Buster Crabbe

Noticed all the speculation in the papers recently as more and more speculate, so now it's my turn.
Had a boozy diver oppo once[I'm not a diver] and when in his cups he told me Crabbe had lost his life whilst defusing oyster mines left over from WW2 hence the head and arms missing as the mines are small[I know nothing about mines]
Took no notice except next day he rounded on me and asked if he mentioned anything re.Crabbe.
After I told him what he said he swore me never to repeat it to anyone as he would be in for it.
After 45 years I think I can let it go,makes more sense than some of the wild stories going about.
Why would anyone want to lay charges on a visiting warship,inspect it maybe but some-one out there knows.
Don't want to break any secret acts though so, be careful out there!


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Oyster mines I believe were pressure-actuated ground mines introduced by the Hun off Normandy in 1944 and a nasty un-sweepable surprise they were too. But how does this tie in to Crabbe's widely recorded disappearance during the Ordzhonokidze(?sp) visit? A part of the story is that someone who had seen Crabbe naked said later that the headless body wasn't Crabbe's.
First of all, Cdr Lionel Kenneth Philip Crabb OBE GM RNVR (no 'e' on the end) was known as Lionel although his close friends called him 'Crabbie'. The nickname 'Buster' was an invention of the media after the similarly named silent movie actor.

A German oyster pressure mine lay on the bottom of the sea and could sink a ship several tens of metres above it so it was capable of doing much more than just removing a diver's head and hands. In fact, Crabb's body, clad in a dry suit that left his head and hands exposed, rolled around the rocky seabed off Portsmouth for 14 months, subject to the appetites of crustaceans and other fish, so it is hardly surprising the head and hands were missing when it was recovered.

Much of what you read about Crabb is myth. For the most accurate version of his life and career to date, read the newly released biography called 'The Final Dive' by Don Hale. This 260 page hard back contains several photos and illustrations and is published by Sutton Publishing (ISBN 9780750945745). It is available direct from the publisher for £19.99 via this link but copies are also available from Amazon.co.uk at discount prices via this link. And before you ask, no, I am not on commission.
As I said I know nothing about it except,up pops a russian seaman last week saying he cut Crabbes throat whilst suprising him inspecting the hull.
I don't buy it,if found why kill him?besides Pompey has enough underwater photographing devices placed under the harbour[plus other things] never to use a diver to inspect a hull.
Some-ones not telling the truth but I don't buy the ruskies killing him.
I think more than likely he died of co2 poisoning or anoxia.He may of used a closed circuit o2 set on demand to avoid detection. If he was not fully worked up in that gear before the dive . Given his age and fitness at the time, probably the most likely course of death.
But then thats not as good as the pub story
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