually happen needed time to cover some very important political arses well in advance. And of course there was plenty of time to do so thanks to DS Leane’s case performance. Good man was Lionel, a man who could be depended upon to slow things down when the times demanded it. And slow it down he did. Big time. This has been well covered in previous posts.

Cue to Alfred Boxall’s suspected part in the proceedings.

Whose thoughts – when told to buy a Rubaiyat and find a verse that suited a fictitious relationship he had with a woman when he was working the harbour four years earlier – were that she must have been a regular enough sort of woman to stand a few solid rounds in a bar full of men in uniform on a regular basis. Omar was a celebrated drinker he was told so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something in his book that suits. Maybe V70? And just to make it even more interesting, pretend you’re her and she’s writing it as an inscription to you. Alf was used to following orders.

A man doesn’t have to be Einstein.

“Was I sober when I swore?”

Now that line would have grabbed Alf right away.

Trouble was he forgot to get her name right, not that it mattered in the long run. It’s all for King and country.


* A couple of dozen Nazi technicians and scientists were being paid and accommodated in and around Adelaide after being secretly shipped over from Germany only months after the war ended to work on weapons and rocket development at Salisbury, one of whom is suspected (by the writer) to have been the Somerton Man. A man who was found on autopsy to be suffering from multiple serious medical conditions, nine in fact, some of which may have contributed to his death and others more than probably needing regular nursing care.

German V2 rocket on display in Australia

The political ramifications would have been catastrophic for both Prime Minister Ben Chifley and his federal Labor government if news of the secret Anglo Australian Project was made public, particularly as thousands of Australians had only recently died in Europe fighting the Nazis. 

An indication as to how well the secret was kept is that the Australian Communist Party never got a whiff of it .. despite their known links to Chifley’s Labor party.


“Britain secretly organised the recruitment and transfer to Australia of scores of leading Nazi scientists and weapons specialists after the second world war, newly declassified Australian government papers disclosed yesterday.”

Ian Traynor, The Guardian, 17 August 1999


Update 1.

After reading this and you are still skeptical, then perhaps the knowledge that nothing in the Somerton Man’s suitcase was fingerprinted might convince you that the investigation was hamstrung from the outset, particularly when Adelaide based James Durham was known as one of the best fingerprinters in Australia and was the man responsible for successfully fingerprinting the corpse, a difficult job in any circumstances.

Update 2.

As a further example of the deliberate delays SAPOL subjected the investigation to we have the 51 day gap between DS Leane being handed the Taman Shud slip by Professor Cleland and the time it took him to alert the Press as to its existence, and as we know, this slip of paper was the turning point of the case, the MOST CRUCIAL piece of evidence in the police locker, yet it was kept under wraps for almost two months.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. PB #

    It occurred to me after writing this and remembering Boxall’s remark in the Littlemore interview when he said that he thought Jessica was ‘very courageous’, that all he knew about her was what he had learnt about her reaction when viewing the bust and how it must have been for the imagined young woman he thought her to be to have undergone such a brutal experience.

    March 6, 2022
  2. Clive #

    ‘Very courageous’, was Alf meaning he was aware of Jessie’s encounter with this man, and what she told Alf wasn’t very pleasant?

    March 6, 2022

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