By Alan Hamill
Why was the Somerton Man in Adelaide? What happened on Somerton Beach?
Can Charlie really be the “Somerton Man” or is there a glitch in that thinking?
Coroner Thomas Erskine Cleland
How incisive was Coroner Cleland?
In his findings of 1958 (which were adjourned as “Sine Die” – to be resumed at some date in the future if further evidence was found) he made the following statement:-
“I have been discussing the circumstances on the footing that the body found on the morning of the 1st December was that of the man seen in the evening of the 30th November. But there is really no proof that this was the case. None of the three witnesses who speak of the evening of the 30th saw the man’s face, or indeed any part of his body that they can identify. If the body of the deceased was not that of the man mentioned and if the body had been taken to the place where it was found, the difficulties disappear. If this speculation, for it is nothing more, should prove to be correct, the original assumption that it was the deceased who left the suitcase at the luggage room, bought the rail and bus ticket, removed the clothing tabs, and put the printed words “Tamam Shud” in a pocket, would require revision.
The evidence is too inconclusive to warrant a finding.”
I provide to you here a case to support the coroner’s remarks (above) and that there was a man murdered.
When “Breaker” Morant and Peter Handcock were tried and executed during the Second Boer War, there was no longer the opportunity for compassionate despatch on the front line. No more offering your broken mate his pistol, putting it into his hand and turning away briefly.
There had to be an alternative found that wouldn’t lead to the courtroom again, and it turned out to be something readily available to the Vets on the frontline.
Question :- How to provide a story for Carl Webb to be seen to have died, yet for him to get to freedom and anonymity?
Answer :- Replace him with Alexander Arthur Dowling.
All Carl “Charlie” Webb has to do is to show up and model for the plaster bust. Then he can disappear.
Alexander Arthur Dowling was drugged using a treatment the medical practitioners were experimenting with at the time. And it was supplied by a few members of the famous Light Horse Regiments to the Army Medical Corps.
Alex Dowling was given an injection of Equine Blood Cultivated Anti-Tetanic Serum that was used in abundance in war to treat injured horses. He would have been injected with a dosage possibly as much as 25 times higher than the recommended rate for a horse, and it would have been injected into the sunburnt upper thigh front on one or other of his legs, then he would be left on Somerton Beach near the steps in a state similar to being drunk.
The Serum was known to cause brain lesions to form and cause incapacity and yet be totally undetectable using any of the tests available at the time. There would be no reaction to it in any other organ other than what was already in existence prior to administration of the Serum.
It may even cause the recipient to exhibit the same signs as a Polio affliction without the ugly side affects such as vomiting, and others. It could easily be mis-diagnosed as Polio.
The first time this Serum was publicly outed was with the death of a 40 year old woman in 1933 who’s death in Adelaide Hospital was examined by an Assistant Coroner who listed death by an unknown cause, although he knew of the injection of more than 40,000 IUs of this serum and there were no other health issues found in the woman. The attending Doctors were known but exonerated.
As a further demonstration of medical experimentation, in 1934 a 19 year old woman died after surgery inside the Adelaide Hospital. A Coroner’s Inquiry found that the healthy woman was operated on, on several areas of her body, for no logical or apparent reason. The Coroner found causation as murder by persons unknown yet it was done inside Adelaide Hospital (as mentioned previously) and no persons were interviewed in relation to this murder. There were at least 4 other cases of dubious circumstances ignored in 1934.
The rough sewing on many parts of the Somerton Man’s beach clothing, and the thread and thread card, were left to draw attention to this experimentation and to name persons involved.
During experimentation with the Serum, the trainee and graduating doctors as well as the educators of Adelaide would meet almost weekly in the Piccadilly Restaurant at Birk’s Drapery Store on Rundle Street.
The Piccadilly Restaurant and adjoining Panel Room were also regular locations where bridge tournaments were held.
Cowan, Dwyer, Rice, Barbour, Birks, Cleland and McIntyre were some of the peoples’ names who were meeting regularly at the Piccadilly to discuss their work or other issues.
Alex Dowling was likely given the disabling (but not lethal) injection on the afternoon of November 30th 1948 probably at the Strathmore Hotel on North Terrace opposite the Adelaide Railway Station.
