Though I’ve blogged about the Tamam Shud / Taman Shud case before, it’s still very far from closed. The man found on South Australia’s Somerton Beach in December 1948 remains unidentified, the nature of his death continues to be unresolved, his relationship with the nurse “Jestyn” is still not fully locked down, while as for the curious note tucked into his pocket…


…it’s as mysterious as ever.

Arguably the best starting point for people intrigued by this whole story is to watch a 1978 documentary on the subject from Australia’s ABC channel. Handily, it has been posted in three 10-minute sections on YouTube: 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3. Because so much of the police evidence has been destroyed over the years, the great thing about this film is that you get to actually see things in The Unknown Man’s suitcase (right at the start of part 2), which I for one found particularly interesting.

What I suspect you’d really want to leaf through next would be a dossier on the case, carefully laid out by a former policeman who had been assigned to it, and who went to some lengths to be factual, not judgmental. If my guess is even remotely close, then I’d say you simply have to get yourself a copy of G. M. Feltus’ (2010) book “The Unknown Man: A suspicious death at Somerton Beach“.

Yes, Gerry Feltus was indeed a policeman assigned between 2002 and 2004 (when he retired) to the Somerton Man cold case: and I think he does an admirable job of bringing together both the numerous strands of (often painfully thin) evidence and the various claims and theories as to the dead man’s identity.

It’s entirely true that his lengthy roll call of dud theories in the middle of the book can get very slightly wearing: but he’s clearly trying to give armchair mystery solvers everything they could reasonably need to get under the skin of this peculiar case, and so arguably couldn’t present it in any other way. Recommended!

Of course, there’s an extensive Wikipedia page for you to go through too (frankly, I’d recommend pouring yourself a nice glass of lightly-oaked Australian Chardonnay and watching the ABC documentary before you do anything so completist), though it’s not really a patch on Gerry’s 200+-page book.

Incidentally, there’s a lot of recent speculation that the Unknown Man may well have been the father of Jestyn’s son (there’s now even talk of exhuming bodies and performing DNA tests). Though my own belief is that this is – for entirely separate reasons – most likely true, I also think that this is missing the point. The right first step would be to do much more to explore the Somerton’s Man’s life before his death: thanks to Gerry Feltus, I think we can tell a great deal about him, and make some well-educated hunches.

In a few days’ time, I’ll post about what I think the odd cipher message contains, as well as my thoughts on the Unknown Man’s life, his travels in Australia after the Second World War, and his premature death (yes, I’m quite sure he was poisoned). But that’s by the by: for now all that’s important is that I think anyone with an interest in this enduring cipher mystery should buy themselves a copy of Gerry’s book from his Australian website and try to make up their own mind!

36 thoughts on “Review of Gerry Feltus’ “The Unknown Man” (Tamam Shud) book…

  1. Don Latham on October 29, 2011 at 7:35 am said:

    Looks in the photograph of the “cipher” like the penultimate line is actually two words:


  2. I suppose someone has already suggested that the encoded line which has been scored through is the name on the tie?

  3. G. M. Feltus’ “The Unknown Man: A suspicious death at Somerton Beach“ is indeed a great book. To bad it hasn’t been published by a major publishing house. It is not even available at Amazon.

  4. Diane: yup, tried that. 🙁 All the same, I’ll be outlining my thoughts on all this in a few days’ time, I hope it will all make sense then…

  5. Don: a break between the letters here does makes sense – I’ll explain shortly. 🙂

  6. Bob Dale on July 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm said:


    ISRAELITESH (Possibly?)

    The above came about through using a cross word solver where you can fill in the letters you have – Only O’s worked on ITTMTAMSTGAB giving the above and the word assistantship of which can be dispelled as the i’s do not match

  7. Julie on April 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm said:

    What I find most intriguing is the autopsy report stating blood pooling at the base of the skull indicating he died lying down and suggesting even more that his head lay lower than the rest of his body. This would indicate that he was moved post mortem either by the killer or by thieves who took his wallet

  8. Julie: the lividity is certainly an aspect of the evidence I’ve flagged as being important for a long time.

    Furthermore, the back of the head would have had to have been the lowest point at (or not long after) the time of death, so I envisaged a tallish man lying dead on a small-to-medium bed with his head half-over the edge (though many other scenarios are possible), while pooling would also have taken some time to happen (i.e. more than hour rather than, say, ten minutes or so).

