Back on Friday 11th May 1956 we left the British apologizing to Russia over the incident of Frogman Crabb, and three juniors of a department of British Intelligence being moved to other units. It appeared that the case of ‘Buster’ Crabb was officially considered to be closed.
But we asked ‘was it?’ and asked you to wait and see!!
Today is the day the waiting ends.
We are now in early June 1957, some thirteen months after ‘Buster’ vanished, a Russian submarine passed through the English Channel on its way to Egypt. A few days later, on Sunday 9th June 1957, a furrier named John Randall set out with two men on a fishing trip from Chichester Harbour. Their 6 ton trawler Red Goose was about three miles down the Prinstead Channel when Randall spotted a headless body floating face down in the water. It was wearing a frogman’s suit with black flippers.
Randall and his friends hauled the body aboard their trawler, took it to a lonely stretch of beach, and called RAF Air Sea Rescue.
Immediately naval intelligence officers and diving experts from the Royal Navy frogmen headquarters at HMS Vernon arrived to investigate,
At the inquest at Chichester the coroner decided that the headless body was that of ‘Buster’ Crabb. He found it impossible, however, to establish the cause of death and so recorded an open verdict:
Mr George Bostock, a representative from the Admiralty, told the court that Crabb had not been working for the Navy at all at the time of his accident at Stoke Bay. He maintained that Crabb had been released from naval service a full year before the incident. Many people, however, believed that the Commander had been unfairly disowned by the authorities.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the inquest was the suggestion that the body had been in the water only about six months. Crabb, of course, had been missing for 13 months! Later it was pointed out that it was an extraordinary co-incident that a Russian submarine had passed through the English Channel a matter of days before the headless body had been found.
Certain naval officers are known to hold the view that Crabb was captured by the Russians while investigating the keel of the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze. They say that he was taken to Leningrad and interrogated. Later he was killed and it was made to look as though his body had been floating in Portsmouth Harbour all the time.
So, the question remains unanswered.
What was ‘Buster’ Crabb doing at Stokes Bay during the visit of the Russian ships – and who was he working for?
And – was it simply a co-incidence that Crabb’s headless body was finally discovered a few days after a lone Russian submarine passed through the English Channel?