Friday, November 16, 2007

The Mysterious Death of Buster Crabb

It was one of the great mysteries of the Cold War. Just what happened to the Royal Navy's highly-decorated Commander Lionel "Buster" Crabb, the frogman spy?

In 1956 Crabb was given a little job in Portsmouth harbour. Soviet leaders Nikita Kruschev and Marshall Nikolai Bulganan had arrived aboard the cruiser Ordzhonikadze on a state visit to Britain. The Royal Navy wanted a look at the underside of the cruiser and its escorts. On 17 April, 1956 Crabb and his colleague booked into a hotel in Old Portsmouth. The following day the Russian ships arrived. The day after that, Crabb failed to show up for breakfast and was never seen, alive, again.

The following June, a fishing boat found the badly decomposed body of a man in a diver's suit. The head and hands were missing. There was heated controversy over whether the corpse was indeed that of Commander Crabb.

50-years later, a former Soviet frogman has come forward to say that he killed Crabb that day, cutting the diver's throat when he spotted him planting a mine on the hull of the cruiser. From The Guardian:

Eduard Koltsov, a retired sailor, said he needed to tell the truth about the cold war mystery before he died. Koltsov, who was 23 at the time, was investigating suspicious activity around the ship when, he said, he saw Crabb fixing a mine to the hull.

In the documentary, he showed off the dagger he claims to have used to kill Crabb and the red star medal he was awarded.

"I saw a silhouette of a diver in a light frogman's suit, who was fiddling with something at the starboard next to the ship's ammunition's stores," he said. "I swam closer and saw that he was fixing a mine."
British officials vehemently deny Koltsov's claim that Crabb was attaching a mine to the cruiser.
Yet records released in the UK last year show the government of the day went to extraordinary lengths to suppress the story.
Crabb is said to have been Ian Fleming's model for James Bond.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tres interesting & a break from present day political nightmares.