Ever the agent provocateur, Pete Bowes has just published a post arguing that the long-standing Somerton Man story about the Hillman Minx was entirely made up. Rather than just snap at the bait, let’s examine the actual evidence and make up our own minds…

The Trigger

As we shall see below, what triggered this whole sequence was a short article in the Adelaide News mentioning the police’s search for a Rubaiyat. There had been no other mention of the Rubaiyat in any Adelaide newspaper since a brief mention at the start of the first inquest more than a month earlier, where the Rubaiyat was no more than a footnote tucked away at the end of the article. Hence the following article – which focused specifically on the police’s ongoing search for a copy of the Rubaiyat – would have come as a surprise to all but the most attentive of South Australian readers.

Adelaide News, 22nd July 1949

Although police realise they are acting on a mlIlion to one chance, a search for a book with a torn page which may throw some light on the Somerton body mystery is continuing throughout Australia.

A torn page of Fitzgerald’s translation of the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” was found in the pocket of the victim.

Det.-Sgt. Leane and Det. Brown believe the torn book may still be on the shelves of a library. They think that if they can find it, they can trace the man to the city or town he was in before he came to Adelaide With this information, it may be possible to establish his identity.

Melbourne police have made a search of public libraries and libraries in Victorian provincial towns, but have failed to find the torn volume. Although a number of city and suburban libraries have been checked here, others in country districts have not yet been investigated. The cause of death will probably never be known. A plaster cast of the victim’s head and shoulders, which was exhibited at the inquest, is now in a store room at Adelaide Museum. No request for it to be displayed has yet been made by the authorities.

The Wytkin Rubaiyat

The immediate problem we face is that newspaper reports now offer us two completely parallel narratives to consider, and they both start on the evening of the day the above report appeared.

The Adelaide Advertiser, 23rd July 1949

A bus conductor informed police last night that he believed he knew the whereabouts of a book, which, if it were the correct one, might provide a very important clue in the Somerton body mystery. […] Last night Mr. L. F. Wytkins, bus conductor, of Partridge street, Glenelg, told police that several months ago he found a book answering the description of the one required by the police. He handed it in to the lost property office at the Tramways Trust. Mr. Wytkins said he was not sure when he found the book, but he believed it to be about the time the man’s body was found on the beach at Somerton.

This was Leslie Francis Wytkin (not “Wytkins”). Here’s a photo of him in 1947 from the Adelaide News:


Wytkin died on 10th September 1991 at the age of 84, and was buried at Swan Reach cemetery, 80-odd miles north-east of Adelaide.

If there is any further mention of Wytkin’s Rubaiyat from 1949 or after, I have completely failed to notice it: so unless anyone knows better, it seems that this is where this lead both started and ended.

The Jetty Road Rubaiyat

A second, far more long-lived Rubaiyat story began at precisely the same time: that of the Jetty Road Rubaiyat:-

Adelaide News, 23rd July 1949

Fresh hope that the Somerton body mystery may be solved come today with the finding of a copy of the ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ with the last page torn.

POLICE have been searching for such a book through out Australia in the hope it might provide the missing clue to the body’s identity. Last night an Adelaide businessman read of the search in ‘The News’ and recalled that in November he had found a copy of the book which had been thrown on the back seat of his car while it was parked in Jetty road, Glenelg. The book, the last page of which is torn, has been handed to police. If scientific tests, to be conducted next week, show the scrap of paper found on the dead man’s clothing had been taken from the book, police will have brought off a million to one chance.

[…] The finder of the book today handed it to Det.-Sgt. R. L. Leane. On the last page the words ‘Tamam Shud’ had been torn out. On the back of the book are several telephone numbers and a series of capital letters, written in pencil, the meaning of which have not yet been deciphered. As the scrap of paper found on the dead man had been trimmed, police were unable to identify the book merely by fitting it into the torn page. Proof will now rest with tests on the paper and the print.

Though the man was later referred to as “Ronald Francis”, that was not his real name: Gerry Feltus claims to know his real identity, and says that he spoke to him relatively recently (though he may since have passed away), but that he was elderly and unable to give any more useful details. The only extra detail we have was that he thought the book had been dumped in the back of the car around the time of the RAAF Air Display at Parafield on the 20th November 1948.

Feltus additionally noted that the man had told him that the car was a “little Hillman Minx” (“The Unknown Man”, p.105). But apart from the fact that the tear in the back page broadly matched the missing “Tamam Shud” and that the two sets of paper were a match, that’s all we ever knew about this Rubaiyat: it went missing many years ago, along with the suitcase, clothes and all the other evidence relating to the case.

Pete’s Hillman Minx Conspiracy Theory

Of course, the official line has always been that the Rubaiyat found by Wytkin was a dud and that the Jetty Road Rubaiyat was the real thing.

But Pete Bowes doesn’t like coincidences, and he thinks the fact that both Rubaiyats (re)appeared on the same evening of the same day is just too much.

And so, he mused, what if there never was a Jetty Road Rubaiyat? What if the whole Jetty Road story was just a feint, a front, a misdirection; and Wytkin’s Rubaiyat was the real one all along?

Moreover – and here’s what really seems to clinch it for him – this would mean that “Ronald Francis” was actually “Leslie Francis Wytkin” all along.

It would also mean that there never was a Hillman Minx (presumably it was Gerry Feltus who cooked that up): and hence that we can’t really trust anything the South Australian police say, because they’re all obviously Freemasons or Oddfellows or whatever, and therefore duty-bound by the code of their Lodge to protect Wytkin at all cost.

So… What Do I Think?

Pete has worked really hard at this case, and I would be entirely unsurprised if one of the many things he’s figured out along the way turns out to be the key to cracking the whole mystery: if it did, I’d be the first to applaud.

But as far this present issue goes, I’m personally happy to believe that there were indeed two quite separate Rubaiyats; that the shared trigger for their near-simultaneous appearance was the article in the Adelaide News; and that while Wytkin’s Rubaiyat didn’t have its “Tamam Shud” torn out, the Jetty Road Rubaiyat did. Sorry, Pete, but I just don’t see it.

