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The Strange Death of Buster Crabb


John Simkin
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I have been interested in the death of Buster Crabb for sometime. He was a schoolfriend of my mother-in-law. A couple of weeks ago a former Soviet agent confessed to his murder. However, his story is unconvincing and is likely to be part of a disinformation operation.

Here is the basic story about Crabb. Born in 1909, Lionel (Buster) Crabb worked in a variety of jobs until the outbreak of the Second World War when he became a gunner in the army. In 1941 Crabbe joined the Royal Navy. The following year he was sent to Gibraltar where he became a member of the navy's mine and bomb disposal unit. Crabb had the dangerous task of located and removing Italian limpet mines from the hulls of Allied ships. He was such a success he was awarded the George Medal. In 1943 Crabb was sent to clear the mines left in the ports of Leghorn and Venice. For this courageous work he was awarded the OBE.

After the war Crabb explored the wreck of a Spanish galleon and investigated a suitable discharge site for a pipe from the atomic weapons station at Aldermaston. Crabbe later returned to the Royal Navy and after helping rescue men trapped in a submarine, he was promoted to the rank of commander. However, in March 1955 he was forced to leave the navy on age grounds.

In March 1956 Crabb received an urgent message to meet privately with Lord Mountbatten, the First Sea Lord. Crabb was told that he was needed for a secret mission and that the results were to be shared with MI6 and the CIA. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. In reality, this was a CIA rather than MI6 operation. The mission involved spying on the Russian cruiser Ordkhonikidze. A ship that was going to bring Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a goodwill mission to Britain. Mountbatten warned Crabbe that it was a dangerous mission as the Soviets had discovered earlier secret dives on the Sverdlov.

On 19th April 1956 Crabb dived into Portsmouth Harbour. He did not return to Teddy Davies, his MI6 minder, and it was assumed that he had been either captured or killed by the Russians. With the help of the intelligence services, the Admiralty attempted to cover up the attempt to spy on the Russian ship. On 29th April the Admiralty announced that Crabb went missing after taking part in trials of underwater apparatus in Stokes Bay (a place five kilometres from Portsmouth).

The Soviet government now issued a statement announcing that a frogman was seen near the cruiser Ordkhonikidze on 19th April. This resulted in British newspapers publishing stories claiming that Crabb had been captured and taken to the Soviet Union.

Sir Anthony Eden, the British prime minister was furious when he discovered about the MI6 operation that had taken place without his permission. Eden forced the Diretor-General of MI6, Major-General John Sinclair, to resign. He was replaced by Sir Dick White, the head of MI5. As MI5 was considered by MI6 to be an inferior intelligence service, this was the severest punishment that could be inflicted on the organization.

On 9th June 1957, a headless body in a frogman suit was discovered floating off Pilsey Island. As the hands were also missing it was impossible to identify it as being that of Lionel Crabb. His former wife inspected the body and was unsure if it was Crabb. Pat Rose, his girlfriend, claimed it was not him but another friend, Sidney Knowles, said that Crabb, like the dead body, had a scar on the left knee. The coroner recorded an open verdict but announced that he was satisfied the remains were those of Crabb.

Secret files documenting the event will not be released until 2057. Therefore, we can only speculate on what really happened to Crabb.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SScrabb.htm

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On March 26, 2006, The Mail On Sunday published an article by Tim Binding claiming that Buster Crabb was murdered by MI5. According to this article, Sydney Knowles told Binding that Crabb was murdered when it was discovered that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union. Crabb was instructed to carry out a spying operation on the Ordkhonikidze by MI5. Crabb was supplied with a new diving partner who killed him during the mission. Knowles alleges that he was ordered by MI5 to identify the body, when he knew it was definitely not Crabb.

In November, 2007, Eduard Koltsov, a former Soviet agent, gave an interview where he claimed that he cut Crabb’s throat after finding him attaching a limpet mine to the hull of the Ordkhonikidze.

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Ian Fleming - Nicholas Elliot and Buster Crabb -

AFTER ACTION REPORT – SECRETS SLOWLY EMERGE

More secrets emerged after the death of James Bond in 1989, and a few were publicized when new academic biographies of both Bond and Ian Fleming were published - The Private Life of James Bond, a profile of James Bond the ornithologist, by history professor David R. Contosta (Sutter House, 1993), and The Man Behind James Bond (Turner Books, 1995) by Andrew Lycett.

With the official approval and cooperation of Fleming's estate, family and friends, Andrew Lycett continued to promote the false myth that Fleming began his spy novels on a lark, to take his mind of marriage, and despairingly refers to James Bond as an "unknown academic."

Yet Lycett teases with the truth by brining the Cambridge spy ring to the table. During World War II Fleming had said he wanted to write "the spy story to end all spy stories," and when he sat down to is desk at his Jamaican beach house in January, 1952, the biggest spy story of the century was slowly unfolding in back alleys, capitol offices and headlines around the world.

