Laionel Krabb

Laionel Krabb

Date of Birth: 28.01.1909
Country: Great Britain

  1. The Mysterious Life of Lionel Crabb
  2. The Discovery of a Mysterious Body
  3. The Life and Career of Lionel Crabb
  4. The Mysterious Assignments
  5. The Operation on the Soviet Cruiser
  6. The Disappearance and Speculations
  7. The Mysterious Events
  8. The Unanswered Questions

The Mysterious Life of Lionel Crabb

Lionel Crabb was a combat swimmer for the British Royal Navy and the intelligence service MI6. However, to this day, no one knows the truth about his fate. Was Crabb killed? Was he captured? Did he really work for the USSR? And if so, was it willingly? These questions still remain unanswered. (Source: Spies, stories of secret agents, p.21-23)

The Discovery of a Mysterious Body

On the afternoon of June 10, 1957, Constable Ronald Williams responded to an urgent call at a crime scene. Fishermen had discovered a dead body on the beach. This was not unusual, as the sea often washed ashore the bodies of drowned sailors on the southern coast of England. However, this time the body was not ordinary. It was wearing a double rubber diving suit, but it had no head or arms. Rusty marks on the ankles indicated that the unfortunate man had been chained to a heavy object underwater. It was impossible to determine his identity and cause of death. However, in 1956, a former officer of the British Royal Navy, a diver and demolitions expert, had mysteriously disappeared near the coast of Portsmouth. He was also wearing a double diving suit, so it was likely that this was the same person. The remains of the drowned man, labeled as "Commander Crabb," were buried on July 5 in the military cemetery in Portsmouth. (Commander is a senior officer rank in the Royal Navy, equivalent to a lieutenant colonel in the Army).

The Life and Career of Lionel Crabb

Lionel Crabb, also known as "Kutilla" among his teammates, was born in 1911. Most of his life was spent at sea. During World War II, he was involved in the formation of the first British Royal Navy diving and demolitions squad. He was repeatedly awarded medals for his bravery in underwater missions. After the war, in 1948, Crabb was demobilized from regular service and joined the reserves of the Royal Navy. Over the next eight years, he worked not only for the Navy but also for British intelligence. He trained sailors in underwater rescue techniques, retrieved secret materials from sunken submarines, and developed a new technology for underwater photography. He also carried out secret missions. Crabb was obsessed with underwater activities. He and his wife lived in a trailer near the naval base in Portsmouth, but Mrs. Crabb rarely saw her husband. He often disappeared for several days and, upon his return, explained his absence vaguely by saying he had "gone for a walk." So, it was not surprising that when he returned home one day after another one of his "walks," Crabb found neither his wife nor their home. Only a suitcase with his belongings stood alone in the middle of an empty field. This happened in 1953.

The Mysterious Assignments

Crabb took this event calmly. He was generally a calm and composed person. He bought a new trailer, and life went on as usual. Among his friends, Crabb was considered an eccentric and extremely mysterious person. As one of his officer friends wrote, "no one knew exactly what he was doing or who he was working for." It was believed that he was carrying out some secret government mission. In 1955, Crabb moved from Portsmouth to London and started working for a small company selling furniture for cafes and bars. He complained indignantly to everyone that he had been dismissed from the Royal Navy. However, the truth was quite different. The modest company where Crabb "worked" was a cover for secret meetings of MI6 agents. His complaints about unfair dismissal were intended to divert attention: Crabb was preparing for a highly important secret mission. He continued to periodically disappear. With each disappearance, his mysterious absences became longer. When Crabb's new girlfriend, Pat Rose, asked him where he had been all this time, his answer greatly disturbed her: "Oh, just went for a walk." Pat became genuinely worried. Crabb smoked too much, drank excessively, and at 44 years old, "sick and old," he was no longer suitable for dangerous work. Pat also noticed that Crabb had become very close with a suspicious man named Matthew Smith. She did not know what Smith was involved in, but in her opinion, he was "not the nicest guy." Pat did not know, and could not know, that Smith was the chief organizer of a secret operation in which her boyfriend was involved.