  9. Julie: I should add that the absence of lividity elsewhere could sensibly be interpreted as an indication that the body was not laying on a hard surface, because you typically get pooling local to areas where the body is in contact with the ground etc, leaving imprints of the area on the body itself.

  10. B Deveson on April 22, 2016 at 4:09 am said:

    Every time I read Appendix 10 (DNA – Exhumation) of Gerry’s book I am struck by how jarring I find it, particularly as the rest of the book is a smooth, dispassionate evaluation of the SM case. Gerry started out by wanting SM exhumed, but was then persuaded against it. Strongly persuaded.
    I think it is fair to summarize the major points of Gerry’s arguments against exhumation as follows:

    · The difficulties associated with identifying SM’s by means of DNA.
    · The matter of “non paternity events” confounding things.
    · The lack of any evidence of a crime.
    · The ethical question of disturbing SM’s remains.

    · While there would have been difficulties with identifying SM from DNA data at the time Gerry wrote his book (2010), this is not the case today. In the last several years genealogical DNA testing has flourished and there are now combined DNA and genealogical databases that include about two million DNA test results. And many of the DNA tests are tied to family tree data. And each of these tests is capable of identifying genetically related people as far back as about six to eight generations. So, even at the present state of play, all persons carrying some European blood could be identified from the DNA data of distant relates. As an example, persons of largely European descent (ie. Such as SM who carries the typically European mitochondrial haplotype H) who test with generally get three thousand or more matches (ie. A DNA connection to 3,000+ distant identified living relatives). There is no reason to think that SM’s autosomal DNA would not similarly link him to 3,000 living people. And, judging from personal experience it is highly likely that some of these matches would include some second cousins once or twice removed. It is easy to identify who are the closest relatives because the percentage of shared genome decreases more or less by 50% with each generation and second cousins share about 3% common DNA. At this percentage of shared DNA the possibility of an incorrect match is vanishingly small, much less than one in a million. Once a close match is identified then it would generally be a straightforward genealogical exercise to identify SM.
    · The figure of one in five quoted by GF for non-paternity events only applies to small, socially dysfunctional groups. The figure for SM’s forbear’s likely milieu is likely to be slightly greater than 1%. For more details Google “non paternity events”. For second cousins the percentage of confounding non-paternity events is small. And, in the event of a non-paternity event or an adoption, the other DNA matches would soon disclose the truth of the matter. ie. There would be potentially several thousand paths that can all be cross-checked to identify errors such as non-paternity events and adoptions, and faulty records. So the whole system has enormous built in redundancy and very powerful error correcting capability. And, while paternity might be subject to possible doubts, the possible doubt attached to documented maternal ancestors is much smaller. And about 50% of DNA is derived from female forbears, which is much less liable to doubt.
    Gerry was told that there was no evidence of foul play. This is not correct and I can only assume that the pathologist who proffered this opinion had not seen all the relevant documents that are available toda. Gerry sought the pathologist’s opinion in July 2001 (page so 201) and I seem to remember that a lot of relevant documents did not become available until after 2010.

    Regarding the ethical question of disturbing SM’s remains. I don’t think most people would object as there is evidence of foul play, there is the technology available to identify SM from his DNA, and there are probably close relatives (second cousins once removed) still alive who would like to know why he disappeared from contact and the circumstances surrounding his death.

    In addition I note that there seems to have been bad blood between the people from whom Gerry obtained the opinion regarding pathology questions, and the late JM Dwyer and Prof CB Cleland. This seems to have coloured the evaluation of the worth of both Dwyer’s and Cleland’s opinions.