81 thoughts on “The Hillman Minx that was or wasn’t…

  1. That was just the entree, there’s more ……

  2. … Nick, how do you know Wytkin had the virgin copy?

  3. Nick – More than 40 people called in that they had copies of the Rubaiyat that could relate to the case. Only two were published in the papers. LF Wytkin’s and the “business man/chemist/doctor/dentist/, children of a businessman/chemist/doctor/dentist and brother-in-law of same. What sounds like BS to you?

    Besides, who says that it couldn’t actually be both and one and the same? Maybe Wytkin found it and realized that he was in a mound of poo if he disclosed the situation and some “higher standing” relative of his stepped in and saved the day?

    That’s not such a crazy idea is it?

  4. BTW Nick – This information was posted and discussed on your site almost exactly a year ago – and you’re cluing in now???

  5. misca, plus 40, between the News ad and the 23 July?

  6. Poor Wytkin. Found the book, took it home. Later realised it was germane to a police investigation… gasp. Imagines cross-examining counsel “And, Mr. W., why did you not hand in the book to the lost and found… hmmn? Are you in the habit of misappropriating property mislaid on public transport with whose care you are entrusted?”

    Says he handed it in. Later, a friend or rel. ‘finds’ another in their car.

    As Ms Marple once notably said, “so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly”

  7. Pete – Please don’t ask me to find it but yes, I read that in one of the articles that explained that the book had been found. I’m not sure but the article may have been later than July 23rd.

  8. (2) Nick, how do you know Wytkin had the virgin copy?

  9. BTW old chap, your Professor looks to be under a little pressure on reddit again. Perhaps you could scoot on over and lend him a reference – he has the same problem with facts you do

  10. Pete (1) and Pete (2): the alternative is that the police (including Gerry Feltus) concocted, sustained and embellished a pointless lie for over sixty years to protect Wytkin! So obviously Wytkin was the Grandmaster of SAPOL’s Lodge? Sorry, I really don’t buy into any of it.

    As I made abundantly clear in the post, you can see the appearance of the two Rubaiyats on the same evening as a conspiratorial coincidence all you like, but I see it as a direct response to that day’s article highlighting the police’s search for the Rubaiyats. As likely explanations go, I’ll take cause and effect over an ongoing sixty-year-old Masonic police conspiracy any day.

    And as for DA: you were on first name terms with him just a few days ago – my, how quickly the bloom of young love fades. Can’t you two just kiss and make up? It’s much simpler than dragging me into it.

  11. Who’s talking conspiracy here? All I am asking you is what source did you use to determine that Wytkin’s rubaiyat was whole, without a rupture in its back page.

  12. That’s the 4th request Nick.

  13. Pete: the alternative is that everyone else began lying immediately about the Jetty Road Rubaiyat, and have sustained and elaborated that lie ever since. Sounds like a pretty good description of a conspiracy theory to me, but perhaps you know something I don’t.

  14. Pete: the 4th request to do what?

  15. With great respect,Nick, you seem to be unable to answer the question. You made the following statement, are you able to back it up?
    “Wytkin’s Rubaiyat didn’t have its Tamam Shud torn out.”
    Cut out the faffle … It’s not a hard question.

  16. Nick, looks like it’s alternative time.

  17. Are there any more articles in either paper? From the Advertiser article, Wytkin found a book but didn’t have it any more. Was it ever tracked down?

    On the other hand, the two News articles of the 23rd and 25th say the Jetty book had been turned over to the police and had a torn page, and that further testing of the paper was being done. Was it those tests that led to “the official line … the Jetty Road Rubaiyat was the real thing”?

  18. You over it yet mate? We’ve got work to do.

  19. T Anderson on February 7, 2015 at 8:45 am said:

    imaginative, but it’s really just a case of “wouldn’t this have been a better story” situation. No evidence, just trying to spruce up the story as it is.

  20. B Deveson on February 7, 2015 at 11:21 am said:

    In mid-1949 two men died in South Australia from accidental poisoning with barium carbonate that had somehow got mixed with barium sulphate used for GI-tract X-ray examinations. Why is this of possible relevance to the SM case, apart from the co-incidence that Bickford’s supplied the contaminated X-ray media? Well, the pathologist found that SM’s heart had stopped in systole (ie. Contracted). This is quite unusual, and this only occurs with a very limited number of poisons. Digitalis and strophanthin would be the only common poisons that could cause the heart to stop in systole. And that is exactly the reason why Sir Cedrick Stanton Hicks nominated these two drugs as the possible poison. But, there is another substance that was widely available in South Australia in 1948 that can cause the heart to stop in systole, and cause the severe gastrointestinal bleeding, and probably cause the other effects seen at the autopsy, with the exception of the swollen spleen. Barium carbonate, the same stuff that killed the two X-ray patients in 1949. It appears from the search that I have conducted that it may not have been known in 1949 that poisoning with soluble barium compounds can cause the heart to stop in systole. Otherwise Stanton Hicks would probably have nominated it as a possible poison.

    The West Australian (Perth) 18th October 1949 page 5

    DEATHS BY POISON “Negligence” Of Company ADELAIDE, Oct. 17: The negligence by A. M. Bickford and Sons Ltd. in supplying poison in error for barium sulphate to a Millicent chemist
    had caused the death of two men by poisoning, the Millicent Coroner (Mr. W. S. De Courcy-Ireland) decided today. He found that Edward Leslie Butterworth (39), farmer, of Rendelsham, and Alfred James Holland (57), painter, of Millicent, had died at the Thyne Memorial Hospital, Millicent, on June 8 and July 16, respectively, from poisoning. The coroner exonerated the chemist, Colin Edward Clone, ,and Drs. J. S. Jeffries and R. J. Salts. He recommended that the inquest papers be for warded to the Attorney-General for such action as he might consider necessary.

    The following newspaper report illustrates that barium carbonate was widely available in 1948.

    The Land (Sydney) 3rd December 1948 page 12

    Field mice, now so destructive in many country districts, can be destroyed by the following means recommended by the entomology branch of the Department of Agriculture.
    Carbonate of barium bait: Mix one part of the poison with four parts of flour, make, into a dough, roll out into a sheet about 1 in. thick, cut into 1 in. squares, then dry. Meat, vegetables, rolled oats, bread, cakes, etc., may replace flour. Dust squares well with carbonate of barium. ……..

