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Tipperary Tim – astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim

Astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim (foaled 1918) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1928 Grand National. He was foaled in Ireland and was a descendant of the undefeated St. Simon.

Tipperary Tim was owned by Harold Kenyon and trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd. He was regarded as a fairly slow horse, but one who rarely fell. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider at the 42-runner 1928 Grand National, which was run in foggy conditions and very heavy going.

A pile-up occurred at the Canal Turn jump that reduced the field to just seven horses. Other falls and incidents left only Tipperary Tim and the 33-1 Billy Barton in the race. Billy Barton struck the last fence and fell, leaving Tipperary Tim to win – Billy Barton’s jockey remounted and finished a distant second (and last). The incident led to controversy in the press who complained that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding accident. It led to changes to the course with the ditch at Canal Turn being removed for the following year’s race. Tipperary Tim enjoyed no real success in other races.

Early life

Tipperary Tim was foaled in Ireland in 1918, his breeder was J.J. Ryan. Tipperary Tim’s sire was the British horse Cipango and his dam was the Irish horse Last Lot, his grandsire was the British horse St Frusquin (who had been sired by the undefeated St. Simon) and his damsire was British horse Noble Chieftain. He belonged to Thoroughbred family 19-b.

The stud fee paid for Cipango was just £3 5s (equivalent to £153 in 2020). Tipperary Tim was named after a local marathon runner, Tim Crowe. He was a brown-coloured gelding.[1] Tipperary Tim had been sold as a yearling for £50 (equivalent to £2,349 in 2020) and was said to have once been given as a present.

Tipperary Tim came into the ownership of Harold Kenyon. He was trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd who noted that “he never falls”. By other reports he was capable of only one pace, and that a relatively slow one. Tipperary Tim was tubed, that is he received a permanent tracheotomy, with a brass tube halfway down his neck to improve his breathing. He was stabled at Fernhill House in Belfast. Tipperary Tim competed at Aintree in the November 1927 Molyneux Steeplechase.

Fernhill House
It breaks my heart to see my childhood playground going to wreck and ruin

1928 Grand National

Tipperary Tim was entered into the 1928 Grand National at the age of 10 years. He was ridden by amateur jockey Bill Dutton, a Cambridge-educated solicitor from Chester, who had left the profession to pursue horse-riding. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider and Dutton later recalled that a friend had told him before the race:

“you’ll only win if all the others fall”.

The field in 1928 was the largest to date with 42 runners starting the race. The going was very heavy and there was a dense fog.  There were three false starts, after which the broken starting tape had to be knotted together. On the first circuit of the Aintree track the leader, one of the favourites, Easter Hero, mistimed the Canal Turn jump.

 Rising too early he was stranded briefly on the fence before becoming trapped in the ditch, which preceded it. The next three horses, Grokle, Darracq and Eagle’s Tail were brought down by Easter Hero. Of the remaining runners (22 remained in the race), twenty refused to jump the fence. The pile-up was described by racing historian Reg Green as “the worst ever seen on a racecourse”.

Only seven horses with seated jockeys emerged from the incident to continue the race.  One of these was Tipperary Tim as Dutton had chosen to take a wide route around the outside of the course, avoiding hazards that had brought down other jockeys. Because of the fog the majority of the audience were unaware of the incident at Canal Turn.

By the second jumping of Becher’s Brook only five horses remained in the race with Billy Barton leading ahead of May King, Great Span, Tipperary Tim and Maguelonne. Maguelonne was still trailing at the first fence following Valentine’s Brook where it fell. May King fell shortly afterwards before Great Span lost his saddle and rider, leaving only Billy Barton, who started with 33–1 odds, and Tipperary Tim.

Billy Barton had led the race for 2.5 miles (4.0 km) until the last fence where Tipperary Tim drew level. The riderless Great Span was between them and may have slightly hindered Billy Barton. Billy Barton struck the final fence with his forelegs and fell, dismounting his rider, Tommy Cullinan. Tipperary Tim came in first, with a time of 10 minutes 23.40 seconds, he was closely followed by the riderless Great Span; a remounted Billy Barton came a distant second and was the last to finish.

With only two horses completing the race the 1928 Grand National set a second record, for the fewest finishers. Tipperary Tim was the only horse to have completed the race without falling or unseating its rider.  Kenyon received prize money of 5,000 sovereigns as well as a cup worth 2,000 sovereigns. Tipperary Tim became one of the biggest outsiders to win the Grand National, only three other horses with odds of 100–1 have won the race: Gregalach in 1929, Caughoo in 1947 and Foinavon in 1967.

There were scathing reports in the press, which described the race as “burlesque steeplechasing”, and many writers stated that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding an accident. The race inspired some to become involved in the sport. The future horse racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan laid his first ever bet on Tipperary Tim and cited it as the start of his life-long connection with racing. The Pathé footage of the race inspired a young Beltrán Alfonso Osorio to aspire to a career in racing. He became an amateur jockey who rode at the 1952 Grand National and others thereafter .

The World’s Greatest Race (1928)

The success of Tipperary Tim led to larger fields in the following Grand Nationals. According to racing historian T. H. Bird “everyone who owned a steeplechaser that could walk aspired to win the Grand National”, leading to more entries which, Bird lamented, “cluttered” the field with “rubbish”.

The 1929 Grand National started with 66 runners, including Tipperary Tim who, despite his success the previous year, remained a 100-1 outsider. The ditch at the Canal Turn had been removed before this race, as a result of the incident in 1928. Tipperary Tim fell during the 1929 race and did not finish. The horse enjoyed no real success aside from his 1928 Grand National win.

Main source Wikipedia

Grand National News : Tipperary Tim

The Mirror : The amazing story of Tipperary Tim and the Grand National’s biggest ever upset

If you’ve read my book you’ll know I write about this legendary horse and my childhood spent playing in and around Fernhill House.

See below for extracts.

Dad pointed to an old and imposing big house up the top end of a driveway in Glencairn Park. ‘This is Fernhill House, and it’s where Lord Carson inspected the UVF men before they went off to war.’

               ‘To fight the Provies?’ I asked. I was only six, but already the language of the Troubles had begun to filter through my vocabulary. The ‘Provies’ were the Provisional Irish Republican Army – the enemy currently engaged in warfare with the British Army and bombing buildings in Belfast, Londonderry and many other places, killing soldiers, police officers and innocent civilians alike, and the UVF stood for the Ulster Volunteer Force, which was better known as a Loyalist paramilitary group during the Troubles.

               ‘Nah,’ said Dad, laughing, ‘not them. The UVF went off to fight the Germans in the First World War. Have you heard of the 36ththirty-sixth?’

               I hadn’t, so Dad gave me a quick history lesson. The 36th Ulster Division were the pride of Protestant Belfast (although many Catholics fought in it too) and distinguished itself at the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Dad used to quote the words of Captain Wilfred Spender, who watched as the 36th Division went over the top: ‘I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the first of July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.’

               Even today, I feel an enormous sense of prised pride when I hear those words.

               I loved these kinds of stories, especially about our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who’d been so brave in the face of almost certain death. In fact, my great Uncle Robert fought and tragically died two weeks before the end of the war.

               ‘Are the UVF still around, Da’?’ I asked, wide-eyed. I hoped they were, as I recalled the rioting and burning I was told was the work of Catholics out to get us.

               ‘So they are, son,’ Dad said, ‘but hey, let’s not talk about all that now. C’mon with me now and we’ll get a pastie supper.’