It was unthinkable that the best and brightest of England's native sons could betray their nation's most precious secrets to the Soviet Union, yet that was what was just beginning to be understood. One year earlier, on May 28, 1951, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess disappeared shortly before McLean was to be arrested for espionage, setting off a search for a "Third Man," suspected of tipping them off as to MacLean's impending doom.

Since both Burgess and Mclean attended Cambridge University, suspicion immediately fell on their former schoolmate and friend Kim Philby, the MI6 British Secret Service liaison to the United State's CIA, former head of the MI6 bureau responsible for Soviet counter-intelligence, and one of the few primary candidates to head the British Secret Service. While the suspicions put a strain in U.S. – British relations, it also strongly affected Ian Fleming, a Philby colleague whose generation of friends and associates were caught exposed and vulnerable by the betrayal their own friends, associates and countrymen.

Four months after Burgess and Maclean escaped to Russia, Ian and his wife Ann visited their friends Prime Minister Anthony Eden and his wife Clarissa. According to Lycett, "The Prime Minister was unwell, largely as a result of the anguish he was experiencing about the enduring subject of the 'Missing Diplomats'. A White Paper on Burgess and Maclean's defection to Moscow had just been published and the government was being forced to lie about the case, falsely denying that the two traitors' colleague Kim Philby was the 'Third Man'. Clarissa Eden begged her guests not to mention any of these names in front of her husband. When they were alone, Ian and Ann asked her for more details."

The subject was also taboo when Fleming sat down with his old friend and mentor, Sir William Stephenson [The man called INTREPID], reports Lycett, as "Curiously, Ian did not mention…the intelligence-related matter which obsessed the chattering classes of the time – the disappearance in May of two senior Foreign Office officials, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, who were suspected of being communist spys. When Ian and Ann had entertained Cyril Connolly and Noel Coward in September, they had spoken of little else. How could such pillars of the Establishment nurtured an ideological commitment for Marxism?"

Connolly was actually with Maclean on the day before he fled, and [in Douglas Southerland's The Fourth Man – The Story of Blunt, Philby, Burgess and MacLean, Arrow Books, 1980], Connolly is quoted as saying, "…I knew them both and actually lunched with Maclean the day before he disappeared. The point I wanted to mention to you was that on that day I am sure he had no intention of leaving the way he did. He spoke to me so normally as to his private affairs…this makes me feel that, subsequent to meeting me on May 24th, he received some warning that he was under suspicion, and immediately left the country with Burgess. It may be, therefore, that someone in the Foreign Office told him…." Now we know that person was Kim Philby.

The Sunday Times had commissioned Cyril Connolly to write a story on the missing diplomats, and Fleming wanted to expand the article into a book for his publishing house, Queen Ann Press, whose offices share the same Queen Anne's Gate underground stop with those who work at the offices of the British Secret Service.

While mocking Fleming's actual intentions and motives, Lycett acknowledged that Fleming's first novel was inspired by the betrayals of the Cambridge syps when he wrote, "What raised Casino Royale out of the usual run of thrillers was Ian's attempt to reflect the disturbing moral ambiguity of a post-war world that could produce traitors like Burgess and Maclean. Although Bond is presented like Bulldog Drummond with all the trappings of a traditional fictional secret agent (such as his Bentley), in fact he needs 'Marshall Aid' from Leiter to enable him to continue his baccarat game with Le Chiffre. Bond is rescued from his kidnappers not by the British or the Americans but by the Russians, who complete the job he should of done of eliminating Le Chiffre. Bond does not even get the girl: [ Vesper ] she has been duplicitous throughout, betraying not only him personally but all Western Intelligence's anti-Soviet operations. No wonder, feeling let down and abandoned, he fails to conceal his bitterness at the end and spits out, 'The bitch is dead now.'"

Casino Royale was Ian Fleming's response to the betrayal of the Cambridge spy ring, portraying the women who loved James Bond as the sexy snake who actually worked for the opposition, much like the sexual ambiguity and background of the Cambridge spies. After writing Casino Royale in Jamaica in January, Fleming and his wife returned to England for the birth of their son Casper.

After dropping her off a the hospital, Fleming visited an old friend from school days, the American born Whitney Straight, chairman of the BOAC airlines. Both Whitney Straight, described as a playboy race driver, and his younger brother were personal friends of Guy Burgess and according to Lycett the case of the Missing Diplomats is what they discussed.

Ian Fleming's father had established the family banking interests in America with J. P. Morgan, a firm that included Whitney and Michael Straight's father, and with whom Fleming himself was affiliated with for a while. Both Whitney and Michael Straight attended Cambridge, where they knew Guy Burgess from the hunting and drinking social set at the Pitt Club. Straight considered Burgess an "alcoholic adventurer, a name dropper and a gypsy." At Cambridge Michael Straight, was recruited into the Cambridge spy cell by art historian Anthony Blunt, the Fourth Man.

