My Somerton Man Wish List

This page holds my ever-fluctuating wish list of “known unknowns” for the Somerton Man historical mystery: that is, all the pieces of archival evidence that I know (or strongly suspect) exist and which might well be highly informative, but which I haven’t yet seen.

Crew lists

* 16 Sep 1948 – Incoming crew list – Sydney (arriving from Nauru) – [?]
* 20 Nov 1948 – Outgoing crew list – Sydney (departing for Honiara) – [?]

* 02 Oct 1948 – Incoming crew list – Port Adelaide (from New Zealand) – D3064
* 29 Oct 1948 – Outgoing crew list – [*] Melbourne (for Hobart) – [?]
* 01 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – [*] Hobart – P2005
* 07 Nov 1948 – Outgoing crew list – [*] Launceston – P2004
* 15 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – [*] Port Pirie – D3064
* 20 Nov 1948 – Outgoing crew list – Fremantle (for Genoa) – PP1/1

American Producer
* 18 Oct 1948 – Incoming crew list – Brisbane – BP120/1
* 29 Dec 1948 – Outgoing crew list – Sydney – [?]

Note: I’d particularly like to know if the American Producer’s Master “J. Dixon” left with the ship, because I have only the briefest of records for him.

City of Delhi

* 11 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – Fremantle (from Beira) – PP1/1
* 15 Jan 1949 (or thereabouts) – Outgoing crew list – Fremantle (for UK and Continent) – PP1/1


* 14 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – Fremantle (from Mauritius) – PP1/1
* 30 Dec 1948 – Outgoing crew list – Fremantle (for Liverpool) – PP1/1


Note that the Incharran was a British-registered ship (or rather a Hong Kong-registered British ship) with a largely Chinese crew, hence there is a reasonable chance it would be required to register its crew movements between Australia and Hobart. If so, this may be precisely what we need, because I think – putting all the pieces together – that there’s a good chance the Somerton Man came across from Tasmania on the Incharran on the 29th November 1948.

* 18 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – [*] Port Pirie (from Risdon) – D3064
* 18 Nov 1948 – Outgoing crew list – [*] Port Pirie (for Risdon) – D3064
* 23 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – [*] Risdon (from Port Pirie) – P2005
* 24 Nov 1948 – Outgoing crew list – [*] Risdon (for Port Pirie) – P2004
* 29 Nov 1948 – Incoming crew list – [*] Port Pirie (from Risdon) – D3064
* 09 Dec 1948 – Outgoing crew list – [*] Port Adelaide (for Risdon) – D3064

Desertions and Discharges

If the Somerton Man was a merchant seaman working in Tasmania, and had to go on some kind of sick leave, then this would very probably have been recorded in a ledger. The one I’d particularly like to check for October – December 1948 is:-

* Tasmanian desertions for this period in P2562, VOLUME 1 at the NAA (held in Hobart).

Company Archives

Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon

If the Somerton Man was a wharfie or longshoreman (rather than a merchant seaman) working at the Electrolytic Zinc plant in Risdon, then there is a good chance that we might find his details among the company’s personnel files.

* NS3753 – The Hobart files on the Electrolytic Zinc Company (whose lead plant on Risdon might be involved here), in particular…
* NS3753/1/93 – The staff files for the Electrolytic Zinc Company in Risdon.

11 thoughts on “My Somerton Man Wish List

  1. Pingback: Risdon, zinc, and known unknowns... -Cipher Mysteries

  2. Didn’t the chemist, doctor, dentist, professional’s children say that they had found the book on/around November 20th? Somehow, they connected it to the RAAF Air Pageant that was going on that day??? Perhaps we should be looking for information starting from that date?

  3. Nick – Sorry, I don’t mean to confuse – I mean this in reference to your specific comment about SM coming in on the 29th. He might have been there earlier as well.

    Incredible research going on here!

  4. Misca: I don’t think what we’re doing here is genuinely incredible so much as “sensible but a bit late”. Given the long-standing (and actually very reasonable) suspicion that Somerton Man was a merchant seaman from overseas, it does seem a bit ‘lightweight’ to me that nobody has yet got round to cross-referencing all the crew lists going into and out of Port Adelaide (and its outports) from October 1948 to December 1948.

  5. Misca: who really can say with any certainty that the Somerton Man had anything to do with the book while he was alive? 🙂

  6. If he was alive when the Tamam Shud slip was pushed into his fob pocket, then yes Nick, I can say with some certainty that he did have something to do with the book.
    Whoever did it.

