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Adelaide’s Other Black Market And Another Look At The Somerton Man Mystery.

In 1940/41 – The Salisbury Munitions factory was built in South Australia (pic).

In 1947 – The long range Weapons Establishment (LRWE) formed in Salisbury to support guided weapons facility at Woomera.

In 1949  – Three new laboratories formed in Salisbury – High Speed Aerodynamics Laboratory, Propulsion Research Laboratory and the Electronics Research Laboratory, collectively known as the Chemistry & Physics Research Laboratory.


During this time and under the highly secret Australian-Anglo Agreement several dozen German scientists and technicians were brought to Australia to assist with this weapons development program. Russia and America being the only other nations involved in recruiting similarly talented individuals from the German V2 Rocketry industry and the competition between them was fierce.

These were some of the Germans’ fields of expertise.

Guided missile control engineer. Radar aerial specialist. X-ray examination of bearings. Electro-Technics. Fire Control. Control Instruments. Machine Designer. Underwater Acoustics. Steam Turbines. Torpedo. Axial Compressor Design. Wind Tunnel Technique.  I C Engineer.  Instrument Design. Single Cylinder Engine Design. High Freqency. Electronics Equip. Electronics. Non-Ferrous metallurgy. Physicist & chief engineer. Rocketry. High Voltage Physics.  Magnetics. Design and Assembly of Wasserfall. GM Remote Control. Chemist. Wasserfall Int. Guiding Systems. Mathematics and Physics. Remote Control.  Gyroscope. Glide Bomb. GM Wasserfall Components. Artillery CW.

In the late forties the Metro-Area Population of Adelaide stood at about 450,000.

These were some of the Adelaidians’ fields of expertise.

Black marketeers, pickpockets, thieves, spivs, con-men, stand-over men, murderers, embezzlers, tax dodgers, racehorse fixers, smugglers, SP bookies, members of the fledgling Mafia. Crooked cops. Politicians on the takeCounterfeiters. 

There is little doubt that professional spies operated in SA during these years, working for either America or Russia in the hope of gaining intelligence just as there could be little doubt some of the above criminal milieu operated with the similar objective in mind.

“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!” The Sly Dog.

*Or one agent of espionage and an amateur who works in the Salisbury pay office and who knows where the Geman scientists and technicians live, what their aliases are and is more than happy to share the information if approached in a meaningful way.

For a price

Then it’s the simple matter of arranging a meeting between the agent and the scientist and offering him work in the same field in another country for much more money. Plus house, golf club membership and new car provided.

No laws broken and everybody a winner.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. It’s worth remembering when Roger Hollis visited Australia in 1948 there was a problem with communist sympathisers in the Federal Govt and the US had decided to stop sharing intelligence with both Aus and the UK.
    Fruit ripe for the plucking, yes?

    July 13, 2022
  2. The Sly Dog #

    Soooo… who turns up dead in the beach? Amateur local pay clerk looking for a bit if extra cash (and likely missed at home, at work, down at the pub, at the commie party HQ in Adelaide) in out if their depth and silenced with no reward for their efforts OR the experienced agent of espionage, somehow outwitted by the amateur (but none the less also an agent of espionage by virtue of their actions)??? Selling state secrets = espionage even if it’s your first time.

    July 13, 2022
  3. Don’t ask me, I just make it up as I go along …

    July 13, 2022
  4. “Would you have a cigarette pal”?
    “Certainly Old Chum”
    “You’ve only seven left, and they’re Kensitas”
    “That’s fine, I don’t smoke”
    “Neither do I.
    Allow me to offer you dinner at one of the local attractions, a pie caravan. Evening Bernie”.

    July 18, 2022
  5. Where’s Tonto in all this?

    July 18, 2022
  6. thedude747 #

    Well it looks like DA is claiming victory. Reckons some dude called Charles Webb an “electrical engineer ” from Victoria is our man. But what was he in Adelaide with Thomsons phone number and a tool kit ideal for stealing cars? and why did he wind up dead a short stroll from Thomsons house?
    A sparky with a pocket size hand crafted tool kit with direct link to a local dodgy car salesman and admitted black marketer. Just gotta feel for GC after spending years looking at letters under a microscope.

    July 27, 2022

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