    “In 1920 Cleland was appointed first Marks professor of pathology (which then included bacteriology) at the University of Adelaide. Although it ended his experimental studies in epidemiology it allowed him to begin a systematic study of what must be one of the largest series of meticulous autopsy examinations ever conducted by one person—over 7000. Cleland regarded each post-mortem examination as a voyage of discovery and never wearied, continuing to do routine autopsy work into his mid-80s.” Cleland, Sir John Burton (1878–1971)  by R. V. Southcott.
    Contrast this with the statement (Feltus page 201) made about JB Cleland.
    “Prof Cleland was actually a microbiologist with a particular interest in botany but he did go down to West Tce and do a few post mortems. He used to stretch out the removed intestine and go along sniffing for poisons”.
    Dwyer is damned with faint praise with the following.
    “…. (Dwyer) was not a trained pathologist and knew almost no histology but neverless he was very experienced at post mortems. He was rarely caught short of a cause of death, almost never did any histology and would only do toxicology if he could not avoid it.”
    I note that Dwyer was the President of the Australian Medical Association 1963-4 and he was awarded an O.B.E. and an E.D. for overseas service during WW2. He was a medical officer in the field and was promoted to full Colonel.
    On the other hand, Deputy Government Analyst Cowan isn’t criticised, although my evaluation (I am qualified to hold this opinion) is that he did a woeful job.
    The police are praised while Dwyer, Cleland etc. are vilified.
    “The only people to emerge well are the investigating police and it is no fault of theirs that we are no wiser as to the identity or cause of death.”

    Bottom line? I feel that the people at the Forensic Science Centre have mislead Gerry. Why? Well I know that Adelaide is a very incestuous and bitchy place with all sorts of hatreds beneath the apparent smooth surface. A pool of piranhas.

  11. Byron: I would agree that of Gerry Feltus’s four objections, dramatic improvements in DNA analysis and databases have rendered the first one long obsolete. And the matter of “non paternity events” is always an irritation, but not much more than that.

    The final “ethical question of disturbing SM’s remains” – or just as validly, the legal question of disturbing SM’s remains – will continue to be a problem, but this is more of a meta-objection than an actual objection, insofar as it relates to judging how well the case the people proposing exhumation have put forward when balanced against the dead person’s rights not to be poked around with arbitrarily.

    What I feel much more strongly about is the third objection of the four: “the lack of any evidence of a crime”, and moreover the lack of any persuasive scenarios, motives, perpetrators, etc specifically where a crime is committed. The real point of an exhumation, in my opinion, should be to test one or more very specific hypotheses about what happened against the physical evidence.

    The reason I am distrustful of Derek Abbott’s desire to exhume the body is that I think that his familial connection to one of the hypotheses has robbed him of his dispassion: there is not a shred of external evidence that the Somerton Man was Robin Thomson’s father or whatever, and there has only ever been suspicion that the man on the beach was poisoned – it was absence of other evidence that led to digitalis etc being mentioned in court, not positive physical evidence.

    I remain very hopeful that we can solve this cold case, and even that we will (in the end) be able to read the mysterious acrostic note. But I don’t think we yet have grounds to start passing the shovels out: we have not even a basic framework in place for understanding the man’s life, and so digging for victory is – for the moment – perhaps just a little early. $0.02 etc.

  12. Byron: to be precise, I would say that there was strong evidence of interference post mortem (to the point of “staging”) sufficient to rule out suicide, but the enlargement of his spleen and the dramatically high lead levels evidenced in his hair would suggest that the Somerton Man had also been physically compromised by recent acute illness.

    How much actual need is there for the story of his final day to include some kind of mysterious poisoning, aside from mere storytelling desire?

    And heaven knows we’ve seen enough of that over the years.

