Military Wiki
Leonard Dawe
Born (1889-11-03)3 November 1889
Brentford, England
Died 12 January 1963(1963-01-12) (aged 73)
Acton, London, England

Leonard Sydney Dawe (3 November 1889 – 12 January 1963) was an English amateur footballer who played in the Southern League for Southampton between 1912 and 1913, and made one appearance for the England national amateur football team in 1912. He later became a schoolteacher and crossword compiler for The Daily Telegraph newspaper and in 1944 was interrogated on suspicion of espionage in the run-up to the D-Day landings.[1]

Early career[]

Dawe was born in Brentford in west London and was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School, before going up to Emmanuel College at the University of Cambridge. In his final year at the university, he earned his football "blue" when he played in the 1912 match against the University of Oxford, scoring in his side's 3–1 victory.[2]

Football career[]

In March 1912, he signed on amateur terms for Southampton of the Southern League, making his debut in a 1–0 victory over Plymouth Argyle on 30 March.[3] On his debut, he laid on the game's only goal for Percy Prince. The local daily paper, The Echo, reported that "Dawe was decidedly plucky to 'get in it'." Dawe always took the field wearing spectacles and one of his lenses was broken during his debut game.[1]

Dawe continued to make occasional appearances for Southampton over the next twelve months, although his studies and teaching career prevented him from appearing more often.[4] In his eleven league appearances for the "Saints", he scored three goals, including two against Watford on 13 April 1912.[3]

Dawe was a member of the United Kingdom squad for the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden but was not selected to play.[5] He did, however, make one appearance for the England national amateur football team when he played against Ireland in Belfast in October 1912.[2]

By the end of the 1912–13 season, Dawe had severed his connection with Southampton and had joined Ilford in north-east London.[2]

Teaching career[]

In 1913, Dawe obtained a teaching position (teaching science) at Forest School in the Walthamstow area of north-east London before joining St Paul's School based at Barnes. In 1926, he joined Strand School in the Tulse Hill area of south London, progressing to become the school's head teacher.[2] Dawe was described as a "disciplinarian and a man of extremely high principle".[6] At Strand School, he was known as "moneybags", in allusion to his initials, L.S.D. (pounds, shillings and pence).[7]

Military career[]

During World War I, Dawe was commissioned as a second lieutenant for service with the Forest School Officer Training Corps on 20 February 1915,[8] transferring to the Hampshire Regiment "local reserve" on 9 May 1916.[9] Whilst with the Hampshire Regiment, he served in the Mesopotamia campaign from September 1917. After the war, he transferred as a lieutenant from a service battalion of the Hampshires to St Paul's School OTC on 29 April 1920,[10] being promoted to major with St Paul's OTC on 25 August 1926,[11] but resigned that commission on 16 October 1926.[12]

Crossword compiler[]

In 1925, he commenced compiling crosswords for The Daily Telegraph newspaper and was one of the first compilers to use "cryptic" clues. The first Daily Telegraph crossword, compiled by Dawes, appeared on 30 July 1925[13] – he continued to compile crosswords until his death in 1963.[1]


During the Second World War Strand School was evacuated to Effingham in Surrey.

Two days before the disastrous Dieppe raid in August 1942, the clue "French port (6)" appeared in the Daily Telegraph crossword (compiled by Dawe), followed by the solution Dieppe the next day; on 19 August, the raid on Dieppe took place. The objective was to seize and hold a major port for a short period, both to prove it was possible and to gather intelligence from prisoners and captured materials while assessing the German responses. The Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings. No major objectives of the raid were accomplished. A total of 3,623 of the 6,086 men who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured. The Allied air forces failed to lure the Luftwaffe into open battle, and lost 106 aircraft.[14]

The War Office suspected that the crossword had been used to pass intelligence to the enemy and called upon Lord Tweedsmuir, then a senior intelligence officer attached to the Canadian Army, to investigate the crossword. Tweedsmuir, the son of John Buchan the author, later commented:

"We noticed that the crossword contained the word "Dieppe", and there was an immediate and exhaustive inquiry which also involved MI5. But in the end it was concluded that it was just a remarkable coincidence – a complete fluke".[14]

The D-Day crosswords[]

In May 1944, Utah appeared as a solution in a Daily Telegraph crossword that was to have major repercussions. Utah was also the codename for the D-Day beach assigned to the 4th US Assault Division. This would have been considered a coincidence; however, in previous months the solution words Juno, Gold and Sword (all code names for beaches assigned to the British) had appeared and then on 22 May 1944 came a clue with the solution Omaha (code name for the D-Day beach to be taken by the 1st US Assault Division). Overlord (code name for the whole D-Day operation) appeared on 27 May and the pattern continued with Mulberry (code name for the floating harbours used in the landings) appearing on 30 May until finally, on 1 June, the solution to 15 Down was Neptune (code name for the naval assault phase). MI5 became involved and called on Dawe, the compiler of the puzzles in question, at his home in Leatherhead. Dawe recalled the episode in a BBC TV interview in 1958. In 1984, Ronald French, a property manager in Wolverhampton, came forward to claim that, as a 14-year-old at the school in 1944, he inserted the names into the puzzles. According to French, Dawe occasionally invited pupils into his study and encouraged them to help fill in the blank crossword patterns. Later, Dawe would create clues for their solution words. French claimed that during the weeks before D-Day he had learned of the codewords from Canadian and American soldiers billeted close by the school, awaiting the invasion. French believed that hundreds of schoolchildren must have known what he knew.[15]


In 1992, Dawe's life was the basis for an album, "Quest", by the neo-progressive rock band, Final Conflict – the album is about an ordinary man like Dawe imagining he is on trial for the failings in his life.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Juson, David; Chalk, Gary (24 October 2009). "Ex-Files: Leonard Sydney Dawe". p. p.48. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 0-9514862-3-3. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chalk, Gary; Holley, Duncan (1987). Saints – A complete record. Breedon Books. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-907969-22-4. 
  4. Saints – A complete record. pp. 52–53. 
  5. "Great Britain squad – 1912 Summer Olympics". FIFA. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  6. "The Crossword Panic of May 1944". Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  7. Gilbert, Val; Telegraph Group Limited (2008). A Display of Lights (9): The Lives and Puzzles of the Telegraph's Six Greatest Cryptic Crossword Setters. Macmillan. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-230-71446-5. 
  8. "No. 29077". 19 February 1915. 
  9. "No. 29583". 16 May 1916. 
  10. "No. 31881". 27 April 1920. 
  11. "No. 33205". 24 September 1926. 
  12. "No. 33211". 15 October 1926. 
  13. A Display of Lights (9). pp. 13–14. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Display of Lights (9). pp. 19–20. 
  15. Gilbert, Val (3 May 2004). "D-Day crosswords are still a few clues short of a solution". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  16. "Final Conflict: Another Moment in Time". Just For Kicks Music. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 

External links[]

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