  7. John sanders on January 9, 2018 at 9:05 am said:

    I guess an SM wish list is a nice little short thread and therefore good enough for a bit of interesting news. I may just have accidentally seen a photo of Paul Lawson’s ‘original body’ alive and well. Apart from size and build, this chap who frequently signed his name Wilhelm, bears only a general likeness to, shall we say our Somerton man as he is usually depicted, since his Adelaide News debut in early December 1948. I had been looking for a certain chap named Wolf Cohen for a year or more without success until the very name came onto my radar alert just now whilst checking on the validity of the Mangnoson ID. Well for a start, this fellow was certainly, like our man Keith in the Riverland district in ’38, as a displaced itinerant from the Fatherland (a colder country), but by mid 1948 he’s with his wife and oddly spaced new family in suburban Adelaide.
    – There’s just one more rather important piece of information to add, which is that friend Wilhelm has unfortunately found himself stuck in the cold old Adelaide mortuary, on the very first day of Adelaide’s golden summer or 1/12/1948 for short; he had been assigned the number 5332 which is interesting and I doubt whether he was placed next to Arch Travis or any one else we know of.

  8. John sanders on January 12, 2018 at 3:06 am said:

    Back on thread at last: The dead man’s Sydney file consists only of two applications for Alien Registration from 1939 & ’48 respectively which include comparable photos but with not so comparable handwriting. The applicant has signed his original Loxton form B Cohen and the later one W W Cohen; his incoming passenger listing being Mr. William Cohen, though he seems to prefer the Christian name Bill (my take) or Wilhelm. My wish is for someone with better search facilities to pull up the as yet unread Adelaide file which might clear up certain aspects of the man’s death and to see if there are any newspaper death notice or funeral inserts. It appears that a Wolff Wilhelm Cohen was interred in the old general section of West Terrace Cemetery with no date given and I’m wary that this may relate to a person of that name from the early ’20s. There appear to be some very serious implications to this case now that might necessitate it being considered as almost certainly neither murder or even suicide in the normal sense. I don’t have to outline what they are and if this be the case than it is doubtful if any further progress can be made, other than the delightful creation of an even more intriguing and infamous spy versus spy mystery that might never be solved…Wolff Wilhelm Cohen’s family records on Geni are extensive and appear to be correct apart from his strangely supposed death year 1943 so if you are a German speaker you’ll find them both interesting and heart wrenching.

  9. john sanders on January 12, 2018 at 8:03 am said:

    Thanks to the kindness of our Latter Day Brethren we can more or less confirm that West Terrace Cemetery has had our departed brother in its bosom of love and eternal rest since he crossed to wherever those of his pursuasion long to go on the said date of 1st December, 1948 (Gregorian not Hebrew). Now will some other kind souled researcher of any pursuasion attempt to dig up what remains of his mortal life’s record, to assess his place of merit in our own caring hearts. Don’t forget Marion and Kinder, Ian and Robert who were at the time apparently domiciled with the Jewish Welfare Association’s Glenside centre…Take note the apparently wrong spelling of the spouses name Maryone? on Bill’s Alien Registration form and that the boys appear to be three months apart which could prove tricky.

  10. John sanders on January 20, 2018 at 12:59 am said:

    I wish we could get shut of the melodramatic implications attached to non existent international spy rings, which were found not to be; or the ever popular ideas re grand theft auto conspiracies, which were merely organic sideshow events of their times. I’m quite happy to push my long held views of simple homegrown security in house, clean up exercises to appease the SOP orders handed down from upstairs, brave new world visionaries. My main man for the job with the code name Hereward and sidekick Augo were known to be both ruthless and totally unrelenting in their quest for recognition from our intel partners. A simple command from the AG’s offsider and go ahead from their locally based Head Honcho Reid, then Adelaide get ready for a nifty little demonstration operation named Taman Shud. No big dramas involved, only a single unfortunate no name casualty, very simple clean up with local support and a job well done by all accounts. Australia thus becomes a respected player with a team of capable field hands, tough no nonsense, talented homespun heroes for all occasions.

  11. John sanders on January 20, 2018 at 1:28 pm said:

    Nick: I wish, just for a change,you would consider directing your tbt responses to bozo’s alter ego folk by their various ndps. They do appear to be generally ameniable to polite converstion and don’t seem to have any hostile notions. Just a thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *