Six Questions with Pete Bowes: Investigative Researcher of the Somerton Man and Writer

But helpless pieces in the game He plays Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days He hither and thither moves, and checks ... and slays Then one by one, back in the Closet lays

But helpless pieces in the game He plays
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days
He hither and thither moves, and checks … and slays
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays

Since being introduced to the mystifying case of the Somerton Man, Pete Bowes has ardently worked on amassing as much information as he can find on the matter. He passionately seeks answers to the most elusive questions concerning the puzzling death of the unidentified man found in 1948 on Somerton Beach. It is this type of determination that keeps the mystery active; and Pete’s dedication may bring a vital clue to the surface. One never knows if it just might be the one to break the case!

Pete’s knowledge and enthusiasm on the circumstances also offers a fresh and lively atmosphere for anyone to pursue the trail.  I have been interested in the case myself for many years, and have often visited his site for any possible updates. I decided I should ask him Six Questions and I was so happy he gave me the following wonderful opportunity!  Enjoy!


  • 1Q)  The Somerton Man’s case is filled with captivating mystery.  Anyone who reads the circumstances surrounding this unidentified man’s death are sure to become intrigued.  When did you become hooked by this case’s numerous unanswered questions and what interested you most about it at this time?

I read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about three years ago. ‘Dead man on a busy beach, big calves, big thighs, curled in toes, no hat, no ID’ a small slip of paper in his pocket, a message in Persian – after a lifetime of John le Carre I jumped to the immediate conclusion that any hatless man, in a time when all men wore them, was involved in espionage. Then there was the code. I swallowed it all and started writing the same day.


  • 2Q)  The case consists of many entwining paths to investigate.  They seem to lead and end with more questions than answers, however. This makes finding any conclusive explanation seem unlikely and sometimes frustrating. I admire your dedication; it is commendable.  What do you feel keeps your interest?

It’s a grand puzzle. A massive jigsaw of facts that have never be joined into a lucid train of thought.


  • 3Q)  Do you have a most likely theory why the Somerton was killed or who he was?  And would you be willing to share some of it?  Or are you an organizer of facts and refrain from speculation; if that’s possible?  🙂

I’ve given up on the theories for now and am collecting all the known dates and events –  That means going through every blog I can find looking for pearls, something that can be authenticated. I have a database that can be queried on just about everything connected to the case.


  • 4Q) Much has been talked about the possible ‘code’ written ever so slight and noticed in the copy of the book of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam linked to the man.  Do you feel this code will ever be broken or what do you feel these last markings of a dead man might have represented or reveal?

The code looks impossible, but only because most people think it’s a message. I think it’s a ruminative list, done five times.


  • 5Q) From thoroughly going over all the information known about the case, what would you say is the most misunderstood piece of information?

Gerry Feltus’ book The Unknown Man. He has played a very cautious hand in writing it.



  • 6Q)  Since delving deep into the Somerton Man case, and seemingly enjoying the challenge of solving a mystery, have you become involved in any others?  If so, what are they?

No Jenny, this will be the only one.



Thanks for your answers, Pete!  But especially thanks for your continued efforts in keeping facts and possibilities on who this man may have been; how he may have died; what he might have been involved in; why he had left so few clues to his life, and all other questions which remain unanswered!  It certainly is a thrilling case with so many interesting directions to go in and your participation in the quest is valuable!

More of Pete’s fantastic writings and work can be found by visiting his websites:



Tamam Shud


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31 Responses

  1. Jenny Kile says:

    Here are a few other links to things, if interested, on the Somerton Man: (three part videos/interviews about the case) (book by GM Feltus)

    Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll post more on the Somerton Man….I’ve been having fun forming a theory….tenuous, but I love the paths it has been taking me on………I’m loving the Thrill of the Chase and journey….

  2. pete says:

    Thanks Jenny, there have been some developments in the last few weeks, but we’re keeping them under our hats for a little while while we dig deeper. The book ‘The Unknown Man’ written by Gerry Feltus, a retired Detective who worked on the case, is required reading. He was very cautious when he wrote it. The truth is in there, finding it is the challenge.

  3. Jenny Kile says:

    I love a challenge and the search for truth… this will be fun! But if I can’t find it….will you offer clues? 🙂

    I’m kidding…..I’ll see what I come up with…oh so very interesting, Pete. And exciting. Does it involve the code or just overall case?

  4. pete says:

    It’s a bit esoteric, and a clever way of hiding facts – but here is the latest.
    Maybe the timing was deliberate – you folks are reading it first, I only put it up today.

  5. Nate Beck says:

    Fascinating subject and interview. I am completely new to the Somerton Man mystery, but it’s right up my alley: mysterious death, hidden codes, espionage, spy’s life, intrigue etc.

    I look forward to exploring this more…

    Thanks to Jenny and Mr. Bowes

  6. pete says:

    It’s also a constant battle to keep the known facts clear .. everybody wants to mess them up. But I like a battle, been doing it for years in one place or another. Nice of you to come by Nate.

  7. Nate Beck says:

    Thanks Pete.

    I feel the same way to a certain extent, unless I know I’m completely outmatched lol. Battles help develop and strengthen a person’s character. Struggles and conflicts encountered and endured while on different quests for the truth are sometimes just as important as finding what we are looking for. Not to go into any details, but just recently I got shaken up over an encounter due to the possible danger involved. In these situations I worry for my friends and family primarily. We seekers must conduct ourselves very carefully along the way

    Thanks for the book recommendation, as I look forward to reading it. 🙂

    • Jenny Kile says:

      Thanks Pete! I love the work you and the others on your site are doing on the case. Lots going on!

      Because I’m most attracted to the code….the whole ‘scenario’s’ of how it was found is interesting…so is the ‘glove compartment’ story a fake or did the newspaper get the story wrong?

  8. Ramona says:

    I watched a video on you tube that the Somerton man may
    have been a spy. Love a mystery it makes one think.

  9. pete says:

    I reckon it’s fake Jenny, it’s supposed to be a cover story … but it looks very awkward given that the name ‘Mr. Francis’ is used and it is also the name of a bus conductor who found a Rubaiyat in his bus at the same time. Mr. Leslie Francis Wytkin.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      Hi Pete……Two Rubaiyats found…..both in connection to the name ‘Francis’………..both around the time of the Somerton’s Man death……does seem almost too coincidental even if the book was popular at the time. But it could be.

      Are you Australian’s known for leaving your books scattered about? Were there any other books in the lost and found? lol…..

      And is it listed what both versions were? I think it was said the one in the ‘glove compartment’ was Whitecomb’s… Is the other from the bus known? thanks

  10. pete says:

    Jenny, the cover story used by the police was that a rubaiyat was found in the back of a car parked by the beach at about the time the man was found dead. A Mr. Francis was mentioned as owning the car, a blue Hillman Minx, but seeing as how it was admitted as being a cover story both the name Francis, the circumstances and the car can be discarded.
    A bus conductor by name of Leslie Francis Wytkin reported to the police that he had found a rubaiyat in his bus at about the time the man was murdered. His bus was on a local Glenelg route, close to the beach where the man was found dead. He went on to say he placed the book with his lost property office immediately.
    Both the cover story and the Wytkin account were published in the same book by Gerry Feltus. I don’t believe his linking of the name ‘Francis’ in both incidents was accidental – I believe Wytkin’s account to be the truth and the police had the book for some considerable time. When it was finally produced there was one pencilled telephone number on the back. The telephone number was the one used by Jessica’s partner as his work number (he was a car salesman and advertised in the local papers). She answered the phone because she lived in the house.
    Wytkin’s book is the crux of the mystery.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      I need to read more about the theory of the car thieving ring and tools in the suitcase……but as Jessica/jestyn is known to have given a copy of the Rubaiyat to another gentlemen, and is also linked to the SM by way of that book, and the book has been linked to another mysterious death, I feel she was the intended person for the #. ??

      But I really need to spend more time and go over all these new details/possibilities you are sharing on your site……. You are doing a great job and it is keeping me busy!! lol….thanks Pete!

