How a Teacher and His Crossword Puzzles Almost Ruined D-Day Before It Even Began

How a Teacher and His Crossword Puzzles Almost Ruined D-Day Before It Even Began

How a Teacher and His Crossword Puzzles Almost Ruined D-Day Before It Even Began

Leonard Dawe, who is now 54 years old and works as a crossword puzzle compiler for the Daily Telegraph in London, has been employed there for almost twenty years.

By the time it was June 1944, he had produced more than 5000 crossword puzzles by that time. Earlier in his life, when he was still a young man, he served with honor in the British Army during the First World War. He also competed for Great Britain as a footballer in the 1912 Olympic Games, which were held in Stockholm, Sweden. Up until that time, nobody had the nerve to call into question Leonard Dawe’s patriotism or his commitment to the United Kingdom.

In addition to that, he held the position of Science Instructor at the prestigious Strand School, which is a grammar school for boys located in south London. He had maintained this position continuously since 1926.

But by the beginning of June 1944, Leonard Dawe, an unassuming crossword puzzle compiler and school teacher, had become a person of interest to the British intelligence agency known as MI5, which is tasked with the responsibility of protecting the home front from enemy espionage and activities involving fifth columnists.

Crossword Puzzles
D-day, the codewords for which appeared in crosswords of the same month. Photograph: Robert F Sargent/Getty Images

It was just a few days before the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, which were launched to free Nazi-held Europe, that two operatives in plain clothes from MI5 drove up in a Rolls Royce and arrested Dawe from the school where he worked as a teacher.

A former student of Dawe’s who was interviewed many years later, claimed that “an official looking car was shown.” Because I was interested, I continued to watch. After some time had passed, I observed Mr. Dawe getting into the automobile with the individual in question. When we found out he was a traitor, we were shocked. Because, after all, he was a member of our neighborhood golf club!

A few hours later, Dawes’s coworker at the Daily Telegraph who is in charge of compiling crossword puzzles, Melville Jones, is also taken into jail. Both are detained without a warrant or any official accusations being brought against them, and they are interrogated at length. Over the past month, British intelligence had found a few answers to crossword puzzles in the Daily Telegraph that seemed strange.

Words that were only supposed to be known by those who were directly involved in the planning and leadership of the D-Day landings had begun to appear, seemingly at random, in the crossword puzzles that were attributed to Leonard Dawe and Melville Jones over the course of the past five and a half weeks.

These codewords pertained to the Normandy Invasion and were supposed to be known only by those who were directly involved. The answer to the clue for position 17 across, “One of the United States,” which was revealed on May 2, 1944, was Utah, which was a codename for one of the American landing beaches.

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The answer to the riddle for 3 down, “Red Indian on the Missouri,” was revealed to be Omaha, the codename for the other American landing beach, on May 22, 1944.And perhaps most troubling of all, the answer to the clue for 11 across in the crossword puzzle published in the Daily Telegraph on May 27, 1944, just a little more than a week before the D-Day landings, was “Overlord.”

“Overlord” was the codename for the entire joint American, British, and Canadian invasion to free Europe from Nazi occupation. It was a mission to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation. Other words, representing other landing beaches, such as “Gold,” “Sword,” and “Juno,” codewords designated for the British and Canadian landing beaches, had also appeared earlier in that year as answers to clues in crossword puzzles published by the Daily Telegraph. These beaches were called Juno, Gold, and Sword, respectively.

The investigation being conducted by MI5 begins to concentrate its attention almost immediately on Dawe, whom the agents immediately perceive as being a guy of enormous intelligence and possessing a memory that is almost photographic in nature.

Crossword Puzzles
A pencil and a crossword puzzle.

The MI5 operatives question Dawe for a long time under intensive scrutiny, but they are unable to draw any firm conclusions from their interrogation. On the one hand, Leonard Dawe seems like the ideal person for the Nazis to at least attempt to turn, or to use as some kind of espionage agent, given his high intelligence and the fact that he had access to publication in one of London’s newspapers, which was one of the most widely read newspapers in the city.

But on the other hand, Dawe seems to be so humble, honest, and consistent in all of his answers that Mi5 can’t figure out how the crossword puzzle answers are related to a strange coincidence that seems impossible.

The Mi5 and the American Office of Special Services, or OSS, which was a precursor to the CIA, have reason to worry that the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare, an operation to save the free world from Nazi occupation and end the Second World War in Europe that the combined armies of the United States and the United Kingdom had been working on for nearly two years, may have been completely compromised by some seemingly innocuous newspaper crossword puzzles before it took place. This would have been a catastrophe for

The Nazi propaganda leaflet that boasted of the “German inventive genius” and pointed out how the black squares of one such puzzle had been used by Nazi espionage agents to spell out “V1,” the acronym for one of history’s first ballistic missiles and one of Hitler’s secret wonder weapons, was dropped into Sussex in the south of England at the beginning of 1944. The V1 was one of Hitler’s secret wonder weapons.

