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Solving the Somerton Man Mystery, step by step.

One man has the TS slip, the other the Rubaiyat it was torn from. They meet and confirm their identities by matching both torn objects before one departs with the book and the information hidden within one of its pages.

That’s the theory.

Here are the precedents.

(1) The Identification Process.

After wrapping up the details of the Fuchs meeting, the handler told (Harry) Gold something surprising: the Soviets had a second mole inside Los Alamos. This mole would be in Albuquerque, not far from Santa Fe, while Gold was visiting, so Gold needed to make a side trip there to pick up additional papers from a man named Greenglass.

The handler then gave Gold half a Jell-O box top, which had been cut into a jigsaw shape. He passed the puzzle piece over to Gold. You’ll know it’s Greenglass, he said, because he’ll have the other half.

Harry Gold: Spy in the Lab – Sam Kean April 25, 2019.

Somerton Beach, 1948. The agent and his handler were to recognise each other by one producing a slip of paper torn from a book and the other the book it was torn from.


(2) Following The Signs.

Foxstone Park, 1910 Creek Crossing Road, Vienna, Virginia. FBI Agent Robert Hanssen, acknowledged as one of the most damaging spies to the U.S., signaled his Russian handler by placing a piece of white tape on the entrance sign to Foxstone Park. The tape confirmed that Hanssen had placed a package of secrets in a dead drop, code named ELLIS, located under a footbridge inside the park.


Somerton Beach, 1948. An agent signaled his handler that there was information to be found hidden in a specific place within a book by using a pre-arranged series of letters included in an otherwise meaningless code written on the back of the book

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. The Sly Dog #

    So the two agents of espionage meet with their respective objects for mutual identification nicely organised by a third party, their handler: a small TS slip removed from the book of poems with one spy (rolled and put into a fob pocket for safe keeping) and the pocket-sized book of poems with it’s TS removed with the other spy… whose ‘object’ also has the faint pencil indents of some kind of code PLUS two phone numbers in plain sight on the back cover. Sounds like amateur hour for that kind of business!

    July 11, 2022
  2. Clive #

    If the SM wasn’t seen wearing a hat, could that missing hat have been part of the recognition process?

    July 12, 2022
    • Clive, that was one of the first things that appealed to me.

      July 12, 2022
  3. The Sly Dog #

    Spies? P-thsss! Lies… it’s complex enough with the dynamics going on with TSM, the nurse and her great protector, PMcTT. You throw in espionage and the death of a spy into the mix and you end up with two loose ends. Living witnesses, would could spill the beans especially under duress, let alone when D Carney pops past for a chat. Very unprofessional for a supposed covert operation.

    July 12, 2022
    • Don’t forget the development of weapons carrying rocketry, the competition between the US, UK and Russia to get there first and the wholesale leaking of intelligence by some communist sympathisers in the federal government of the day, not to mention the back on back visits by MI5 to Canberra in ‘48 … an amateur with his hands on something secret might have been able to market it around. Selling second hand cars wasn’t the only game in town.

      July 12, 2022
  4. Clive #

    Mentioned in GF’s book (Page 197) about the SM possibly a Balt? Interesting that “The Sun” (Sydney) 2 Jan 1949 Page 28 mentions about a ‘missing’ Balt was a Balt missing or, was this just speculation?

    July 13, 2022
  5. The Sly Dog #

    No doubt… but another more personal game in town, definitely closer to home (90A) would have been not to have some interloper make moves on or with or for the little lady either!
    No wet team operating to take out TSM, leaving behind a body, evidence, witnesses or at least co-conspirators linked to the body… easier to cover up your own self contained crime with a quiet life, refusing to mention anything about it, to anyone, ever.

    July 13, 2022
  6. Clive #

    Well, if the SM was a Balt or Bulgarian/East European and jessie spoke Russian, who knows what happened at Glenelg that night.

    July 13, 2022

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