    All this suggests a number of possibilities.
    1) SM may have been suffering GI-tract problems caused by whatever caused his spleen to swell. His doctor sent him off for an X-ray and SM copped a contaminated batch of the barium meal.
    2) But, this explanation does not take into account the very high lead levels in SM’s hair. Another possibility is that somebody was having a go at SM, either to make him sick, or, more likely, to kill him. First the poisoner uses sugar of lead, but that doesn’t kill SM so then turns to barium carbonate, readily available in 1948 as a rat poison and general pest poison. No signing pharmacy poisons registers required it seems.
    If SM’s body is exhumed then it will be possible to check if any of digitalis, strophanthin, barium or lead were present in toxic amounts. There are the hair samples, but the time between the ingestion of a soluble barium compound and the time of death may not have been long enough for the barium to be fixed in the hair. But it is worth checking.

    To finish off, I seem to remember that at least one of the police involved in the SM case was a member of the CIB and later became a member of the homicide squad. From memory, it might have been Errol Canney. If this is correct, then Canney’s sole involvement (interviewing Jessie) could be interpreted as indicating that the investigating team had suspicions of murder. Maybe.

  21. Gordon Cramer on February 7, 2015 at 8:37 pm said:

    Byron, Great discovery!I wonder if any other locations were found to have similar issues? It would seem a little odd if the only contaminated batch was sent to Milicent.

    On another but related issue, in amongst the Lead levels matter, was tetraethyl lead ever brought up as a possibility?

  22. Detective Leane never discounted murder, he always thought it was a possibility.

  23. Please note my original post above was as follows:

    “Nick – More than 40 people called in that they had copies of the Rubaiyat that could relate to the case. Only two were published in the papers. LF Wytkin’s and the “business man/chemist/doctor/dentist/, children of a businessman/chemist/doctor/dentist and brother-in-law of same. What sounds like BS to you?”

    More than 40 people called in that they had the book. I never said that 40 copies were handed in.

  24. Nick – I can’t post links here even when I do spacing. The article is from Page 1 of the Advertiser (Adelaide) dated July 27th, 1949. It states:

    “Between 4 p.m and 11 p.m. yesterday police headquarters
    received 49 telephone calls from people stating that they pos
    sessed copies ofthe “Rubaiyat.” In many instances the copies
    were not identical wiih that ofthe book linked with the case.
    Four or five were of the same publication.”

  25. Misca: both sound like genuine Rubaiyats to me, but I would be more than somewhat surprised if both had had the “Tamam Shud” torn out.

    And while the whole Wytkin angle isn’t exactly new, Pete’s been hard at work blogging about it these last few days, so I thought it would be good to summarize the evidence in a more coherent and useful way. It’s not until you realise that both Rubaiyat stories appeared on the same evening almost certainly in response to a newspaper article published that very morning does the apparent ‘coincidenceness’ start to be replaced by ‘causalitiness’.

  26. Misca: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/36678021

    But for me, the truly interesting bit of that article is the preceding paragraph:

    “An amazing coincidence was revealed yesterday when another Adelaide businessman called at police headquarters with a copy of the “Rubaiyat” which he had found in his motor car at Glenelg about the time the body was found. This book was a different edition.”

    Now forget Wytkin’s Rubaiyat, here’s a coincidence that simple statistics very probably can’t explain. Why would two copies (albeit of different editions) get thrown in the back of two different cars in Glenelg at about the same time? One is careless, but two is… rather weird?

  27. Incoherent are we? I resemble that remark!

  28. Exactly Nick. I’ve posted about this on Pete’s site. My suspicion here is that the one the businessman handed in was in fact, not the correct edition. The police, wanting to keep the finder “anonymous” did not correct journalists that were writing about the businessman.

    I think that this one journalist probably got the truth but assumed that they were two businessmen!

  29. …So maybe it wasn’t entirely made up…There was a true story beneath it all. If the police had already decided that they wanted to keep the finder anonymous, what better way to do that than to just let the story run…

  30. Some else has pointed out here…(I would like to give credit but I’m sorry I can’t find where) why wouldn’t the “loop” be closed on Wytkin? Why never mention it again in any way shape or form? If anything, they could have stated that his copy was the wrong edition. I suspect, in large part, this didn’t happen because no one asked. Everyone was picking up on the already conveniently anonymous “Businessman from Glenelg who found the book in the back of his car”!

  31. B Deveson on February 8, 2015 at 1:45 am said:

    I mentioned tetraethyl lead previously on this site (I can’t find where). The CIA investigated the possible use of TEL for assassinations in the 1940s and, judging from the material in the CIA archives this investigation was an active measures investigation.
    TEL was added to petrol in Australia until the early 1980s, and I have heard that it is still allowed in some aviation gasoline. From memory, TEL was imported from the USA so there would have been stores of pure TEL in Australia (probably at the petrol refineries).

  32. B Deveson on February 8, 2015 at 2:01 am said:

    “It would seem a little odd if the only contaminated batch was sent to Milicent.” Spot on Gordon.
    I noted that the issue was more widely advertised in the newspapers outside South Australia, and the name of the company involved was barely mentioned in the SA newspapers. I see this as evidence that anyone in the establishment in SA would be protected from adverse publicity. But this isn’t new, and many commentators have suggested that this mind set is still as strong as ever in Adelaide.

    I think there may have been other deaths, but these were swept under the carpet.

    For just one example of what the Establishment could get away with, have a look at the following.
    News (Adelaide) 24th November 1949 page 11.

    “In spite of widespread publicity police have not yet located two bottles of poison believed to have been taken by children from a boat moored in Patawalonga Creek, North Glenelg, on Tuesday. The poison, barium sulphite, was among a batch of 12 bottles discarded by a city wholesale firm. It had been arranged that a boat owner, Mr.A. Dopson should dump it in the sea beyond the four mile limit. Six bottles were taken from the boat, but four have been recovered.”