               I jumped up and down with delight. Pastie suppers were (and still are) my favourite. Only Northern Ireland people can appreciate the delights of this deep-fried delicacy of minced pork, onions and spuds, all coated in delicious batter, with chips on the side and a Belfast Bap (a bread roll).

               As we walked from the brow of the hill down to the chippy, Dad told me a few more stories about Fernhill House. It was owned by a family called Cunningham, he said, and it had stables attached to it. In one of these was housed a racehorse called Tipperary Tim.  and according to legend, the horse’s jockey, William Dutton was told by a friend, ‘Billy boy, you’ll only win if the all the others fall.’

               ‘Sure enough,’ said Dad, ‘yer man Dutton took the horse into the Grand National in Liverpool and all the other horses fell down. And so Tipperary Tim won the race.’

               ‘That’s amazing!’ I shouted. ‘Does he still live in the stables? Can we go and see him? Please, Da ’ . . .’

               In response, my dad laughed. ‘You’re a bit late, son,’ he said., ‘the race was won in 1928!’

               In time, Fernhill House and the surrounding area would become my childhood playground and I’d spend hours playing in the park and exploring the empty mansion and its cavernous cellars. Years later, when the Loyalists called their ceasefire as part of the Good Friday Agreement, legendary Loyalist leader Gusty Spence and the ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command’ choose Fernhill House to tell the world their war was at an end and offer abject and sincere remorse to their victims.

See below to order a copy.

Click here to buy on Amazon : A Belfast Child by John Chambers

If you would like a signed copy email me for details .

fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

In the early 80s about thirty of us travelled from Belfast to Liverpool by boat. Then we caught the train down to London and headed straight for Carnaby Street. It felt like a religious pilgrimage and I was hypnotised by the sheer joy of just being there and drinking in the Mod culture it had given birth to.

Me in my mod days

But my excitement was to be short- lived. As we walked around the legendary area and drank in the super- cool atmosphere, suddenly we heard a massive roar and what sounded like a football stampede, then three terrified young Mods ran past us as if the devil was on their tails.

Belfast Mods 1985

I feature in the documentary , see if you can spot me ?

               Time stood still as we waited to see what had scared them and made them take such desperate flight. Then, from a side street, about fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

               The moment they spotted us they stopped dead and some even grinned at the Mod bounty fate had delivered them. We were in some deep shit and I searched my mind frantically for a way out.

               There was only a few of us together at this stage and my heart leaped into my throat as I anticipated the beating I was about to receive. But if nothing else, I was used to brutal violence and two things came to my mind at once.

               The first was that I’d experienced many gang battles between Mods and skinheads in the backstreets of the Shankill and Ballysillan, and survived largely intact. But here we were vastly outnumbered, on foreign soil (so to speak), and these guys wanted to rip us apart, limb by limb, while savouring every moment of our agony and humiliation . 

               I glanced over at the leaders in the front row as they hurled insults and threats. My heart sunk when I noticed some of them had already pulled out weapons, including blades, and were preparing to attack us. This was our last chance. My survival instinct kicked in . I took a deep breath and played my hand.

               ‘Stay back,’ I said, as calmly as I could to the boys behind me. I was aware that some of our lot were Catholics and, if anything, were probably in far more danger than I was. I stepped forward and, looking for their ‘top boy’, I suggested they all slow down and tell me what the problem was.

The Difference Between Nazi’s and Skinheads | Needles And Pins

               You could have heard a pin drop as the fella in question looked me up and down as though I’d just insulted his mother. I could tell he was moments away from lunging at me and all hell kicking off.

               Then I heard a familiar accent calling out from the skinhead crowd.

               ‘Are youse from Belfast?’ said the voice.

               There was what seemed like a lifetime’s pause before I answered.

               ‘Feckin right,’ I said, ‘from the glorious Shankill Road!’

               Now I was praying I’d made a good call.

               ‘That right?’ he replied. ‘So who d’you know?’

               I wheeled off a few names of skinheads and assorted bad boys I knew and had grown up with on the Shankill and Glencairn and this satisfied them. We were safe, for now at least. It turned out the guy who spoke, Biff, had grown up in Glencairn, now lived and worked in London and was involved with other Loyalists living in the capital. His crew were a nasty bunch and I pitied those who had the misfortune to come across them, especially if you weren’t a WASP. If they had known some of the Mods present were Catholics, nothing would have stopped them kicking the shit out of me and the others and I silently thanked the gods for delivering us from evil.

               My second thought was about the Rangers scarves and the Loyalist/English Pride-style tattoos a good number of them were sporting. An idea started to take shape in my terrified brain. Rangers was the team of choice for much of the Protestant population of Northern Ireland and, along with Chelsea and Linfield, were inextricably woven into the core of our Loyalist culture. I hoped these baying skinheads, or some of them at least, would hold the same pride and love for Queen and country as me and I thought this might just save us.

Me on the cover of a Mod book ©Jay McFall

               With the situation defused, I told the others to look around a bit and I’d catch up with them later. I didn’t want the skins chatting with them, finding out some of them were Catholic and undoing all my capital work. They insisted I joined them for a pint or two in the Shakespeare’s Head pub nearby and it must have looked a bit weird: a sixties style Mod, wearing eye liner and a Beatles suit, drinking and laughing with a gang of psycho Nazi skinheads.

SkinheadS & Reggae

               But I had spent my life growing up among Loyalist killers and paramilitaries and nothing really fazed me anymore. I didn’t particularly like Biff and his crew but chatting with him over a few pints I realised there was much more to him than the stereotypical skinhead. His English girlfriend had just given birth to their first child and he was ‘trying to get on the straight and narrow’, – whatever that meant.

               After a few hours of drinking and snorting speed with Biff and the others I left them in the pub and return to the sanity of my Mod mates. I was to come across Biff and his crew later that weekend, when they and dozens of other skinheads and punks ambushed and attacked Mods coming into or out of the all- dayer in the Ilford Palais. Luckily, I was safely inside, stoned out of my mind and living the Mod dream and I didn’t concern myself with the antics of those fools, though I did have a chat with Biff while grabbing some fresh air and a fag outside.

               Safely back in Belfast, we started to plan other trips abroad, specifically to ‘The South’. Enemy territory.

You have been reading extracts from my number one best selling book A Belfast Child.

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The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts (BBC Documentary)

Kriss Donald – The Brutal Racist Killing of an Innocent Schoolboy

Kriss Donald – The Racist Killing of an Innocent Schoolboy

Kriss Donald 2 July 1988 – 15 March 2004 

Kriss Donald was a 15-year-old white Scottish boy who was kidnapped and murdered in Glasgow in 2004 by a gang of men of Pakistani origins.

On 15 March 2004, Kriss was abducted from Kenmure Street by five men associated with a local British Pakistani gang led by Imran Shahid. The kidnapping was supposedly revenge for an attack on Shahid at a nightclub in Glasgow city centre the night before by a local white gang.

The innocent schoolboy had nothing to do with the attack and was randomly selected by the gang who were hunting for any white boy to exact revenge for the attack.

Kriss was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite protesting his innocence Kriss was bundled into a car and was savagely attacked over a prolonged period  of time before the gang took him to Clyde Walkway where he was horrifically  murdered .

The corner stated that the murder was the most savage and brutal they had ever seen. Kriss was beaten and then held down while he was repeated stabbed more that a dozen times. While still alive he was doused in petrol and set on fire as he bleed to death.

