02 May, 2011

02 May, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
2 May, 1944        1235

Dearest sweetheart –

Well – the gang is back and things are humming again as usual. And the meetings, etc. have started again, reports, schedules – and oh well – it’s the Army. I guess I’m getting to be a veteran, darling. Tomorrow is 22 months for me – and frankly, when I signed up – I didn’t realize that things would be so long in developing. But because I was in the Army, I met you and I shall always owe the service that – if not much more. It is said that Army life makes a man hard and callous. So far I don’t feel that way – and I don’t see why I ever should. How I’ll be when I return will be for you and me to see.

Yesterday was another quiet, uneventful day, beautiful, calm – and the more I see of England, dear, the more I like it. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s New England where my spirit is. I guess our outfit is just a lucky one. In the past few weeks we’ve had occasion to run into or hear of others and the great majority of them have billets that are terrible, and some are even living in tents, as we did on maneuvers. When we get to France – or wherever we eventually go – I shall insist on a tile fox-hole, so help me, dear.

Darling, I got a big kick out of reading of your telephone calls about wedding photographs, trousseaus, etc. It reminds me of the days I was in practice. Hardly a week went by that I didn’t get mail addressed to Mrs. A. and the same went for telephone calls. I would often have to insist there was no Mrs. A – and usually I wasn’t believed. The calls were usually about starting charge accounts, fur sales, etc. It will be a happy day for me, sweetheart, when I can say, “Just a minute, I’ll call her.”

By the way – I don’t think I ever thanked you for the hair tonic – or at least not since I used it. It’s really very good for stopping dandruff – and that’s what I wanted it for. It ought to last me for the duration, too.


Hello dear,

I got as far as about 1300 and then was called to a B.C. meeting. After that I met all the men in the detachment and decided I was getting into condition – and they weren’t. So 15 of them and we 3 officers got some Special Service bats, gloves and balls and went to the big park near here. In my training schedule I shall call it mass athletics; actually we had two men choose sides and we had a swell game of soft-ball. Needless to say, darling, my side or our side won 14-8. It really was a lot of fun. We’ll try to do it often. I want them to get in condition and develop their wind – they may need it. We’ll take some road hikes and do some double-time on the road.

I’ve just got back and plan to take a hot bath. I could go for a nice cold coke – but no soap. Occasionally, we get them – but they’re made and bottled here – and it’s nothing like it used to be. In connection with that, by the way, it’s interesting that coca-cola had never hit England. They have no idea of what it’s like and of course have never had a rum coke. They don’t drink much rum here anyway, although gin is as popular as Scotch. And one other thing – they never had the gum we have – in sticks – but only in the chicklet form. Now don’t you feel that you’re getting to know the English?

Well, Sweetheart, enough for now. All is well here, dear, as I hope it is with you too – and the family. Send them my love and all I can say to you, darling is that I love you more and more. I’ve been thinking so ‘hard’ about you these past few nights, and the more I think, the more I want you. And I’ll have you too, no fear about that!!

All my love for now, dear –


about The Crossword Panic of May 1944

As the invasion of France (Operation Overlord) was being planned, a great cloak of secrecy was thrown over it to retain the element of surprise. At the same time, civilians enjoyed completing the crosswords in the daily newspapers as they spent long hours sat in bomb shelters during air raids. Intelligence officers of MI-5 (Britain’s counter-espionage agency) were no exception.

While some officers were whiling away their spare moments doing the crossword featured in the Daily Telegraph in May 1944, they noticed that vital code names which were being used to hide the greatest invasion in history were appearing as solutions. In the May 2, 1944 edition, the answer to ‘One of the USA’ was Utah. In another edition (May 30th) Mulberry (the name of the floating harbors that were to be towed across the Channel to accommodate supply ships) appeared. Other answers included (June 1st) Neptune (the code name for the naval phase of the invasion), Juno, (May 22nd) Omaha, Gold, Sword (all code names for the planned landing beaches) and the clue ‘Big-Wig’ gave the answer  (May 27th) Overlord (the code-name given for the entire operation)!
Fearing that this was an attempt to tip-off the Germans, MI-5 officers immediately arrested 54 year old crossword compiler Leonard Dawe. After interrogation, they were satisfied that he had no knowledge of the coming D-Day invasion and released him without charge, concluding it was purely a coincidence.

Years later the crossword compiler admitted in an interview that the solutions were probably not a coincidence. He was a school teacher and he let the students suggest solutions to which he would attach a clue. Since pretty much every pupil had a relative in the military, he said it’s more than likely that kids heard the code names from their relatives (without knowing their significance) and put them forward. In 1984 a Ronald French, who was one of Dawe's pupils in 1944, gave his version of events. He claimed on BBC television that it was he who inserted the code names into the crosswords, having learned of the code words from US and Canadian soldiers. Richard S J Wallington, a student at Dawe's school at the time, explained it this way:
Mr. Dawe was and had for some time been the Headmaster of Strand School - originally a part of King's College, London. In 1939 the school was evacuated from its home in South London to the area of Great and Little Bookham in Surrey. The school buildings it occupied were in Effingham. Both boys and masters were billeted in that general area.

Mr. Dawe was a compiler of puzzles for the Daily Telegraph and it was often his practice to call in 6th formers and ask them for words for inclusion. At that time the US Forces were liberally strewn through Surrey, particularly in the Epsom area and there is no doubt that boys heard these code words being bandied about and innocently passed them on. I should know as I was then a 6th former there myself, although not involved with this particular matter.

Mr. Dawe was a disciplinarian and a man of extremely high principle and one could not imagine anyone less likely to be involved in anything incorrect.

No comments:

Post a Comment