    The “city wholesale firm” mentioned above was reported to be “A. M. Bickford and sons Ltd.” in the Advertiser 24th November 1949 page 1.

  33. Why would two copies (albeit of different editions) get thrown in the back of two different cars in Glenelg at about the same time?

    If they were the same translation, and if reality were a Dan Brown novel, it would be a book cipher.

  34. Nick – Over three hours for a comment to go through? It kind of kills a “conversation”…

  35. Furlarno on February 8, 2015 at 4:56 am said:

    I clearly said there were two Rubaiyats some time ago. The whole thing stinks like so much dead fish on the Glenelg jetty. This is a monstrous cover up by SAPOL to protect their own.

  36. B Deveson on February 8, 2015 at 8:35 am said:

    From memory Lionel Leane mentioned in the 1978 TV program that the presumed poison might have been “a blow pipe poison”. This indicates that Leane had learned from one of the medical men associated with the SM case that SM could have been killed by the Malay blow pipe poison Antiarin. But, blow pipe poison was not mentioned at the coronial inquest. This suggests that Sir Stanton Hicks kept thinking about the SM case, and, possibly when the paper by Robinson and Ling (see below) was published in 1952, he realised that the features seen in the autopsy could have also have been produced by Malay blow pipe poison.

    The tree Antiaris toxicaria, the “Upas tree” of Indonesia, contains the active principle Antiarin which has similar poisonous effects as digitalis and strophanthin. But, it appears that a lethal dose may not necessarily induce vomiting, unlike digitalis and strophanthin. The paper “Blow pipe dart poison from Borneo” by Judith A. Robinson and H.W. Ling of the Dept. Pharmacology, Oxford University. 1952 (it is available on the Internet) mentions an eyewitness account where a monkey was shot with a poisoned dart, it retched but did not vomit, and then fell dead from a tree a few minutes after being shot. I note that the coroner seemed to be a bit nonplussed by the fact that there was no evidence that SM had vomited. He was expecting vomiting if digitalis or strophanthin was involved.

    Wikipedia says that “Antiaris toxicaria is a tree in the mulberry and fig family, Moraceae. It is the only species currently recognized in the genus Antiaris. It has a remarkably wide distribution in tropical regions, occurring in Australia, tropical Asia, tropical Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Tonga, and various other tropical islands.” Hmm. It grows in Australia? Now that opens up some ground for speculation, doesn’t it?

  37. The same newspaper that reported the “amazing coincidence” reported Wtkyn’s book finding earlier – The Advertiser.
    The editor would have seen the latest piece before it was published and no doubt he was familiar with the story – yet he let it go through.

  38. “Pete’s been hard at work blogging about it these last few days, so I thought it would be good to summarize the evidence in a more coherent and useful way.”
    You want coherence? Usefulness? Would you like a quick scan of crucial events, in colour? Would you like to be the next expert in the Somerton Body case? Click on the link and see coherence in all its majesty and beauty.

  39. Pete: you’re fixated on poor old Wytkin, but he never was the elephant in the room.

    The question nobody – not even Gerry Feltus, it would seem – has been asking is this: why on earth would someone leave a Rubaiyat in a stranger’s car?

    Alone, it’s a curiosity, an anomaly: but the second Rubaiyat left in a second car blows that anomaly up into an entire elephant.

    The answer – and the only logical answer that I can see – is that the presence of the book on a car back seat is a signal from someone to someone else, to signify that something has or hasn’t happened.

    And where does that sit in your timeline?

  40. That’s a hypothesis, the timeline page is based on known fact – or as much as the newspapers and accounts of the day allowed – Wytkin is just part of the fabric – as is Francis – as is the creation of a cover story by Det. Leane. My fixation now, Nick, is the the entire body of supportable and crucial facts. If you see anything wrong in the page, feel free, I’m happy to amend the timeline. As far as I know it’s the only one that can be used like this, so it’s got to be right.

  41. I’ll give you a morsel, Nick, just to keep you interested.
    The (circumstantial) proof that there was only one phone number in the back of the book – was that the police only investigated and reported on one phone number, which they found on the back of the book.
    It’s getting these infuriatingly small things right that help us along, don’t you think so, old mate?

  42. B Deveson on February 9, 2015 at 5:30 am said:

    Nick, the Rubaiyats could have been part of dead drops that went wrong. The wrong car(s) were chosen.

  43. Pete: there are quite a few places that talk about the two phone numbers, perhaps most notably the Littlemore documentary (as I recall). So you are being a tad selective there. Feltus also mentions that there was also (allegedly) a name written on the back of the Rubaiyat, though this too has never been disclosed. Gerry never saw the Rubaiyat himself, it would seem.

    Also: by writing off the Jetty Road Rubaiyat, you’re ignoring the whole issue of the RAAF air pageant timing. Similarly, I think that the Broken Hill joyrider should also be part of the overall timeline. Even if something doesn’t fit your chosen narrative or you don’t understand how it fits, if it’s got a tang of relevancy to it, it should stay in, right?

  44. Nick, I’m looking at the first instance of apparent misreporting of the number of phone numbers on the back of the book .. that’s the one that led to all the others.
    Whether GF saw a ‘name’ on the back of the book is irrelevant to the discussion, at this stage.
    Try to stay on the theme mate, you’re wandering all over the shop, pageants, BH joyriders. Talk to me about phone numbers.

  45. The facts are that the newspaper that first reported more than one telephone number (The Mail, 23 July 1949), was also the first to report the existence of an “Adelaide Businessman; both in the same article and on on the same day. My inclination is to doubt the accuracy of the Mail’s report of more than one telephone number seeing as both Detective Leane and Gerry Feltus have stated they saw only one number in the back of the book. This can be referenced back to GF’s book, pages 107 and 105. My further inclination is to doubt the second fact, that there was an ‘Adelaide Businessman’ involved in the rubaiyat handover – a businessman later to be called Mr. Francis.
    can we talk about this, Nick, or is your attention wandering,again.

