A four letter word meaning “one of the U.S.,” read the clue. The answer? “Utah.”
Five letters: “Red Indian on the Missouri.” That one is “Omaha.” Normal enough crossword clues, that is unless the clues are in the Daily Telegraph, a British paper, in May of 1944. This is just months before the super-secret invasion of Normandy, where troops are set to land on beaches code-named Utah and Omaha.
A panic sets in for military officials. Could a spy be leaking information via the crossword in the paper? The investigation seems to be leading that way. Two years prior, the same author named Leonard Dawe, had been interrogated when one of his clues predicted what was the name of a port that the allies were about to unsuccessfully raid. It seemed the German had been forewarned.
The more they looked more suspect clues they saw. A review of earlier crossword puzzles showed that Dawe had used the code words for the three other beaches — Gold, Juno, and Sword. Other code words associated with the attack appeared “Mulberry” “Neptune” even the operation name “Overlord”. When questioned, Dawes claimed innocence. When asked why we choose those word he cried, “Why not?” there was nothing particularly unique to that set of words.
Could it be a coincidence? Was Dawes a spy?
The answers to both questions was 'No'. Dawes was no spy but he was a schoolmaster. A schoolmaster that would elicit words from his class to put in his crossword. Words from students that had soldiers quartered in their homes that were on these missions. Soldiers that using the code words openly.
Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. A curse here, a bit of gossip there, and complaint, an insult, a mummer. We think no one hears, it will never get out, but words have a way of slipping out when we least want them to. Even if no human hears you, it still reaches God’s ears. Our words have power but they also have a farther reach than we ever could expect. Make sure you choose the right ones.
A cross word may spell doom!