DDay Crossword Mystery
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Written by Rick Archer
February 2019



Rick Archer’s Note:  Here is a tale about D-Day that is certain to make you shake your head in amazement.

This is the true story of how a crossword puzzle scared the absolute wits out of the Allied Supreme Command shortly before D-Day.   This is definitely one of those “Ripley Believe it or Not” kind of stories.  You will be astonished at the explanation.



We begin our story with a place called DieppeHave you ever heard of Dieppe?  Unless you are French, Belgian or a military buff, probably not. 

As you will see, "Dieppe" played a major role in the D-Day Code Word mystery.

DIEPPE was the place where a disastrous British raid involving 6,000 men took place on 19 August 1942. 

The raid was meant to be an exploratory attack, a kind of fact-finding mission.  The objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period.  The strategists wanted to gather intelligence about German defenses.  They also wanted to prove that it was possible to assault a place like this successfully. 

The British and Canadians had no plans to stick around.  All they wanted was do a little damage, then get out of there.  Upon retreat, the Allies intended to destroy some coastal defenses, port structures and any strategic buildings. 

The raid had the added objective to boost morale and demonstrate the firm commitment of the United Kingdom to eventually open a western front in Europe.


All very noble ideas.  Only one problem - none of these objectives were met.  The raid failed miserably.  Allied fire support was grossly inadequate and the raiding force was largely trapped on the beach by obstacles and German fire. 

The battle ended about 10 hours after the first landing.  Anyone who could still walk joined the evacuation.  There were over 3,000 casualties.  Many others were taken as prisoners of war.  

Given that more than half the men were dead, the bloody fiasco was depressing as hell.  It told the world that the Allies could not hope to invade France for a long time.  Understandably, in Great Britain the word 'DIEPPE' became synonymous with failure.  It was a sensitive word indeed.  Not only that, the readiness of the defense made it seem like the Germans knew they were coming. 

So imagine how MI5, the British spy agency felt when someone pointed out the word "DIEPPE" had appeared a couple days earlier in a London Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle on August 17th, 1942.   Suspicious.  Very suspicious indeed. 


Ordinarily no one would give a word like DIEPPE a second thought. 

Except for one thing… the clue had appeared in the London newspaper just two days before the disastrous raid. 

August 17:  Crossword puzzle using 'DIEPPE' is published.
August 18:  'DIEPPE' appears in the Answer Section for the previous day's crossword.
August 19:  Raid on Dieppe fails miserably, 3,000 lives are lost.

This was one heck of an ominous coincidence.  To the naked eye, it looked like a Nazi spy based in London had found an ingenious way to tip off the Germans of the location of the impending attack on Dieppe.  Given the fact that the Germans seemed to be laying in wait strongly reinforced that suspicion.  Indeed, the Germans seemed to have been practically waiting at the shoreline for the British to arrive on their doorstep. 

Had the crossword clue tipped them off?

Experienced Crossword Puzzle solvers will confirm that 'DIEPPE' is an unusually obscure clue.  Britain's spy service, MI5, agreed.  The appearance of DIEPPE seemed quite sinister.  But how to explain the appearance of a one in a million clue in the London newspaper just two days before the attack?

An investigation was launched.  Lord Tweedsmuir was assigned to ask questions about the appearance of DIEPPE as a Telegraph crossword clue answer on August 17.  At that time Tweedsmuir was a senior intelligence officer attached to the Canadian Army, which had made up the main assault force for the disastrous DIEPPE venture.  Tweedsmuir knew several of the men who had died in the raid and was determined to get to the bottom.  Upset at the thought that a spy might have revealed their mission to the enemy, Tweedsmuir was relentless.  But he found nothing...

Later Tweedsmuir commented:

"We noticed the crossword contained the word DIEPPE.  There was an immediate and exhaustive inquiry which also involved MI5.  In the end it was concluded that it was just a remarkable coincidence - a complete fluke."