The RACIST Murder of Kriss Donald

The case highlighted the lack of attention the media and society in general give to white sufferers of racist attacks compared to that given to ethnic minorities. It is also suggested the crime demonstrates how society has been forced to redefine racism so as to no longer include white victims.

Daanish Zahid
Daanish Zahid

Initially, two men were arrested in connection with the crime. One man, Daanish Zahid, was found guilty of Kriss Donald’s murder on 18 November 2004 and was the first person to be convicted of racially motivated murder in Scotland.  

Zahid Mohammed

Another man, Zahid Mohammed, admitted involvement in the abduction of Donald and lying to police during their investigation and was imprisoned for five years. He was released after serving half of his sentence and returned to court to give evidence against three subsequent defendant

Three suspects were arrested in Pakistan in July 2005 and extradited to the UK in October 2005, following the intervention of Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central.

Extradition of three men to Scotland

The Pakistani police had to engage in a “long struggle” to capture two of the escapees. There is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain, but the Pakistani authorities agreed to extradite the suspects.

There were numerous diplomatic complications around the case, including apparent divergences between government activities and those of ambassadorial officials; government figures were at times alleged to be reluctant to pursue the case for diplomatic reasons.

Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq

The three extradited suspects, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, all in their late twenties, arrived in Scotland on 5 October 2005. They were charged with Donald’s murder the following day.  Their trial opened on 2 October 2006.

On 8 November 2006, the three men were found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Kriss Donald. All three had denied the charge, but a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted them of abduction and murder.

 Each of the killers received sentences of life imprisonment, with Imran Shahid given a 25-year minimum term, Zeeshan Shahid a 23-year minimum and Mushtaq receiving a recommended minimum of 22 years

Lack of media coverage

The BBC has been criticised by some viewers because the case featured on national news only three times and the first trial was later largely confined to regional Scottish bulletins including the verdict itself. Although admitting that the BBC had “got it wrong”, the organisation’s Head of Newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, largely rejected the suggestion that Donald’s race played a part in the lack of reportage, instead claiming it was mostly a product of “Scottish blindness”.

In preference to reporting the verdict the organisation found the time to report the opening of a new arts centre in Gateshead in its running order. The BBC again faced criticisms for its failure to cover the second trial in its main bulletins, waiting until day 18 to mention the issue and Peter Horrocks of the BBC apologised for the organisation’s further failings.

Peter Fahy, spokesman of race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, noted that the media as a whole tended to under-report the racist murders of white people, stating

“it was a fact that it was harder to get the media interested where murder victims were young white men”.

The British National Party was accused by Scotland’s First Minister and Labour Party MSP Jack McConnell among others of seeking to exploit the case for political advantage, and an open letter signed by MSPs, trades unionists, and community leaders, condemned the BNP’s plans to stage a visit to Pollokshields. The group did hold a rally in the area, leading to accusations that it was fuelling racial tension.

Conduct of accused

HMP Barlinnie.jpg

Following their convictions, the killers – particularly Imran Shahid, due to his reputation and distinctive appearance – continued to draw attention for events that occurred inside the prison system. From the time of their remand in 2005, it was known to the authorities that other prisoners had particular intent to attack the accused, and an incident at HMP Barlinnie prompted Imran Shahid to be placed in solitary confinement, a practice which continued regularly until 2010, due to the continual threat of violence against him, and the aggressive behaviour he showed when he did come into contact with others.

He appealed against this measure as a breach of his human rights, which was rejected in 2011 and in 2014 but upheld in October 2015 by the UK Supreme Court. It was found that prison rules had not been correctly adhered to in the application for, or extension of, some periods totalling 14 months of his 56 months of detention, but that overall, the reasons for keeping him in solitary confinement for his own safety were valid.

He was not offered any financial compensation, which he had tried to claim.

In the interim, the concerns over violent reprisals had proven correct, as Shahid was attacked twice (the second incident, in which a fellow murderer struck him with a barbell weight in the gym at HMP Kilmarnock in 2013, caused serious injury)  and also attacked another prisoner with a barbell, for which he was sentenced to additional jail time in March 2016; he had received a concurrent sentence for violence in 2009 after being racially abused by another prisoner.

Shahid also received media attention for cases he brought against the prison service governors in 2017 for unlawful removal of his possessions (a ‘penis pump’ for erectile dysfunction which was deemed to have negligible medical benefit, and an Xbox games console which it was believed could have been adjusted to access the internet), which were dismissed.

Zahid Mohammed, who later changed his name to Yusef Harris to avoid connection to the murder, was convicted and imprisoned in 2017 for another separate incident involving weapons, threats and driving his vehicle at police.

In 2009, the sibling of the Shahid brothers, Ahsan Shahid, and the brother of Faisal Mushtaq, Farooq Mushtaq, were both convicted and imprisoned for their own involvement in violent gang-related disorder in Pollokshields which included the use of firearms. A third man, Omar Sadiq was also convicted. In September 2020, Omar Sadiq was stabbed to death in a violent attack in Glasgow. Ahsan Shahid also had previous convictions for fraud from 2002 and was jailed for the same crime in 2017 along with his wife.

Main source: Wikipedia

See: Three jailed for life for race murder of schoolboy

See: Racists are jailed for life after abducting and killing boy, 15

See: Race hate killer of Glasgow teen Kriss Donald shipped to sex beast wing of top security jail amid fears for his safety

See: One of the men jailed for life for murdering Glasgow teenager Kriss Donald has been given another jail term for lying in a bid to free an accomplice.

See also

Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style.

Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style

Life during the Troubles

Here are the opening few pages of my bestselling book: A Belfast Child

As a child, I loved the housing estate of Glencairn. To my mind it was paradise. Cut into the hillside, and with unbeatable views of the city on one side and the Divis Mountains on the other, it was like arriving in heaven after the hell of living among the urban sectarian flashpoints of West Belfast. Here were trees, lush green fields, sparkling clear rivers and streams that rushed down from the mountainside and were filled with fish. Us kids spent long hot summers splashing about in the ‘Spoon’, a natural cavernous feature of the landscape filled with water, and feasted on wild berries, strawberries and nuts that grew along the banks of the river.

               Here were our close family and friends, housed in the damp flats and maisonettes that had been hurriedly built to house those Protestants ‘put out’ of their homes in the city by avenging Catholics. They too were being burnt from their homes but back then my young Loyalist heart felt no sympathy for them; in my opinion they supported the IRA and had started the ‘war’.

               Up in Glencairn we felt safe and free. As long as we all obeyed the rules, of course.

               These rules were not the laws of the land. They were not enforced by police, army or government officials. They were not set down in any written form, but we all knew what they were and who had made them. And even as small children, we knew that a heavy price would be extracted for those foolish enough to break the rules. A heavy price, and sometimes a very public price too.

               Our two-bedroom maisonette was situated at the bottom of a small grassy hill facing St Andrew’s church Church and the local shopping complex, which consisted of a Chinese chippy, the VG general store, a laundrette, a newsagent’s, a wine lodge and the local Ulster Defence Association – UDA – drinking club called ‘Grouchos’ . In fact, we could roll down it almost to our back door – a game my younger brother David and I played frequently. In the winter when the hill was covered in snow, we would make sledges out of old bits of wood and spend hours and hours going up and down the hill, never feeling the cold. Dad would have a go at us for all the mud and grass we trailed into the flat but his was a good-natured telling-off. The truth was that he was pleased to see us all happy and carefree again after the trauma of the previous few years, and the sudden and final disappearance of my mum.