  46. This is what confounds me about a researcher of your renowned talent and dedication, when something new is mooted you simply disagree with it and and move on. It’s as if you are worried that the structure of belief you have erected is in some danger of collapsing if you look at new information, or new ideas. This is most disappointing, and does little to energise anyone who might want to take part in this discussion with the view of engaging your talents and using your wealth of information, you have worked long and hard at this case. Nevertheless, it is your way of doing business, Derek (Nick), and I’ll have to bear with it. Thanks for the responses so far – Pete Bowes. tomsbytwo.com. Lifted from reddit five minutes ago.
    You blokes are joined at the hip.

  47. Pete: don’t lose your grip now, we’re all just starting to get somewhere with this. But to be an historian rather than a novelist, you have to look at the totality of the evidence, and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, far harder than most people realise. And that isn’t a way of “doing business”, it’s how you get started with all this. 😮

  48. B Deveson on February 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm said:

    Misca has found what appears to be a new autopsy photograph of SM, and this appears to show the post mortem lividity (which looks something like heavy four o’clock shaddow) on the lower part of SM’s face. A very strange place for post mortem lividity to be. See: The Truth (Sydney) 11th July 1949 page 14.
    This photo seems to support the idea that all the others we have seen have been heavily retouched. And it possibly suggests that there were other photos that we have not seen before.

  49. I’m gripped, Nick – and we will always be mates. But, I do like this train of thought – this difference of information between two newspapers, this evidence of a battle of influences. The names of the journos who wrote the pieces would be helpful.
    I was never a novelist, but I’m going to be – and there is a Nick in the book who drives a taxi and carries a gun in his glove-box.

  50. “At one stage I was fortunate to receive old scraps of paper, some of which had a few old telephone numbers written on them…I purchased an old Adelaide telephone directory. In my spare time I read through the directory checking the list of telephone numbers I had against those in the directory…I eventually located a number that was significant. This number allowed me to obtain a name that eventually led to sufficient details for me to identify the nurse.” – G M Feltus

    So, maybe Gerry has not seen evidence of two numbers specifically on the Rubaiyat but it certainly sounds like he had several numbers of potential interest on that scrap of paper!

    One of those numbers turned out to be from the back of the book, how does he know that one of the others wasn’t either.

  51. Nick – Something isn’t quite right about the picture from the second Wytkin article. Both are bus conductors but in 1947, Leslie was 40. That guy looks much older than 40 to me.

  52. Misca: that’s life in the fast lane for you. 🙂

  53. misca, any chance of a link to the 2nd article, assuming it isn’t the one written on 23 July by The Advertiser? Thanks.

  54. I appreciate the humour Nick…But that guy looks 60 + to me nonetheless.

  55. pete: under the seat! under the seat!

  56. Misca: Crikies you’re right! that old codger couldn’t possibly be young Les. Lets see I wonder did his dad work on the buses…what was his name now…ahh Francis, now that name rings a bell does it not…Mr. Francis indeed it does. I wonder did he own a little Hillman Minx by any chance. Nothing would surprise me anymore. I’m not trying to be funny but this whole thread is becoming quite hilarious. Are you still out there Misca, we could do with your help believe me.

  57. milongal on December 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm said:

    On geographic coincidence….

    Swan Reach (where Bus Driver man is buried) is on the Murray (River) – we were (ok, I was) talking about the River recently – Loxton, Barmera, Renmark (,Mildura) etc are all River Murray towns in the Riverland.
    Maggea (where Magnussen went a wassailing wandering) is halfway between Loxton and Big Bend (two suburbs/towns from either) along the Stott Highway – and not far North of Walker Flat (which I think got a guernsey somewhere too).

    I sort of find this a little interesting, because SA is geographically large but populously small – and while that is partly because it’s very sparse so it sort of makes sense that people end up in similar regions, it is a little odd that we have so much coincidence toward this region (perhaps I underestimate Loxton in the 1950s, but I would have thought that the Barossa/Clare Valleys (50-100km North of Adelaide – and through the thriving farming districts around Gawler/Mallala/Angle Vale (/Hamley Bridge)….), Murray Bridge/Tailem Bend (50-100km East of Adelaide), Goolwa/Victor Harbor (for some reason SA has an obsession with no ‘u’ in Harbour) (100km or maybe a bit more South of Adelaide) would be busier areas back then. Even at the same distance (maybe 150km, or marginally closer to the North East) you’d have places like the Copper Triangle (Wallaroo, Moonta, Kadina) at the top of the Yorke Peninsula), not to mention all sorts of interesting places all down the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas if we go further again. And of course KI was clearly thriving back then too.
    Perhaps this is over-analytical – perhaps we can pinpoint coioncidence with any area (after all, we have so many location conveniently (potentially) linked in….

    Still, wouldn’t it be rather an interesting coincidence if SM was Magn who had been around the Riverland, and the bus driver (oops, conductor?) happened to hail from the same area….

  58. John – I’m always happy to help out but I’m getting tired of having to wade through mounds of information to glean out what to look for! Yes Leslie Francis Wytkin’s father was Francis Jacob Wytkin. Yes “Les” (the younger) was caught out in an affair right about the time the book was supposedly found (I tried, very discreetly, to mention this a while back) but I have not found any connection to “Bob Fox”… Leslie’s first wife was an Edith but she was a Middleton. His second “wife” (no marriage record found) was also an Edith who primarily went by the name of May. She was actually an O’Hara. So…I am in the dark as to how either of Leslie’s Edith’s related to Fox. How do you get to Bob Fox being Leslie’s brother in law??? If you could be a little more specific I will happily research.

    It’s always a pleasure to engage and discuss with others that are interested and taking the time to research. Unfortunately, nothing is ever out in the open with SM and even amongst us searching there is always a lack of transparency that probably sets us all back. (I’ll include myself in this I suppose; because it’s so often difficult to understand people’s intentions on online posts.)

  59. Misca: Sorry I missed your post here and have just laid one down over there somewhere. Just to answer your direct question Robert William Fox gives his father up as Alfred Fox. Edith Wytkin says her biological father was Alfred Middleton and a person of that name married a Lucy Fox. Alfred was married twice as was Lucy and whilst he was buried as Middleton, he also called himself Fox, putting it all together I looked at the Wytkin/Middleton/Fox family origins and rightly or perhaps erroneously gave the b-i-law connection a pass. In light of the way things seem to be headed in another direction my Robert William Fox submissions may not be deemed relevant at the end of the day. Thanks for helping anyway you’re a gem.