Although the Dieppe coincidence was written off as a complete fluke, there was a serious development in the months leading up to D-Day that was highly reminiscent of the Dieppe tragedy.  Two years after the Dieppe coincidence, a series of 8 different secret code names vital to the invasion appeared in the London Daily Telegraph.  The first three clues appeared in April, but the next 5 appeared in May right on the eve of the June 6th D-Day attack.  To the disbelieving eyes of the men entrusted with protecting the secret location of the Normandy invasion, history seemed to repeat itself.  The thought that the Normandy invasion was doomed just like Dieppe had been made everyone sick in their stomach with worry. 

Order of Appearance


Fluke?  Coincidence?  Uncanny precognition?  Or German spy?   What could possibly be the explanation?  The spy masters feared the worst. 


Given the context of the strange DIEPPE incident two years earlier, it sure seemed like someone was indicating the invasion was headed to a place codenamed Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah, and Omaha Did the Germans understand the significance of those five words? 

If so, they had just been warned exactly where the Allies were headed on D-Day.  To the worrywarts at MI5, it sure looked like the invasion was headed into another Dieppe-style fiasco.  If so, the results would be horrifying beyond imagination.

This time there could be no coincidence.  The odds of 8 different ultra-secret clues appearing in the London Daily Telegraph crossword were too remote to be dismissed as a "fluke".  There had to be a significant connection of some sort.


Let's pretend you are one of those people who has been entrusted with the task of protecting the secret of the Normandy Landing.  You are determined to keep the choice of Normandy a surprise lest the Nazis triple their defenses at the last moment. 

How do you suppose you would react if you started to see the code names of those beaches appear in the daily crossword puzzle just days before the launch?   You would probably go nuts.

Well, that’s exactly what happened in 1944.   And people did go nuts!

The people in British Intelligence flipped their wigs when the code names for the D-Day Landing Beaches began to show up in the London daily crossword just 2 months before the fateful day was to take place.

The crossword craziness started in April 1944, a month and a half before D-Day took place.  On different days in April 1944, the solution words Juno, Gold and Sword had appeared in the London Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle.  And then at the start of May, UTAH joined the parade.  D-Day was just one month away. 

Great Britain’s MI5 was made famous by Ian Fleming in his James Bond books.  MI5 is the British counterpart to our own CIA spy agency.  This institution was in charge of protecting the Normandy secret.  Not surprisingly, there were many men and women in MI5 who were also avid crossword puzzle fans.  The buzz in the agency over the mysterious appearance of these words was growing.  It seemed ridiculous that a daily crossword puzzle was being used to communicate top-secret information, but with the odds so astronomical, some very keen minds were at a total loss to find a logical explanation for the weirdness of it all.


Was this just a silly coincidence?  Or was this the work of a German spy sending covert messages to the homeland?  Were the clues limited to the Daily Telegraph?  Perhaps other valuable clues were appearing elsewhere in another section or another newspaper.  Every morning practically every member of MI5 began to turn immediately to the morning London Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle!

Omaha Beach

The moment they opened the paper on May 22, 1944, the spy people lost their breakfast.  They stared grim-faced at the newest crossword puzzle.  There it was, OMAHA, the word they had been looking for.  Now all five beaches had made it into the puzzle.

The clue was "Red Indian on the Missouri River", 5 letters.

The solution?  The Omaha Indians began as a woodland tribe in Ohio.  After migration, the tribe settled near the Missouri River in what is now northwestern Iowa.  A seemingly harmless clue except for one thing.  Omaha was the codename for the D-Day beach scheduled to be taken by the 1st US Assault Division in just a matter of days.   What was going on here?

Making matters worse, the problem didn't stop with the beaches!  Five days later, Saturday, May 27, this time it was Overlord that appeared.  The agents stared in amazement.  OVERLORD was the codename for the entire D-Day operation!  This was the sixth top-secret word to appear.


To the consternation of the agents, three days later on May 30, another word appeared.  This time it was “MULBERRY”.

MULBERRY was codename for the pre-fabricated floating harbors used in the D-Day landings.  This marked the 7th appearance of an ultra-secret code name in the daily crossword puzzle.  Everyone was tearing their hair out at this point.   

