D-Day Crosswords

D-Day Telegraph Crosswords

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I’m sure that most of you will be aware of the stir that was created during World War II when several secret code words turned up in Daily Telegraph crosswords.  Roger “Rufus” Squires has recorded a short piece that will be broadcast tomorrow, Friday 4th February, during the One Show (7.00-7.30pm on BBC 1).

Anyone who has corresponded with Roger will know that he has led an interesting life and has so many stories that he can tell. The following snippets are reproduced, with permission, from his email telling me about the programme.

“I was a 12 yr-old Sea Scout leader at the time, and acted as a messenger when they ferried the D-Day wounded to our local village railway station – until then only used for freight – when they were distributed around local hospitals.  Incidentally, my Dad, who served in the first World War, was then the chief adminstrative officer for 5 of the hospitals.  He had been taken on in January 1901 at the age of 12 in the Administration office of the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton as an office boy – he left THE SAME OFFICE  53 years later on retirement!  I think that was one of the reasons I joined the Navy at 15 – I wanted to see something of the world!”

“The war for our age group who lived away from German targets was great – fathers away or busy, so lots of freedom and excitement, and too young to worry. Only missed the food! A close friend used to bring sandwiches to school but rarely finished them. So, having had the school dinner, I ate what was left every day while he showed me his magic tricks, which ended with my getting the magic bug myself.  I joined the RN as a Boy Seaman Second Class, there ain’t anything lower, at age 15 from Wolverhampton Grammar School, having gained my school cert (she was a nice girl). At 20 I was a Petty Officer when, fortunately for me, Lord Mountbatten as Sea Lord introduced a scheme whereby lower deck ratings could volunteer for flying duties – the combination of jets taking over from the slower propellor aircraft on ageing carriers was killing too many aircrew. Two groups of 30 started with about 12 of us achieving our wings and becoming officers.  I left in 1963 as a Lieutenant.  When flying was stopped because of the weather, aircrew often played cards – for money.  As then a member of the Magic Circle I was banned, so filled in my time solving crosswords – and when at sea later with no newspapers, started setting. First published puzzle was the Radio Times in 1963.”

“The TV recording was done in little pieces and sometime back in October, I think.  I can’t now remember all what was said and done now, and don’t know which parts they will use. The schoolboy who inserted the codewords into the puzzles for Leonard Dawe, the DT setter, had a son who was only told about the circumstances shortly before his Dad died, and he is also featured  – it was discovering that he lived nearby that made me track him down and, with the local Wolverhampton Express & Star, produce a feature for that paper.”



  1. Sarah F
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks very much for the info–I would have missed it otherwise.

  2. Ainsley
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    4th Feb? Not 4th Jan? Or have I arrived at this a month late?

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks – now sorted.

      • Ainsley
        Posted February 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks BD

  3. Marlene
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Can someone explain this cryptic clue for me?

    Clue:fine big city (7)

    Answer: capital

    • gazza
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Hi Marlene – welcome to the blog.
      It’s a double definition. Capital, as an adjective, means fine or excellent.

      • Marlene
        Posted February 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink


  4. Gari
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    must remember to set the video as I will be working and will definitely watch when I get in thanks.

    • Digby
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Me too. We’re out, but I can imagine that Rufus’s recollections will be well worth hearing.

  5. mary
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that, the rugby is on tonight too Wales/England first of the internationals being played in Cardiff, one son and 2 grandsons also coming to watch, so I will try to disappear into another room to watch this, thanks for info

  6. Dynamic
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    For those who do miss it / don’t video it, provided you have a UK IP address, you should be able to watch it for up to 7 days on the BBC iPlayer on your computer (and possibly download it in that period with rights to view for a little longer).

    The One Show’s home page is http://www.bbc.co.uk/oneshow/ and contains links to the episodes from the previous 5 weekdays or so.

  7. Barrie
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Sounds amazing, will def watch. Mary, it will be before the Rugby so you should be OK. Not sure I want to watch, Wales in cardiff are usually a daunting proposition esp with a make-shift England side but should be a good game :-)

  8. Barrie
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Just now waiting for the 467 answers as I am stuck on the very last clue (18d) Grrr!

    • Qix
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      You’re probably looking for an abbreviation for sailor (not the usual one). “Ordinary seaman” maybe?

  9. Qix
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Sky+ duly set.

  10. John H
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The reason that Roger cannot remember anything about the contents of the can is that he met me afterwards…

  11. Franco
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for letting us know about this – I will definitely watch it.

    I followed BD’s link to Rufus’s Wikipedia page on Monday and was amazed that anyone could set over 2 million crossword clues!

    Also, does anyone know the clue for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which he clued as an anagram?

    • Franco
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Presumably Clue(s)!!!

      • Dynamic
        Posted February 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        I think I found the Llanfair…p.g. clue about two or three links away from the Wikipedia article on Roger Squires (Rufus) something like a year ago (or it might have been from links from the 2 millionth-clue article about him. Wikipedia has references so it may be possible to follow the relevant references for that part of his article to come across the clue. It was published on a jumbo grid in a local paper who wanted to include the longest answer in a special edition, IIRC.

  12. Kevin
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi chums…

    About ten years ago, following a question on the Usenet group rec.puzzles.crosswords, I contacted the Telegraph about the crossword containing the answer “OVERLORD”. The editor of the Electronic Telegraph kindly sent me a copy of the page with the crossword on it, reproduced from some old microfilm.

    I was very difficult to read, not helped by the fold (in the original) through the middle of it, but with the help of people on the newsgroup we reconstructed it. I did upload the finished article onto some old web space of mine, but sadly that has long since gone.

    Fortunately, someone in Hungary was interested in it, and has saved it :o)

    The Hungarian site with the crossword is here: http://jakabulesasuke.hupont.hu/5/a-naci-tecnika-vagy-veletlen

    The thread with the some of the answers and some of the discussion is here: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.puzzles/browse_thread/thread/9045bbe06053ce1/7604574ee4616267

    Thanks for the heads up about tonights programme.

    • Posted February 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Kevin

      That’s interesting and useful.

  13. Sarah F
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting to see Roger and a bit of the history.

    Val Gilbert also covers the incident well on p44 of ‘DT 80 years of the cryptic crossword’

  14. crypticsue
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    An interesting item but definitely not enough Roger.

    • gazza
      Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      .. and we had to sit through an awful lot of Chris Evans to get that small amount of Roger!

      • Sarah F
        Posted February 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree with you more. Have never watched or listened to CE before, and don’t intend to again!

      • Lea
        Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        In agreement there – used to be an avid watcher of that show until I heard CE was on it. Last night was first and last time. Roger was good but far too little of him.

      • Libellule
        Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        First time I have watched the One Show in a while, worth it for Roger, even though we saw so little of him. Will not be watching it again.

      • Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one that usually reaches for the remote as soon as the ginger rodent appears on the screen.

        • Lea
          Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Nice description of him – will have to remember that one

          • Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            I “borrowed” it from Harriet “What am I doing here?” Harman

  15. pommers
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Glad I watched this on the iplayer so I could scroll through the dross to the good bit!

  16. mary
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Agree with most of above but there was thankfully a bit about the rugby also!

    • Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I thought the rugby piece was so funny – Louise Minchin trying to get the crowd to join in a singalong when it was obvious they were all still in the bar!