  60. Misca: I sort of rolled over on the final stanza of your last post and I must confess that in my naivety I haven’t really contemplated the possibility that egos and self engrandishment would need to play a part in our quest for the truth. Fortunately I don’t come from an English thinking (that’s the heart of the matter) or speaking household and I confess that I have left those old traits to those who feel the need to pursue them. My way around the petty finger pointing and putting down of my honest input by others shud that occur from time to time is to take a daily critical look at myself and admit that my self esteem and pride is not all that important at the end of the day. I’m quite happy to be a bushie and a dunce and like nothing better than to take inspiration from a daily excursion with my dog (the bitch) along an old path through the woods near my home, takes the edge off, as opposed to the more picturesque one that leads down through the garden but ends up in the compost heap. In the new year I’m much looking forward to pursuing things like old Tom Keane’s suitcase and Prosper Thomsen’s lodge out Policeman’s point way with renewed vigour and a lot of help from my long suffering inquisitive would be detectives.

  61. Misca: Please note my 11.10am of 28/12 post which may serve as a counter to your diatribe of yesterday re R W Fox &C for which I bare no malice. However I have some trap searches re T. L. Keane X 2 which I’d like you to do whenever you’re free and at the same search indices, we could do with some more compete data on the service history of the aforementioned Mr Fox. No hurry & thanks in anticipation of your help which is as always indispensable.

  62. John – Double whammy at my end on the family emergency front. I won’t be able to do much for a couple of days but I’ll check in again as soon as I can. Didn’t mean to come off with “diatribe”; it just gets a bit frustrating at times. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

  63. Misca: Nothing’s more important than family. Think I’m onto a decent new lead but it ain’t likely go away or be white anted in your absence. Milongal: It should be possible to pick up on a similar recent tidal pattern with same prevailing on shore winds from the bureau I guess. At least that could help satisfy any question as to whether SM was likely to get a wet arse if he had have been exposed to adverse elements overnight.

  64. B Deveson on January 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm said:

    John, some time ago I posted an evaluation of the vertical distance from the top of the steps to the spot where SM was found, and found that the waves (3 foot swell from memory and an on shore wind) would have reached to within 20 feet of SM’s body. SM’s body was described as being “damp”.

  65. milongal on January 5, 2017 at 8:45 pm said:

    from everything I’ve looked at, it seems he should have….Can’t remember if I mentioned yesterday I had a look at Glenelg tides through August 2016 (when the current Streetview shows tide to the rocks) and the highest was about 2.54m (8 1/4 feet?). SM’s night was apparently 9 ft (closer to 2.7m?). Now Glenelg is a good km or 2 from Somerton, and the August stuff is clearly in stormy weather, so (I guess) that might affect tide on a more localised level – so it’s inconclusive. I also suspect the beach was a couple of metres wider back then (with a wall rather than a rock pile). I would have *thought* that any salt water on the body would have been obvious (and therefore mentioned), plus I don’t think the shiny shoes sit well with that idea…..

  66. Thanks lads, and yes I do recall your earlier evaluation Byron. I’ll go for your inconclusive tag as well Milongal which I think leaves us where we were to start with and whilst unacceptable at present,some more precise measurement might be achieved perhaps on an upcoming spring tide. I had thought about the slim possibility of SMs body being delivered on horseback just before dawn as the tide was receding and that the strappers mentioned in the initial investigation were possibly implicated. Has there been any further developments on either Dr. Sarre or the naturopath Doug Nunn from across the way who had the suspect Yankee missus with leftist leanings. Was he ruled out as being related to the other Nunn from 14 Jetty St. who was apparently a snake oil quack and who seems to have had problems with licensing as well as deception offences. Thanks for the prompt attention js.

  67. milongal on January 8, 2017 at 9:46 pm said:

    @js: I have to admit the idea of the body being delivered by horseback has occurred to me (if you subscribe to the idea that the man on the beach was not SM, or the body was removed and replaced – eg I think I speculated before that someone may have tried to help and then returned the body when he died – or something). What strikes me as peculiar, is that the inquest transcripts (at least partially available among the 1977 documentary scripts) appear to call Lyons, but never the strappers, or his friend(s) (who was/were they?) who would also have been present. Perhaps this is because he was the one who called the police; or perhaps they saw him as a reliable witness because he owned his own business. Nonethteless, it does seem odd.

    Based on their interviews in the 1977 (yes, I know that’s 30 years later and they’re aging, and even a young mind can remember things funny) documentary, the police don’t strike me as the brightest crayons in the box. Leane seems downright unreliable (in the doco transcript he insists a syringe was found near the body, despite there being being no record of such), and I sort of hold the scribble on the doco notes “Coopers beer for Leane” against him too (nothing wrong with Coopers at all – best beer in the world, or at least Adelaide) but given there is also record of him getting $50 (much the same as everyone else in the doco) it sort of makes him seem almost corruptible. Brown (again, based on 1977) strikes me as thorough, but quick to form a conclusion. He seems to be so certain it’s suicide, that his investigation focuses on proving the suicide, rather than getting all the facts (it almost seems that inconvenient inconsistencies are simply ignored as incidental). Of course, to be absolutely fair to them, they were not the initial investigators and may have been too late to get contacts for the strappers (although surely Lyons’ friend(s) could have still been accessible – via Lyons) – and this makes Leane’s insistence about the syringe all the more odd (I forget the exact words, but the implication was it was nearby, but not on the body).

    Regarding Jetty Rd, Nick has added a post on it since you commented above….but no mention of 14 Jetty Rd.

  68. milongal: as I recall, the strappers weren’t supposed to be on the beach at all, which probably accounts for their reticence to talk to SAPOL at the time. Even so, one of them told all to his daughter, who (much) later passed the information on to Derek Abbott. (Where did he describe that, on his AMA Reddit thread?)

