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A bloodhound’s trail, or follow the money.

You have to sniff around this mystery like a bloodhound, ready to give up a trail gone cold when a hotter one prevails, then you go off in a new direction, hoping it’s one that might provide some indication of the parts played by others involved and in the doing hoping for some answers to a few questions –  like how did Jessica know Webb? And if he died inside her house at 90a Moseley street – what was he doing there, having dinner?  Did Jessica serve up the pasty found in his stomach? Was that what poisoned him? What poison? Did Prosper still suffer from Haemoptysis? Did he use Digoxin or an early derivative as a medication?  Digoxin being in the cardiac glycoside class of drugs. Check link below. Was there a bottle or two in the medicine cabinet at 90a Moseley Street?

And who carried him to the beach only hours later and laid him out for others to find?

And did Prosper (George) Thomson know him? And if so in what context?

That should do for a start: now we can have another quiz at the classified ads placed by Prosper in order to improve his financial situation and see where they might lead us. Any mistakes are mine.


For instance …….

A typical dealer’s ad.

Feb 47 – Clinic Distrib. WANTED – Paying cash or exchange take over terms for Roadster.


Another typical dealer’s ad.

Mar 47 – Clinic Distrib. FOR SALE – Morris 10 hp series 1940 for Dodge or similar. Genuine NSPR. 


This ad may have been placed prior to Jessica’s arrival in Adelaide.

Mar 47 – Box 1009j. WANTED – House or flat. Thomson.


A typical dealer’s ad. 

Mar 47 – FOR SALE – Dodge 1923 single seater NSPR £110


Then these … both in the same month Prosper was looking for a house or flat and the month before Carl Webb dropped off the map.

Sold Price: Stevens Model 66C Bolt Action .22 Rifle - Invalid date EST

Mar 47 – Wanted .22 rifle (This ad place three times this month). Hindley St.

Sold Price: Stevens Model 66C Bolt Action .22 Rifle - Invalid date EST

Mar 47 – WANTED .22 auto or repeater -cash or exchange Healing Cycle. Thomson


An unusual ad for an experienced motor dealer when specifics are almost always required by the customer.

Mar 47 – WANTED. Car, any make, any model, buckboard will do. Thomson Box 1009j.


We assume that the money mentioned in the following ad was the buy-in cost for the prospective partner. In today’s terms the £500 is equivalent to $16,745* making the £1,000 worth $33,490.

Mar 47 – WANTED. Partner for used car business – £500 to £1000. City premises. Box 1009j £500 to £1,000

$100 note should be dumped to starve black economy, economist and Labor suggest - ABC News


One month later …



Another unusual ad for an experienced motor dealer when specifics are almost always required by the customer.

Apr 47 – Wanted. Car or buckboard, any make. McTaggart (ad placed twice more this month). Box 953H


The following ad indicates that someone may be in some financial trouble.

May 47 – WANTED. Employment of any kind. Good refs Thomson. Box 953H


… and that someone may not have been Prosper as he appears to be cashed up according to these three ads placed in the same month. What is unusual is that no make of car is mentioned in the following ads and a suspicious fellow might think that these vehicles may have been used as fleas, especially given the last ad placed in the month.**

May 47 – WANTED. URGENTLY. Car any type, spot cash. Thomson. Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED DESPERATELY. Car, any type, pay cash. Box 953H. £75 to £200.

May 47 – WANTED. Any make car, cash or takeover terms. Thomson. £150. Box 953H


Webb was an electrical fitter / instrument maker by trade: this ad was typical of one for a tradesman’s workshop.

** May 47 – WANTED. Building suit workshop – pay ingoing or buy plant. URGENT. Thomson. Box 953H.


June / July 1947 – Jessica Harkness gives birth to son Robin.


A typical dealer’s ad and the first to mention the need for a taxi.

July 47 – WANTED. 1946 / 47 sedan for taxi. URGENT. Thomson, X3239. Moseley Street.


And again.

Oct 47 – EXCHANGE. Ford 10hp 1937 good as new for car suitable as taxi. Diff in cash. NSPR


This ad was run seven times to end of March and was the first to mention a hire car. In addition, it was only in May 47 Thomson was looking for ‘Employment of any kind.’ Now he has his hands on a NEW black sedan hire car.

Feb 48 – NEW black sedan hire care available for weddings, county trips & c., current rates Phone Thomson X3239


The next notable ad was in June 48 and according to both Clive and Dude47 the cost of a typical dwelling in Adelaide abut that time was about £1,250, today’s equivalent is $41,862.