               One late spring afternoon I was revolving rolling towards our back door, Dad’s beloved Alsatian dog Shep (my best friend and constant companion) in hot pursuit. Dad called him Shep after the Elvis song and he was able to knock our letter box with his nose when he wanted to come indoors. The grass had recently been cut and was damp, meaning that it stuck to every part of my clothing. I came to a halt just short of our back wall, the sweet smell of cut grass filling my nostrils, before standing up to brush it all off my jumper. As I did, I noticed my cousin, Wee Sam, running up towards our house from the direction of the main road.

               ‘John! Davy! C’mon, hurry up! There’s summin’ going on down the shops!’

               Wee Sam was red in the face and could hardly get his words out. ‘It must be good,’ I said, ‘cos you look like you’re about to die.’

               ‘Not me,’ he replied, ‘but there’s a woman down there looks likely to. C’mon, we gotta see this!’

               He turned tail and without thought we ran after him. As anyone who’s ever grown up on a housing estate will know, if there’s a commotion taking place word gets around like lightning. In Loyalist Glencairn there was always something going on and it was violent as often as not violent. As we ran, it seemed that from every direction half of estate was also making its way to the shops from every direction facing St. Andrews church from every direction. ‘This must be big,’ I thought as I ran, my wee brother trying to keep up with me. On this estate, as in every area of Belfast afflicted by the Troubles, very few people turned away from troubledanger. The natural sense of curiosity found in spades among Northern Irish people was too strong for that.

               In the few minutes it took us to run from our house, a large crowd had already gathered outside the shops. A gang of ‘hard men’, whom we all knew to be paramilitary enforcers, seemed to be at the centre of the action. Local women stood on the fringes of the crowd, shouting, swearing and spitting.

               ‘Fuckin’ Fenian- loving bitch!’

               ‘Youse deserve to die, ye fuckin’ Taig-loving hoor!’ (‘Taig’ is an offensive slang term for a Catholic).

               I pushed in to get a better look. At the heart of the crowd was a young woman, struggling against the grip of the men holding her. Her cheap, fashionable clothes were torn and her eyes were wild and staring, like an animal’s before slaughter. She screamed for them to take their hands off her, spitting at her accusers and lashing out with her feet. It was no use. One of the bigger guys pulled her hands behind her back and dragged her against a concrete lamppost. Someone passed him a length of rope and with a few expert strokes he’d lashed the young woman against the post by her hands, quickly followed by her feet. She reminded me of a squaw captured by cowboys in the Westerns I loved to watch and then re-enact using local kids in games that could last for days.

               Except this wasn’t a game. This was justice Glencairn style – all perfectly normal to me and my peers and we took it in our stride. Although she was still squealing like a pig, the resistance seemed to have gone out of the woman. Smelling blood, the crowd pushed forwards and the woman’s head hung low in shame and embarrassment. One of the men grabbed a hank of her long hair and wrenched her head upwards, forcing her to look him right in the eye.

               ‘You,’ he said slowly, ‘have been caught going with a Taig, so you have! Do you deny it?’

               Now I recognised the woman. She was a girl off the estate. I ha’d seen her walking down Forthriver Road on her way to meet her mini-skirted mates. They’d pile into a black taxi and head into town for a bit of drinking and dancing. I guess it was on one of these nights out that she’d met the Catholic boy – the ‘Taig’ – who was at the centre of the allegations. Good job he wasn’t here now, because he might already be lying in a pool of blood, a bullet through his head.

               The woman shook her head. There was no point trying to talk her way out of anything now.

               ‘Fuck you,’ she said defiantly. ‘Fuck youse all.’

               ‘Grab her hair!’ shouted a female voice from the crowd. ‘Cut off the fuckin’ lot!’

               The enforcer produced a large pair of scissors from his pocket. Slowly, deliberately, he tightened his grip on her hair before hacking savagely at the clump below his fist. Amid cheers he threw it at her feet before continuing his rough barbering skills. Within minutes he’d finished and now the woman looked like a cancer victim. Blood oozed from the indiscriminate cuts he’d made on her head and as it ran down her face it intermingled with her tears and snot. She was not a pretty sight.

               ‘  back!’ demanded one of the enforcers. The crowd parted and someone came forward with an open tin of bright red paint. Knowing what was to come, and not wanting to be physically contaminated with the woman’s shame, the crowd moved even further back.

               The UDA man poured the contents of the tin all over the woman’s head, allowing it to run the entire length of her body, right down to her platform boots. She looked like she’d been drowned in blood. Then a pillow was passed up, and   ham-hands the enforcer tore a big hole in the cotton, exposing the contents – feathers, hundreds and thousands of them.

               ‘G’wan,’ said a voice, ‘give her the full fuckin’ works.’

               Without further ado the man poured the white feathers all over the woman, head to toe. They clung to the paint, giving the impression of a slaughtered goose hanging off the telegraph pole.

               ‘That will teach ye not to go with filthy Taigs,’ said the enforcer. ‘Any more of this and youse’ll get a beating then a bullet, so you will. Understand?’

               Through the paint and the feathers came a small nod of the head.

               ‘Good,’ said the man. ‘And just so ye don’t forget, here’s a wee something we made for you earlier.’

               To laughter and jeers, the man produced a cardboard sign which he placed around the woman’s neck. In the same red paint used to humiliate her, someone had written ‘Fenian Lover’ across the middle of the cardboard.

               ‘Leave her there for half an hour,’ commanded the man to a subordinate, ‘then cut her down.’ The crowd dispersed, a few women spitting on the victim as they left.

               ‘Jesus,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed. ‘Did you see that? Looked like she’d been shot in the head and the feathers were her brain running down her face. Fuckin’ amazing.’

               ‘Course I saw it,’ I said. ‘I was right at the front, wasn’t I? The bitch deserved it. Imagine going with Taigs, the dirty whorehoor.’

               ‘Let’s wait round the shops till they chop her down,’ said Sam. ‘See where she goes.’

               We’d been playing one of our eternal games of Cowboys and Indians recently and we’d got into the idea of tracking people down stealthily. So we waited until another paramilitary cut the woman’s rope and watched as she slumped to the ground.

               ‘I think she’s pissed herself,’ said Sam.

               ‘Ssh,’ I replied, ‘she’ll hear us. Wait while she gets up.’

               We watched the woman slowly pick herself up from the pavement. She wiped her eyes and looked around. The area outside the shops was now completely deserted, as though nothing had happened. An angry mob had been replaced by an eerie silence.

               As she stumbled off, we nudged each other. ‘Look,’ I said., ‘Look what’s happening. She’s leaving a trail!’

               She was too, a trail of blood- red boot  prints. We gave her twenty or so yards’ start, then in single file began to follow her, sidling up against walls and lamp-posts like the gang of Cherokees we imagined we were. We must have gone a good quarter- mile when she turned into a pathway leading up to a small, shabby flat. We saw her fumbling in her pocket for a key, noticing the relief on her face as she found it still there. The lock turned and she went inside without a backwards glance.

               ‘That’s it,’ said Sam, ‘fun’s over. Let’s go home.’

               ‘Wait,’ I said. I watched as the woman put on a light, looked in a mirror then drew the curtains tightly. Some part of me, the part that wasn’t screaming ‘Fenian bitch!’ with all the others, suddenly felt hugely sorry for her. She only looked about seventeen17 or eighteen18 – not much older than my sister Margaret. What had she really done wrong, other than meet a nice boy she liked? Did she deserve such brutal treatment? After this I never saw her around the estate again. She’d probably fled for her ,life, never to return. And who could blame her?