  69. Pier Pharmacy at 14 Jetty Rd/Moseley Sq with Lionel Nunn as prop was also connected with Bob Fox’s chiropody business and perhaps with Dr. Brian Funder who could have had his surgery at the same address as he was written up with Nunn on a false prescription brief. He provided his address as being across the way in Partridge St and it may be that this is the reason that none of our people seem to have mentioned his name before. I’m sure he deserves some notice as he does at least satisfy our original criteria ie. Doctor, Pharmacist, Dentist, Spy &c. and the fact the two gentlemen were involved in one conspiracy gives rise to the suggestion that they might well have been connected with another.

  70. B Deveson on January 9, 2017 at 5:42 am said:

    Nick, Yes I think it was the Reddit thread. The daughter was a police woman from memory.

  71. milongal on January 9, 2017 at 9:57 pm said:

    Why weren’t they supposed to be on the beach? Were they just too early, or did they require a permit they didn’t have? I notice Holdfast Bay Council of today will issue permits for horses on the beach between 7AM and 9AM/10AM (depending on time of year), but I sort of assumed that was a recent thing – from memory, further North at Sempahore Park/West Lakes Short (and even further North) I think I recall seeing horses on the beach outside of those hours (although admittedly, those are different council areas (Charles Sturt; and Port Adelaide Enfield I think)).

    But it sort of puzzles me not so much that they haven’t come forward, but that they (and Lyons’ friend(s)) seem to so easily disappear from view. Pre-mobiles, of course, Lyons would have left the beach to call the police (I assume from a telephone box, rather than from home – and I further assume there would have been a telephone box in very close proximity to the beach), however it seems a touch odd that someone wouldn’t feel like they should remain with the body during that time (people tend to be weird about things like that). Presumably, by the time the Police arrived, the horsies were gone (if they were keen not to speak to police) – but there doesn’t seem to be any police concern….no newspaper articles seeking “potential witnesses who may have had horses”. Initially, perhaps the police thought that this will clear up quickly and that witnesses weren’t relevant as this was a “normal” unidentified body…but at some stage you would have thought someone might have said “perhaps the strappers saw something”….
    NB: I assume the strappers would bring the horses to the beach from stables around the Morphetville Racecourse? Or would there have been stables somewhere closer?

    Incidentally, when I searched for “Strappers Somerton” on trove, I found an interesting (likely unrelated, but I think possibly along the Pete B book lines – I haven’t read it, but I assumed it sort of suggested a strong horse racing connection, mainly from the title) article about possible horse doping in Melbourne (Moonee Valley) on 27th Nov.
    It only caught my eye because it was Melbourne (and there seems a common assumption that SM must have arrived on the Overland from Melbourne), it was around the same time, and there were possibly links to the bookmaker’s association (or at least we can make them if we assume they sponsored the funeral for some reason other than they thought they’d get a little publicity (or perhaps were being nice)).


    There really is nothing to suggest a connection, but we all like to create a story.

  72. milongal on January 9, 2017 at 10:52 pm said:

    The doped horse Amritsar (doped with strychnine according to one report?) was partially owned by then-treasurer of the VRC, E.A. Underwood – who seems to have part-owned other horses who had doping issues too….

    Interestingly, strychnine only results in nausea and/or vomiting in rare cases, and can cause death by cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, multiple organ failure, or brain damage. Some people also believe it has benefits as a stimulant (both athletically and mentally) and possibly may be prescribed by some pseudo-medical types. Of course, that ignores the fact that presumably it’s detectable, and most often it causes very violent convulsing….which doesn’t seem to fit the bill.

  73. The charge against Dr. Brian Funder resulted in his being found guilty but does not appear to have been as nefarious as it sounds. It seems that at the time, this was the only way for chemists to apply for and keep “emergency antibiotics” on hand. There is an article on trove dated 6 August 1952 “Emergency Drugs S.M.’s Reserved Judgement” that outlines this. (Dr. Funder most certainly didn’t do any of this for the money…From what I can find – he didn’t need it.) Nonetheless, of some interest…Dr. Brian Patrick Funder’s brother was also a Doctor. He was Dr. John Francis Funder and he married into a very well connected family that is connected into the GARRAN STOW (Randolph Isham) tribe. The connection on his wife’s side is to John Mitcham Hornabrooke and related descendants include John Jefferson Bray (who I have mentioned here before). Also both brothers have a Catherine McMahon grandmother (father Michael) who married their Grandfather James Peter (Jens Peter) Funder from Denmark. (1843-1917). Not sure that any of this is of any relevance but there you have it.

  74. On another note – Douglas Arnold Nunn and his lovely American wife attended Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery, in Missouri (it’s likely where they met). Another fellow, a certain Stephen Thomas Ward attended the same school at about the same time. Probably means nothing but…worth jotting down maybe?

    Stephen is readily found on Wiki.

  75. Pete bowes on January 10, 2017 at 8:12 am said:

    Bingo Misca … you have found a spying link. Profumo, Christine Keeler and prominent osteopath, Stephen Thomas Ward.

  76. milongal: some beaches didn’t allow horses at all, some only between midnight and 8am, there were certainly letters in Trove complaining about horses on the beach (from which I inferred that they weren’t allowed there at all), but I don’t have a definitive by-law #xyz answer, sorry. 🙁

  77. B Deveson on January 10, 2017 at 9:37 am said:

    and Mandy, don’t forget Mandy.
    Misca, a great find! I note that a common ploy by the KGB was to set up various front organisations – charitable, religious, social, educational and professional – so as to recruit agents, run agents, service agents, earn money, transfer money and generally cause mischief. I wonder if the Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery, in Missouri, ever attracted the attention of the FBI or the intel agencies? Or if any other students ever attracted attention?

  78. milongal on January 10, 2017 at 9:27 pm said:

    Thanks Nick. In more recent times, I know that further North (between about Tennyson and Semaphore Park (halfway to Largs – where the Magnoson tragedy happened) the beaches were frequently used by horses (not sure where they’re stabled, but used to come up Recreation Parade or First Avenue, I think) there’s even signs along Military road to watch out for them. They often seemed to be there AM (when I was being taken to school), and I had occasionally seen horses in the PM as far North as Taperoo. I always assumed (but never having owned a horse didn’t particular make it my business to know) that they were allowed on the beach between 6PM and 8AM (or equivalent). These days, it appears the Holdfast Bay Council (I suspect it had a different name, and covered a different area back then) will issue permits between 7AM and 9AM (I don’t know whether that’s for the entire stretch of beach in their area – as mentioned before, Somerton is unusually narrow and would be very annoying with horses on it) – but that’s outside of the time of interest and doesn’t mean it has always been allowed….