Then mid afternoon Alex Dowling was assisted from the Strathmore Hotel to the steps on Somerton Beach where he would rest and occasionally wave to locals using the beach. It was quite a warm afternoon.
Alex was placed near the steps, and not the ramp, to avoid implicating the Childrens’ Home.
After the sun set on the 30th of November (Tuesday) Alex was assisted back across the road to the Somerton Crippled Childrens’ Home as described by witnesses to Police. He was fed sustenance in the form of a Cornish Pastie or something similar after missing a meal or two.
The locals were well used to incapacitated people coming and going from the Somerton Crippled Childrens’ Home, whether on foot, in wheel chairs or carried and at all hours of the day and night. And more often than not, it was via the ramp instead of the steps. Adults were also accommodated, where circumstances allowed it, to possibly contain an outbreak of some illness or other.
Visitors came and went at will.
Then sometime between approximately midnight and 2.00am on December 1st 1948 Alex Dowling was given a course of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), although the administration of this course was different, as the operator held the unit’s dial mid return for about 4 minutes which allowed continuous current to flow and caused Alex’s heart to seize and stop.
His clothes were changed, as the earlier ones were wet and slightly dirty. He was cleaned up, redressed and manicured extensively. This was to make him look like the dapper Carl Webb.
All players then paused and waited for the high tide across the road to peak and begin to fall. Alex’s body was then wheeled across the road, down the ramp, and placed on Somerton Beach in the exact same position as the evening before. This activity took place about 5.45am and he was left where he was to be found by the jockeys at around 7.00am.
I provide a copy of “Police Reports To The Coroner” number 1948/433 of the details surrounding the death of Alexander Arthur Dowling, whose body washed up on Semaphore Beach and was located about 6.00pm on Saturday 4th December.
Constable Comley recommended to Coroner Cleland that an inquest was “deemed unnecessary” when he submitted the paperwork that was so hurriedly prepared.
Dowling’s wife had died earlier after being in an institution for some time, all his parents had died and his children had disowned him for not paying two maintenance orders for which he served 1 year imprisonment.
Alexander Arthur Dowling was 5’ 10½” tall. He was a white male Caucasian. He had brown hair greying at the sides and his eyes were grey. He was reportedly well dressed, and witnesses reported brown striped trousers, when he waved to them on Tuesday afternoon. He was 58.
Alex was the person/body witnesses reported as raising his arm on Tuesday 30th November at 7.00pm.
Does Alex’s description sound familiar? Unless you had a good study of him up close both he and Carl Webb could be passed off as twins, just a touch older. And when the authorities arrived they placed a jumper/cardigan over his face supposedly as a sign of dignity to the passed.
Alex’s second pair of trousers in the morning were not striped, as witnesses had reported the evening before.
Soon after being found about 7.00 am by the jockeys, his life was proclaimed extinct by an attending doctor Dr A Cherry. Alex Dowling’s body was taken to the City Mortuary in North Terrace in the presence of P. C. Comley.
It is my belief that his body was collected soon after and taken back to a place where he could be “weathered” in the water by someone with impeccable knowledge of the tides and tidal flow, as the whole setup required Alex to be found on Semaphore Beach with his pockets loaded with ID documents so his identity couldn’t be mistaken.
After Alex’s body was removed from Semaphore Beach it was returned again the the City Mortuary.
Alex’s brother, William Henry Dowling, did the identification the next morning at 10.45am.
After William Dowling left the mortuary, from that time forward Alexander Arthur Dowling’s body would be nominated as Carl “Charles” Webb.
Charlie Webb then had only to be present for modelling of the plaster bust before disappearing to the UK.
On Tuesday 30th November the high tide occurred at 4.52pm followed by a low tide at 10.10pm so when the man was seen in the early evening he would be on a large area of sand well away from the water’s edge with his head and shoulders on the rocks.
However, if the same man was in this position at the next high tide at 4.34am on Wednesday 1st December he would have definitely been washed into the water as the high tide was 9’ and was at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up the rock wall near the steps.