Although a reluctant Soviet spy, Michael Straight retained his friendship with Blunt, Philby, Burgess and Maclean. As editor and publisher of the New Republic Michael Striaght published some of Philby's commentaries from Lebanon, where he was exiled to in 1956.

Ian Fleming even went so far as to reach out to Burgess and Maclean, after they defected, asking his friend and associate Dick Hughes, the Far East correspondent, to try to contact them. Hughes, also a character in Fleming's novels, introduced both Fleming and Somerset Maugham to the intricacies and lifestyle of Tokyo, as reflected in their novels.

Hughes, one of Fleming's Mercury team, obtained the first ever interview with Burgess and Maclean in exile, by urging the Russians to produce the two defectors before a planned summit conference. In February, 1956, Burgess and Maclean met Hughes in the lobby of a Moscow hotel and handed him a statement, the first acknowledgement that Burgess and Maclean were spys, had defected and were living comfortably behind the Iron Curtain.

The summit conference itself was interrupted in true Flemingesque fashion, when a frogman, "Buster" Crabb, was sent into the Thames to inspect the hull and propellers of the Russian cruiser that brought Soviet diplomats to London. When Crabb failed to surface, and his headless body later washed ashore, exposing supposedly secret operations, heads rolled at St. James Gate. The subsequent public scandal became almost as significant as the U2 incident that later cancelled the Eisenhower-Kruschev summit.

Nicholas Elliot was second in the chain of command on the operation, and had personally selected Crabb as the frogman. So that stain on Elliot's career, and his steadfast faith in Philby, would set him up to put an end to the Philby problem. It was Elliot, Fleming's primary contact with MI6, who was selected to confront Philby when evidence of his duplicity would be undeniable.

Although you wouldn't know it from reading his official biographies, which promote the real James Bond as an "unknown academic" and the 007 novels as being written, in ornithological terms, "on a lark," Ian Fleming was actually in the thick of the double-agent duplicity.

In November, 1956, Sir Roger Hollis of MI5 visited Washington D.C. to brief the Americans about the missing diplomats and Third Man affair. Driving Hollis around Washington, Richard Helms of the CIA asked Hollis, "Who's this writer Ian Fleming?" Helms mentioned the recently published book Live and Let Die, but Hollis simply replied, "Don't know."

A few days later it was revealed that Prime Minister Anthony Eton had flown to Jamaica to spend some time at Fleming's Goldeneye beach house, sparking Helms to assume "The man lied. Hollis must have cleared the prime minister to stay with Fleming," writes Tom Bower [in The Perfect English Spy – The Unknown Man In Charge During The Most Tumultuous, Scandal-Ridden Era In Espionage History], a biography of Sir Dick White.

Bower also notes, "Michael Straight, an accomplished American whose family boasted East Coast wealth and influence, had known Anthony Blunt in 1934 while studying at Trinity [College, Cambridge]. Already inclined towards socialism, Straight had become immersed in Cambridge's communist movement. Before returning to America in 1937, he had been invited to join Blunt and Burgess' conspiracy but had refused. Even thirteen years later when he met Burgess again in Washington, he volunteered that he had never betrayed his friends. But in 1963 Straight was offered a government post and, apparently fearful of exposure, he had spent June closeted with FBI officers….By any measure, the confession was a major breakthrough. Not surprisingly, the MI5 officer returned to Britain excited about the disclosure. The molehunt had been legitimized."

Michael Straight kept his secret knowledge of the Cambridge spy ring until John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, wanted to appoint Michael Straight director of the National Endowment for the Arts, which he first accepted and then turned down when confronted with an FBI background check.

According to John Costello (Mask of Trechery – Spys, Lies and Betrayal, Warner Books, 1988), Straight confessed to the FBI and told them about his attempted recruitment while a student at Cambridge. Costello, who died suspiciously while writing about these things, Straight "…was given a list of eighty-five Americans who attended Cambridge University between the years 1930 and 1934, from which he picked out one American, who he knew casually at the Department of State. He then named two more Americans with whom he had studied at Cambridge between 1936 and 1937 and whom he knew to have been Trinity cell members or Communist sympathizers…The FBI representatives in the U.S. embassy in London recommended a full review of all Americans who studied at either Oxford or Cambridge before the war."

As head of the FBI, responsible for counter-intelligence in the United States, J. Edgar Hover inexplicitly, according to Costello, balked at "the political repercussions of an investigation of over 500 American citizens with no basis for such an inquiry in fact…".

The CIA however, had no such qualms, and says Costello, "as a result, the records of nearly six hundred American who had attended either Oxford or Cambridge before World War II were carefully compiled, examined and scrutinized," among them James Bond, who not only attended Cambridge, but was a member of the exclusive Pitt Club.

Born in Philadelphia on January 4, 1900, Bond attended the exclusive St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, but because Bond's father had business in England and eventually married an Englishwomen, James Bond attended Harrow and Cambridge, before returning to America and embarking on his ornithological pursuit and survey of birds that led to the publication of his book Birds of the West Indies.