    Irrespective, I guess my point was that they’d presumably cleared off by the time the police arrived (as had Lyons’ friend(s)?) – which at the time is easily dismissed (to the attending police this was just “another body”), however there seems little evidence of any attempt to find them even as the case started to become more interesting (and seemingly less solvable)…

  79. milongal on January 10, 2017 at 10:02 pm said:

    As Misca said, it sounds like the good Doctor wasn’t doing much wrong (the way I read it, the Minister had in fact ok’d building drug supply this way – except the implication was that this Mrs Foy had not actually needed the drug. If she had, he would have been entitled to stockpile using her name on a prescription)
    Advertiser 2/08/1952, Page 10:

    Doctor In Test Case:
    In a case- described by counsel as the first of its kind in Australia, and a test one in which the defendant was virtually the ‘guinea pig,’ Brian Patrick Funder medical practitioner, of Partridge street, Glenelg, pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge alleging an offence under the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Benefits Act.
    It was alleged that by means of a prescription which he had signed on January 20 last, and which purported to be for a Mrs. Foy, a patient, he had obtained a pharmaceutical benefit to which, he was not entitled.
    At the completion of the hearing the magistrate reserved judgment until next Tuesday.
    Mr. C. C. Brebner, prosecuting under instructions from the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s office, said that Dr. Funder had been guilty of very irregular practices which, if allowed to continue, could lead to grave abuse of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
    It was not suggested that the doctor had himself derived any illicit benefit from what he had done, nor that he had used drugs for any purpose other than for is
    own patients.
    The doctor had thought it desirable to have stocks of various drugs, including chloromycetin, for use in cases of emergency.
    The Magistrate— What is chloromycetin particularly used for?
    Mr. Brebner said the drug could be used for about 15 different complaints. It was commonly used for pneumonia, and other virus diseases.

    ‘No Other Drag’
    In the present case, Mr. Brebner continued, the doctor had instructed his nurse to make out a prescription in the name of a patient, for the supply of the drug, irrespective of whether the patient needed it. On the face of the prescription, the doctor had written, ‘In my opinion no other equally effective drug is available.’
    The chemist had signed on the back of the prescription the name of the patient for whom the drug’ was supposed to be supplied. There was no suggestion of dishonesty by the doctor, but the loose practice adopted could lead to grave results.
    During one month, among claims received for pharmaceutical benefits by Lionel Peter . Nunn, chemist, of Moseley square, Glenelg there had been 78 chloromycetin prescriptions from Dr. Funder. Possibly there had been further claims concerning other chemists.
    At that time Dr. Funder had had at his rooms, at North terrace, city, drugs valued at about £311. That was in addition to his small stocks at Glenelg. There were two other doctors with whom Dr. Funder worked, who had access to the drugs.
    Referring to a conference held in Adelaide last January between the Commonwealth Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) and doctors, Mr. Brebner said the Minister had stated that in order to have available drugs to cope with an emergency case, a doctor could write a prescription for a required drug in the name of the last patient who had used it, or in the doctor’s own name .
    To enable a doctor to maintain a small stock of emergency drugs, the Minister, had approved of a doctor writing a prescription in his own name for an amount of a drug in excess of what was actually supplied to an individual patient.
    If the practice involved in the charge was allowed to continue, said Mr. Brebner.
    considerable quantities of the drugs might be circulated, without proper Commonwealth control over their use. The drugs were dangerous, and not all doctors were competent or experienced regarding their use. Mr. J. L. Travers, appearing with Mr. J. J. Redman for Dr. Funder — Every doctor in Australia is departing from the strict terms of the Act.

    Other Doctors
    Mr. Brebner said he believed that other doctors were doing what Dr. Funder had been charged with. As a deterrent to the practice, he asked that a substantial fine should be imposed in the present case. Mr. Travers contended that at the Adelaide conference referred to the Commonwealth Minister had approved and advocated virtually what Dr. Funder had done. In reality, the present case was a test one between the Minister and the British Medical Association.
    Dr. Funder, counsel continued, was a man of excellent standing in the community and in his profession, and had a big practice at Glenelg and in Adelaide. There was no suggestion of any ‘racket,’ or of dishonesty, or unprofessional conduct. It would be false to stale that the doctor had ever used restricted drugs for unsuitable cases.
    The strict terms of the Act had to be disregarded by doctors so that they could get on with their business; and that patients could have drugs available when they were needed.
    There had been talk about the drugs, being dangerous, Mr. Travers said, but whatever drugs Dr. Funder and his partners had had, had been properly kept and checked.
    The doctor had admitted that he had been in error, and had undertaken to rectify it. He had suffered by publicity and he asked the court to do all in its power to rehabilitate him in his desire to carry out a really unworkable Commonwealth scheme.

  80. Thanks for posting the details Milongal. (I am not nearly as patient as you!)

  81. The more I think about that 9ft spring tide & the more I look at the local beach stats, of which there are plenty, the more I am quietly satisfied that it, coming strong towards fullness with a prevailing wind ESE to SSE and a resultant following swell head on, the peak must certainly have reached the sea wall and inundated our SM had he been in position around 0400hrs. Apparently later in Dec ’48 there were some reinforcements in the form of boulders placed at the base but as we can see in photos taken at the time of discovery the beach sand goes up to the base of the wall unobstructed. I’m thinking that enquiries with the Somerton SLSC may give some clarity as to the day to day tidal encroachments as they would obviously see and record the actual events, which could give us the confidence needed to affirm one way or another. It is also noted that a spring tide of similar footage will be recorded at Outer Harbor (no U) about 0700hrs on 30th January which I’m hoping may prompt one of our local people to swing by for a squizzy first hand.

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