If a person was to die at 2.00am and be found at the very same position in the morning (laying exactly the same as the evening before) and not have been washed away, he could only have arrived after the high tide had receded enough to get a section of sand exposed after about 5.45 to 6.15am
That would only leave about 1 1/4 hours to place a body that was already dead, and have been able to set up the cigarette on the ear/shoulder.
Alex Dowling was found damp but clean at 7.00am with particularly clean shoes. This would not be the case if he was present at the 4.34am high tide. Even if his clothes had dried sufficiently his pocket contents would be wet and falling apart. They weren’t.
And the dampness is just the wicking of the moisture from the sand travelling into the material of his clothing.
Sunrise was 4.55am.
*The reason I provide Report 1948/433 is for you to review it and I hope you come to the same conclusion that the statements given by Alfred Leonard Thorn, George Edward Francis Dowell and Harold (Harry) Adam Dick could not be correct given that their time stamps are impossible.
They state seeing, or drinking with, Alexander Arthur Dowling just hours before his body was found on the 4th of December although the Medical Examiner reports that A A Dowling had been in the water for several days as his body was de-laminating.
There was no clothing description mentioned in the Police Report.
The names and dates on several of these witness statements and the Police Report were wrong. The reports were carelessly done and rushed. I am amazed that Comley, Heaven, Sayers and Sutherland didn’t consider that the reports never lined up correctly.
Constable Comley seemed to be in quite a hurry to get this case out of the way. The case was closed and A A Dowling buried by the Australian Government less than 3 days after being found.
Or was he?
Maybe 2 or 3 bags of sand took his place in the AIF section of West Terrace Cemetery.
When Carl Webb’s wife Dorothy was living with Carl in Elsternwick, Victoria, they had a boarder before Carl moved away in 1947.
This boarder posted sales for used cars and other items at Carl Webb’s address and gave his contact name as George D.
Dorothy Webb and George Dowell were in Adelaide in November 1948.
Whoever planned it could have just sent Carl off and didn’t have to involve Alexander Arthur Dowling, so there is another reason this swap took place.
Alexander Arthur Dowling had been residing in Military Repatriation Hospitals around Adelaide and Jessica would have known him previously. But in the months before he was washed up on Semaphore Beach he had been using parks and camping grounds for cover while sleeping.
Was there a practice in Adelaide at the time to “put the poor thing out of his misery”?
Someone who definitely had an axe to grind was Dorothy Webb, and her father was implicated by something Carl had in his pocket.
Dorothy’s father was John Comber Robertson, so I suggest John and one other was nominated as complicit by the combs.
Some time after about 6.30pm on Tuesday November 30th 1948, in front of the Somerton Crippled Childrens’ Home, Alexander Arthur Dowling was assisted to this position on the beach. He was alive for some time during the evening as he lifted his arm.
Some time after about 5.45am on the morning of Wednesday December 1st 1948, in front of the Somerton Crippled Childrens’ Home, Alex Dowling was deposited in this same position on the beach. He was not alive as he had been killed between midnight and 2.00am on this same morning, and set up exactly the same as the night before. He couldn’t have been left before high tide at 4.34am as he too would have been washed away.
Just to illustrate how quickly the authorities moved to have Alexander Arthur Dowling disappear, his funeral notice appeared in the Adelaide papers already lodged and delivered on Tuesday December 7th although the Police only sign off on the Police Report as “Inquest Deemed Unnecessary” during office hours of the same Tuesday December 7th and the funeral takes place in the early afternoon of the same day.
However, there is still a further twist!
Alexander Arthur Dowling was not the final body lodged for interment in the paupers grave in West Terrace Cemetery on Tuesday 14th June 1949. To finish this story as to who was interred, go to H C Reynolds was a local lad! (#11)
Aaghaz – Tamam ………. (#go to Home Page)
Aaghaz 1930’s – Tamam 1980’s (#1) ……… click here.
A foggy day in Old London Town (#2) ………. click here.
Hiding in plain sight (#3) ………. click here.
Just letters? Nope! They’re a message! (#4) ………. click here.
Care for a walk on the beach dear? (#5) :- click ………. here.
Imagine, one day we’ll use power from the sun! (#6) :- ………. click here.