June 48 – WANTED. BUY HOUSE SUIT SMALL FAMILY. Can exch maisonette. Thomson


The following ads were from 29 Jul to 29 Nov. 1948

SALE. 35mm Argus F4 lens Leica type Best offer. Thomson (plus one more this month)
NEW gas sedan taxi, radio equipped, available weddings, ex Aif driver etc Phone X3239
ad run
NEW Olds, sedan taxi, radio equipped .. etc PHONE X3239
NEW sedan leaving for Broken Hill. 3 seats, n/c (no charge?) Phone X3239
Vauxhall 12 hp sedan, new, 1948 model equipped radio and seat covers, exch for a sedan suitable for taxi, 1940 or later, GM or Chrysler product preferred, this is a genuine deal, based on new price both ways. No dealers, all genuine replies considered. Wrire, call or phone Thomson. (90a Moseley Street., Glenelg. Phone X3239
COURT APPEARANCE. Carrying passengers without a licence
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
13 Nov – Wanted house, any district, suit couple, pay cash, can give maison-ette with mod. Cons. Glenelg. Very low rental. Phone Thomson X3239
…. then this

27 Nov – Wanted bungalow, pay cash to £1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent 22/6, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239

According to the above ad, on the 27th of November 1948 Prosper George Thomson had the equivalent of $50,235 IN CASH  … No wonder he needed a gun.


Mrs Jessica Thomson at a local car rally … possibly leaning up against one of her husband’s better vehicles. The handbag and shades are no supermarket specials either.

As an aside ….

No reason has been offered as to why Prosper re-located from Melbourne to Adelaide, giving up what may have been a lucrative motor business in Mentone and starting again from scratch,

… and

the other thing we do know that he had in common with Webb was that they both both deserted their wives, childless.

“She had a dark side, a very strong dark side,” daughter Kate Thomson told 60 Minutes.


*$100 in 1948 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,348.65 today, an increase of $3,248.65 over 74 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 4.86% per year between 1948 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,248.65%.

This means that today’s prices are 33.49 times higher than average prices since 1948, according to the Bureau of Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.986% of what it could buy back then. In other words £1,500 X 33.49 = $50,235.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. thedude747 #

    Great stuff there with the timeline of small adds. There’s a lot more to be found here than sniffing around trying to find where Doff Webb died which seems to be of great interest to some. Can’t see what value a long deceased ex wife who hadn’t seen Chuck since 47 can possibly tell us IMHO.

    September 5, 2022
    • Dude, have another look at the ad placed on 27 Nov 48 … 27 Nov – Wanted bungalow, pay cash to £1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent 22/6, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239′

      Could we now have a motive for someone to kill Webb? Was he planning to pinch Prosper’s cash? And more importantly, was it Prosper who copped a clip before Webb went down. That’s about the only way a bloke gets grazed knuckles and I can speak from wide experience.

      September 5, 2022
  2. Clive #

    Re: 29 Nov advert. I don’t think it was Prosper-See a Mrs Archie McTaggart advertised in “The Advertiser” 7 Feb 1949 P 13 “Wanted-governess for 2 children, Oakden Hills Sta, Pt. Augusta X1863

    September 5, 2022
    • Scrubbed, thanks Boss.

      September 5, 2022
      • Clive #

        Boss?, I don’t think so!. Same Mrs Mc. advertised on 4 Jan 1947 in “The Advertiser”.

        September 5, 2022
  3. dude47 #

    Well 1500 quid in “Cash” is an insane amount of money for PT to have had his hands on not long after some of his somewhat desperate adds previous to that. Its also plenty of motive for someone to haver a crack at in the manner described by PB here.
    Youv’e gotta wonder why no-one went looking for Chuck and I can’t help but wonder wether he had burnt people close to him.

    September 5, 2022
  4. Don’t know about any burning, but it might help explain the pathetic police response … it’s all been said, SAPOL had the means to find Webb’s suitcase the day he was found.

    September 5, 2022
  5. Clive #

    Perhaps it would have been too convenient for SAPOL to have found the suitcase on the same day he died. Obviously, the last thing they twigged to, was to check with the railway station and, by that time who knows what was taken out/put into the unlocked suitcase.

    September 6, 2022
  6. Clive #

    Ad. in “The Advertiser” 7 Aug 1948 Page 10: ‘Pram, creme coach type, also cane bassinette cost 13 Pound, accept 5 Pound & 10/-. 90a Moseley St, Glenelg’. No phone/name

    September 7, 2022
  7. a lurker #

    Like where you’re going. several thoughts:
    – That timeline could be someone flailing in every business he tries, and trying something new (e.g. the shift from car sales, to car fixing, to taxi (with no license) [Not sure 1948 rules of racing, but under SA Road Traffic Act (or possibly Passenger Transport Act) you need a special “Passenger Accreditation” to carry passengers (roughly) “…for fare, commission or wage”. ]
    – It’s been mentioned before what if JEssica’s reaction to the bust was about who it WASN’T rather than who it WAS? Like what if she felt bad that the wrong person had been taken out….Take that a step further and sideways, what if they talked to her not Prosper is because Prosper had gone MIA around that time? When’s he’s first ad after Nov 27? on x3239 I have the “tudor watch” 18 Dec (I’ll also note he seems to be posting almost weekly except 20 Nov – but perhaps that’s road trips or someit)
    – As to the shift from Melbourne to Radelaide….I remember a(n ACT) car dealer telling me years ago that they made a shedload of money buying second hand cars in ACT/NSW (where high disposable incomes often meant people would buy New rather than Used) and ship them to SA/WA/Tas where there was a much stronger demand (and therefore price) for 2nd hand cars. This was a long time after the 50s and Adelaide was bigger (Relatively to Syd and Mel) back then, so not sure if situ might have been the same, but it’s a thought

    September 9, 2022

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