12.2.06

A Cold War Mystery

Most of the time nothing seemed to happen Its faceless muteness satisfied no human appetite. So the rare incidents that personalised the great stand-off were seized upon and attained a strange glamour disproportionate to their strategic importance. Among the most celebrated incidents was the disappearance at Portsmouth Harbour in April 1956 of the frogman Commander Lionel Crabb, aka Buster, who, at the behest of someone - probably MI6, maybe acting without government sanction - was very likely investigating the hull of the Ordzhonikidze upon which Khrushchev and Bulganin had sailed to Eden's England for a state visit that signaled a marked thaw in relations between the post-Stalinist USSR and its European ally in the Great Patriotic War. Or would have signaled such a thaw had Crabb's activities gone unnoticed. Preposterously, government papers relating to the episode will not be declassified until 2057. Even then, they may not be entirely conclusive. Did Crabb - well past his prime and a zealous boozer - drown? Was he shot by a Russian sailor, as a KGB defector claimed? Was he captured and persuaded to work for that organisation? This last fate was initially posited in Germany in the late Sixties: it is only farfetched if we delude ourselves that covert activities are necessarily low-key rather than extravagances devised by potent fantasists. Personally I think he was shot after possibly being given the third degree; I do know these two had come to the Royal Naval Review at Spithead which is viewed by the Monarch usually so most likely Prince Phillip did the honours. < There has been a novel written about this I believe and would you believe that we the public cannot find out these matters until the Brit government release the papers on the incident about one Commander Lionel Crabb, a British naval diver who disappeared in the cold, swirling waters of Portsmouth Harbour in 1956. This definitely makes one think long and hard here; here is this poor unfortunate guy just vanishing without any really dinkum orders to be where he was and it is still going on one only has to look at the strife in the Middle east to see that. Crabb vanished while spying on the Ordzhonikidze, a Soviet cruiser that had brought Nikita Khrushchev on a goodwill visit to Britain. The espionage mission, ordered by MI6 without the knowledge of Anthony Eden, the prime minister, should have been routine. Crabb was an experienced diver who had enjoyed an illustrious underwater career. Eden's fury about the mission, which could have damaged British/Soviet relations, led to a cover-up of Crabb's disappearance. A year later a headless, handless body in a frogman's suit was washed up. Despite the coroner's satisfaction that the body was Crabb's, neither his ex-wife nor his girlfriend could identify it. Speculation about what really happened continues. He was on a spying mission for sure and was just unfortunate to get caught which I believe is why the agency that hired him and did so just because he was one, retired and two, known as a bit of a boozer and who believes boozers in a predicament like the one poor old Buster was in. Is the world getting any better? Sometimes I truly wonder. However these facts did emerge but who seriously believes this rubbish about a headless handless man if so well the Brits could have ordered that as what would the Russians have gained out of that; I am talking 1956 here people and not 2006.

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