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On the morning of 1st December 1948, an unidentified man was found dead on Somerton Beach just south of Adelaide: he is usually referred to as “The Somerton Man” or sometimes “The Unknown Man”.
Six weeks later, a suitcase apparently containing the same man’s property was retrieved from Adelaide Railway Station’s cloakroom, where it had been deposited at around 11am the day before his death.
However, getting from there to “Jestyn” still seems something of a stretch (if not an outright leap): so perhaps there may yet be more to be uncovered here.
In many ways, the whole Tamam Shud case is a perfect murder mystery (), to the point that there’s no way of knowing whether a murder actually took place (many people propose suicide as an explanation for many features of the mystery), who the victim was, what the murder weapon was (if indeed it was a murder), or who the perpetrator was.
Tucked into a tiny fob pocket in the dead man’s trousers was a small scrap of printed paper ripped out of a book: mysteriously, it contained the Persian phrase (i.e. This was quickly recognized as being the final words of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, quite a popular book at the time.
And then some months later, a particular copy of the Rubaiyat surfaced with part of the final “Tamam Shud” page removed: it was claimed that the book had been thrown into a car parked near the same beach where the man had been found.
She did tell police that she had independently given a copy of the Rubaiyat to a man called Alfred Boxall, who she had met at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney in 1944 while she was training to be a nurse at the nearby Royal North Shore Hospital.Even so, useful and actionable facts about the case remain painfully few, very far between, and continue to be difficult to connect with each other.It’s true that if we could identify the man himself, we might gain enough context to understand his cipher: but based on the evidence we currently have, I think the odds would seem to be strongly against either mystery being resolved any time soon. * ABC Inside Story documentary, episode “The Somerton Beach Mystery”, first screened Thursday, August 24th, 1978: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, all on You Tube. * Professor Derek Abbott’s primary evidence page (includes scans of the inquest reports, etc).However, in a 2013 interview for the Australian “60 Minutes” current affairs TV programme, her daughter Kate revealed that her mother had told her that she indeed did know more about the Somerton Man, but had deliberately not revealed it to police.She also revealed that her mother was able to speak Russian; suggested that her mother may have been involved in some spy-related activity; and that her mother thought that the whole Somerton Man affair was above “a State Police level”.