  13. Misca on April 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm said:

    One of Thomas Erskine Cleland’s last cases (he died shortly after) was the 1972 inquiry into the death of Dr. George Ian Ogilvie Duncan. He died in the Torrens River in May 1972. The case is well known and remains controversial to this day due to potential police involvement. Cleland cleared police and stated:
    “At this inquest there was no evidence that during the evening of May 10 any of the three officers was nearer than about 300 yards from the place where Dr Duncan was thrown into the river, and there is no evidence that any person other than Mr James I Mr Roger Wesley James, formerly of Adelaide and now of Sydney and a witness at
    the inquest] and Mr Williamson (who also gave evidence at the inquest) was in the vicinity at the relevant times”.

  14. B Deveson on April 24, 2016 at 1:17 am said:

    Nick! But there is evidence of poisoning because SM’s heart stopped in a contracted state, which is to say it was paralysed. Paralysed by some drug or toxin. There is no natural cause, only poison or toxin. And only a very few poisons or toxins paralyse the heart. That’s is why digitalis type alkaloids, curare, botulism and diptheria toxin were all mentioned at the inquest. Dwyer would have seen many cases of deliberate and accidental poisoning and he and Cleland would have been aware that the Soviets had been staging “suicides” since the 1920s. The forerunner of the KGB had a whole Department researching and enacting “suicides” and there was old KGB adage “Anyone can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a suicide.” The KGB developed digitalis type drugs for assassination purposes and Cleland and Dwyer would have probably been aware of this. The CIA were investigating the use of lead tetraethyl for assassinations in the late 1940s and I note some British scientists were investigating the toxic alkaloid from the Tapas tree in 1950 that would give the same autopsy results.
    Because there was other evidence of poisoning and because of the paralysed heart, suspicion fell on the digitalis group of drugs. All the evidence was consistent with digitalis poisoning (or any of the other very small group of drugs and toxins) except for the apparent lack of vomiting. But people have died from digitalis poisoning without vomiting. In fact, there was a paper published in the early 1980s in the New England Journal of Medicine in which experts in the field estimated that there had been 100,000 or more unrecognised deaths due to digitalis poisoning in the USA alone in previous decades due to faulty formulations of digitalis tablets resulting in wildly variable bioavailability. This was the reason why bioavailability testing of drugs that have poor solubility or a low therapeutic index (such as the digitalis type drugs) was rapidly mandated in the late 1970s (ie. British and US Pharmacopoeias), along with stringent tablet dissolution specifications and tablet uniformity of content specifications. These regulatory measures were especially necessary for digitalis which has a very low therapeutic index of four. Which is to say that the ratio of a deadly dose to the therapeutic dose can be as low as four. My point is that experts calculated that just in the USA alone 100,000+ people had died from digitalis poisoning, and nobody had ever noticed. The patients were all suffering from heart disease, so when they dropped dead it was unexceptional, even expected. This was potentially a great scandal, but like most cock-ups where the Government has at least some culpability, it was all quietly buried. My further point is that it is unlikely that many of those 100,000+ vomited immediately before death, otherwise the problem of variable bioavailability (I know that’s a cold blooded way of describing the avoidable deaths) would have become obvious long before the mid 1970s when it first surfaced. Prior to about 1960 it was possible for pharmacists in USA, Britain, Australia etc. to make and sell their own digitalis tablets, and this further added to the problem (non uniform mixing of ingredients, variable manufacture etc.). The wild variability in bioavailability meant that when a patient who was stabilised on a low bioavailability tablet received a new batch, or a different brand of digitalis tablets that had high bioavailability death could result. Dead easy to happen one could say.

    All of the medical people involved in the investigation thought that poisoning was the likely cause of death. Mr Cowan didn’t but he does not seem to have had much experience in toxicology apart from testing for poisons and when he received the samples he probably just ordered his staff (Assistant Government Analysts in those days didn’t do the actual testing, they just supervised) to do the standard suite of toxicological tests for a routine suicide investigation. And the samples were probably destroyed before their importance was recognised, and before the deficiencies in the toxicological testing became apparent.

    “…. the balance of expert evidence leaned towards the view that the Unknown Man had been poisoned.” Feltus page 199.
    “Only one expert, Deputy Government Analyst Robert James Cowan ……. asserted that death was more than likely to have occurred from natural causes than through poison because of failure to detect any poison.” (note, his failure to detect …. so he would say that wouldn’t he? Any poison? But Cowan only tested for a small handful of the most common poisons).

