Carl ‘Charles’ Webb’s prisoner-of-war brother bars resemblance to Somerton Man – Michmutters

Carl ‘Charles’ Webb’s prisoner-of-war brother bars resemblance to Somerton Man

As researchers try to piece together Carl Webb’s life, it has been revealed his older brother — who bore a striking resemblance to the Somerton Man — died a prisoner of war.

Last week, University of Adelaide researcher Derek Abbott made a breakthrough in the case that has baffled detectives for decades, identifying the mysterious Somerton Man as Melbourne electrical engineer Carl “Charles” Webb.

Carl Webb’s birth certificate shows he was born on November 16, 1905, in Footscray and had five older siblings named Russell, Freda, Gladys, Doris and Roy.

According to his service record, held by the National Archives of Australia, Roy Webb enlisted in the Australian military in July 1940 and served in the 2/29th Battalion.

Somerton Man
The man dubbed the “Somerton Man” was found dead on an Adelaide beach in 1948.

He became one of the many causalities of World War II in 1943.

When he joined the army, he was 35 years old, living in Carnegie with his wife Ruby and working as a “car driver”.

His record states he disembarked in Singapore on August 23, 1941, and was reported missing in February 1942 before being confirmed as a prisoner of war in Malaya in September 1943.

Roy Webb’s will, which is included in the archives, was witnessed by his sister Freda Keane and her husband Gerald Keane, of East Brunswick, Victoria, in 1940.

Some of the contents of the suitcase believed to belong to the Somerton Man.
“T Keane” was found printed on some of the Somerton Man’s personal belongings. (Supplied: Derek Abbott)

Gerald Keane’s full name was Thomas Gerald Keane and the Somerton Man was found with “T Keane” printed on his tie.

Keane was also found printed on other personal items in a suitcase that was uncovered in the cloakroom of the Adelaide Railway Station in January 1949.

It had been checked in the day before an unidentified man’s body was discovered on Somerton Beach in January 1948, and police suspected it belonged to him.

Professor Abbott believes Carl Webb’s clothes were hand-me-downs from his brother-in-law, who lived just 20 minutes’ drive from his home in Melbourne.

The body of the unknown man found on the beach at Somerton.
Mystery has surrounded the identity of the Somerton Man for decades. (Supplied: Derek Abbott)

Professor Abbott said the photo of Roy Webb in his service record revealed a resemblance between the two brothers.

“It appears to be a reasonable resemblance,” he said.

“The general shape of the face is the same, the hair line is the same.”

Roy Webb’s eye color is listed as hazel, the same as The Somerton Man’s.

Wednesday is your chance to ask the experts how they cracked the Somerton Man case — and why it has attracted so much attention. Join our live Q&A blog from 12pm AEST.

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