June 1, 1944 – Crossword Puzzle Scare

On this day in history, five days before D-Day in World War II, there was a security scare when, for the fifth time in a month, one of the D-Day code names appeared as a crossword clue in the the London Daily Telegraph – in this case “Neptune”, the code for the naval assault crossing. When questioned by MI-5 agents, the Surrey school master who composed the puzzles months before said that his students suggested words for the crosswords.

Some of his other clues in puzzles preceding the invasion included Omaha (the landing beach, in a puzzle dated May 22), Overlord (overall code name for the invasion, in a puzzle dated May 27), and Mulberry (for floating harbor, in a puzzle dated May 30).

The puzzle creator, Leonard Dawe, was found not guilty of any charges that the agents could try to pin on him and lived out the rest of the war. He died in January, 1963 at the age of seventy-three.

In 1984 Ronald French, a schoolboy of 14 in 1944 and a former pupil of the crossword creator, revealed that he was the one who suggested the words to the schoolmaster. French had picked up the terms while hanging around Canadian and American soldiers camped close by the school, awaiting the invasion.

D-day puzzle

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