It was not the first time the American intelligence agencies had taken an interest in James Bond. During World War II Bond went to Haiti on an ornithological expedition to a remote area of the island country, where he encountered a German on Morne La Selle mountain, a recluse who maintained an airstrip. Bond told his friend Brandon Barringer about the German, and Bond was subsequently interviewed by Army and Navy Intelligence investigators at his office at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. According to Mrs. Bond, "The intelligence people asked a lot of foolish questions and seemed far more suspicious about Jim's reason for climbing Morne La Selle than about the German's activities."

As one of the American students at Cambridge before World War II, James Bond was one of the over 500 such students who fit the profile of those being investigated, although Bond was there a decade before the Cambridge spy cell was first organized. If recruited by a professor however, others students could have been to Cambridge, been recruited and left without being uncovered, and remain as sleeper agents in high government offices.

With Michael Straight's confession to the FBI and then to the British MI5, Philby could no longer bluff his way out of being exposed at the Third Man after all. Chosen to go to Beruit to confront Philby and get his confession, Nicholas Elliot was Ian Fleming's contact at MI6, where Fleming's older brother Peter also worked as a special agent.

Nicholas Elliot's father, Charles Elliot, was the headmaster at Eton, where the old school ties began with the original "C," Sir Stewart Menzies, and continued with other Etonians, including Ian Fleming and Guy Burgess. As Maclean lunched with Cryil Connolly on the day before he fled, Burgess returned to his old school and visited with a former history professor, ostensibly to discuss the biography Burgess was writing about the Earl of Sandwich.

Their defection would spark Philby's relocation to Lebanon, where Philby would remain in Beruit until confronted by Elliot, and finally acknowledge his betrayal. But before Philby was allowed to flee on the heels of Burgess and Maclean, Fleming himself visited Beruit.

Before the civil war, Beruit was the jewel of the Mediterranean, with hotels, casinos and a bustling nightlife. When Fleming arrived he immediately checked in with Elliot. According to Lycett, "Their conversation ranged over a variety of intelligence-related topics, including Kim Philby, a key participant in the Missing Diplomats affair, who had been working in Beirut as a newspaperman since 1956. Ian told Elliot that he had his own minor freelance intelligence assignment to perform: the then NID chief Vice Admiral Sir Norman Denniung had asked him for information about the Iraqi port of Basra…Ian did not delay…. he asked to leave, saying he had a rendezvous with an Armenian in the Place de Canons in the center of town."

"Perhaps," speculates Lycett, "Ian was meeting Philby," But again belittling the situation, he writes that, "Elliot had the distinct impression his dinner guest had arranged to see a pornographic film in full color and sound." Shortly thereafter, Philby, like Burgess and Maclean before him, disappeared, only to surface a few months later in Moscow, sending back postcards, from Russia, with love.

Whether Fleming went to Beruit to see a porno film or meet with Philby, the betrayal of the Cambridge spy cell weighted heavy on Fleming, and undisputedly affected his work, both professionally and his literature, and by extension, the mass market movies based on his stories.

In Die Another Day, the last James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan, 007 stops at a cabana beach bar in Cuba where he orders a drink while perusing a book, which if you look closely, is clearly Birds of the West Indies by James Bond.

"I'm here for the birds," 007 announces, as Halle Berry walks out of the water in a scene taken from the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, in which 007 masquerades as an ornithologist, and Ursula Andress emerged from the surf as the first "Bond Girl."

The newest movie, a throwback to the original Casino Royale, Daniel Craig portray the new 007 in the 21st Bond film, which returns to Fleming's original portrayal of James Bond, without all the "guns, girls and gadgets," that came to dominate the later movies.

In a fictional "biography of James Bond," Fleming's original, official biographer, John Pierson, claims that in the course of his researching the life of Fleming, he discovered the existence of the real James Bond, who he met in the lobby of an island hotel. Pierson wrote that Fleming's real purpose in writing the James Bond stories was to make James Bond such a comic book super hero that the Russians would fail to take the real James Bond seriously, allowing him to continue his secret work anonymously.

Such a secret, literary psychological warfare operation was not unique, as Jim Hougan demonstrates [in Secret Agenda – Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (Random House, 1984)], where he mentions that Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt is also, "The author of more than four dozen pulp thrillers and novels of the occult."

According to Hougan, "Hunt left the agency in furtherance of a counterintelligence scheme that revolved around his literary efforts. The purpose of the scheme, according to government sources familiar with Hunt's curriculum vitae at the agency, was to draw the KGB's attention to books that Hunt was writing under the pseudonym David St. John. These spy novels alluded to actual CIA operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, and contained barely disguised portraits of political figures as diverse as Prince Norodom Sihanouk and the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. It was the CIA's intention that the KGB be led to believe that the books contained security breeches, and towards that end the agency created a phony 'flap' that was capped by Hunt's supposedly 'forced retirement.'…"

Hunt's literary scheme, that "contained barely disguised portraits of political figures" was unoriginally based on Fleming's success with James Bond, and a web of fictional characters based on real people whose stories wove a web of intrigue that is more incredible than the novelized account.