The straw that broke the camel’s back came two days later.  On June 1, just five days prior to the invasion, the solution to 15 Down was Neptune.  This was the codeword for the naval assault phase of D-Day. 

This marked the 8th D-Day clue that had no business appearing in a public forum.  No one knew for sure when D-Day was coming, but everyone knew it was imminent.  These crossword puzzle clues were hitting much too close for comfort, so something had to be done.  Obviously the place to start was to interview the editor of the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle. 


Leonard Dawe, Crossword Editor

The June 1st publication of the NEPTUNE clue... codename for the amphibious assault phase... was the call to action.  Alarm bells rang at MI5.

At this point eight different codenames had appeared in the London Daily Telegraph within a 45-day stretch.  Those in the know realized that D-Day was imminent.  Was someone tipping off the Germans just like the DIEPPE situation?  Were the Allies headed directly into a trap?

Given the context of the DIEPPE suspicions, the order came from MI5 to interrogate the man who created the Telegraph puzzles.  So who was the suspect?   His name was Leonard Dawe. 

Leonard Dawe was the Telegraph crossword compiler and creator of the puzzles in question.  Dawe was an unlikely suspect for several reasons.  To begin with, Dawe had been setting the newspaper crossword since its inception in 1925.  Even more peculiar, Leonard Dawe was headmaster of the Strand School, a prestigious private grammar school in London for boysLeonard Dawe was a highly respected man.  

Still, one never knows what a person's private political sympathies are.  Perhaps Dawe was a secret admirer of Hitler.  Since Dawe supplied the crossword content published by the Telegraph, he was in position to use an improbable yet highly devious way to pass on tips to the enemy.


On June 2, just four days prior to D-Day, two agents from MI5 called on Dawe at his school in Effingham, a suburb of London located southwest of the city. 

Ordinarily the Strand School was located in the center of London.  However the school was not located in London during the war.  Thanks to the constant German bombing of London, the Strand School had been evacuated for safety purposes from Tulse Hill in South London to Effingham in Surrey, a region located in southeast England.  Effingham was a countryside village that lay just 30 miles north of Brighton on the southernmost coast of England.  

As it turned out, Brighton would be one of the launch sites on D-Day.  The two agents noted the proximity and raised an eyebrow.  Was there a connection?  After the agents entered Dawe's office, what they told Leonard Dawe left him terrified.  Dawe was suspected of leaking sensitive information to the enemy.  Now the MI5 officers demanded to know why he had hidden these sensitive words within his crossword solutions. 

Dawe was flabbergasted.  He replied he had no idea what they were talking about.  In fact, Dawe denied any knowledge whatsoever.  The agents were not happy to find Dawe was totally unable to supply a reasonable answer on the spot.  That wasn't what the agents wanted to hear.  So with D-Day just four days away, Dawe was arrested.  Dawe was unceremoniously bundled up and shoved into a waiting car to be whisked to MI5 headquarters.  All the boys of the Strand School lined up to watch in horror. 

During an interview many years later, Tom Weston, the head boy at the Strand School in 1944, was asked about the day MI5 arrived.  Weston nodded and said he remembered the incident quite clearly.


Tom Weston had been told Mr. Dawe had been setting the London newspaper crossword since its inception in 1925.  That was a distant 20 years ago.  Now that Dawe was well into his 50s, he was still doing the crossword.  However, to Tom Weston, Mr. Dawe was not just some teacher who dabbled in puzzles.  Mr. Dawe was the Headmaster of his very proper private school!  When the news that two very angry-appearing men were in Mr. Dawe's office first broke, the whispers spread through the school like wildfire.  It wasn't just the boys who were alarmed, so were the instructors.  So naturally everyone in the school paid close attention as the Headmaster was unceremoniously placed into a car by those very serious-looking men and whisked away.

“An official car turned up in our drivewayI was very interested, especially after two very large men got out.  So I kept watching.  After a time, I saw Mr. Dawe go off in the car with whoever it was.  Each man had one of his arms in a tight grip.

Afterwards the rumors started to fly.  When the boys heard what the scandal might be about, we were appalled.  We were astonished at the thought that Mr. Dawe was a traitor.  He was not just our headmaster, he was a member of the local golf club and widely respected. Whatever was going on, it was a complete mystery to all of us.” 

