Ep 33: Tamam Shud – The Somerton Man Mystery


Photo Gallery:


1) X Marks the Spot where The Somerton Man was Found. Crippled Children’s Home in the Background. 2) Autopsy Photo 1, taken after he’d been frozen for quite some time. 3) Autopsy Photo 2. 4) John ‘Barb’ Dwyer, the man who performed the Autopsy. 5) The Somerton Man’s fingerprints. 6) After Jack Lyons saw the body, a young couple called Gordon Strapps and Olive Neill saw the man on the evening of the 30th Nov 1948 , apparently still alive. 7) The Tamam Shud paper found in TSM’s fob pocket. 8) Neil Day was one of the Jockeys who first discovered the dead body early in the morning on 1st Dec 1948. The other jockey was Horace “Horrie” Patching. 9) The Suitcase and its contents. 10) A close-up of some of the suitcase contents. 11) TSM’s funeral. 12) The Adelaide Police Station (new building since 1948). 12) same 13) The cipher or code found in the back of The Rubaiyat in Mr. Francis’ car. 14) Jestyn ‘Jo’ Thomson and her son Robin Thomson circa 1948. 15) The Royal Adelaide Hospital where he was taken but not admitted. 16) same 17) The Adelaide Train Station where his suitcase was left and he purchased the unused ticket to Henley Beach. 18-21) same 22) Robin Thomson during his impressive career as a ballet dancer. 23) Robin Thomson 24) Parkside Mental Hospital were a man claiming to know who TSM was was committed after his 1 year old son was found dead. 25) The Cemetery where TSM is buried. 26-28) TSM’s grave. 29) A technician works to extract hair for DNA testing from the police bust. 30) A portrait commissioned by Professor Derek Abbott that shows what TSM might have actually looked like. – Modern Day Adelaide photos courtesy of photographer Ben Abercrombie, All Rights Reserved. Other photos are public record or provided by Professor Derek Abbott.



Of the six questions — who, what, when, where, how and why — we only know three when it comes to the mystery of “The Somerton Man.” What and where: a middle-aged man found dead on Somerton Beach, which borders the Adelaide, Australia, suburb of Glenelg. When: he was found by passersby at 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 1948. As for the remaining questions, authorities, academics, authors, Australians and curious citizens the world over have been seeking answers ever since. The mundane yet mysterious items found on his person and in an unclaimed suitcase (thought to be his) at the Adelaide railway station would yield few clues and many more questions. He had no wallet or identification, and all the tags on his clothing were meticulously removed. Investigators had virtually nothing to go on, except for one intriguing thing: a scrap of paper torn from the last page of a first edition translation of eleventh-century poetry, the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam, which was found rolled up in the man’s watch pocket. On it were the words, “Tamám Shud,” meaning “ended” or “finished” in Persian, and giving this mystery its other renowned moniker: “The Tamám Shud Case.” When the book from which the page was torn surfaced some time later, there appeared to be an unbreakable coded message written on one of the last pages. Further adding to the mystery, there was the assessment by a senior pathologist that the victim most likely died from an untraceable poison. Whether “The Somerton Man” was just a napping tourist with a degenerative disease, a jilted lover out to end it all, or a Cold War spy whose mission had been terminated, we may never know.

This is Part 1 of our our 3 Part in-depth series on The Somerton Man

Tonight’s Quote:

‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days

Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:

Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

And one by one back in the Closet lays.

A selected quatrain from Edward Fitzgerald’s 1st edition translation of theRubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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Episode 033 – “The Somerton Man” Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers. Copyright Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess 2016. All Rights Reserved.