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The Strange Death of Buster Crabb


John Simkin
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Defectors from the Soviet Union had given information about a Soviet agent who held a senior position in MI5.

John,

Do we know for sure that this is the way it really worked? Is it not every bit as likely - more so, I can't help thinking - that Angleton et al fed the defectors the lines he/they wanted pursuing?

In effect, aren't we confronted with a variant of what, to modify Karl Kraus, is no more than: "Spooks tell lies to their assets in the media and academia, then pretend to believe what they read"?

Paul

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There appears to be at least four ways of explaining the disappearance of Buster Crabbe.

1. Buster Crabb was killed by the Soviets. (The UK government story that is supported by the recent confession of Soviet agent Eduard Koltsov.)

2. Buster Crabb was part of the Kim Philby network who defected to the Soviet Union. (Don Hale)

3. Buster Crabb was captured by the Soviets and forced to work for the Russian Navy. (J. Bernard Hutton and Pat Rose, Crabb’s girlfriend).

4. Buster Crabb was killed by the CIA/MI6 because he was a Soviet spy who planned to defect to the Soviet Union. (Tim Binding/Sydney Knowles)

The recent confession by Koltsov seems to have convinced the newspapers that the official story was correct. However, there is a big problem with Koltsov’s confession. According to Koltsov, the reason that he cut Crabb’s throat was that he found him attaching a limpet mine to the hull. Why would MI6 be interested in blowing up the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze, an act that would almost certainly have ignited war with the Soviet Union?

I also suspect the motives of Koltsov. It came only months after Tim Binding published details of Sydney Knowles story that MI6/CIA killed Crabb. It does not take much money to bribe former Soviet agents to say what the MI6/CIA want them to say. After all, we recently have had KGB agents coming forward with evidence that suggests Castro ordered the assassination of JFK.

I reject the idea that Crabb defected to the Soviet Union. If he had, the Soviets would have used the information as part of their propaganda campaign. As a war hero, Crabb’s defection would have been a considerable coup for the KGB.

The third theory has much more going for it. Pat Rose gave an interview before her death (quoted in Don Hale’s recently published “The Final Dive”). She said she was contacted several times by “strangers” who told her that Crabb was alive and living in the Soviet Union. She also received a message where she was described as the “Old Grey Witch”. Pat Rose claims that this was Crabb’s pet name for her and that no one else knew this and so the message must have been genuine.

It is of course possible that the KGB/MI6/CIA got hold of this pet name. Was it in their interest for Rose to believe that Crabb was still alive? I am not sure what motive KGB had for this deception. However, Rose was a problem for MI6/CIA. She knew that Crabb had been in contact with the Kim Philby network since 1938. Rose would have kept quiet about this as long as she thought he had defected to the Soviet Union. Were these strangers working for MI6/CIA?

Rose was one of those who failed to identify the dead frogman as being Crabb. The main reason was that Crabb had webbed toes - the dead body had normal feet. It was left to Sydney Knowles to identify the body, the man who later confessed to taking part in the MI6/CIA killing of Crabb. Rose assumed that the dead man was a Russian. She appears not to have considered the possibility that Crabb had been murdered by MI6/CIA. If she had, she would have been likely to have revealed that Crabb was part of the Philby network of spies.

It is of course impossible to know exactly what happened to Crabb. However, the theory that Crabb had been warned by Philby via Blunt that MI6/CIA had identified as a spy and that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union, is supported by the facts available. The arrest of Crabb would have created terrible publicity for the British intelligence system. If Crabb had defected to the Soviet Union the embarrassment would have been even worse as it would suggest that MI5/MI6 still had a mole in a senior position. The best way out of this was to kill Crabb and blame it on the Soviets. If that was the plan, it worked.

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The recent confession by Koltsov seems to have convinced the newspapers that the official story was correct. However, there is a big problem with Koltsov’s confession. According to Koltsov, the reason that he cut Crabb’s throat was that he found him attaching a limpet mine to the hull. Why would MI6 be interested in blowing up the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze, an act that would almost certainly have ignited war with the Soviet Union?

I'd also find problems with this. They wanted to look at the prop and hull; sinking it in situ would have achieved little... but to play Devil's Advocate: would there have been an advantage? Could it have been claimed it was a WWII mine? Was the area near known WWII minefields (this information was kept secret for many, many years)? Was the harbour deep enough it to settle but not sink? That way Russian casualties would have been kept to minimum. Would the security services / MoD been able to get a good look during any 'assistance' in "recovery efforts"?