In retrospect, unlike other mythical super heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Superman, whether purposely contrived or by coincidence, its kind of reassuring that there was a real James Bond. A James Bond who really was an anonymous hero, who did go far into the field and discover something new, reported what he learned, and as a proficient naturalist, made the world a better place to live.

And that's more important that the idea he may also have been a secret agent who played a major role in cold war double-agent duplicity, the Bay of Pigs, Cuba and Grenada.

Now, in days of equally impearling crisis, where is James Bond, now that we really need him?

xxxxx

Edited by William Kelly
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The summit conference itself was interrupted in true Flemingesque fashion, when a frogman, "Buster" Crabb, was sent into the [/b]Thames to inspect the hull and propellers of the Russian cruiser that brought Soviet diplomats to London. When Crabb failed to surface, and his headless body later washed ashore, exposing supposedly secret operations, heads rolled at St. James Gate. The subsequent public scandal became almost as significant as the U2 incident that later cancelled the Eisenhower-Kruschev summit. [/font][/size]

In 1960 J. Bernard Hutton published his book Frogman Spy. Hutton argues that his sources claim that Crabb had been captured alive during his espionage activities and had been smuggled back to Soviet Union for torture and interrogation. According to Russian documents that Hutton had seen, Crabb later served as a diving officer in the Russian Navy. To help conceal the fate of Crabb, the Soviets dropped a headless and handless body wearing Crabb's equipment in the water near where he was lost a year earlier.

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Mail on Sunday (27th October, 2006)

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/a...in_page_id=1770

The fate of a Naval hero said to have been the model for fictional superspy James Bond was hushed up by the Government, secret documents reveal.

Commander Lionel 'Buster' Crabb, thought by some to have inspired Ian Fleming's iconic novels, went missing during a dive off Portsmouth in 1956.

The Government was keen to play down embarrassing claims that he had been spying on Russian ships docked in the harbour during the visit of Soviet leaders Nikita Khruschev and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin.

Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden told the House of Commons that it would "not be in the public interest" to disclose the circumstances of his death.

He added that "what was done was done without the authority or knowledge of Her Majesty's ministers".

The cover-up prompted wild speculation for years, including claims that he was alive and well and living in Russia as an officer in the Red Navy, and others that he was killed by the Soviets.

Secret documents relating to the controversy were released to the public today at the National Archives in Kew, south west London.

They reveal the determination of officials to cover up what really happened, even rejecting a request for maintenance from ex-wife Margaret Crabb.

Five months after Crabb's death, WH Lewin, head of Naval Law, wrote in a memo: "If this came out ... it would not seem to square very well with our statement that Crabb had been out of the Navy for over a year at the time of his death."

The official Admiralty line following the incident on 19 April was that Crabb had been "specially employed in connexion with trials of certain underwater apparatus" and was missing presumed drowned.

But a memo from Rear Admiral JGT Inglis, director of naval intelligence, on June 21, explained that it was "considered essential" to avoid implicating top officers in Portsmouth.

In a 'bona fide' operation there would have been 'immediate and extensive rescue operations', he explained, while an unnamed diving officer who was with Crabb would have also taken action.

Instead, as Inglis points out: "The moment it became clear that a mishap had occurred (name blanked out) was ordered to return to his ship and take no further part in the affair."

If it had been a 'bona fide' operation, this would have exposed the other officer and the CinC to charges of "negligence, lack of humanity and error of judgment", which was considered unacceptable.

The secret account of an anonymous Lieutenant Commander, who assisted Crabb on the day of his disappearance, was seen publicly for the first time today.

He said that he had been asked, as an expert diver, to assist him "entirely unofficially and in a strictly private capacity" and there is little detail in the story.

The officer said: "He carried sufficient oxygen for an absence of a maximum of two hours submerged.

"His actions until disappearance under the surface were normal, and the conditions for diving were good. He was not seen by me again."

Navy officials were keen for this officer not to appear in public at a subsequent inquest after the headless body of a frogman was found in Chichester in June 1957.

It was decided to dispatch George William Bostock, a temporary clerical officer, to represent the Admiralty instead.

One of the secret documents explained: "He knows nothing of the background to the story and will not be able to answer any embarrassing questions even if they are asked."

The same document said: "The coroner is aware of the background to the case and is not asking for the appearance of any embarrassing naval witnesses."

The coroner ruled that it was Crabb's body that had been found. Even by 1972, the Navy wanted to keep the story quiet, and officials discussed the possibility of suspending the pension of a diver due to speak out in a planned BBC documentary on the case.

Howard Davies, archivist at the National Archives, said the extent of the cover-up suggested there was more about the case to be told.

"The conclusion that most people will draw is that there is a real intelligence angle to this which the authorities aren't ready to release," he said.