    “But, Dr Dwyer backs up his claim of poisoning because he saw signs of asphyxiation and there was “absolutely nothing wrong with the heart.””

    So, the only person who discounted poisoning was Cowan, because he had not found any poison! But he would say that, wouldn’t he? (apologies to Mandy Rice-Davies).

    There were probably undetected cases of deaths due to barium poisoning in South Australia in 1948-9 (the Bickford scandal) and I note that SM may have had prior GI trouble and so may have received an X-ray with the contaminated contrast media. The symptoms and autopsy findings would have been very similar to that of digitalis poisoning and the heart would have been paralysed. I note that SM had a patch of erosion at the back of his gullet and this could be down to reflux of the contaminated contrast medium.
    The very high levels of lead in SM’s hair do not appear to be accompanied by anything other than raised strontium (x3.5 from memory) and possibly raised arsenic. This suggests accidental or deliberate poisoning with a pure lead compound. I have long believed (and I have evidence to support my view) that most of the reported fatal lead poisoning cases were either down to faulty test methods or deliberate poisoning. I further believe that the child deaths supposedly due to ingestion of paint flakes were actually deliberate poisoning of unwanted children. I am not going to explain how this can be easily accomplished but many people in the past would have possessed the knowledge to make the poison without anyone being aware. No poison register, no sales of anything suspicious. Just stuff lying around most houses. And plentiful lead paint to blame as the unwanted children are buried.
    Medical people, even medical scientists and toxicologists, still believe that lead paint flakes taste sweet. Obviously none of them have ever tested (tasted) this assumption. It is too often repeated in medical text books. But, medicine is no different in this acceptance of old wives tales than other sciences, and far better in this regard than any other field of learning bar mathematics, physics and chemistry in that order.
    Somerton Man was deliberately buried in a dry sandy grave to facilitate exhumation and further testing. So the authorities at the time considered later exhumation could be warranted. What has changed?
    There are now very sensitive test methods for organic poisons and mass spectroscopic methods can find things that are not suspected. For example there is an ultra-sensitive immunological test that could probably tell us if SM was taking digitalis for medicinal purposes and had taken an overdose, deliberate or otherwise. His DNA could reveal the diseases to which he was predisposed that could cause sudden death. Testing would reveal the distribution of lead in his organs and the isotopic ratios of the lead could indicate deliberate poisoning. Testing would also show if SM died as a result of lead or barium poisoning. I could go on, and on, but my point is that (contrary to the advice GF received) that modern methods could quite probably identify any poison in SM’s remains and DNA testing could identify his genetic weak points (such as a genetic predisposition to sudden cardiac death etc.).
    Lastly, I don’t buy the standard story that Australia in 1948 was awash with faceless refugees who could just vanish into smoke. That is the Standard Story that is endlessly repeated and endlessly accepted. If you want proof just check the police gazettes for the late 1940s and see how many people that the police were searching for were found. In nearly all cases the people whom the police wanted to find (criminal suspects) were located.Yes, many “missing people” were apparently not located, but this is an artifact. If, nearly always when, a “missing person” was located the police were not allowed to notify relatives if the “missing person” did not permit this. This of course meant that police weren’t particularly interested in “missing persons” and didn’t bother much. You can even see this in the lackadaisical search for SM’s identity.
    How many initially unidentified corpses remained unidentified in post WW2 Australia? I have looked and I can’t find a single one. How many unidentified bodies are buried in Australian cemeteries post WW2? None, apart from SM, that I can find.
    Unlike most other places in the world people can only arrive in Australia by ship or by air. You can’t slip across a border and walk into Australia, at least not until Mr Rudd facilitated walking on water. The authorities always kept detailed records and the failure to identify SM doesn’t ring true to me. Authorities in Australia have always kept a close eye on people, contrary to the Standard Story. I well remember one night in the mid 1970s trawling through microfilm from the British PRO and finding one of my great great grandmothers in a list of single women, and the men with whom they were living. In 1806, in Sydney. A list created by some nosy, scolding Government official, for no good reason, and still preserved. And Government officials haven’t changed.

