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The Crabb Affair


In April 1956, a decorated naval frogman, Lionel 'Buster' Crabb (above), was brought out of retirement by MI6 to carry out an underwater investigation of the Ordzhonikidze, a Soviet cruiser moored in Portsmouth harbour. The Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, has explicitly forbidden the dive. The Ordzhonikidze had brought Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev to Britain for peace talks. Any amphibious operation, Eden feared, could undermine his attempts to build bridges with the Soviet Union. With no regard for a PM they regarded as 'wet', MI6 carried out the dive regardless. However, Crabb never returned...


Under pressure from MI6, the Admiralty issued a spurious statement to the effect that Crabb had died testing underwater equipment. The press were suspicious, and soon discovered the true details. Eden, who had been kept in the dark about not only the operation but the MI6 orchestrated cover up, went ballistic. John Sinclair, the Head of SIS, was fired.


crabb grave 

12 months later a body washed up and, after a coroner's report, was confirmed as that of Crabb. However, conspiracy theorists believe that the body was bogus and part of a bluff. The real Crabb, they argue, did not die but rather defected to the Soviet Union to instruct Moscow's inept naval diving programme.