           Something inside of me knew I’d witnessed a terrible thing, yet I knew I couldn’t even begin to think like this. It was against the rules; the same unwritten rules and code of conduct that this young woman had disobeyed. Fear of the paramilitaries created a culture of silence and where we lived this was a survival strategy we all lived by. We were all products of this violent environment and we were had been desensitised conditioned to events that no child should ever have to witness.

                I shuddered, pulled my thin jacket close around me and with the others, headed for the safety of home.

               Even now, more than forty years later, whenever I smell the sweet smell aroma of cut grass I am transported back to that dusky spring evening in the early 70’s seventies and the woman’s brutal punishment, and I can hardly believe the madness of my childhood in Glencairn.

Who wants… A signed copy of my No.1 best selling book ? Makes a great Xmas gift for book lovers & those interested in the Troubles & the crazy, mad days my generation lived through.

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See : Tarring and feathering

See: Belfast Telegraph Public humiliation that was all too familiar during Troubles

Aberfan Disaster 21st October 1966: 116 children and 28 adults killed

Aberfan Disaster  

21st October 1966

Aberfan  is a former coal mining village in the Taff Valley 4 miles (6 km) south of the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

On 21 October 1966, it became known for the Aberfan disaster, when a colliery spoil tip collapsed into homes and a school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

Aberfan The Untold Story

Aberfan disaster

For many years, millions of cubic metres of excavated mining debris from the colliery were deposited on the side of Mynydd Merthyr, directly above the village of Aberfan on the opposite side of the valley. Huge piles, or “tips”, of loose rock and mining spoil had been built up over a layer of highly porous sandstone that contained numerous underground springs, and several tips had been built up directly over these springs.

Although local authorities had raised specific concerns in 1963 about spoil being tipped on the mountain above the village primary school, these were largely ignored by the National Coal Board‘s area management.

Early on the morning of Friday, 21 October 1966, after several days of heavy rain, a subsidence of about 3–6 metres occurred on the upper flank of colliery waste tip No. 7. At 9:15 a.m. more than 150,000 cubic metres of water-saturated debris broke away and flowed downhill at high speed. A mass of over 40,000 cubic metres of debris slid into the village in a slurry 12 metres (39 ft) deep.

The slide destroyed a farm and twenty terraced houses along Moy Road, and struck the northern side of the Pantglas Junior School and part of the separate senior school, demolishing most of the structures and filling the classrooms with thick mud and rubble up to 10 metres (33 ft) deep. Mud and water from the slide flooded many other houses in the vicinity, forcing many villagers to evacuate their homes.

116 children and 28 adults were killed

Aberfan Memorial

The Queen and Prince Philip visited Aberfan on 29 October 1966.

What Happened At Aberfan? This Is The Full Story | The Crown

After the disaster the Mayor of Merthyr immediately launched a Disaster Fund to aid the village and the bereaved. By the time the Fund closed in January 1967, nearly 90,000 contributions had been received, totalling £1,606,929. The Fund’s final sum was approximately £1,750,000 equivalent to £32 million today .

The concerns of the village and donors grew about how the money in the fund would be used: some felt it should be used to compensate the bereaved, whilst others felt it should benefit the wider community. The funds paid for the memorial garden and cemetery along with other facilities to aid the regeneration of Aberfan both physically and emotionally.

The cemetery is where many of the victims are buried. The original Portland and Nabresina Stone memorials erected shortly after the disaster began to deteriorate, and in 2007 the Aberfan Memorial Charity refurbished the garden area, including all of the archways and memorials. The weathered masonry was replaced with polished pearl white granite, all inscriptions were re-engraved and additional archways were erected.

The Coventry Playground was built in 1972 on the site of the old Merthyr Vale School, with money collected by the people of Coventry. The playground was officially opened by the mayor of Coventry.

A memorial garden was opened on the site of Pantglas Primary School, which was destroyed during the disaster. The park was partly opened by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, on her visit to Aberfan in 1974.

The Aberfan Memorial Charity was founded in 1989 and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the cemetery and memorial garden

Place of worship

Bethania Welsh Independent Chapel was built in 1876 and rebuilt in 1885. At the time of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 the chapel was used as a temporary mortuary where victims were taken to be identified by relatives. The chapel was demolished in 1967 and a new chapel erected in 1970. By 2007 the chapel had fallen into disrepair and was closed; memorial items from the disaster were relocated to Cardiff Bay.

Aberfan Calvinistic Methodist chapel was built 1876, in an Italianate style. The foundation stone was laid by Sarah Griffiths, wife of the owner of the Aberfan Estate. It became a Grade II listed building in August 1999, for its architectural interest as a well-designed Victorian chapel with an unaltered stone facade; it was judged to be prominent in Aberfan, and had retained its interior with a good gallery.

 After the Aberfan disaster, the chapel was furnished with a memorial organ by the Queen. After extensive renovation, the chapel reopened at Easter 2008, but dry rot quickly set in, destroying newly installed window frames and beams. The cost of repair was estimated at £60,000. In August 2012 parishioners were banned from attending the church after an inspection condemned the building, and in October it was offered for sale, with a guide price of £22,000.

In 2015 a fire was reported at the chapel in the early hours of 11 July. Fire crews from MerthyrTreharrisAbercynonAberbargoedPontypridd and Barry attended, spending a total of eight hours at the scene. Nearby houses were evacuated.

Pyromaniac: Daniel Brown, 27, has been jailed for five years for torching a chapel used as a mortuary for 116 children killed in the Aberfan disaster
Pyromaniac: Daniel Brown, 27, has been jailed for five years for torching a chapel used as a mortuary for 116 children killed in the Aberfan disaster

A 27-year-old man was later arrested in relation to the fire

The village has two smaller chapels: the former Smyrna Baptist Chapel, built in 1877, which is now closed and is used as a community centre,  and the Zion Methodist Chapel, originally English Primitive Methodist, located on Bridge Street and built in 1891

See:  Man jailed for torching chapel used as mortuary for 116 children killed in Aberfan disaster

Main Source : Wikipedia Aberfan Disaster  

Captain Robert Falcon Scott & the ill fated Terra Nova Expedition

Robert Falcon Scott & the ill fated Terra Nova Expedition

Robert Falcon Scott CVO (6 June 1868 – c. 29 March 1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery expedition of 1901–1904 and the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910–1913.

On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Antarctic Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. On the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, less than five weeks after Amundsen’s South Pole expedition.

The deadly race to the South Pole

A planned meeting with supporting dog teams from the base camp failed, despite Scott’s written instructions, and at a distance of 162 miles (261 km) from their base camp at Hut Point and approximately 12.5 miles (20 km) from the next depot, Scott and his companions died.

Scott’s Last Letter

I want to tell you that I was not too old for this job. It was the younger men that went under first.

Scott’s Last Letter

“I want you to secure a competence for my widow and boy. I leave them very ill provided for but feel the country ought not to neglect them. After all, we are setting a good example to our countrymen, if not by getting into a tight place, by facing it like men when we were there.”

Race to the South Pole-The Terra Nova Expedition Documentary

When Scott and his party’s bodies were discovered, they had in their possession the first Antarctic fossils ever discovered. The fossils were determined to be from the Glossopteris tree and proved that Antarctica was once forested and joined to other continents.

Before his appointment to lead the Discovery expedition, Scott had followed the career of a naval officer in the Royal Navy. In 1899, he had a chance encounter with Sir Clements Markham, the president of the Royal Geographical Society, and thus learned of a planned Antarctic expedition, which he soon volunteered to lead.