- - Tom Weston



The Interrogation of Leonard Dawe

Leonard Dawe was in serious trouble.  He would be held in custody for several days for further interrogation.  As a precaution, the daily crossword puzzle in the Telegraph was suspended just in case "DDAY" was set to appear in the next issue.

The interrogators were well aware that Dawe was an unlikely suspect.  Here was a kindly old man in his 50s who was head of a posh, gentile English private school.  Still, you never know.  Given the seriousness of the situation, no doubt the interrogation was rigorous and quite unforgiving.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall!  We will never know, but one has to wonder just how far MI5 went to “break him”.  After all, nothing could be left to chance.  If war secrets were being passed along, especially with so many lives at stake, Dawe's code words could spell absolute doom for the invasion.  

Fortunately for Dawe, the Normandy invasion was successful.  Otherwise he might not have ever left confinement.  However, Dawe was allowed to return to the school a few days later.  Upon his return, Dawe said nothing and did little to dispel the mystery surrounding him. Dawe adamantly refused to offer any sort of explanation.  It was likely that MI5 had ordered him to keep his mouth shut.  But they did allow Leonard Dawe to resume setting the crosswords.  As things returned to normal, the boys assumed nothing was wrong after all.  At this point, the schoolboys turned their attention back to the dramatic events of war and forgot about the strange visit of the two men. 

However, Leonard Dawe never forgot about it.  Years later, during a BBC television interview in 1958, Dawe referred to the incident, saying:

"They turned me inside out.   Then they went to Bury St. Edmunds where my senior colleague Melville Jones (the Telegraph's other crossword compiler) was living.   They put him through the grill as well.

But in the end they eventually decided not to shoot us after all.

Had D-Day failed, I suppose they might have changed their minds."  

- - Leonard Dawe

Dawe was correct.  The failure of the mission would have kept him jailed for further scrutiny on suspicion of leaking sensitive information to the enemy.  The appearance of 8 different code names was ridiculous, especially in such a short period of time and at such a critical time.  All of those clues are outrageously rareFor that matter, given that the DIEPPE Codeword had also appeared in the crossword puzzle, they had every right to hang Dawe or just shoot him outright.  After all, the odds that these 8 clues were a mere coincidence was astronomically unlikely.  Something was wrong here, very wrong. 

The appearance of those words could NOT BE AN ACCIDENT!

So is this end of the story? 



The Mystery Begins to Unfold, Part One


Rick Archer's Note:  As it turned out, in 1984 the secret was finally revealed.  1944 to 1984.  That’s right, it took 40 years for the remarkable explanation to finally emerge.   The answer was absolutely preposterous, but in retrospect it made complete sense

Ronald French

In 1984, the Daily Telegraph decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of D-Day by re-telling the strange story of the 8 code names that appeared in their crossword puzzles during the fateful period shortly before D-Day.  To this point, no explanation had ever surfaced.

One of the readers was Ronald French, 54, a property manager in Wolverhampton located about 150 miles northwest of London.  The man's eyes bulged when he read the story.  Ronald French immediately contacted the Telegraph with an astounding confession.  

French confessed he had inadvertently been the source of the leaks!! 

The Daily Telegraph wasted no time sending a reporter over to get the full story.  Ronald French explained that he was 14 years old when he attended the Strand School in 1944.  French had been the one who handed Leonard Dawe the code words that appeared in the London Daily Telegraph.  French then told an alarming story about the day his Headmaster made him feel like the British Benedict Arnold.  One afternoon shortly after D-Day, Headmaster Dawe called for French to come to his office.  

Here is what Ronald French had to say about the encounter.


"Soon after D-Day, Dawe sent for me and asked me point blank where I had gotten those words from.  I told him all I knew.  Then he asked to see my notebooks. 

When he opened them, Dawe was horrified.  Dawe screamed at me and said that my books must be burnt at once.  I have never seen anyone so angry in my life.  I was really scared, terrified of imprisonment. 