The Operation on the Soviet Cruiser

In 1955, the Soviet cruiser "Sverdlov" arrived in Portsmouth harbor. The British had long been interested in this vessel. It had superior maneuverability and excellent handling. In wartime, such characteristics gave a ship a considerable advantage. Now the British had the opportunity to learn something about the latest Russian technologies in naval shipbuilding. However, there was a small problem. Since the "Sverdlov" had come to Portsmouth at the invitation of the British government, the intelligence agency was obligated to leave it alone. But the British came up with a way to bypass this obstacle. If a friendly foreign state, such as the United States, invited a freelance diver for a "secret inspection" of the ship, the British authorities could always claim that they were not involved. Lionel Crabb was to be that freelance diver, and Smith, a CIA agent working in cooperation with MI6, was to lead the operation. If the operation was successful, the British would obtain the information they wanted from the Americans. If not, the British would have to feign innocence. Crabb's secret dive took place in October 1955. The underwater current carried him to the "Sverdlov." Unnoticed by anyone, Crabb swam underneath the ship's hull. On the bow, there was a large circular opening. Inside, there was a propeller that could be lowered to various positions to improve the ship's maneuverability. Crabb managed to gather the required information before swimming away from the ship, reaching the shore, and heading to London to deliver his report.

The Disappearance and Speculations

The British authorities wanted a more detailed description, which presented itself in April 1956 when Soviet officials visited the United Kingdom. The small fleet, consisting of three ships, included the cruiser "Ordzhonikidze," a twin brother of the "Sverdlov." Crabb and Smith resumed their work. The operation was scheduled for April 18. However, this time everything was much more complicated. A high-ranking MI6 officer had recently defected to the USSR, revealing many secrets of British intelligence. Did these secrets include information about the "Sverdlov" operation? If so, the crew of the "Ordzhonikidze" would be on alert. Crabb was on edge. He told close friends that he had "a job to do" in Portsmouth. He even wrote a letter to his mother, instructing her to destroy it immediately. He begged Pat Rose to accompany him to Portsmouth but warned her that she would have to return home alone as he had some matters to attend to. He had a bad feeling. He took out two photographs from his wallet and looked at them for a long time. These were cherished photographs of Pat. Friends reported that they barely recognized Crabb. This was not the man they knew.

The Mysterious Events

On Tuesday, April 17, two men checked into the Salli Port Hotel on the main street of Portsmouth. They registered as L. Crabb and M. Smith. The next morning, the crew members on the ships in Portsmouth harbor noticed something strange happening around the "Ordzhonikidze." Soviet divers surrounded the ship. Suddenly, another diver emerged between the "Ordzhonikidze" and a nearby destroyer. A short struggle ensued, and then they all disappeared underwater. Shortly after, three figures resurfaced. Two dragged the third onto a waiting motorboat, which immediately started and headed towards the "Ordzhonikidze." On Thursday, April 19, Smith informed the hotel clerk that he and his friend were checking out. After settling the bill in cash, he headed for the exit, carrying two suitcases. Ten days later, the command of the British Royal Navy officially announced that on April 18, diver Crabb, while performing civilian work to inspect secret underwater equipment near Portsmouth, did not return from his assignment and was likely dead. The "legend" did not fool anyone. Some information leaked to the press, and journalists published everything they could gather about Crabb's operation. The Soviet Union was outraged. What kind of intrigue was this? What did it all mean? The CIA was equally indignant. How could the British send an elderly man with health problems on such a responsible mission? Denying any involvement in Crabb's operation, the British government hastily destroyed any evidence. The police visited the Salli Port Hotel and confiscated the pages from the registration book for April 17-19. All officers at the Portsmouth base who were in any way connected to the events of April 18 went to sea. Crabb's friends in the Navy were ordered not to speak about him to anyone.

The Unanswered Questions

A year later, a headless and armless diver's body was washed ashore. A former comrade of Crabb's received instructions to identify the body and confirm that it was Lionel Crabb. The case was closed due to lack of evidence. However, this did not convince Crabb's friends or his family. Yes, the body was wearing an Italian-made diving suit, just like Crabb's. But there were some discrepancies. The hair on the body was black, while Crabb's hair was light brown. There were also no scars. Crabb's ex-wife noticed that the size of the foot was clearly not his. Then strange things began to happen. A bottle with a letter addressed to Crabb's mother washed ashore. She recognized her son's handwriting but never revealed the contents of the letter to anyone. Some time later, Pat Rose saw two photographs published in a newspaper in East Germany. They were her own photographs, once given to Crabb. There were only two sets of these photographs - one was with her, and the other was with Crabb. How did they end up in East Germany? Then she started receiving messages - allegedly from the Soviet secret service - claiming that Crabb was alive. Pat received several anonymous letters and phone calls confirming this. Journalists discovered evidence that a helicopter landed on the deck of the "Ordzhonikidze" after it had left the shores of the UK and picked up a diver. This was witnessed by sailors on a nearby Danish frigate. The stories multiplied. Rumors spread that Crabb was now serving in the Soviet Navy under the name Lev Lvovich Korablev and was training special forces soldiers in underwater combat techniques. However, to this day, no one knows the truth. Was Crabb killed? Was he captured? Did he really work for the USSR? And if so, was it willingly? These questions remain unanswered.