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... CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. In reality, this was a CIA rather than MI6 operation.

Bob Edwards, MP, & Kenneth Dunne. A Study of a Master Spy (London: Housmans, second edition, May 1961), p.63:

“At all events, it has been definitely stated that a certain ‘quiet American’ persuaded Captain Lionel Crabb to undertake his unfortunate enterprise with a promise of 5,000 pounds. The ‘quiet American’ – his alias was ‘Matthew Smith’ – thought that five thousand pounds would be enough to compensate for any discomfort Crabb might experience underwater. He paid his money. Britain paid too – in public embarrassment.”

Was it Adenauer or Erhard who groaned, upon being introduced to yet another CIA man bearing the wearingly familiar alias, “Not another Smith!”?

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... CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. In reality, this was a CIA rather than MI6 operation.

Bob Edwards, MP, & Kenneth Dunne. A Study of a Master Spy (London: Housmans, second edition, May 1961), p.63:

"At all events, it has been definitely stated that a certain 'quiet American' persuaded Captain Lionel Crabb to undertake his unfortunate enterprise with a promise of 5,000 pounds. The 'quiet American' – his alias was 'Matthew Smith' – thought that five thousand pounds would be enough to compensate for any discomfort Crabb might experience underwater. He paid his money. Britain paid too – in public embarrassment."

Was it Adenauer or Erhard who groaned, upon being introduced to yet another CIA man bearing the wearingly familiar alias, "Not another Smith!"?

Now was it Nicholas Elliot or "Mathew Smith" who ordered Crabb into the water?

I don't believe anyone in MI5 or any Englishman would take orders from an American no matter how much was paid out.

You can't blame the CIA for everything.

BK

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... CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. In reality, this was a CIA rather than MI6 operation.

Bob Edwards, MP, & Kenneth Dunne. A Study of a Master Spy (London: Housmans, second edition, May 1961), p.63:

"At all events, it has been definitely stated that a certain 'quiet American' persuaded Captain Lionel Crabb to undertake his unfortunate enterprise with a promise of 5,000 pounds. The 'quiet American' – his alias was 'Matthew Smith' – thought that five thousand pounds would be enough to compensate for any discomfort Crabb might experience underwater. He paid his money. Britain paid too – in public embarrassment."

Was it Adenauer or Erhard who groaned, upon being introduced to yet another CIA man bearing the wearingly familiar alias, "Not another Smith!"?

Now was it Nicholas Elliot or "Mathew Smith" who ordered Crabb into the water?

I don't believe anyone in MI5 or any Englishman would take orders from an American no matter how much was paid out.

You can't blame the CIA for everything.

BK

In "Spycatcher" Peter Wright claimed the existnce of a "Fifth Man" in the Cambridge ring. He goes on to say that he suspected the mole to be very high up in MI-6. Don't know if a fifth man was ever uncovered.

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Yes, Peter Wright described it as "a typical piece of MI6 misadventure" from an organisation that was "... operating in the modern world with 1930s attitudes and 1930s personnel and equipment..." [1].

It's quite understandable they would want to get a look at the prop design; that's the case even today. Their choice of personnel, though, was seriously flawed.

Wright says that Nicholas Elliot was in charge of the operation and received technical assistance from John Henry, the MI6 London Station Technical Officer. Henry told MI5, two days after Crabbe went missing, that he "... told Nicholas not to use Buster; he was heading for a heart attack as it was...".[2]

Wright says later in his book that the defecting KGB agent Anatoli Golitsin told them that the KGB had advance warning of Crabbe's mission[3]. He believes this pointed to Hollis being the 'Fifth Man'.

[1] 'Spycatcher', Peter Wright, William Heinemann Australia 1987, ISBN 0 85561 098 0, Ch 6, pg 72

[2] Ibid, Ch6, pg 74

[3] Ibid, Ch12, pg 172

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... CIA agent Matthew Smith spent a considerable time with Crabbe. In reality, this was a CIA rather than MI6 operation.

Bob Edwards, MP, & Kenneth Dunne. A Study of a Master Spy (London: Housmans, second edition, May 1961), p.63:

"At all events, it has been definitely stated that a certain 'quiet American' persuaded Captain Lionel Crabb to undertake his unfortunate enterprise with a promise of 5,000 pounds. The 'quiet American' – his alias was 'Matthew Smith' – thought that five thousand pounds would be enough to compensate for any discomfort Crabb might experience underwater. He paid his money. Britain paid too – in public embarrassment."

Was it Adenauer or Erhard who groaned, upon being introduced to yet another CIA man bearing the wearingly familiar alias, "Not another Smith!"?

Now was it Nicholas Elliot or "Mathew Smith" who ordered Crabb into the water?

I don't believe anyone in MI5 or any Englishman would take orders from an American no matter how much was paid out.

You can't blame the CIA for everything.