Mr. Dawe gave me a stern lecture about national security and made me swear that I would tell no one about the matter.  He was very insistent on total secrecy. 

He made me swear on the Bible I would tell no one about it.  I have kept to that oath until now (1984).”

-- Ronald French


Once Mr. Dawe told the young Ronald French to keep quiet, he did just thatFrench didn't tell his friends or parents anything.  Instead French kept the secret to himself for 40 years.  It was very sad because Leonard Dawe had made this hapless boy believe he had nearly caused England to lose the war.  French could still recall the harsh words... "You nearly cost countless lives with your foolishness!"

So how did Ronald French manage to get his code words into the daily crossword puzzle?  French explained that Mr. Dawe took his crossword work for the London Daily Telegraph very seriouslyThen he added that Mr. Dawe loved trying to get his students interested in crosswords.  In fact, Ronald French noted that Mr. Dawe had a special technique he used to stir up interest in crosswords.

According to French, Dawe would occasionally invite pupils into his study.  During these times, as a mental exercise, Dawe would encourage his students to help each other fill in blank crossword patterns.  There were no riddles involved.  The students were asked to create an answer sheet for a crossword puzzle without having to worry about setting the clues.  All they had to do was create the answer sheet from scratch.  Mr. Dawe said a student like Ronald French could put in any word that fit his fancy in the long spaces.  Once the long clues were in place, the student could then agonize over ways to find words that could connect the longer clues and fill out the entire grid.  Ronald French said he kept a notebook of interesting words and frequently added these words as his contribution. 

The bottom line was that Leonard Dawe had gotten tired of doing the daily crossword puzzle on his own.  Making a puzzle once a week was one thing, but the demand to create a new puzzle every day and also run the Strand School was beyond his energy level.  So Dawe devised an devious plan... why not coax the boys to do some of the work for him? 

Leonard Dawe should have been ashamed of himself.  Implying the boy was a traitor, Dawe blamed the problem on Ronald French when in reality it was his own mistake that jeopardized the invasion.  Furthermore, losing his temper at the young man was intolerable.  Dawe deliberately scared the boy to death in a desperate attempt to protect his job.  French had done nothing wrong, certainly nothing to deserve being screamed at and made to feel guilty.  French was guilty of nothing more than doing what Dawe had asked him to do.  He had written down meaningless words into his notebook, then recited them to complete Dawe's crossword exercise.  For his efforts, Dawe took out his anger on the helpless 14-year old boy. 

As French explained to the reporter, the Headmaster's threats forced him to live in shame for 40 years with the thought that he had almost lost World War II.  Can you imagine the burden of that thought?  "Oh my God, thanks to me, Hitler almost won the war!"

Ronald French went on to say that Dawe had never explained to the 14-year old boy what French had done wrong.  French had no idea that Dawe was using the boy's answer sheets for his own purpose.  Nor did he have any idea his secret code words were appearing in a newspaper.  All French knew was that he had done something wrong, but he didn’t know what it was and that he was ordered not to tell his parents.  Not one whisper!!  French believed he would be locked up and never seen again.  With the vision of going to jail for life, Dawe's threats were effective.  For the next 40 years, Ronald French never uttered a word. 

It was the silence of Ronald French that saved Dawe’s job.  MI5 had Dawe's confession, but the Strand School had no idea what the truth was.  Once Dawe realized he had unwittingly published extremely sensitive information, he knew full well how much trouble he would be in if this secret ever got out to the school officials or to the Daily Telegraph.  Dawe had no business asking his schoolboys to do his crossword puzzle work for him and Dawe knew it.  If someone ever found out the truth, Dawe would surely have been sacked.  The silence of Ronald French is what saved his job.

Too bad Dawe didn't lose both jobs, crossword editor and headmaster.  He certainly deserved it.  Instead Dawe went on the BBC in 1958 and played the misunderstood victim.  When Dawe passed away in 1963, this coward carried his secret to the grave.   


