Monday, October 18, 2010
A pioneer scuba diver, Lt. Comdr. “Buster” Crabb was an expert in the removal of underwater munitions who was decorated for his work in Gibraltar during World War II. He died in April 1956 while undertaking a clandestine mission for the Secret Intelligence Service in Portsmouth Harbor, surveying the hull of the visiting Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze, prompting a diplomatic incident and protests from the Kremlin. The episode was a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Anthony Eden, who had banned potentially risky operations during the official visit to London by Nikita Khrushchev and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin, and he ordered an investigation headed by the former cabinet secretary Lord Bridges. The inquiry, which was never published, established that SIS’s Foreign Office adviser had given his consent to the mission while distracted, minutes after he had learned of his father’s death. Crabb’s fate remained a mystery, although a badly decomposed body was recovered from the sea a year later and buried under a gravestone bearing his name.