Crossword Panic of 1944

Crossword Panic of 1944


In 1944, by a huge coincidence, a crossword puzzle was printed with answers all containing D-Day operation "code names", which sent MI-5 into a panic thinking their invasion plans had been discovered.


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While some members of MI5, Britain's counter-espionage service, were whiling away their spare moments in May 1944 by doing the Telegraph Crossword, they noticed that vital code-names that had been adopted to hide the mightiest sea-borne assault of all time appeared in the crossword.

They noticed that the answer to one clue, 'One of the USA', turned out to be Utah, and another answer to a clue was Omaha. These were the names given by the Allies to the beaches in Normandy where the American Forces were to land on D-Day.

Another answer that appeared in that month's crossword was Mulberry. This was the name of the floating harbor that was to be towed across the Channel to accommodate the supply ships of the invasion force. Neptune, another answer, referred to the code-name for the naval support for the operation.

Perhaps the most suspicious was a clue about a 'Big-Wig', to which the answer was Overlord. This was the code-name given for the entire operation!

Alarm bells rang throughout MI5 …was the crossword being used to tip-off the Germans?

Two officers were sent immediately to Leatherhead in Surrey, where a man called Leonard Dawe lived. He was the crossword compiler, a 54-year-old teacher.

Why, the officers demanded to know, had he chosen these five words within his crossword solutions?

"Why not?" was Dawe's indignant reply. Was there a law against choosing whatever words he liked?

MI5 eventually became convinced of Dawe's honesty and he managed to convince them that he had no knowledge of the coming D-Day invasion.

It appears his crossword solutions were perhaps just another of life's astonishing coincidences!


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