The Mystery Unfolds, Part


When Ronald French finally learned the truth in 1984, he was incredibly relieved.  For the first time, French finally understood what had been going on.  For him, the 1984 Daily Telegraph story put the entire strange affair into perspective.  Ronald French and the other teenagers did not know that Leonard Dawe was using their hard work and creativity to create puzzles he was being paid to create himself!  Unbeknownst to the boys, Dawe would take the best answer sheets and create the clue questions on his own.  In other words, the kids created the grid, the difficult part, and then Dawe took care of the questions himself.  Then he would secretly publish their work

Okay, so that’s one part of the explanation for the bizarre code name mystery.  But where did the eight code names come from?

Perhaps you have already guessed the answer, but I will share it with you anyway.  Using the map below, note the proximity of Effingham to the Brighton departure point.  In a nutshell, there were many fighting men stationed within walking distance of the Strand School relocated into Effingham.  These soldiers were heroes to the young boys.  In turn, these brave young men enjoyed the idol worship of the schoolboys.  It was natural for them to adopt the boys as their young friends. 



After Ronald French explained that he was responsible for inserting the code names into the crossword puzzles himself, the reporter asked French how he knew the code names.

French replied that during the weeks shortly before D-Day, he had learned of the code words from Canadian and American soldiers camped close to his school.  These, of course, were men stationed nearby to await their part in the invasion.

“The soldiers were obviously lonely,” recalled French.

“Many of the men had children of their own, and they more or less adopted us.  We’d sit and chat and they’d give us chocolate.  We would ask them a million questions.

It was during conversations like these that Ronald French heard the code words.  Security was remarkably lax.  Since the boy had struck up close friendships with the soldiers, they saw no reason to guard their wordsFrench, 14, became a real favorite of the men.  French was trusted with the task to take the colonel’s dog for daily regular walksAs a reward, on one occasion, the soldiers even let the boy drive a tank by himself for fun. 


French said the men took him under their wing and showered him with attention.  He absolutely loved it!  This was a perfectly understandable match.  French and the other boys at the nearby Strand School were the perfect age for hero worship.  In turn, the lonely men loved the chance to befriend their young admirers during these anxious days far from home.

"I was totally obsessed about the whole thing.  I would play truant from school to visit the camp.   I used to spend evenings with them and even whole weekends there, dressed in my Army cadet uniform.  I became a sort of errand boy who walked the dog about the place and did small chores like fetch cigarettes and stuff like that.

Everyone knew the outline invasion plan and they knew the code words.  Omaha and Utah were the beaches, and these men knew the names but not the locations.  We all knew the nickname for the operation was Overlord.”

The soldiers talked freely in front of me because I was quite obviously not a German spy.  I wasn’t the only one.  Hundreds of kids must have known what I knew." 

- -  Ronald French

Ronald French was adamant that the secret code words were well known not just by him, but by all the boys. He also pointed out this knowledge was harmless without any idea 'when' and 'where' the invasion would strike.  French said he had no idea what the significance of those code names was.  Everyone plus the dog and the cat knew the big landing was going to take place soon, but French still had no idea the men were headedThe location remained a secret for the simple reason that the soldiers did not know the location either!  In that sense, neither the soldiers nor the boys knew anything more than the Germans did. 

And that was the whole idea.  By using code words rather than call the landing site 'Normandy Beach', the secret stayed safe. 

Without a doubt, the terrible war and the proximity of the Allied soldiers was exciting for the schoolboys.  Ronald French, for example, said he kept notebooks of the information he gleaned.  With the war at its height, the excitable teenager was obsessed by the vocabulary of the era.  Any time he heard an interesting word, French wrote it down. 

French had another reason to write down words... he wanted to please his headmaster.  Indeed, Headmaster Leonard Dawe was directly responsible for French's fascination with his vocabulary notebook.  Crossword puzzles demand an extensive vocabulary to help with the difficult creation process.  It is hard to imagine a 14-year old boy with a vocabulary extensive enough to fill in the blanks for an entire crossword puzzle.  Ronald French likely began writing down words as a way to help him with his difficult crossword puzzle task. 

