Today is the anniversary of the publication of a crossword puzzle that might have altered the outcome of World War II. In the spring of 1944 plans were being drawn up for the Allied invasion of France. This highly secretive plan was dubbed Operation Overlord by Winston Churchill, and the invasion was set for June 5, 1944 by the commander of the operation General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The element of surprise was vital for the success of the invasion, but in May of 1944, British intelligence officers discovered that one of the Daily Telegraph’s crossword puzzles contained two important code names for the beaches of Normandy: Utah and Omaha.
The military became even more concerned when on June 2, 1944, three days before the planned invasion, a crossword puzzle appeared with the name Overlord and Neptune – Neptune was the name of the secret naval operations plan. The author of the puzzle, a schoolmaster by the name of Leonard Dawe, was arrested and questioned. Investigators where unable, however, to determine any explanation, besides coincidence, for the presence of the words in the puzzle.
Forty years after D-Day the mystery was finally solved when National Geographic discovered that one of Leonard Dawe’s pupils had been eavesdropping on the conversations of Allied soldiers and had noted the words, not for malicious reasons, but simply because he thought the words were odd enough to work well in his teacher’s crossword puzzles (1).
Today’s Challenge: Not Quite Crosswords
Given a clue and the number of letters, try to determine the words in the ten problems below. For example: "Presidential Plant – 4 letters" would be Bush; "Presidential Car – 4 letters" would be Ford.
1. French Dressing - 5 letters
2. Musical Bikini – 7 letters
3. Crazy Bunch – 7 letters
4. "I found a palindrome!" – 3 letters
5. Silent Staple – 9 letters
6. Storm or Drain – 5 letters
7. Fruity Gossip – 9 letters
8. Peanut’s Gallery – 6 letters
9. King’s Peril – 9 letters
10. Month that Inspires Awe – 6 letters
Quote of the Day: Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen. --Ambrose Bierce
Answers: 1. beret 2. G-string 3. bananas 4. aha 5. paperclip 6. brain 7. grapevine 8. comics 9. checkmate 19. August
1 – National Geographic http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0206/feature1/