Identifying the ‘Somerton Man’

Professor Derek Abbott from the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, University of Adelaide, provided a fascinating lunchtime presentation on the unsolved mystery of the “Somerton Man’ to around 30 members.

Professor Derek Abbott

Professor Abbott outlined the evidence obtained by the police when the body was found on Somerton Beach in 1948. He said that the’ Somerton Man’ is the only unidentified body in the Australian Police Records.

He told of new evidence obtained  by modern forensics and showed how ‘evidence’ could not be collected because of  the public’s right  to be protected when the police cannot declare that a crime has been committed.

The story..

*the male body seen on the beach by a ‘canoodling’ couple  (was he dead or  alive 24 hours before he was found?)

* labels removed from the clothing on the body (when and by whom?)

* his luggage left at Adelaide Railway Station, also with all clothing labels removed (when and by whom; before or after death?)

*  the unused train ticket

* the woman (her phone number/her son/his..?)

* coded letters on a scrap of paper (not decoded to this day, despite the resources of the World Wide Web)

* police records destroyed

* the words Taman Shud, meaning ‘this is the end’, found written on a scrap of paper on the body

And many many  more intriguing details!

Altogether a thrilling detective true story and greatly appreciated by the audience who had their own theories and ideas to share!

One comment from a Pioneer, ‘Most of us, I think, wish the ‘Somerton Man’ could be accorded the dignity of a Name!

Post Script

Our own researcher, Councillor Robert Allan questions the statement  ‘the Somerton Man is the only unidentified body in Australia’s history.

He quotes from EAD Opie’s book “South Australian Records Prior to 1841” p.104,

‘On Oct. 17 1840  A  man, aged 17 years, unknown was found dead. Buried at West Terrace Cemetery’.

‘On Dec. 31 1840 A man, aged 30 years, unknown killed at Hindmarsh. Buried at West Tce. Cemetery’.

Councillor Allan, with the help of, as he says, Miss Marple, will continue his investigations!

Report by Jill Davy

EDITOR’S NOTE: A more detailed article containing Professor Abbott’s and his students’ work on the case can be viewed by clicking here.

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About Pioneers Association of South Australia Inc

The Pioneers Association of South Australia Incorporated was founded in 1935 with the primary objective to perpetuate the memory of the pioneers of early settlement in South Australia.
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One Response to Identifying the ‘Somerton Man’

  1. petebowes says:

    You may be interested in this account -http://petebowes.com/2012/11/25/the-somerton-man-their-best-soldier/

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