Because Trove holds newspaper articles all the way up to 1954, you occasionally stumble across interesting stories from around the world picked up by Australian newspapers. And because I’ve been raking over the various editions of the Truth, my virtual path has recently been littered with such things (though admittedly slightly racier and more gossipy than the dear old Adelaide ‘Tizer).

We surely all know about the Somerton Man: so here’s a link to the Truth’s take on the story, including this photo:

Another mysterious man was found near a beach on 2nd July 1949 (said the Truth elsewhere). However, this quickly turned out to be 23-year-old ex-soldier David John Wicks. He had been working as a yardsman at the Pineapple Hotel on Kangaroo Point: it seemed likely he had died as a result of having previously contracted malaria. Doubtless people will construct conspiracy stories around Kangaroo Point (which has appeared a fair few times here). *sigh*

Much more recently, yet another mysterious man found at Poona Dam at Nambour, 9th September 2008: “apart from the smiley face message, the only other thing in his wallet was an old Plains Video Kingaroy rental card.” A reconstructed picture of his face looked like this:

Again, a possible breakthrough was made earlier this year, when a man came forward to report that his brother Charles Rawlins was missing:

But what about the pigeon, Nick?

Ah, yes, sorry about that. The Truth related the tale of a pigeon-based cipher mystery so straightforwardly that it would be churlish not to quote it in full:

The Brisbane Truth 28th September 1952, p.34


LONDON, Sat.— A carrier pigeon landed on the deck of an American cruiser during the recent ‘Exercise Mainbrace,’ the North Atlantic Treaty Powers’ manoeuvres. It bore a peculiar message.
No cyphers could be found to fit it. So the captain decided to rush it to headquarters. There, code experts got to work on it.
After seven hours it remained unbroken. It was a perfect code. Code breaking machines were put to work on it — no result!
Then it came into the hands of a Scottish sub-lieutenant: ‘It’s written in Gaelic,’ he pronounced.

3 thoughts on “A solved pigeon cipher mystery (from 1952)…

  1. milongal on August 5, 2017 at 7:52 am said:

    Is it just me, or is that photo the opposite side. We’re used to seeing the right side of his head, that’s the left (or an inverted photo).

  2. milongal on August 5, 2017 at 7:53 am said:

    Also Navajo code FTW. Except Irish.

  3. milongal on August 5, 2017 at 8:35 am said:

    “About 35” (article) and “later found to be 23 year old….”

    I know it’s the other way, but doesn’t 65 year old Walsh get a look-in as SM?

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