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X3239 – All questions and no answers

Carl Webb was thought to have arrived in Adelaide the same day his suitcase was lodged at the Adelaide railway station – 30 November 1948.

He was thought to have arrived at 9:15am on the Melbourne Express or at 9:17am on the Broken Hill Express.

He had a Rubaiyat in his possession with the telephone number X3239 written on the back cover.

In the 1947 Adelaide telephone directory X3239 was registered to subscriber Thomson J E Sister 90A Moseley Glnlg.

Jessica Thomson is thought to have moved into 90A Moseley Street in July 1947 after moving from Alta Mira Crescent, Belair.

X3239 was regularly used by Prosper Thomson for his classified ads in the Adelaide newspapers.

X3239 was first used* by Prosper Thomson in the classified ads section in October 1947 (below). Prior to that he was using Box 953H

Wanted 1946 / 47 sedan for taxi. URGENT. Thomson, X3239

Prior to Carl Webb arriving on the 30th, X3239 was last used by Prosper Thomson on November 27, 1948 (below)

Wanted bungalow, pay cash 10 £1.500.** Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent 22/6, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239

*per my records.

** Today’s equivalent over $30,000 AUD.


If Carl Webb arrived in Adelaide from either Broken Hill or Melbourne to see Prosper and or Jessica he could only have learnt of their phone number prior to departing which would mean one of them contacted him beforehand. Either that or he knew of Jessica’s change of name from Harkness to Thomson and found her address and phone number in a telephone directory at the railway station. Which would again mean one of them contacted him prior to his departure from either Broken Hill or Melbourne as it is thought Jessica changed her surname only after arriving in Adelaide from her parent’s home in Melbourne, giving the pretence that her son Robin, soon to be born, was not illegitimate.

Prosper, the probable father of Robin was married at that time.


Note: X3239 also belonged to Flat 3, Gladstone Court, 19 Seacombe Grove, Brighton. Vic. and there may be others.

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. a lurker #

    What if…..
    Let’s accept for now that the Rubaiyat was Webb’s. When/where did he get it? Is it possible he got it second hand and the number (and the code) were already there? Maybe he picked it up in a 2nd hand book shop in Glenelg (local number in it plausible). Or in the railway station (Glenelg number less plausible)? Or perhaps found it on the train and took it to entertain himself on the long journey (flip a coin for Brighton or Glenelg). Is it just a little possible that the phone number has nothing to do with Webb. Or what if he met someone at some stage – we have a pretty big gap from 11:30AM onwards. Perhaps he’s chatting to a shady character at the St Vincent pub and they happen to say “…oh, you want a car to get back to Melbourne , you should speak to this guy who lives nearby, you can reach him at x3239″…..

    or something else…..I don’t think it’s a certainty that he knew their number before he arrived.

    December 22, 2022
  2. It would seem to me that the saying “Don’t s**t in your own nest” applies here. Most of the action took place in Melbourne before Dotty and John R decided to take their cleanup to the “City of Churches”. Peter, your Brighton geographic reference could be in play, although Melbourne numbers mostly had 2 letters and 4 digits.

    December 22, 2022
  3. thedude747 #

    Calculate the odds of Carl having died within 500 meters from 90a Mosley st and at the closest possible entry point to the beach from that location.
    Of anywhere he could be found dead he’s a 5 minute walk from x3239. What are the odds? Carl death is associated with 90a Mosley st beyond any reasonable doubt. When did he write the number down is anyones guess. Kept it from a previous visit, word of mouth. Remember Jess had moved from Melbourne and was listed under a false name essentially (she was still legally Harkness at the time)

    December 22, 2022
  4. Thought I’d scared you off for good, dude, glad it isn’t so. We go back.
    Now here’s a thing. When Detective Canney doorstopped Jessica and she gave him the whole box and dice about Boxall and the other Rubaiyat, do you think that she, as well as Canney thought the body belonged to Alf?

    December 22, 2022
  5. dude47 #

    I think Canney most definitely thought he had his man in Alf but Im 50/50 on Jess because of her reaction to the bust.

    She’ may have been throwing a red herring or she may have been sincere in her response to Canney at that point anyway.

    My feelings are well known on it being PT that SM was interested in contacting for whatever reason. Hence if Im correct Jess was possibly in the dark at the time Canney called.

    December 22, 2022
    • So she may well have thought it was Alf, you reckon … and no red herring?

      December 22, 2022
  6. dude47 #

    I think its entirely possible in fact when I say 50/50 with a slight lean towards her being completely genuine at that point in time.
    You’ve got to consider her reaction to the bust reported by Lawson who was nobody’s fool as most likely genuine.
    Ergo she was genuinely shocked. Doesn’t make sense to be shocked if she either didn’t recognise the bust or already knew who he was.

    December 22, 2022
    • I Guess Jessica was a Bad liar and Prosper was excellent at it. SM probably liked Jessica from when he met her at her sweet sixteen party and wrongfuly thought hed find support from her. Maybe he was having Money or work problems or even substance abuse. But I don’t think he went there hoping to contact Dorothy.

      December 22, 2022
      • I’ve often wondered if November 48 was his first visit to Adelaide, and given that he appeared to have been confused as how to get to Glenelg it looks likely. Perhaps nobody knew he was coming, hence the shock when Jessica realised it wasn’t Alf’s body but somebody she knew from earlier days as you say.