In 2006 some important documents were released that dealt with the government cover-up. The important fact about these documents is that they show there were two operations that night. One was a CIA operation that involved Buster Crabb. The other was a Naval Intelligence operation that involved four divers based on HMS Vernon. Anthony Eden, the British prime minister was furious when he received the commissioned report into the incident. He had expressly forbidden any attempts to spy on the Soviet ship, Ordkhonikidze. The reason for this was that a similar operation had taken place when the ship arrived in British waters in October 1955. Nothing of importance was found about the ship’s technology. What is more, the Soviets discovered that this operation had taken place (more on this later).

The secret report pointed out that before the dive, Crabb and Matthew Smith, a CIA agent, stayed at the same hotel (rooms 17 and 21 of the Sallyport Hotel in Portsmouth). The men arrived together and Smith paid the bill. This page of the hotel register was destroyed. This caused a tremendous stir when the journalists traced Crabb to the Sallyport Hotel. However, they were unable to discover why this had been done and the CIA was not linked at the time to the operation.

Eden had two objectives in the cover-up. The first was to claim that Crabb was working for the Admiralty. The second was to prevent information on the second operation from being published. This cover-up was completely successful. The main problem was with the discovery of the body. The reason being that it was not the body of Crabb but of a diver from the other mission (only three divers returned to the HMS Vernon). The true identity could not be revealed as it would expose the Eden cover-up.

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I don't believe anyone in MI5 or any Englishman would take orders from an American no matter how much was paid out.

Very generous of you, Bill, let's hope 5 and 6 note your kindly sentiment. Alas, Americans with rather more practical experience of the market in Brits - spooks among them, one confidently assumes - tend to report to the contrary:

Nelson D. Lanford. The Last American Aristocrat: The Biography of Ambassador David K. E. Bruce (Little, Brown & Co., 1996), p.137:

“Even Bruce, perhaps spotting his ally’s weakness, once ruefully noted the success of his people in ‘infiltrating almost every British department or agency of any consequence’” (34).

(34) p.423: Strategic Services Officer – London, war diary, OSS papers, RG 226/147/3 (National Archives).

You can't blame the CIA for everything.

I don't - Confederate intel found exactly the same thing during the US Civil War; and Bruce (above) was referrring, of course, to his fellow OSS-ers.

Paul

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Yes, Peter Wright described it as "a typical piece of MI6 misadventure" from an organisation that was "... operating in the modern world with 1930s attitudes and 1930s personnel and equipment..." [1].

It's quite understandable they would want to get a look at the prop design; that's the case even today. Their choice of personnel, though, was seriously flawed.

Wright says that Nicholas Elliot was in charge of the operation and received technical assistance from John Henry, the MI6 London Station Technical Officer. Henry told MI5, two days after Crabbe went missing, that he "... told Nicholas not to use Buster; he was heading for a heart attack as it was...".[2]

Wright says later in his book that the defecting KGB agent Anatoli Golitsin told them that the KGB had advance warning of Crabbe's mission[3]. He believes this pointed to Hollis being the 'Fifth Man'.

[1] 'Spycatcher', Peter Wright, William Heinemann Australia 1987, ISBN 0 85561 098 0, Ch 6, pg 72

[2] Ibid, Ch6, pg 74

[3] Ibid, Ch12, pg 172

There is no evidence that Peter Wright was right about the so-called fifth man. Wright had the same success as James Angleton in identifying spies. At different times he claimed that Roger Hollis, Michael Hanley and Graham Mitchell were spies. At the same time he cleared Guy Liddell and Victor Rothschild, two men who some experts now believe were spies. Wright, like Angleton, also failed to identify Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt as spies.

It has been argued that Buster Crabb was a Soviet spy and this accounts for his disappearance. Crabb was either murdered by the CIA/MI6 when they discovered he was a spy and the blame placed on the Soviets (Tim Binding/Sydney Knowles) or he used this opportunity to defect to the Soviet Union (Bernard Hutton/Pat Rose).

Some believe it was Crabb who told the Soviets about the spying he did on the Ordkhonikidze in October 1955. If the intelligence services were onto Crabb he would have been told by the Philby-Burgess-Maclean-Blunt spy network. When Lord Mountbatten asked him to carry out another spying mission on the Ordkhonikidze it would have provided him with the perfect opportunity to defect to the Soviet Union. However, it also provided an opportunity for the CIA/MI6 to murder him and blame it onto the Soviets.

To solve this mystery we need to examine any possible contacts between Crabb and the Philby-Burgess-Maclean-Blunt spy network. In fact, we know via Crabb’s relatives that Crabb became friends with Anthony Blunt in 1938. Crabb actually worked for an art gallery part-owned by Blunt. According to his girlfriend, Pat Rose, Blunt and Crabb got together several times in the weeks preceding his final dive. Was Crabb giving Blunt information about his work or was Blunt providing Crabb with details about his defection to the Soviet Union?

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Or was Blunt getting information from an unwise Crabb, who might have believed that Blunt could be trusted?