Ronald French inserted all sorts of war-time words into his notebook such as “RAF” (Royal Air Force), “warden”, “Poland”, “aircraft”, ammo” and “disarm” in addition to the code names.  French had no idea the sensitive nature of the words he added such as Juno”, “Omaha”, and Overlord”.  To him, they were simply useful words to help him complete Mr. Dawe's crossword assignments.

French was totally naïve about what he was doing.  In fact, when asked by the newspaper 40 years later, French said he did not remember actually inserting the codenames into the puzzle grids.  To him, they were just words.  Since he had no idea what their significance was, he added those words without a second thought.



Rick Archer's Note:

Following his 1984 ‘confession’, Ronald French regained his youthful enthusiasm for crossword puzzles.  Once the guilt was released, from this point on French began to complete the Telegraph’s crossword every day.  However, one riddle remains.

Two years prior to the D-Day affair, on 17 August 1942, “DIEPPE” was part of the paper’s crossword puzzle. Two days later, a disastrous raid took place on the port, with 3,623 of the 6,086 men who made it ashore killed, wounded or captured.  It was a terrible tragedy. 

At the time, the War Office investigation concluded the incident was “a remarkable coincidence, a fluke”. 

Given what we know about the Ronald French episode, more than likely Dawe's little game was the reason 'Dieppe' had appeared in 1942.  Whether the clue accidentally tipped the Germans off, we will never know.  But the Germans were definitely there waiting for the attack, so one has to wonder.  Stop and think about it... the word 'Omaha' is a meaningless code word.  On the other hand, the word 'Dieppe' is not code,  it is a definite location.    Did this peculiar crossword puzzle clue tip off the Germans?  We will never know, but it certainly makes a person wonder. 

British propaganda posters had warned for years that the enemy lurked within, but the security service never dreamt that the Crossword puzzle page of the Telegraph could be a haven for subversives.  The greatest blame for "Dieppe" was the failure of the military to use a code word.  Loose lips sink ships, loose clues cause D-Day blues.  Thank goodness someone had the sense to use code words for D-Day.

Thank you for reading the Code Word Mystery!
Rick Archer


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Davis
Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2019 3:10 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: D-Day & Dieppe

 Wow! Very interesting story.  And I am not even a history buff.  But I speculate that there is more to this story.

 Firstly, I give a part of the blame to Leonard, and much of it to the soldiers stationed there, & none to Ronald.  

Ronald should have known the words could be sensitive, but was too young to know. The reason nothing came of it was that the Germans may not have known the meanings of the code words, Omaha, Utah, etc.

However, two years earlier, Dieppe was a different story. Not a code word!!!

Probably the word got into the puzzle by the same means, but “Dieppe” required no translation! Of course, Ronald may not have supplied this words. Could have been another student who was “trusted by the allies”. Ultimately a lot of the blame goes not to Ronald, not even to Leonard, but to the foolish loose-lipped allied soldiers. And the greatest blame for “Dieppe” was the failure of the military to use a code word.



From: Mark Barton
Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 5:16 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Leonard Dawes and D Day crossword

Hi Rick,

I read with interest your take on the Telegraph crossword incident because 1) we're approaching the anniversary and 2) I went to the Strand school albeit many years later in the early 70's.

The answers given seem to leave a lot of unanswered questions.  For example, why would Dawes choose those particular words in close proximity when I'm sure there were plenty of other options from the pupils.

There was an article in the Guardian newspaper some years ago about a school trip by Strand schoolboys to Bavaria in 1936.  The schoolmaster took a dozen or so schoolboys out in bad weather and several lost their lives.

The local villagers managed to get some of them to safety and the ones who died had a guard of honour by Hitler Youth in a local church.  Adolf Hitler took a personal interest and the bodies were taken by train back to England paid by the German government.

Was some connection made at this point between Dawes and Germany or was it already in place hence the trip??

With regards to Dieppe I wasn't even aware of that till I read your article.  Too many coincidences I think.  I don't like coincidences.

If you haven't read it already, if you Google 'Guardian 1936 Strand Bavaria' there is a large article from the Guardian.

Seems a strange choice for a school trip to Germany in 1936?

Best regards
Mark Barton









Rick Archer's Story on D-Day and Omaha Beach


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