|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
Commander Lionel 'Buster' Crabb.
|The 'disappearance' of Commander
Lionel 'Buster' Crabb in August 1936 has never been resolved to the satisfacton
of all concerned, especially the British public. Whilst diving on the Russian
destroyer Ordzhonikidze in Portsmouth harbour, Buster Crabb disappeared.
The Russian warship was in the UKL on a goodwill visit with Kruchchev on
board. Did the experienced frogman die due to equipment failure; was he
intercepted by the the Russians and killed; was he abducted by the Russians
and integrated into the Russian navy who required his immence knowledge
not only of diving, but anything to do with undesea warfare. Did he voluntary
defect, his dive being a ruse and a means of reaching the Russians without
a formal defection. Was his underwater operation a sanctioned military
espionage operation authorised by MI6; or was he acting as a civilian,
as was, maybe, at the time of the dive. Whose headless and handless body
was it, found fourteen months later. If so, to all possibilities,
why? That Commander Crabb was an extraordiary man there is no doubt - it
is suggested that Ian Fleming was inspired to write his James Bond character,
although Crabb's sexual pursuits were not of the Pussy Galore type. That
he was an illteligence agent there is no doubt, perhaps reporting
directly to the politically dubious Lord Mountbatten. So many questions
but far too many answers. The most recent book, The Crabb Enigma, poses
so many questions and preovides so many possible answers that the only
conclusions that could be safely drawn is that 'Lionel Crabb disappeared'.
It would appear that even today, well over half a century later, there
are sensitive issues that both the Russian and British governments prefer
not to be raised. Much of The Crabb Enigma by Mike and Jacqui Welham, concerns
itself with the intrigues of international intelligence itself, surrounding
the information gathering on Crabb. What is quite certain is that there
is indeed a mystery, and no-matter what is written today, and no matter
what archived intelligence reports are later released. there will be no
definitive answer that will satisfy all of the people.
For those more interested in the diving equipment used, rather than the disappearance of Commander Crabb, you may not be disappointed to read The Crabb Enigma, although I have not read all of the other titles and thus cannot comment on the extent of the equipment description. These were the very early days of scuba - self contained diving - but the breathing gas was not normal compressed air. It is obviously not particularly desirable for a military diver to exhibit his whereabouts underwater by a trail of bubbles, so the major military development of diving equipment was in self-contained systems - rebreathers using pure oxygen. That of course meant certain physiological limitations but it sufficed to enable a frogman to dive on the bottom of a ship, or cut through a a submarine barrier mesh. Crabb preferred the Italian equipment which is briefly described (in several places) in The Crabb Enigma.
Whatevwer haappened to Commander Crabb, there was no doubt that he was a truly remarkable, pioneer, diver.
Please note: The books are listed for interest only, and not offered for sale.
See also separate webpages British and Foreign Military-Frogmen, US Military operations, Submarines, Royal Navy Diving Manual
|A DIVER IN THE DARK
Woodfield Publ;ishing, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, UK, 2009.
by Marshall Pugh.
First edition August 1956. Reprinted 1956.
Macmillan and Company Limited.
Printed in great Britain.
Hardcover, dust jacket, 166 pages, mono prints. Cover shown is th Macmillan, London, edition. [ps]
He disappeared on 19 April 1956 - ‘presumed drowned' - under bizarre and controversial circumstances whilst diving in Portsmouth harbour.
FROGMAN - COMMANDER CRABB'S STORY.
|COMMANDER CRABB IS ALIVE
Tandem Publishing, London, 1968.
J. Bernard Hutton.
First published in 1960 by Neville Spearman Limited, London.
Hardcover, dustjacket, 180 pages, mono plates in separate sections.
'The Counter Espionage Book of the Year. Crabb Alive in Russia'. States rather provocatively that "Crabb was not drowned", and was captured by the Russians in April 1956, take aboard the Ordzhonikidze, flown by helicopter to Stetin, then plane to Moscow, whilst heavily drugged.
Note: Mike Welham also wrote a book called Frogman Spy. When Welham quotes Hutton in The Crabb Enigma, he memtions Hutton's Frogman Extraordinary.
M. G. & J. A. Welham
Subtitle: The Mysterious Dissapearance of Commander "Buster" Crabb
Published by: W. H. Allen & Co PLC., London in 1990
Hard cover with dustjacket - 179 printed pages
Dimensions: 24 cms tall by 16 cms wide
Detail from dustjacket: Commander "Buster" Crabb worked on special missions for British Naval Intelligence and, after being transferred from the Royal Navy, undertook underwater spying jobs for MI6. Crabb dissapered during a diving mission to obtain information on the Russian Navy. A headless, handless body was later identified and buried with his name on the headstone. From that time on contraversy has continued concerning the circumastances surrounding his "death" and the role in the "spy" network of the period. M.G. & J.A. Welham have unearthed new evidence in their interviews with close friends and colleagues of Crabb's - including his fiancée , Pat Rose, and Syd Knowles, his lifelong friend and diving companion, and even contacts of Crabb's who were in touch with him after his dissapearance behind the Iron Curtain. The book is illustrated with 21 monochrome photographs in the centre of the book, includinf several well known ones of him in diving equipment. [pt]
Granada Publishing, London, 1972.
