What DID happen to Buster Crabb?

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James Rhodes from Waterlooville with the medal he and his surviving shipmates have have been awarded for their work on the supply convoys which helped The Netherlands during the second world war     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (181100-1)

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SIXTY years ago today, a navy diver disappeared in Portsmouth Harbour - and sparked one of Britain’s biggest conspiracy theories.

Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb vanished on April 19, 1956, after diving under Soviet warships that were visiting Portsmouth Harbour despite the Cold War.

After his disappearance it was rumoured that he was on an MI6 mission to infiltrate one of the ships.

Commander Crabb was presumed to be dead, and later the authorities announced that his headless body had been washed up in Chichester Harbour.

But conspiracy theories continued as to whether he had been discovered by the Russians and killed at the scene, or imprisoned and taken back to the Soviet Union. Others say he probably died as a result of equipment failure.

The mystery took a new twist in 2007 when Russian soldier Eduard Koltsov claimed to have slit Crabb’s throat after spotting him place a mine on one of the vessels.

Some speculate that Commander Crabb was there to take photographs of Soviet technology which, at the time of the Cold War, was vastly superior to anything Britain had in its arsenal.

The definitive truth about his death 60 years ago might never be known, although Government papers due to be published in 2056 could yet solve the mystery once and for all.