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MI5 agents knew about the earlier leaflet, and when Leonard Dawe was arrested on June 6, 1944, just a few hours before the D-Day landings, they thought they had finally caught the person who had made the “German innovative genius” claim.

However, after several days of interrogation, with no leads to go on and nothing but circumstantial and merely coincidental evidence, the authorities are not as sure as they once were.

As it proved, Hitler and the Nazis made an incorrect assessment of the allied landings in Normandy. Hitler was under the impression, which turned out to be incorrect, that the Allied landings on D-Day, which took place on June 6, 1944, were nothing more than a diversionary tactic intended to divert Nazi attention away from the region of Calais. This is the point at which the English Channel between England and France is at its narrowest, and it was here that Hitler and other members of the Nazi leadership believed an invasion of occupied Europe was most likely to take place.

Because of this, Hitler made the decision to withhold key German reserves for nearly twelve hours after the landings on June 6, 1944. So, the attack led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada was able to get a foothold on the coast of France. This helped the allies win the Second World War in the end.

Under intense questioning by MI5, Leonard Dawe admitted that “it was often his practice to call on students in the 6th form to come up with possible clues or words for inclusion in the puzzles.” Even though he insisted he was innocent and refused to take part in any espionage for Nazi Germany or any other country, Dawe did admit that “it was often his practice to call on students in the 6th form to come up with ideas.”

Crossword Puzzles
Operation Overlord

Boys between the ages of 16 and 18 who are planning to continue their education at university level make up the majority of students in the 6th form of a British grammar school during that time period. This level of education is about the same as that of a high school senior in the United States.

Dawe stated that he had been engaging in this behavior for many years. This was because teaching and making daily crosswords for the Daily Telegraph were often too much for him to do on his own.

After questioning Dawe for more than a week and not being able to keep him in custody because they didn’t have enough evidence, the D-Day landings were a success, and Dawe couldn’t be held against his will, the MI5 decided to let him go without charging him.

It was officially stated by MI5 that the appearance of top secret words pertaining to the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 in the crossword puzzles of the Daily Telegraph in the weeks and months prior to the invasion was nothing more than a highly improbable coincidence. This statement was made in the weeks and months prior to the invasion.

Since Surrey was home to many American military bases and high-ranking officers in the early part of 1944, British investigative agents came up with the theory that the boys Dawe used for help compiling his crossword puzzles had simply overheard these words in casual conversation among the Americans and then unwittingly passed them on to their school teacher for inclusion in his daily crossword puzzles. This theory was based on the fact that Surrey was the location of many of these bases and officers.

Crossword Puzzles
Omaha Beach landings, Operation Overlord.

In point of fact, on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day in 1984, a property manager by the name of Ronald French, who had been a student at the Strand School where Leonard Dawe taught when he was fourteen years old, admitted that he knew all of the codewords pertaining to the D-Day landings prior to the invasion and that he “assumed there must have been hundreds of boys around Surrey who knew what he knew at the time.” French had been a student.

After being arrested by MI5 for the solutions that had accidentally appeared in the crossword puzzles that Leonard Dawe had designed for the Daily Telegraph, Dawe felt a tremendous feeling of shame, despite the fact that he was later exonerated by a coincidence. Because of what took place, he came dangerously close to being fired from his job as a teacher at the Strand School. And it would take nearly a decade before the cloud of suspicion that lingered over his head eventually began to lift when he gave a public interview to the BBC in 1958 about his questioning by Mi5.

The interview was about his time spent being questioned by Mi5. Is that the final chapter in the historic Crossword Panic that took place in 1944? Could it have been a simple case of coincidental occurrence when top-secret codewords related to the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, turned up in crossword puzzles published in daily newspapers?

Is there more to the story than the fact that some British schoolboys overheard some American soldiers speaking carelessly, or was the whole issue owing to the fact that those remarks were overheard? Maybe. It is important to keep in mind that prior to the allied raid on the French port of Dieppe in 1942, the word “Dieppe” had appeared as an answer in another crossword puzzle in a British daily newspaper.

Crossword Puzzles
View along the River Thames in London towards smoke rising from the London docks after an air raid during the Blitz.

Furthermore, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the Nazis dropped leaflets during the war that alluded to the V1 rocket. This fact should also be remembered. The fact that MI5 questioned Leonard Dawe almost certainly indicates that they were looking for the incorrect person all along. Even though it’s likely that the “German Inventive Genius” who hid secrets in crossword puzzles stayed at large for the rest of the war, we can be thankful that clever crossword clues weren’t nearly enough to stop the advance of allied armies or the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Source : Wikipedia | The Guardian

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