 Having taken this step, his name became inseparably associated with the Antarctic, the field of work to which he remained committed during the final 12 years of his life.

The grave of Scott and bowers

Following the news of his death, Scott became a celebrated hero, a status reflected by memorials erected across the UK. However, in the last decades of the 20th century, questions were raised about his competence and character. Commentators in the 21st century have regarded Scott more positively after assessing the temperature drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) in March 1912, and after re-discovering Scott’s written orders of October 1911, in which he had instructed the dog teams to meet and assist him on the return trip.

See: Scott of the Antarctic – the last letter: ‘Excuse the writing – it’s been minus 40

See: Captain Scott’s Antarctic team letters published in book


See: Captain Scott: Facts and Information

See: Captain Robert Falcon Wikipedia

Terra Nova Expedition

Outline of Ross Sea sector of Antarctica, with lines showing the respective polar journeys of Scott and Amundsen
Routes to the South Pole taken by Scott and Amundsen

The Terra Nova Expedition, officially the British Antarctic Expedition, was an expedition to Antarctica which took place between 1910 and 1913. It was led by Robert Falcon Scott and had various scientific and geographical objectives. Scott wished to continue the scientific work that he had begun when leading the Discovery expedition to the Antarctic from 1901 to 1904. He also wanted to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole. He and four companions attained the pole on 17 January 1912, where they found that the Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had preceded them by 34 days. Scott’s entire party died on the return journey from the pole; some of their bodies, journals, and photographs were found by a search party eight months later.

The expedition, named after its supply ship, was a private venture, financed by public contributions and a government grant. It had further backing from the Admiralty, which released experienced seamen to the expedition, and from the Royal Geographical Society.

The expedition’s team of scientists carried out a comprehensive scientific programme, while other parties explored Victoria Land and the Western Mountains. An attempted landing and exploration of King Edward VII Land was unsuccessful. A journey to Cape Crozier in June and July 1911 was the first extended sledging journey in the depths of the Antarctic winter.

For many years after his death, Scott’s status as tragic hero was unchallenged, and few questions were asked about the causes of the disaster which overcame his polar party. In the final quarter of the 20th century the expedition came under closer scrutiny, and more critical views were expressed about its organization and management. The degree of Scott’s personal culpability and, more recently, the culpability of certain expedition members, remains controversial

See: Terra Nova Expedition

My book Update for Blog

Hi Folks ,

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The Curious Case of Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Lieutenant-Commander Lionel Kenneth Phillip Crabb, OBE, GM (28 January 1909 – presumed dead 19 April 1956), known as Buster Crabb, was a Royal Navy frogman and  M16 diver who  vanished during a reconnaissance mission around a Soviet cruiser berthed at Portsmouth   Dockyard in 1956.

Crabb in 1950 whilst divng to find the Tobermory.
Crabb in 1950 whilst divng to find the Tobermory.
MI6 diver
Crabb, April 1944
Nickname(s)Buster
Born28 January 1909
London England
Died19 April 1956 (aged 47) ( Presumed Dead )
BuriedMilton Cemetery, Portsmouth England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Years of service1941–1947
RankLieutenant Commander
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsOfficer of the Order of the British Empire
George Medal
Other workMI6 diver

Early life

Lionel Crabb was born in 1909 to Hugh and Beatrice Crabb of Streatham , south-west London. They were a poor family. In his youth he held many jobs but after two years training for a career at sea in the school ship HMS Conway  he joined the  merchant navy  and the  Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve before the Second World War.

Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Crabb was first an army gunner. Then, in 1941, he joined the Royal Navy. The next year he was sent to Gibraltar where he worked in a mine and bomb disposal unit to remove the Italian limpet mines that enemy divers had attached to the hulls of Allied ships. Initially, Crabb’s job was to disarm mines that British divers removed, but eventually he decided to learn to dive.

Decima Flottiglia MAS

He was one of a group of underwater clearance divers who checked for limpet mines in Gibraltar harbour during the period of Italian frogman and manned torpedo attacks by the Decima Flottiglia MAS. They dived with oxygen rebreathers, Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus, which until then had not been used much if at all for swimming down from the surface. At first they swam by breaststroke without swimfins.

On 8 December 1942, during one such attack, two of the Italian frogmen, Lieutenant Visintini and Petty Officer Magro, died, probably killed by small explosive charges thrown from harbor-defence patrol boats, a tactic said to have been introduced by Crabb. Their bodies were recovered, and their swimfins and Scuba sets were taken and from then on used by Sydney Knowles and Crabb.

Awards

George Medal

Crabb was awarded the George Medal for his efforts and was promoted to lieutenant commander. In 1943 he became Principal Diving Officer for Northern Italy, and was assigned to clear mines in the ports of Livorno and Venice; he was later created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for these services. He was also an investigating diver in the suspicious death of General Sikorski of the Polish Army, whose B-24 Liberator aircraft crashed near Gibraltar in 1943.

American actor and swimmer Buster Crabbe

By this time he had gained the nickname “Buster”, after the American actor and swimmer Buster Crabbe. After the war Crabb was stationed in Palestine and led an underwater explosives disposal team that removed mines placed by Jewish divers from the Palyam, the maritime force of the Palmach elite Jewish fighting force during the years of Mandatory Palestine. After 1947, he was demobilised from the military.

Civilian diver

Crabb moved to a civilian job and used his diving skills to explore the wreck of a Spanish galleon from the 1588 Armada, off Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. He then located a suitable site for a discharge pipe for the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston. He later returned to work for the Royal Navy. He twice dived to investigate sunken Royal Navy submarines — HMS Truculent in January 1950 and HMS Affray in 1951 — to find out whether there were any survivors. Both efforts proved fruitless.

See: The HMS Truclulent Incident

In 1952, Crabb married Margaret Elaine Player, the daughter of Henry Charles Brackenbury Williamson and the former wife of Ernest Albert Player. The couple separated in 1953 and divorced about two years later.

In 1955 Crabb took frogman Sydney Knowles with him to investigate the hull of a Soviet Sverdlov-class cruiser to evaluate its superior manoeuvrability. According to Knowles, they found a circular opening at the ship’s bow and inside it a large propeller that could be directed to give thrust to the bow. That same year, March 1955, Crabb was made to retire due to his age, but a year later he was recruited by MI6. By this point, Crabb’s heavy drinking and smoking had taken its toll on his health, and Crabb was not the diver that he had been in World War II.

Inside MI5 (Espionage Documentary) | Real Stories

Crabb Affair

Disappearance

The Ordzhonikidze 

Ordzhonikidze was a Sverdlov-class cruiser similar to that shown in this photograph (Alexander Nevsky).

MI6 recruited Crabb in 1956 to investigate the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze that had taken Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a diplomatic mission to Britain. According to Peter Wright in his book Spycatcher (1987), Crabb was sent to investigate Ordzhonikidze‘s propeller, a new design that Naval Intelligence wanted to examine. On 19 April 1956, Crabb dived into Portsmouth Harbour and his MI6 controller never saw him again. Crabb’s companion in the Sally Port Hotel took all his belongings and even the page of the hotel register on which they had written their names. Ten days later British newspapers published stories about Crabb’s disappearance in an underwater mission.

