A strange 20th century story begins

There are many, still unanswered, questions in Britain’s history. The story I am beginning today is just one of them.  I use the word ‘beginning’ because the end has yet to be confirmed!

The story starts when the Russian Sverdlov class cruiser ‘Ordzhonikidze’ brought Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a diplomatic mission to Britain.  While it was berthed in the Portsmouth dockyards Lionel Kenneth Phillip ‘Buster’ Crabb, OBE, a Royal Navy frogman and MI6 diver, was sent to investigate the Russian ship’s propeller – a new design that Naval Intelligence wanted to examine.  On Tuesday 17th April Buster and a companion booked in to the Sally Port Hotel in Old Portsmouth.  On the evening of the 18th Buster went to Havant and caught a train back to Portsmouth and on Thursday 19th April 1956 a frogman was seen entering the sea at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour – that frogman was Buster Crabb.  Buster’s MI6 controller never saw him again!

Buster’s companion – a ‘Mr Smith’ – settled the Sally Port hotel bill and collected all his and Buster’s belongings.  He – or was it some plain-clothed police officers – also took the pages of the hotel register on which Buster, his ‘friend’ and the other guests – had written their names.

Ten days later British newspapers published stories about Buster Crabb’s disappearance in an underwater mission. The next steps will appear here on Saturday 29th April 2017!

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