The Hands of a Sous Chef! (#7) :- ………….click here.
Is that lipstick on your collar Chuck? No, it’s all my blood! (#8) :- .. click here.
H C Reynolds was a local lad! (11) :- ………….click here.
More pages and posts will be here soon ………… click here
Hey Ronald, the Medics have come to clean up your town again! (#) :- …click next.
Back in the day, my mates at the 8th Light Horse would’ve taken care of it. (#) :- …click next.
I’ll open our orders Mr Bickford? Yes Colonel. (#) :- …click next.
If you need Barbour, Birks and Cleland, they’re down at Piccadilly. (#) :- …click next.
Tumby Bay Retirement Home – Hurry, it’s in great demand! (#) :- …click next.
A new Sheriff comin’ to town. And he’s one of yours! (#) :- …click next.
The Hatfields v The McCoys v Who wins? (#) :- …click next.
The gardener’s job at Wolston Park? NO WAY! (#?) :- ………. click soon.
Nothin’ leaves here with tags! OK? Nothin’! SIR, YES SIR. (#?) :- ..click soon.
Could I get some more diallers please Jimmy? (#) :- …click next.
Jessie and Tiny Tina? (#?) :- ………. click soon.
When Jessica meets Dorothy! Hello! (#?) :- ………. click next.
You’re a loose cannon Dwyer! Lt Col (Dr) Matthew John (Barb) Dwyer ME. (#?) :- click ……….
So, Cleland and Bickford run the SAJC! There’s trouble! (#?) :- click ……….
She’s the poet, not me! (#?) :- click ……….
Boy, I’ve said it before! It’s for the greater good, the bigger picture! (#?) :- click ……….
Painter? Painter? I’m not after a Painter! (#?) :- click ……….
I’ll let you know at the Lodge meeting tonight? (#?) :- click ….
Need a car, false statement, new wife, or.. ? (#?) :- click ……….
Now? But I’ve only done half my task! (#?) :- click ……….
The Snake Group (#?) :- click ……….
My Ol’ Kentucky home! (#?) :- click ……….
Meet the Curr Sisters! (#?) :- click ……….
Get out of jail free card. Was it handed down after ’66? (#?) :- click ……….
So, you both work at a Bank? Which Bank? (#?) :- click ……….
Everything in his pocket had a reason to be there! (#?) :- click ……….
When is a tie not a tie? When it’s a tie! (#?) :- click ……….
Flowers for the mother of my Grandson! (#?) :- click ……….
May I offer you a Kensitas Frank, my MI6 friend? (#?) :- click ……….
Was Pakie my aunty, mum? (#?) :- click ……….
Neighbours! Everybody needs good neighbours! (#?) :- click ……….
The Mail Truck is always on time! (#?) :- click ……….
Allow me to replace your ribbon! (#?) :- click ………
Pie Floater? No, a Gibbs Super Pastie please! (#?) :- click ………
You met my brother Wednesday! (#?). :- click ….
Comb your hair please, both of you! (#?) :- click ….
To backtrack and brush up on what this case is about, go to Wikipedia here
Some relevant reading that is on the same search path :-
The Unknown Man by G. M. (Gerry) Feltus 2010 ISBN 978-0-646-54476-2
Tamam Shud – The Somerton Man Mystery by Kerry Greenwood 2012 ISBN 9781742233505
City Of Evil by Sean Fewster 2018 ISBN 978-0-7336-2883-2
Spies and Sparrows by Phillip Deery 2022 ISBN 9780522878301
The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair 2021 ISBN 9781489296931
Actors Blood by Alastair Duncan 2004 ISBN 978 0 9751510 4 5
The Bookmaker From Rabaul by Peter Bowes 2016 ISBN-13 978-0995430211
You could also view some of the more relevant blogs listed below!
Tamam Shud / Somerton Man – Cipher Mysteries
University of Adelaide Wiki page
TAMAM SHUD The Somerton Man Mystery
Identifying the Somerton Man | Facebook
(Note – The site or sites may require subscription, or joining the site, to load fully)
To backtrack and brush up on what this case is about, go to Wikipedia here