That Time When Winston Churchill Panicked Over a Crossword Puzzle

By Jack Ripley | May 24, 2024

Cross Words and Key Codes

Crossword puzzles, invented just prior to the outbreak of World War I, were hugely popular but the time World War II rolled around. These word puzzles were printed in the daily newspapers of London. Imagine the surprise on Winston Churchill’s face when he discovered that some of the key code words for the top-secret Invasion of Normandy he was planning showed up as answers in the same crossword puzzle!

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Was it possible that German spies were sending messages via crossword puzzle? Or were the words simply a coincidence? Let’s look at that time when a crossword puzzle made Churchill think that the Allied forces had lost the element of surprise ahead of the Invasion of Normandy. 

Crossword Puzzles Were a Common Hobby

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Everyone loved crossword puzzles and they were so popular that newspaper publishers included them in their daily newspapers. During wartime, when the news was often bleak, the puzzles were a great form of mental stimulation. Crossword puzzles were uniquely British, having been created by a Liverpool area journalist named Arthur Wynne in 1913, but they gained worldwide appeal in the 1920s and 1930s. After the start of WWII, crossword puzzles became a good stress reliever and a way to kill time while hiding out in an air-raid bunker.