Lionel Crabb.jpg
Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

MI6 tried to cover up this espionage mission. On 29 April, under instructions from Rear Admiral John Inglis, the Director of Naval Intelligence, the Admiralty announced that Crabb had vanished when he had taken part in trials of secret underwater apparatus in Stokes Bay on the Solent. The Soviets answered by releasing a statement stating that the crew of Ordzhonikidze had seen a frogman near the cruiser on 19 April.

British newspapers speculated that the Soviets had captured Crabb and taken him to the Soviet Union. The British Prime Minister Anthony Eden apparently disapproved of the fact that MI6 had operated without his consent in the UK (the preserve of the Security Service, “MI5”). It is mistakenly claimed that Eden forced director-general John Sinclair to resign following the incident. In fact, he had determined to replace Sinclair with MI5 director-general Dick White before the incident. Eden told MPs it was not in the public interest to disclose the circumstances in which the frogman met his end.

Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Body found

COMMANDER CRABB MYSTERY (1956) PATHE NEWS

A little less than 14 months after Crabb’s disappearance, on 9 June 1957, a body in a diving suit was brought to the surface in their net by two fishermen off Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour. The body was brought to shore in a landing craft operated by members of RAF Marine Craft Unit No. 1107.

It was missing its head and both hands, which made it impossible to identify (using then-available technology). According to British diving expert Rob Hoole, the body had the same height as Crabb, the same body-hair colour, and was dressed in the same clothes, Pirelli two-piece diving suit and Admiralty Pattern swim fins that Crabb was wearing when he embarked on his final mission. Hoole wrote that given the length of time that Crabb’s body had been in the water, there was “nothing sinister” about the missing head and hands. Crabb’s ex-wife was not sure enough to identify the body, nor was Crabb’s girlfriend, Pat Rose. Sydney Knowles was requested to identify the body shortly after its discovery.

He described the body as being clad in a faded green rubber frogman suit of a type issued to Royal Navy divers, and the remains of a white sweater. The suit had been cut open from the neck to the groin and along both legs, revealing very dark pubic hair.  Knowles examined the body closely, looking for a Y-shaped scar behind the left knee and a prominent scar on the left thigh. He failed to find any scars on the body, and stated that it was not Crabb.

A pathologist, Dr. D. P. King, examined the body and stated in a short report for the inquest that a careful examination of the body failed to reveal any scars or marks of identification.

Inquest

The inquest was opened on 11 June 1957 by Bridgman, who had received the pathologist’s report that there was no way of establishing identification. As neither Knowles nor Crabb’s ex-wife nor a Lieutenant McLanachan, a Royal Navy torpedo officer from HMS Vernon, had been able to identify the body, Bridgman adjourned the inquest until 26 June to allow time for a positive identification.

The inquest was resumed on 26 June. The pathologist, King, gave evidence that he had returned to the mortuary and re-examined the body on 14 June. He reported that he had found a scar in the shape of an inverted Y on the left side of the left knee, and a scar on the left thigh, about the size of a sixpenny coin. King stated that the scar had been photographed whilst he was present.

Fate

Sydney Knowles

As information was declassified under the 50-year rule, new facts on Crabb’s disappearance came to light. On 27 October 2006, the National Archives released papers relating to the fatal Ordzhonikidze mission. Sydney Knowles, a former diving partner of Crabb’s, stated in a televised interview on Inside Out – South on 19 January 2007 that Crabb did not dive alone on his fatal last mission: “He told me they’d given him a buddy diver.” Furthermore, papers released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that there were other divers investigating Ordzhonikidze while the ship was in Portsmouth Harbour.  On 9 November 2007, The Independent reported how the government had covered up the death of ‘Buster’ Crabb.

The cruiser Ordzhonikidze was later transferred by the Soviet government to Indonesia in 1962, where it operated as KRI Irian. The ship operated in the conflict against the Netherlands over West Papua, and was later used as a floating detention centre for suspected communists during the Indonesian killings of 1965–1966. The cruiser was scrapped in 1971.

Theories and speculations

Died during Soviet interrogation

The spy Harry Houghton wrote a book called Operation Portland after he was released from prison in which he outlined the explanation of Crabb’s death which he claimed to have been given by his Russian handler, a man he knew as Roman, in July 1956. Houghton claims that shortly before the Soviet visit he had been meeting Roman in a pub in Puncknowle, Dorset, and happened to see a friend who worked at the Underwater Detection Establishment with her boyfriend who was a diver. The boyfriend was annoyed that he had been training for something special, which had just been called off. Shortly after hearing this, Roman had cut short the meeting.

According to this account, after guessing that there may be some attempt by divers connected with Ordzhonikidze, the Soviet Navy had arranged for six underwater sentries to watch the bottom of the ship, which had been fitted with wire jackstays on either side to help them hold on to. When Crabb arrived, a struggle ensued in which Crabb’s air supply was turned off and he passed out. He was then hauled on board, and taken to the sick bay (having passed out a second time) and given medical treatment.

When Crabb had recovered sufficiently, the Soviets began to interrogate him; Crabb was making a confession when he collapsed and this time did not recover. The Soviets, aware that they might be accused of causing his death, decided to fix his body lightly to the bottom of the ship so that it came loose once the ship was under way. In the event, the body entangled in something underwater which meant it did not get discovered for fourteen months. Houghton also puts forward the theory that Crabb’s mission was to plant a small limpet mine on Ordzhonikidze whose purpose was to detect whether the Soviet Navy was using the latest sonar technology: if it was, the mine would detonate, and the ship would slow down; if not, the mine would eventually detach and go to the bottom of the sea.

The Crabb Affair (Part 1)

Killed by the Soviets

In a 1990 interview Joseph Zwerkin, a former member of Soviet Naval intelligence who had moved to Israel as the breakup of the Soviet Union, claimed that the Soviets had noticed Crabb in the water and that a Soviet sniper had shot him.

On 16 November 2007, the BBC and the Daily Mirror reported that Eduard Koltsov, a Soviet frogman, claimed to have caught Crabb placing a mine on Ordzhonikidze‘s hull near the ammunition depot and cut his throat. In an interview for a documentary film, Koltsov showed the dagger he allegedly used in a Russian documentary as well as an Order of the Red Star medal that he claimed to have been awarded for the deed. 

Koltsov, 74 at the time of the interview, stated that he wanted to clear his conscience and make known exactly what happened to Crabb. It seems extremely unlikely that the British government would have tried to blow up a Soviet ship on a diplomatic mission while it was anchored in British waters carrying the leaders of the Soviet Union, making Koltsov’s claim of a mine suspect.

A Russian journalist from the military Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper considers Koltsov’s story improbable. In particular the archive documents do not confirm that Koltsov (a city bus driver for 30 years in Rostov-on-Don) was awarded Order of the Red Star or was a Soviet frogman. An account of this event in the Daily Mail says that Buster Crabb may have been planting not an explosive device but a listening device.

Official government documents regarding Crabb’s disappearance are not scheduled to be released until 2057.

Captured, brainwashed, defected or a double agent

Certain Members of Parliament and Michael Hall became concerned about Crabb’s ultimate fate and in 1961, Commander J.S. Kerans (and later in 1964 Marcus Lipton) submitted proposals to re-open the case but were rebuffed. Various people speculated that Crabb had been killed by some secret Soviet underwater weapon; that he had been captured and imprisoned in Lefortovo prison with prison number 147, that he had been brainwashed to work for the Soviet Union to train their frogman teams; that he had defected and became a commander in the Soviet Navy; that he was in the Soviet Special Task Underwater Operational Command in the Black Sea Fleet; or that MI6 had asked him to defect so he could become a double agent.

