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1940s / D-Day Crossword Puzzle Security Breach
In the spring of 1944 the Allies were poised to land in German-occupied France. The only uncertainty was where and when. Tight security over the enormous operation was paramount. (One American general was demoted and sent back to the Unites States for merely speculating on an invasion date at a social gathering.) Accordingly, British Intelligence was aghast when several key code names linked to the D-Day invasion began appearing as answers in the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzles in the month before the June 6 invasion. The code names of all five beaches (Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, Utah), the portable harbors (Mulberry), the naval support (Neptune), and the entire operation (Overlord) appeared! Agents questioned Leonard Dawe, a 54-year-old local schoolmaster, who had submitted the puzzles. Dawe didn't know what the fuss was about. He told the agents the words simply fit the puzzles. For years the incident was regarded as a remarkable coincidence. However, in 1984, one of Dawe's former students at the Strand School shed more light on the subject. Ronald French, who was 14 in 1944, said Dawe routinely had his students fill in crossword grids as a mental exercise. Dawe kept the especially good grids, wrote accompanying clues, and submitted them to the Daily Telegraph. The boys often socialized with the Allied troops stationed nearby and likely acquired the words by overhearing their conversations. There is no evidence that Dawe was a German agent, nor is there any evidence that the Germans benefitted from this odd security breach.