  11. pete says:

    Jenny, this is going to be nasty … without asking Google, can you tell me what you understand a ‘dead drop’ to be?
    We have to know this stuff, otherwise everybody is groping.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      If I would have answered before looking, I would have been a bit off. I see your point and if we want to connect the Somerton Man with spy activity, we have better understand their methods.

      The whole numerous Rubaiyat books seems too extreme to not at least consider the ‘spy angle’ with some serious consideration. Which I know many have and are doing.

      Thanks Pete…..will be having fun learning more about these things……

  12. pete says:

    Jenny, here’s another one. Have you ever heard of a pair of men’s trousers with a fob pocket too small to fit a finger?
    Seriously, this is a serious question. It’s one of those infuriating details that have got to be nailed down ..

  13. Jenny/Sixer says:

    How large of a man was Cleland? lol….

    But he could have wanted to use tweezers in order to be more careful with what he was pulling out; the slip of paper. Can you imagine this case without it? It is a crucial piece (one of the few pieces!) of evidence….well maybe. We at least like to think so…lol…

  14. pete says:

    Hiya Jen, this is from one of the horses’ mouths – some essential background but not too long.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Pete……I’m still voyaging….lol….. I see I have some catching up to do, though……thanks for keeping me in touch. And your book is sounding great…….

  15. pete says:

    Hold onto your hat, Jen, here comes the real story – online – chapter by chapter. We will go to remarkable lengths.

  16. pete says:

    An English speaking man arrived at the Strathmore Hotel on about the 27th of November and registered himself in for about three days. He carried nothing but a flute case. The case contained the flute’s cleaning needle but no flute. He did not stay overnight in the hotel but came in every day and waited in the lobby. He departed on about December 1.
    Another man arrived in Adelaide on about the 30th of November and was murdered. He was found to have seven Kensitas cigarettes in his Army Club packet.
    Two men. Two covert signs of identification. One murder.
    Refer to Ina Harvey’s account on page 197 of The Unknown Man, as told to Tom Loftus of The News.

    That’s about it, Jen – and it is why Professor Derek Abbott will never have the ear of the South Australian Government.
    The only thing left is to write a book about the matter. November this year, if all goes well.

  17. Kathryn says:

    Just found this discussion. Thanks. I find it rather curious. I will read the book before sending thoughts so that I am respectful of your work thus far.

  18. Pete says:

    The more the better, Kathryn, this mystery hasn’t been advanced for 67 years …….. until now.

    • Kathryn says:

      I wrote to Jenny on another link before seeing this one. It was in response to her not seeing a connection between this puzzle’s use of Omar Khayyam’s poem and Fenn’s use of the same poem. I wrote __ I see a connection. The poem is not about writing as in prose but about living life. When a life is spent, it cannot be changed by a greatness or by riches or by repentance. It is what it is. Generally, I think each capital letter represents a word and each line represents a sentence. It is a message about a secret plan. The line crossed out suggests that particular part of the plan needs to be changed and the slashed/marked letter means that event led to the demise of the code writer. I think the message was delivered to the intended individual(s). The problem is that I do not know if the language in code is English letters for an English translation or using English letters for sounds for an Arabic translation. As for the unusual editions, I think the edition number signals a phase for the plan to make the translation work. Perhaps a number of people were involved in something top secret. This is an interesting puzzle. Unfortunately, my Arabic sources are on a nonworking computer. __ Pete, I am working on getting the detective’s book. I look forward to becoming engrossed in this puzzle. I basically finished The Thrill of the Chase and believe that puzzle will end before 2016. This puzzle will be more challenging because there is no one from the “time period” giving away all of the clues through clue interpretation.

  19. Pete says:

    Kathryn, reading a couple of le Carre spy books wouldn’t hurt …. you can ask Jen what a Dead Drop is.

  20. Kathryn says:

    I will. I wonder if it has the same meaning as it did decades ago as a youngster.

  21. Pete says:

    The puzzle has been put together, the book will be available by Christmas. No problem, it only took four years and three rewrites.

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