Unsolved Mysteries: Tamám Shud

The Riddle of Australia’s “Unknown Man” on Somerton Beach

Michael East
Nov 8, 2020 · 49 min read

The Body on the Beach

Image of the unknown dead man found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide, on the morning of 1 December 1948. | Australian Police File, Public Domain
Location on Somerton beach where the corpse of The Somerton Man was found, marked by an ‘X’. | Australian Police File, Public Domain
Fingerprints taken from the Somerton Man | Newsltd

The Breakthrough

Items, including wax thread, belonging to the Somerton Beach man. | The Advertiser library
The dead man’s suitcase contained “expensive belongings” indicating the man had “lived well”, according to detectives pictured with the case and his belongings | The Advertiser
Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury, Harry Dexter White (left) and John Maynard Keynes, honorary advisor to the U.K. Treasury at the inaugural meeting of the International Monetary Fund’s Board of Governors in Savannah, Georgia, U.S., March 8, 1946. | International Monetary Fund, Public Domain

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Part of the note reading ‘’Tamam Shud’’ which translates as ‘’it is finished’’ in Persian. | The Advertiser
Helpless Pieces of the Game he Plays — Adelaide Hanscom and Blanche Cumming, the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám | Public Domain
This is a quatrain illustration by Edmund J. Sullivan to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, First Version (translated by Edward Fitzgerald) | Public Domain
Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn
In flowing Purple, of their Lord Forlorn;
Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs reveal'd
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Verse 33)
Hellmut Horace Hendon | Geni.com
The dead man’s copy of the Rubaiyat, from a contemporary press photo.
The book with the torn scrap | Australian Police File, Public Domain
This is a police scan of the handwritten code found in the back of a copy of The Rubiayat of Omar Khayyam, believed to belong to the dead man, found in the back of a car in Glenelg, 1 December 1948 | Australian Police File, Public Domain

Coincidences

Alf Boxall, 1942 | Public Domain
Alf Boxall’s copy of the Rubáiyát with an inscription by Jo Thomson | https://tamamshud.blogspot.com

Ghosts of the Past

Alf Boxall’s War

Xavier Herbert, 1938 | State Library of NSW, Pictures and Manuscripts, Public Domain
The Australian Abo Call, a fascist published newspaper, April 1938 | Public Domain
Stephensen in Sydney, Australia, circa 1934. | State Library of New South Wales, Public Domain
The best horsemen and horsebreakers of the 2/1st North Australia Observers Unit (NAOU) mounted on their horses tidy up their parade ground drill before inspection | Public Domain
Xavier Herbert during his time in the Nackeroos

Pakie’s Club

A corner of Pakie’s Club. The brickwork was multicoloured, with the chairs in reds, greens and yellows. The poster on the wall is for one of the Club’s monthly “international” nights. | https://redthebook.blog
Whitcombe and Tombs had a particular style, publishing Bartlett Adamson’s first book, Twelve Sonnets, in 1918
Elihu Vedder — The Suicide, Illustration for Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám | Public Domain
Phillipines Tribune May 20, 1937
There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.
Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur'd—"While you live,
Drink!—for once dead you never shall return."
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Verses 32 and 34)
Smith’s Weekly, Sat 22 Jun 1946

Obstacles

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore—but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence a-pieces tore.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Verse 94)

Cold Case Warmed Up

Burial of the Somerton Man on 14 June 1949. By his grave site is Salvation Army Captain Em Webb, leading the prayers, attended by reporters and police. From left to right are: Unknown, Captain Em Webb, Laurie Elliot, Bob Whitington, Unknown, S. C. Brice, police sergeant Scan Sutherland, Claude Trevelion. | Australian Police File, Public Domain
A photographic reconstruction of the body found on Somerton Beach, released by police in 1948 which clearly shows the ears | Australian Police File, Public Domain
US-issued seaman’s identification card of British man H. C. Reynolds, one of the men believed to potentially be the Somerton Man. Note, the appearance of a cleft chin is a mark on the card.
In 2020, Canada-based special effects artist Daniel Voshart created new images of what the Somerton Man would have looked like in life for Abbott. There is a clear likeness to H. C. Reynolds.

A Final Revelation?

Satellite launch vehicle Europa-1 set for launch from Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia in 1966 | National Archives of Australia.

Tamám Shud

Tombstone of The Somerton Man found at Somerton Beach | Bletchley, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Verse 26)

The Curse of Omar Khayyám

All Those Mentioned in This Article

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Michael East

Written by

Freelance writer. Writing on true crime, mysteries, politics, history, and more. | https://linktr.ee/MichaelEast

The Mystery Box

A publication about unsolved mysteries from the deep ocean to space and from antiquity to present day.

Michael East

Written by

Freelance writer. Writing on true crime, mysteries, politics, history, and more. | https://linktr.ee/MichaelEast

The Mystery Box

A publication about unsolved mysteries from the deep ocean to space and from antiquity to present day.

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