Thursday, 16 September 2010
Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb, war hero, expert frogman, MI6 operative and cold warrior, dived into Portsmouth Harbour on the night of April 19th 1956 to examine the hull of the docked Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze and was never seen again.
Theories abound about Crabb’s disappearance, ranging from death by sonic death ray, the bullet of Soviet sniper or the sharp blade of either a Russian Navy frogman or an MI5 agent acting under orders to silence him before he defected. Some say that he didn’t die at all, but was instead spirited away to the USSR to be variously imprisoned, brainwashed or celebrated as one of the greatest double agents of all time.
Fourteen months after Crabb vanished, the headless and handless body of a man in a wet suit was founded washed up on Pilsey Island, just off the coast of Sussex. The ankles were ringed with rust where, it was presumed, they had been manacled.
Crabb’s ex-wife could not positively identify the body, nor could his girlfriend, and others pointed out that, even without a head, the corpse was too tall, too slim, too dark to be the short and stocky, brown haired Crabb, but, in the end, the Coroner ruled that, yes, the dismembered corpse was Crabb’s: after all, there can’t be that many horribly mutilated bodies of divers floating around in the English Channel, can there?
The exact details of Crabb’s fate may never be known, and most of the evidence is still top secret, not due to be released until 2057. Perhaps whoever is still alive and posting in 47 years time could provide an update?