        December 22, 2022
        • Ive sent you three responses to your question but I don’t see My resposes posted. Let me know if You got them..

          December 22, 2022
          • I’ve received them thanks, but doubt if anyone would appreciate your dreaming insights and I for one would hate to see your comments taken the wrong way.

            December 22, 2022
            • Alright

              December 22, 2022
            • I don’t keep My dreams secret if thats what youre worried about. I have blogs about them and make YouTube playlists with them. Everyone has dreams.

              December 22, 2022
              • I agree, once I was in the habit of getting out of bed after a particularly graphic nightmare and putting it down on paper .. another time I managed to manipulate a dream so I could enter a house to see what a picture on the wall looked like. This blog though is about more mundane matters.

                December 22, 2022
                • I understand. I apreciate the information Ive been reading on here. It intreagued me when I first read about the SM and Even more after the dream and a whole lot more after I saw the pictures of the nurses house. So I can’t wait to SEE what really happened. Keep up the good work.

                  December 22, 2022
                  • Good on you SG, we intend sticking with it.

                    December 22, 2022
  7. Clive #

    Although Jessie’s name was in the phone box, with Prosper’s history involving the police, why wasn’t he also required to view the bust? Then again, we don’t even know if Prosper knew about her visit to Lawson’s office do we? If Jessie told him later that day, perhaps Prosper briefed a sigh of relief, oh, to have been a fly on the wall at 90a that day!

    December 22, 2022
  8. Clive #

    Early in 1947 Prosper lived at Henley Beach, is it possible that CW still had Prosper’s old address when he turned up in Adelaide, hence his railway ticket or, he thought that HB was next to Glenelg? I wonder if CW, on arriving at Adelaide asked about Prosper’s taxi service/garage, that’s when he was told the only Prosper the trade knew about, lived in Glenelg, hence the bus ticket to St Leonards?

    December 22, 2022
    • Forgot about that, it pretty much solves the HB ticket question leaving aside the ‘other’ phone number detective Brown had no interest in …

      December 23, 2022
  9. Eligh #

    How do we know Carl had the Rubaiyat in his possession? And whether he had it before arriving in Adelaide?

    To me it seems more likely the book belonged to Jessie, evidenced by multiple “Jessie x3239” markings. In this case the TS slip may have been planted by a Thomson. I think it less likely that the slip was placed in the fob pocket by Carl (but possible if he was given the Rubaiyat shortly before his demise).

    Please see images in “Where to now with Jessica Harkness’ involvement?
    November 4, 2022”.

    Wondering if anyone has thoughts/ comments on the “Jessie x3239″ markings” in the Rubaiyat? Has anyone else done the “word searches” to look for them?

    December 23, 2022
    • Not multiple, only once and no ‘Jessie’

      December 23, 2022
  10. dude47 #

    No “jessie’ marking ever existed Eligh so not sure on your source there. First Ive heard that PT lived at Henley. What details do we have on that?

    December 23, 2022
    • Eligh #

      Hi, based on my own findings of several “Jessie x3239” indents in the hi-res image of the Freeman ROK, and on the TS slip, and on Boxall ROK.

      I am hoping (requesting!) That one day someone will download the images and try searching for the indents, as I did, to confirm their presence and locations.

      Please see images in “Where to now with Jessica Harkness’ involvement?
      November 4, 2022”. This gives a starting point for how to do it, and locations of some of the indents I found.

      It’s not a quick or easy task, so perhaps that’s why nobody else has attempted to replicate my searches. (That I know of). However I think if confirmed, it proves Jessie is the owner of both ROKs, and that the TS slip image is the correct one torn from the Freeman ROK. This would put to rest some questions that still seem to crop up.

      December 27, 2022
  11. Clive #

    Lived at 7 Main Street, HB, now demolished and a block of units on the site. It was about 10 seconds walk from the old HB railway station, now occupied by SAPOL.

    December 23, 2022
  12. dude47 #

    Thanks Clive. It does make you wonder about the unused train ticket to Henley Beach.

    December 23, 2022
  13. It may not mean much but in May 1947 PT advertised for a building suit workshop, pay ingoing or buy plant. Webb deserted his wife in April 47. The dates may be coincidental but owning and running a workshop doesn’t seem likely for a bloke of PT’s skills, unlike Webb who would have probably felt right at home in a workshop.

    December 23, 2022
  14. Clive #

    Just makes you wonder if PT & CW came to some agreement whereby CW did his ‘car work’ in a suitable workshop? Well away, I would imagine from 90a, after all what would the neighbours think if the police were regular visitors?

    December 24, 2022
    • PT did plenty of advertising in Adelaide, maybe he did the same in Vic.

      December 24, 2022
      • Clive Turner #

        Possible, but I haven’t found any as yet!

        December 24, 2022
      • Plenty of car deals by Dixon and McGuigan out of Flat 4, Gladstone Court. The female at Flat 3 had a girl child about 1941 selling or buying kids items 1943-1946 and many requests for house help but in mid 1946 made an urgent plea to swap Flat 3 for a house in Kew.

        December 24, 2022
  15. Perhaps Sister Thomson did the same …

    December 24, 2022

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