MI5 theory

On 26 March 2006, The Mail on Sunday published an article by Tim Binding entitled “Buster Crabb was murdered – by MI5”. Binding wrote a fictionalised account of Crabb’s life, Man Overboard which was published by Picador in 2005. Binding stated that, following the book’s publication, he was contacted by Sydney Knowles. Binding alleged that he then met Knowles in Spain and was told that Crabb was known by MI5 to have intentions of defecting to the USSR. This would have been embarrassing for the UK — Crabb being an acknowledged war hero. Knowles has suggested that MI5 set up the mission to the Ordzhonikidze specifically to murder Crabb, and supplied Crabb with a new diving partner who was under orders to kill him.

Binding stated Knowles alleged that he was ordered by MI5 to identify the body found as Crabb, when he knew it was definitely not Crabb. Knowles went along with the deception. Knowles has also alleged that his life was threatened in Torremolinos in 1989, at a time when Knowles was in discussions with a biographer. About the claims that Crabb was planning to defect to the Soviet Union, Reg Vallintine of the Historical Diving Society was quoted as saying:

“Diving historians find it very hard to believe that this man, who prided himself on being a patriot, would have seriously considered defecting. Crabb was very fond of being a hero, and it is hard to imagine him jeopardising that status.”

It is not clear just why MI6 would recruit a man who was known to be planning to defect to the Soviet Union to spy against the Soviet Union or why Crabb would agree to such a mission if he really had decided that he wanted to live in the Soviet Union.

Death by misadventure

The British diving expert Rob Hoole wrote in 2007 that Crabb had probably died of oxygen poisoning or perhaps carbon dioxide poisoning, and that Crabb’s age and poor health caused by his heavy drinking and smoking had made him unsuitable for the mission that he had been assigned. In support of the death by misadventure theory, Hoole noted that before disappearing on his second attempt to dive Ordzhonikidze, Crabb had during his first attempt experienced equipment failure, which suggested that Crabb’s equipment was not up to standard. Crabb’s MI6 officer John Nicholas Rede Elliott always took the view that Crabb had suffered equipment failure and/or his health had given way, and that his reputation had been unfairly dragged through the mud.

Historical media

In a War Documentary Series titled “Secrets Of War,” episode titled “The Cold War. Khrushchev’s Regime” a 1996 interview with former head of the KGB Vladimir Semichastny (who was the first secretary of Komsomol at the time of Crabb’s dissappearance) reported, Crabb’s decapitated body was found floating in the harbour two months after his disappearance. In the interview, Semichastny states that the “Crabb Affair” was handled elegantly.

Grave Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb



The Silent Enemy Gibraltar 1958

Movie about Lionel Crabb

References in popular culture

  • Crabb’s time in Gibraltar is covered in the film The Silent Enemy (1958), with Laurence Harvey portraying Crabb.
  • Tim Binding’s novel Man Overboard (2005) is a fictional memoir of Crabb, who looks back over his career from a sanatorium in Czechoslovakia, having been seized by the KGB on his final mission for the British.
  • Crabb appears in the first issue of Warren Ellis’ comic Ignition City.
  • John Ainsworth Davis/Christopher Creighton in his thinly disguised fictional account The Krushchev Objective (1987) with co-author Noel Hynd, states he was the second diver with Crabb that thwarted an assassination attempt on the Soviet dictator by defusing limpet mines.
  • The “Crabb affair” inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond adventure Thunderball.
  • The frogman briefly seen in the Tintin book The Red Sea Sharks was based on a photograph of Crabb.
  • The Crabb affair features in Edward Wilson’s novel “The Envoy” (London, Arcadia Books, 2008)

Other “war” stories/posts

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “ C.S. Lewis

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “

C.S. Lewis

Thank you all for being so kind, caring and supportive yesterday, I was truly touched at how many of you reached out to me and it helped lift the gloomy cloud that was hanging over me and I feel much better and more positive today.

Grief for a loved one is never ending and I have been grieving for my dad for over forty years now , a lifetime of sorrow and pain  that can never completely heal.  Most of the time I can deal with it and banish the pain of losing him at such an early age to the dark passages of my soul.

But sometimes it can creep up on me unexpectedly and hit me like a sledgehammer and time stands still as the sadness and sorrow  of missing him engulfs my entire being and the fear of never ending grief  stops me dead in my tracks .

That was the case yesterday and I suppose I should have expected it with the anniversary of his death approaching and also rereading  through the chapters of my book which deal with his death was not the smartest move on my part in hindsight.

Anyways Im feeling much better now with the support of wifey and the kids and just wanted to say thank you to all of you who reached out to me yesterday.

Thank you.

Princess Anne Kidnapping Attempt: 20th March 1974

Princess Anne

Kidnapping attempt 20th March 1974

As Princess Anne and Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace on 20 March 1974, from a charity event on Pall Mall, their Princess IV car was forced to stop on the Mall by a Ford Escort. The driver of the Escort, Ian Ball, jumped out and began firing a pistol. 

Balls car pulled up in front of Royal Limousine
Royal Crime Scene : News Photo

Inspector James Beaton, Anne’s personal police officer, responded by exiting the car in order to shield her and to attempt to disarm Ball. However, Beaton’s firearm, a Walther PPK, jammed, and he was shot by the assailant, as was Anne’s chauffeur, Alex Callender, when he tried to disarm Ball.

Inspector James Beaton,

Brian McConnell, a nearby tabloid journalist, also intervened, and was shot in the chest. Ball approached Anne’s car and told her that he intended to kidnap her and hold her for ransom, the sum given by varying sources as £2 million or £3 million, which he claimed he intended to give to the National Health Service. Ball told Anne to get out of the car, to which she replied: “Not bloody likely!”, and reportedly briefly considered hitting Ball.

Kidnap Attempt Journalist : News Photo
Princess Anne visiting journalist Brian McConnell at St George’s Hospital in London after he was shot in the chest while attempting to intervene during the attempt to kidnap the Princess in the Mall, 25th March 1974. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Eventually, she exited the other side of the limousine as had her lady-in-waiting, Rowena Brassey. A passing pedestrian, a former boxer named Ron Russell, punched Ball in the back of the head and led Anne away from the scene. At that point, Police Constable Michael Hills happened upon the situation; he too was shot by Ball, but he had already called for police backup. Detective Constable Peter Edmonds, who had been nearby, answered, gave chase, and finally arrested Ball.

Beaton, Hills, Callender, and McConnell were hospitalised, and all recovered from their wounds. For his defence of Princess Anne, Beaton was awarded the George Cross by the Queen, who was visiting Indonesia when the incident occurred; Hills and Russell were awarded the George Medal, and Callender, McConnell, and Edmonds were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Anne visited Beaton in hospital and thanked him for his assistance.

Princess Anne visiting Jim Beaton at Westminster Hosptial

How I took 3 bullets for Princess Anne – Witness – BBC News

In 1984, the princess spoke about the event on Parkinson saying she was ‘scrupulously polite’ to her would-be kidnapper as she thought it would be ‘silly to be too rude at that stage’.

Princess Anne talks on 1974 kidnap attempt

Ball pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping. He was still detained under the Mental Health Act as of 2019, at Broadmoor Hospital

Ian Ball, 26, arrives at court where he was charged with the attempted murder of Princess Anne’s bodyguard.
 Ian Ball, 26, arrives at court where he was charged with the attempted murder of Princess Anne’s bodyguard. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

More information on: Ian Ball

Main source : wikipedia.org

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