M.G. Welham and B. Quarie.
Patrick Stephens, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK. 1989.
|THE FAKE DEFECTOR
Subtitle: The Truth About Commander Crabb, The Most Sensational Real-Life Espionage Story of the Age.
J Bernard Hutton
Published by: Howard Baker, London in 1970.
Hard back covers with dustjacket, 220 printed pages. Dimensions: 22 cms tall by 14 cms wide
This book continues from where the author’s books from 1960 left off? It outlines Crabb’s disappearance in 1956 and the subsequent recovery of a headless and handless corpse in Chichester harbour. However, the author believed and documents in this book that Crabb was not dead but was drugged, taken to Moscow and was then in the Soviet Navy under a new name of “First Lieutenant Lev Lvovich Karoblov”? Divided into 20 chapters; “The Fake Defector”, “Crabb Swallowed the Bait”, “Journey to Samara”, “The Trap is Sprung”, “Missing – Presumed Dead”, “Breakfast With Zhabotin”, “Trouble in the House”, “Point of No Return”, “A Message for Patricia”, “Question of Identity”, “Strangers in a Train”, “Details from Moscow”, “Sound and Fury”, “Third Officer Smith”, “Icebreakers In Difficulties”, “The Woman From Turkey”, “Riddle of a Skull”, “Clamp-Down at Boltenhagen”, “Naval Fabel” and “Soviet Blackmail”. Very well illustrated with 19 monochrome photographs, including three of what was believed to be Crabb in the Russian navy? [pt]
|THE FINAL DIVE
- The Life and Death of 'Buster' Crabb
Published by: Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire in the UK in 2007
Hard cover with dustjacket; 254 printed pages. Dimensions: 24 cms tall by 16 cms wide
Detail from dustjacket: In April 1956, a British naval frogman, Commander Lionel 'Buster' Crabb, disappeared during a secret mission under the hull of a Russian warship moored in Portsmouth harbour. The ship had brought Soviet leaders Khrushchev and Bulganin to Britain on a sensitive state visit at the height of the cold war. After Buster Crabb failed to return, the press got hold of the story, Anglo-Soviet relations hit an all-time low, and the establishment closed ranks. A year later, Crabb's decapitated and handless body was found, sparking a major row between the government, the secret services and the Admiralty that still smoulders today. What was Crabb doing there? How did he die? Who sanctioned the dive that cost a man his life, claimed the jobs of the Admiralty top brass and intelligence operatives, and contributed to the downfall of Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden? Who knew about the mission; who helped Crabb; who refused, and what happened when he failed to return? The whole saga was so sensitive that the government of that day decided to place the files under lock and key until 2057. This is the almost unbelievable story of what really happened to Buster Crabb - which can be fully told before top secret files are declassified in 2057. It contains personal testimonies from people who were involved at the time and since, much of which has never been made public before. Don Hale reveals who masterminded Crabb's final mission, and what were their intentions. From secret research and inquiries by Crabb's commanding officer - exclusively available to the author - reports by other top Royal Navy officers and officials, private letters, confidential files, records, secret meetings and detailed research, the author can finally reveal the truth about Crabb's extremely colourful life and who was behind his mysterious disappearance. The book is illustrated with 25 monochrome photographs in the centre of the book, including several well known ones of him in diving equipment. [pt]
|THE CRABB ENIGMA
The True Story of Commander ‘Buster' Crabb.
Mike and Jacqui Welham
Matador, London, UK, 2010.
Softcover, 284 pages, bibliography, mono photographs. $28.00.
From the fly: Commander Buster Crabb, a British naval frogman, disappeared whilst undertaking an underwater ‘spying missdion' involving the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze in 1956. Just over a year after he disappeared, a body wasjed up headless and handless near Portsmouth. The establishment took charge of the body and, at an inquest, declared it to be Crabb. It's now that it was not Crabb who was buried at Portsmouth. The problem for the establishment was that Crabb worked for the then head of the Royal Navy, Lord Mountbatten. At the time, US government security agents had alleged that Mountbatten was doing ‘unofficial' business with the Soviety Union. This, UK officials believe, was a valid reason for Craabb's story to be held secret until 2056 - an unprecedented 100 years. Crabb's story also involves the British ruling class and Royalty. It is a take of illegal activities, art and currency smuggling, Nazi looted gold and treasure, homosexual blackmail, threats and mysterious deaths. The authorsd and nitnesses have been subjected to government surveillance, mail interception and telephone tapping both by the UK authorities and Interpol. Following public publication of the authors' previous book Forgotten Spy, attempts were made to kill both a researcher aand a vital witness. This is the murky world of what the establishmemt does not want you to know. [ps]