I don't think so, but it is worth considering.

I reject the idea that Crabb defected to the Soviet Union. If he had, the Soviets would have used the information as part of their propaganda campaign. As a war hero, Crabb’s defection would have been a considerable coup for the KGB.

Agreed.

The third theory has much more going for it.

I disagree here; his value as a diver were limited, at best. Would he have had intelligence information that would make him worthwhile?

It is of course impossible to know exactly what happened to Crabb. However, the theory that Crabb had been warned by Philby via Blunt that MI6/CIA had identified as a spy and that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union, is supported by the facts available. The arrest of Crabb would have created terrible publicity for the British intelligence system. If Crabb had defected to the Soviet Union the embarrassment would have been even worse as it would suggest that MI5/MI6 still had a mole in a senior position. The best way out of this was to kill Crabb and blame it on the Soviets. If that was the plan, it worked.

That still has to be considered as a possibility.

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  • 11 months later...
There appears to be at least four ways of explaining the disappearance of Buster Crabbe.

1. Buster Crabb was killed by the Soviets. (The UK government story that is supported by the recent confession of Soviet agent Eduard Koltsov.)

2. Buster Crabb was part of the Kim Philby network who defected to the Soviet Union. (Don Hale)

3. Buster Crabb was captured by the Soviets and forced to work for the Russian Navy. (J. Bernard Hutton and Pat Rose, Crabb's girlfriend).

4. Buster Crabb was killed by the CIA/MI6 because he was a Soviet spy who planned to defect to the Soviet Union. (Tim Binding/Sydney Knowles)

The recent confession by Koltsov seems to have convinced the newspapers that the official story was correct. However, there is a big problem with Koltsov's confession. According to Koltsov, the reason that he cut Crabb's throat was that he found him attaching a limpet mine to the hull. Why would MI6 be interested in blowing up the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze, an act that would almost certainly have ignited war with the Soviet Union?

I also suspect the motives of Koltsov. It came only months after Tim Binding published details of Sydney Knowles story that MI6/CIA killed Crabb. It does not take much money to bribe former Soviet agents to say what the MI6/CIA want them to say. After all, we recently have had KGB agents coming forward with evidence that suggests Castro ordered the assassination of JFK.

I reject the idea that Crabb defected to the Soviet Union. If he had, the Soviets would have used the information as part of their propaganda campaign. As a war hero, Crabb's defection would have been a considerable coup for the KGB.

The third theory has much more going for it. Pat Rose gave an interview before her death (quoted in Don Hale's recently published "The Final Dive"). She said she was contacted several times by "strangers" who told her that Crabb was alive and living in the Soviet Union. She also received a message where she was described as the "Old Grey Witch". Pat Rose claims that this was Crabb's pet name for her and that no one else knew this and so the message must have been genuine.

It is of course possible that the KGB/MI6/CIA got hold of this pet name. Was it in their interest for Rose to believe that Crabb was still alive? I am not sure what motive KGB had for this deception. However, Rose was a problem for MI6/CIA. She knew that Crabb had been in contact with the Kim Philby network since 1938. Rose would have kept quiet about this as long as she thought he had defected to the Soviet Union. Were these strangers working for MI6/CIA?

Rose was one of those who failed to identify the dead frogman as being Crabb. The main reason was that Crabb had webbed toes - the dead body had normal feet. It was left to Sydney Knowles to identify the body, the man who later confessed to taking part in the MI6/CIA killing of Crabb. Rose assumed that the dead man was a Russian. She appears not to have considered the possibility that Crabb had been murdered by MI6/CIA. If she had, she would have been likely to have revealed that Crabb was part of the Philby network of spies.

It is of course impossible to know exactly what happened to Crabb. However, the theory that Crabb had been warned by Philby via Blunt that MI6/CIA had identified as a spy and that he intended to defect to the Soviet Union, is supported by the facts available. The arrest of Crabb would have created terrible publicity for the British intelligence system. If Crabb had defected to the Soviet Union the embarrassment would have been even worse as it would suggest that MI5/MI6 still had a mole in a senior position. The best way out of this was to kill Crabb and blame it on the Soviets. If that was the plan, it worked.

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