Sailor spills beans on Buster Crabbe

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by oldbaldy, Nov 16, 2007.

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  1. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    I wonder how much he got from the film makers? :roll:
  2. I'd be astonished of the late Cdr Crabb was actually setting a mine.

    listening device, maybe; but blowing up the Sovs could possibly be taken as a teeny weeny act of War.
  3. I must admit I raised an eyebrow at the "planting a mine" bit, why would an RN officer be planting a mine on a Soviet ship in 1956?

    Sounds like we have someone wanting to clear their conscience (sp) but very aware that he lives in a country that still doesn't like people putting the government in a bad light. So by implying that Buster Crabbe was planting a mine it legitimises his actions.

    bag of Bollox IMHO
  4. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    I think it's quite likely that the Soviets might have thought he was planting a mine whereas, if my hazy memory serves, he had simply been sent to inspect the hull of a warship which was thought to be somewhat technologically advanced. Again, if my hazy memory serves, Crabb was by then an alcoholic in poor physical shape who was a very weak swimmer when not in his diving gear. Having his throat cut might explain why his head subsequently came off.
  5. Anyway, RIP Cdr Crabb.
  6. Did he also slit his wrists?

    "On 9th June 1957, a headless body in a frogman suit was discovered floating off Pilsey Island. As the hands were also missing it was impossible to identify it as being that of Lionel Crabb His former wife inspected the body and was unsure if it was Crabb His girlfriend, Pat Rose, claimed it was not him but another friend, Sidney Knowles, said that Crabb, like the dead body, had a scar on the left knee. The coroner recorded an open verdict but announced that he was satisfied the remains were those of Crabb."

    IF he was after the ship – but not to blow it up on our doorstep :roll: – and the Reds got him, just disappear him on board? If they wanted to ‘send a message’, why de-ident the body? De-ident it as a ‘terror’ tactic – utter balls, might frighten an Ubangi goat-herder. IF the Reds got Crabb, like the downed U2 pilot he would have been show-trialed. :wink:

    The gravy train rolls on:
    "For decades, the conspiracy theories have gone in several directions: a) that Crabb was sent by MI6 to inspect the Ordkhonikidze and died; b) that Crabb was duped into diving under the Ordkhonikidze by the Russians, who wanted to capture him for his diving expertise; c) that Crabb happily defected and spent the rest of his life working for the Russian Navy in the Black Sea; or d), the story suggested by Crabb's fiancée, Patricia Rose, that the Russians wanted Crabb to defect and that MI6 encouraged him to but then deserted him as a patriotic double agent, longing to come home. We think this is a sensible stab at the facts."
    Times article a year ago:

    And, what did the post-mortem state? Cause of death and amputation or mutilation? OK, so body in the sea the head’s usually the first to go (eventually), but the hands???

  7. According to Peter Wright in his autobiography, Buster Crabbe was sent to survey the Ordzhonikidze Hull paying particular interest to the Propeller.

    His disappearance was initially put down to his physical condition which was somewhat out of shape, and the considered feeling was that he may have had a heart attack.

    Peter Wright alleges that the Russians had made approaches to the Admiralty to ask about "the frogman" long before a body actually turned up.
  8. I well remember the headline at the time...........
    'Admiralty Demands Crabbe Probe'.
  9. I thought i had read somewhere that he had been shot by a Russian marksman who had seen a suspicious shadow in the water by the boat. Could be wrong though !...
  10. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    According to his WWII diving partner on The Today programme tonight, this Russian chap is spouting tosh.

    He has written his own memoires in which he puts forward his theory, but has yet to find a publisher!
  11. That has been one explanation, that a Soviet sailor with a rifle that fired subsonic ammunition (why, there is no explanation) shot him in the head when he surfaced with difficulties, and that his head came apart as a result. There was also another theory at the time that the ship ran its propellers and that took his head off, but again, its all theory.

    There was an interesting article on this in Eye Spy magazine a couple of years ago. It may turn up online in a search.
  12. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

  13. Seems in the light of Philby & co and various planes, subs, satellites etc including ‘smart’ rocks, little point in cloaking such 50 year old events? Where is any National Security/foreign relations problem? Who would/could be embarrassed? Who’s playing puerile games?

  14. Think the fellow MIGHT be telling the truth, "after his lights", but - of course - does not know the whole story.

    My theory: Crabbe was killed whilst attempting to attach some sort of monitoring device to the Soviet ship's hull. The Soviets DID train teams of divers specifically to counter this type of threat against their ships when berthed in foreign waters: given the context of the visit to Portsmouth - height of Cold war paranoia, plus the general paranoia of all Soviet leaders! - I think it unlikely that such a team would not have been on board, and certainly would have been deployed at the slightest hint of anything suspicious.

    Having killed Crabbe, they let the body drift: why wouldn't they? Not their problem, but a huge problem for their hosts.

    Crabbe's corpse was subsequently recovered by those who'd ordered the operation, and the mutilation was done to "muddy the waters"/ create uncertainty, which was certainly achieved.

    This is, I stress, ONLY MY THEORY, and I make no special claims - it could be totally wrong! It is, however, a theory entirely consistent with the few established facts of the case.

    This outcome suited both sides - each would have had more to lose than gain by disclosure of anything specific. Disclosure now - under the guise of "old man easing his conscience" etc, and "spiced up" with the dubious assertion that the wicked Brits were attempting to blow up a Soviet warship sends a number of messages of potential utility to Putin:

    1. We're prepared to be "open" about past events - all, of course, in the name of historical veracity!

    2. Given recent accusations of nefarious acts by our intelligence services in Georgia, London, and elsewhere, it's as well to be reminded that everyone can play dirty. In short, stop being so self-righteous.

    3. Don't ever forget that when push comes to shove, the Russian state will stop at nothing to protect its interests - even in your back garden.