In 1948 the body of a man was found on Somerton beach in Adelaide, Australia. The man was never identified. Police found a suitcase which they believed was his containing clothing in which all but three items had their name tags removed. The name on the remaining items pointed them to a man who was later identified as not being the dead man. A small note in the mans pocket said taman shud which is the last line of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It had been cut from a book. A doctor seeing the note on the TV contacted police to say that the book had appeared in the backseat of his unlocked car. It was the copy that had had the note removed. In the back of the book were coded markings which have not been able to be deciphered as yet: MRGOABABD MTBIMPANETP MLIABOAIAQC ITTMTSAMSTGAB A name in the front of the book led police to a woman who said she had given it to a man named Boxall during the Second World War. Upon seeing a plaster cast of the dead man she identified him as Boxall. This appeared to solve the mystery of who the man was, until Boxall was discovered alive with his copy of the book undamaged. Coincidentally the woman who identified the man lived in Glenelg the last town visited by the dead man before he travelled by bus to his final destination. The woman asked police not to record her name as she was married and wanted to avoid scandal they foolishly complied and her identity is now also unknown. This is considered to be one of Australias most profound mysteries. Wikipedia has extensive information on this fascinating case here. Most murders arent that difficult to solve. The husband did it. The wife did it. The boyfriend did it, or the ex-boyfriend did. The crimes fit a pattern, the motives are generally clear. Of course, there are always a handful of cases that dont fit the template, where the killer is a stranger or the reason for the killing is bizarre. Its fair to say, however, that nowadays the authorities usually have something to go on. Thanks in part to advances such as DNA technology, the police are seldom baffled anymore.
In 2001, Janet Fyffe-Yeomans published an article in the Australian Magazine called The Man with No Name about the 1948 Somerton Beach murder/suicide case.
There is a code attached to this case, one of the legendary uncracked codes of history. Janet didnt show a photograph of this code, she simply listed the letters. She missed out lines which seemed crossed out, namely MLIAOI and the letter X. This code was discovered under UV light in a copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which belonged to the dead man.
Her listing of the code was as follows:
I thought I recognized an alphabet substitution code, which I had seen how to break on the ABCs Codebreakers. I numbered the letters above to look for a recurring pattern. It is not a long note to find the pattern, but M occurs at 1 & 21, P at 15 and 20, T at 11 and 36 and 41, I at 23 and 28. This suggests they are using 5 ciphers.
I rearranged all the above letters in 5 columns, each column representing its own individual letter code. Fortunately the top 2 rows of letters add up to 20.
Next I took Column 1, MBTAMOCTT and allocated all 26 letter possibilities to it. I then did the same with column 2, RABNLAISG producing 676 possible combinations. However there are 9 sets of 5 letters to do comparisons with, so this is not quite as daunting as it seems. I was looking for words that made sense. Most combinations produced gibberish.
After multiple attempts I settled on column 1 M=P (add 3 letters to alphabet) column 2 R= O (minus 3 letters)Column 3 G=R (add 11letters) column 4 O= T (add 5 letters) and column 5 is uncoded(the letters are exactly as written.)
This results in, by substitution: PORTA
DKPYP (X goes in later, as an A))
Allowing for abbreviations, letter or even word reversal, and a looks like quality where M could be N, W an upside down M, B looks like E, Q like O, and Y like R with the loop closed and a tail.
Then the X, which looks crossed out but isnt, is put in as a column 1 X=A letter after DKPYP.
Hence my translation : PORT ADELAIDE EXAMINED. MY TRIP (did) PAY (to) DOCK (at )
PA (Port Adelaide) PLEASE FIT EXTRA OFFER. MAKE WAY TO PORT (&) LARGS RESERVE (&) SEMAPHORE, WILL DO LARGS (&) GRANGE.
The decoding of the last 10 letters is my interpretation as an old Adelaide boy, recognising that LR could be Largs Reserve, the only beach with a reserve in my childhood memory. It makes sense in terms of the task of sussing out Adelaide beaches (eg Henley, Somerton) on the day he died. The reason why he was sussing them out we can only speculate about.