It revolves around an unidentified man found dead on a beach in South Australia, in 1948. Strange codes were found relating to him and no cause of death was ever made.
A Body is Found
An autopsy showed that deceased had been very fit, with broad shoulders, muscular legs and healthy organs.
He had no identification on him, but in his pockets were found an unused second-class rail ticket from the city to a nearby beach, an Army Club cigarette packet (containing a different brand of cigarettes – which in itself is unusual), a used bus ticket from the city centre, a narrow aluminium American comb, a quarter-full box of Bryant & May matches, a hanky and half a packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
He was dressed very fashionably for the time, wearing a singlet and jockey shorts, a white shirt with a narrow, red, white and blue tie, a brown knitted jumper, a brown double-breasted suit coat, socks and highly polished brown shoes. Which was all very well and good, but totally inappropriate for the weather. He was dressed for mid-winter, when in fact, it was the middle of summer.
In attempting to identify the body, the two newspapers in Adelaide posted a photograph of him. That’s when 251 people came out of the woodwork, and claimed to know who he was. Every single lead was squashed by trivialities, such as that he couldn’t possibly be the woodcutter “Mr Walsh” as it was abundantly clear by the state of his hands that he had not cut wood in at least eighteen months. The only real, good clue they had to his identity was the expensive clothing he wore.
Police thought a breakthrough had occurred when the Adelaide Railway station found a suitcase in the station cloakroom. It had been checked in after 11am on 30 November and was assumed to have belonged to the dead man. It contained many things of interest, including clothing, shaving kits, a screwdriver, an American comb and a stencilling brush - among others.
There was also “Keane” mentioned on a laundry bag, and “Kean” on a singlet.
It is believed that whoever removed the tags did so purposefully and left the “Keane” tags on, knowing full well that the dead mans name was NOT Keane… yes, quite sordid.
A Big Twist
In a bizarre twist, a week before the inquest, a man who wished to remain anonymous came forward to advise he had found a copy of the first edition of the book “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” in the back seat of his unlocked car. At the time, his car had been parked in Jetty Road Glenelg, about a week or two before the body was found. Tests authenticated that the paper had been removed from this copy of the book.
There was also some handwritten text on the back of the book. This text is now referred to as ‘The Taman Shud Code’ (although the proper spelling is 'Tamam Shud' for some reason most places go with the mispelling). It remains unbroken to this day, so if you fancy yourself a code breaker, see if you can make anything of this:
W [or possibly M] RGOABABD
MLIAOI (crossed out)
The father, Keith, was sent to a psychiatric hospital after medical treatment from exposure. Apparently both father and son had been missing for four days and it was estimated that young Clive had been dead for 24 hours. They were found by a man named Neil McRae who claimed he had seen where they would be in a dream the previous night.
During the autopsy, the coroner could not find a cause of death for Clive, but did rule out natural causes.
The boy’s mother, Roma, reported that she had been threatened by a man wearing a mask. This man was driving a cream car and he nearly ran her down outside her home. The car stopped, a man with a khaki handkerchief over his face yelled at her to 'keep away from the police or else.’ Roma fully believed that the entire situation, of being threatened, of her son’s death and her husband’s psychiatric state were all related to her husband’s attempt to identify the Somerton Man. Perhaps he got a little too close?
The secretary of the Largs North Progress Association also received telephone calls, threatening that Roma Mangnoson would ‘meet with an accident’ if he interfered at all. And the acting Mayor of Port Adelaide also received three anonymous phone calls, stating that an ‘accident’ would occur if he ‘stuck his nose into the Mangnoson affair’.
Although the police suspect the phone calls to be a hoax, you never do know! The coincidences are great.
Burial and One Final Thing...
“Here lies the Unknown Man, who was found at Somerton Beach, 1 Dec. 1948.”
Theories range from him being a spy, to a mobster, and anywhere in between. Was he Australian? American? We will never know.
Could it be that it was H. C. Reynolds who has created so much intrigue over these past 65 years?
Put together by Ashley Hall 2013