    Regarding that piece of paper at the heart of the SM mystery. What I believe happened is that the rolled up piece of paper was planted to bolster the case for suicide. Planted by Mr Cowan. Consider the position that Cowan was in. He had bungled the toxicological investigation and I suspect he might have ordered the autopsy samples destroyed before the importance of the case became clear. So, he was desperate for the case to go away. What Cowan could not have foreseen is the “code” on the copy of the ROK piqued Cleland’s suspicion that the case might involve espionage. Cowan had both motive and opportunity.

    I will finish by pointing out that much of the speculation above is testable when SM is exhumed. And he will be exhumed when the full mtDNA results become available, because there will be relatives.

    PS I will address the question of why an answer to the SM case is important, and important for more than just historical reasons, storytelling, or tying up loose ends.

  15. Byron: you make so many good points here that it’s hard to know where to begin by way of a response.

    The short version is that what you are doing here is – for the first time I can recall – proposing exhumation not in terms of an ancestral DNA fishing trip, but instead as a chance to test/support/refute specific medical hypotheses about the Somerton Man’s death, and backing up your proposal with evidence and reasoned argument. Which is, in my opinion, the right way to do it.

    This needs to be turned into a more substantial post – I shall email you separately, hope that’s OK.

  16. B Deveson on April 24, 2016 at 11:23 am said:

    That’s fine Nick. Email away.

  17. Diane on April 24, 2016 at 1:43 pm said:

    About lead paint – it was initially banned in Australia only for use in calf-pens, precisely because the calves would lick it and find it, if not sweet, then at least tasty in some way. Later, when it was found that lead might contaminate milk, use of lead paint was banned in cow-sheds. It was finally only banned in human dwellings in the 1970s, by which time there was a mountain of anecdotal and scientific evidence to show that it was (technically) ingested, not only by eating flaking lead paint (which, by the way, originally looked like sheets of soft cream as it peeled – it really did look luscious), but by having the dust settle on surfaces which were touched, or which came in contact with food.

    There is no doubt at all that children and other creatures died of ingesting lead. And sadly, it still happens, or at least was still happening in the first decade of the twenty-first century. One specific suburb in Australia – I won’t name it – was turning up so many children badly affected by lead poisoning that some environmental chemists became involved. They discovered that, despite lead paint’s having long been banned for domestic use, certain blokes with friends who worked closer to the sea were done the favour of a ‘special deal’ on the excellent lead paint used there for metal exposed to sea and salt winds.

    Whether the Somerton man was poisoned by botulism or by some other toxin I don’t know, but I think it unlikely that children would be deliberately poisoned by forcing them to eat old paint.

  18. B Deveson on April 25, 2016 at 10:17 am said:

    Diane, I wasn’t referring to lead paint or lead paint flakes. I don’t want to say anymore because it could give people ideas.

  19. Sue d'Nimh on April 25, 2016 at 10:20 am said:

    The combination of lead and arsenic could be evidence that he had been working on a farm. ‘Lead Arsenate Pesticide’ was common in the 1940s, it was particularly used to kill Codling Moths in apple orchards.

    (I wonder if Mr Mangnoson worked picking apples?)

  20. Byron: incidentally, out of interest I had a look through some Australian cemeteries for post-1930 unknown graves, and came up with these three:
    So… there may well more unmarked Australian graves out there than just the Somerton Man. Not many, I’d agree, but very possibly more than zero. 🙂

  21. Sue d’Nimh: are you suggesting that whoever killed him, it was an incider job? 😉

  22. Sue d'Nimh on April 25, 2016 at 3:45 pm said:

    *groan* I’m not sure what to say to that one Nick.

  23. Sue d’Nimh: I’ll get me coat… 😉

  24. Lewiansto on April 26, 2016 at 11:02 pm said:

    Apparently Cowan & Cleland were both involved in the inquest of two Millicent men who may have died of barium poisoning earlier in 1949.

  25. Lewiansto – It is interesting…That’s the “Bickford” mess that has been mentioned. They were found culpable. (Bickfords.) I find it odd…So soon after SM. The same players and all.

  26. Misca on April 27, 2016 at 1:27 pm said:

    There is another interesting case that I looked into re. William Arthur Savage. He was exhumed shortly before SM was found. T E Cleland and Cowan were on that case as well. They deemed it a suicide. I will post a link.

  27. Misca on April 28, 2016 at 3:36 am said:

    This is where William Arthur Savage worked: Salisbury Munitions Factory.

    I have found an article that implies that he was scheduled for an x ray.

  28. Misca on April 28, 2016 at 4:19 am said:

    Lewiansto – The Barium deaths…After finding the Bickfords culpable, Cleland referred them to the “Attorney General” for review and further decisions. Have a look at who that was…

    If you find anything at all mentioned about these cases after his conclusion and referral, please post!

  29. B Deveson on April 28, 2016 at 10:33 pm said:

    Roma Egan “also told Abbott, darkly, that her ex-mother-in-law had been a woman with secrets, and that Jo — like the young Abbott — had an obsession with pharmacology.”
    The number of pharmacology, pharmacy, herbal medicine and related matters in the SM case is far beyond mere happenstance in my opinion. Consider the following:
    – SM probably died from the effects of some sort of poison.
    – Jestyn was described as “having an obsession with pharmacology.”
    – Jestyn’s uncle was a pharmaceutical manufacturer, a pharmacist, an official court analyst of poisons and later in life described himself as a “pharmacologist” at a time when the number of pharmacologists in Australia would have fitted in a couple of large cars. Pharmacology is closely allied to toxicology (the study of poisonous materials and their effects).
    – SM’s body was found less than 100 yards from the residence of a herbal medicine manufacturer and practitioner. The surname (Nunn) of the herbal medicine practitioner was fairly rare in Adelaide at the time and it may not be coincidence that the surname of the pharmacist at the Pier Pharmacy was also Nunn. The ROK was found in a car that had been parked outside or close to the Pier Pharmacy.
    – The Bickford family were still heavily involved at the time (1948) in the running of the Crippled Children’s Hospital which was just across the road from where SM’s body was found. The Bickford’s ran pharmaceutical manufacturing and wholesale chemical and pharmaceutical businesses. A few months after SM’s death the Bickford company was involved in the accidental poisoning and death of at least two patients who received contaminated medication. All of the symptoms associated wth this accidental poisoning (Barium) are consistent with SM’s postmortem findings.

  30. Milongal on April 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm said:

    as far as I can tell SA Attorney General at the time was this guy (who died in office Jan 1 1955):

    Who doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting (he was a returned service man who appears to have been successful academically and politically), and was apparently instrumental in the creation of (the now defunct) ETSA.

    or did I miss something…..

  31. Byron: it’s a complicated mesh of possibilities, indeed. But Bickford’s seems like a sensible place to start. 🙂's_Australia

    A M Bickford & Sons Ltd merged with other drug companies in 1930 (though retaining the brand somehow) to become DHA, “Drug Houses of Australia”:

    The DHA corporate records seem to be here:

  32. Misca on April 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm said:

    Milongal – You didn’t miss anything. I’m sorry. I made a mistake and thought it was someone else.

  33. Patricia Phenix on October 5, 2016 at 10:37 am said:

    Does anyone know where I can get this book? I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Tried libraries, Amazon, Alibris, etc. Argh!!!

  34. Patricia Phenix: Gerry Feltus’ website is , and I believe he still has a few copies left. The postage cost from Australia is a little high, but I thoroughly recommend Gerry’s book as the first point of reference for anyone interested in the Somerton Man case. 🙂

  35. Bumpkin on October 5, 2016 at 11:31 pm said:

    Nick; Do you happen to know if there is or will be a 2nd edition? Perhaps will real names instead of pseudonyms?

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