I read a book (I forget which) that said that Victor Rothschild was the fifth man. I was unconvinced by it, but I admit my knowledge of these affairs is only superficial.

I might be incorrect, but I think it might be unfair to say that Wright "...claimed that Roger Hollis, Michael Hanley and Graham Mitchell were spies...". IIRC, he said that based on the various allegations and known "true bills", those three were the only ones who fitted all the circumstances. He later ruled out Hanley and Mitchell because of their surveillance / interrogations, but didn't clear Hollis.

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I might be incorrect, but I think it might be unfair to say that Wright "...claimed that Roger Hollis, Michael Hanley and Graham Mitchell were spies...". IIRC, he said that based on the various allegations and known "true bills", those three were the only ones who fitted all the circumstances. He later ruled out Hanley and Mitchell because of their surveillance / interrogations, but didn't clear Hollis.

In 1964 Roger Hollis ordered the investigation into Graham Mitchell should be brought to an end. Arthur Martin protested by accusing Hollis of protecting Mitchell. Hollis was furious and took his revenge by replacing Martin with Ronald Symonds as head of DI (Investigations). Soon afterwards Martin was sacked from MI5. Wright now became convinced the real Soviet mole was Hollis. After carrying out further research into Hollis he discovered that while at university he became a close friend of Claude Cockburn, a suspected KGB agent. Although Hollis knew that MI5 had been investigating Cockburn for many years he had never revealed details of this relationship. Wright also found out that Hollis had been in contact with Agnes Smedley, another suspected Soviet agent, while he was in China. Although he shifted his attentions from Mitchell to Hollis, he did not come to the conclusion that Mitchell was innocent.

Wright was asked to investigate Michael Hanley in 1964. Defectors from the Soviet Union had given information about a Soviet agent who held a senior position in MI5. This included Michael Goleniewski who had defected in January 1961. These defectors claimed that this Soviet mole had been educated at Eton and Oxford University, had once worked at the Foreign Office and had been recruited while on a course at the Joint Services Language School at Cambridge. This information suggested that the agent was Hanley. However, after carrying out a thorough investigation, Wright came to the conclusion that Goleniewski was part of a disinformation campaign that was probably being used to protect Hollis.

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Or was Blunt getting information from an unwise Crabb, who might have believed that Blunt could be trusted?

I read a book (I forget which) that said that Victor Rothschild was the fifth man. I was unconvinced by it, but I admit my knowledge of these affairs is only superficial.

I might be incorrect, but I think it might be unfair to say that Wright "...claimed that Roger Hollis, Michael Hanley and Graham Mitchell were spies...". IIRC, he said that based on the various allegations and known "true bills", those three were the only ones who fitted all the circumstances. He later ruled out Hanley and Mitchell because of their surveillance / interrogations, but didn't clear Hollis.

It seems that following Maclean's and then Burgess' disappearance and defection in 1951/1952, Phiby came under scrutiny and subsequently the "Secret Trial" was held of Philby in 1952 (I had to look up the dates form Wikipedia, although I recollect Philby's timeline from his book "My Silent War"). At that time Anthony Blunt, although not under overt suspicion as the fourth man (he didn't confess until 1964), was rendered impotent with respect to continuing espionage activities (Michael Straight's book "After Long Silence").

By 1956, at the time of Crabbe's disappearance, of the "Cambridge Four" only Blunt remained in England, and as Purveyor of the Queen's art collection, it seems he had moved away from espionage (likely he had been under suspicion before this, but there was pressure to avoid a scandal, and it was too soon to investigate Blunt's connection to the others in the "Cambridge Four").

Per a BBC.CO.UK interview of Crabbe's diving partner Sidney Knowles:

" .....In 1955 Sydney accompanied Crabb on a secret mission to spy on the Russian warship Sverdlov on

its visit to Portsmouth.

He was also mixing with a pro-Soviet group of people - and they dragged Sydney along to parties attended by the likes of double agent Anthony Blunt (Crabbe and Blunt were known to be friends).

"It's either suicide or bloody Russia," Crabb told Sidney.

Afraid Crabb was thinking of defecting, Sydney alerted MI5.

He also refused to dive with Crabb on a second Russian ship, the Ordzhonokidze - which had also come into Portsmouth Harbour.

But he believes Crabb didn't dive alone on his last fatal mission:

Sorry for any reiteration, ... but given that the body found likely wasn't Crabbe's, penetration of the British security services by the KGB in the 1950's, even following the dissolution of the Cambridge ring, Crabbe's friendship with Anthony Blunt, and the likely presence of a "Fifth Man" the arrangement of his defection would seem fairly academic.

Establishing Crabbe's murder (that is murdering him), going to the trouble of a decapitation, the confusion identifying the body, and Eden's statement that further investigation "would not be in the public's interest", seems a strange and hamfisted attempt to overcome the facts with perception. Could this indicate Crabbe was captured by the KGB? (although this seems unlikely).

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