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snopes
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German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two.

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=2006-09-04T025201Z_01_L31890197_RTRIDST_0_OUKOE-UK-BRITAIN-SPIES.XML

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
The capture of two German agents in 1942 uncovered two such codes which British intelligence had repeatedly failed to crack, the declassified files reveal.

Britain's wartime spy chief David Petrie described the failure as "somewhat disturbing".

I'm not surprised some codes slipped through. Encryptions can often be detected and eventually cracked, but codes can easily be made both undetectable and uncrackable unless you have the code book that contains the key. Completely harmless phrases like "The strawberries are really excellent now, it must be the warm summer" or "I beat Johnny at chess two times yeasterday, the second time in only 15 moves" could mean that fortifications are being built and expected to be ready within 15 days, that the factory is stepping up production, or something else. The actual wording has nothing to do with the meaning, it's just a random phrase that is connected to a real meaning through a code book.

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/Troberg

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Andrew of Ware, England
A-Ware in a Manger


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Am I the only one thinking of 'Allo, Allo'? 'The swallows are flying south for winter.' and the such like were used in that programme as code phrases.

More seriously, didn't the BBC send secret codes in it's programmes. The BBC refused to broadcast propoganda for the government, but I think it did agree to send messages to resistant fighters in France. Some were obviously code messages along the lines of (making up a phrase because I can't remember a real one), The cats are walking on the roof of the bakery tonight.'

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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This isn't directly related, but it's obviously something else from the same batch of declassified files:

Files reveal leaked D-Day plans

quote:
Formerly secret MI5 files have revealed that the plans for the D-Day landings in 1944 were leaked to one of Britain's brightest military strategists.

Sir Basil Liddell Hart had all the details three months before the invasion took place.

Apparently he even wrote and circulated a critique of the plans and boasted about it to his friends! Blimey...

I immediately wondered if that could have had anything to do with the infamous D-Day code-words in the Telegraph crosswords in May 1944, but it seems that a link isn't necessary. While looking it up, I found this article from The Daily Telegraph, 03/05/2004:

D-Day crosswords are still a few clues short of a solution

quote:
An explanation of how the codewords came to appear in the paper emerged only in 1984. Following a re-telling of the "D-Day Crosswords" in the Telegraph, Ronald French, a property manager in Wolverhampton, came forward with further information.

He said that, as a 14-year-old at the [Strand] school [temporarily in Effingham, Surrey] in 1944, he inserted the names into the puzzles.

According to French, Dawe occasionally invited pupils into his study, where, as a mental discipline, he would encourage 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 camped close by the school, awaiting the invasion.

I'd never heard that before; the explanation I heard was always that it was a "coincidence"... clearly Dawe didn't want to shop his pupils, if this is true. Supposedly the code-words themselves were common knowledge among the pupils at the time.

At least one more pupil apparently "owned up" to inserting the words in a letter to The Times in 1980, though - I can see this possibly becoming a myth in itself, with everybody at the school claiming to have been involved at some point (or their descendants claiming it for them)...

The only mention I could find of this was the Telegraph story itself, or copies of it.

Two hijacks for the price of one!

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Andrew of Ware, England
A-Ware in a Manger


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(Continuing the hikack) An article I read recently decribed how the ability to keep 'D-Day' secret was a great mystery of World War II. With thousands upon thousands of men involved, plus all their equipment being assembled on the south coast, it would have been almost impossible to keep it secret from the Germans. Yet, it remained a secret.

I know there were strategies such as false messages being broadcast and wooden planes and tanks being assembled near Dover, but even so the keeping of the plans secret was a great coup. If the above article is correct then perhaps it was not such an achievement.

However, I find it hard to believe that a top military strategist boasted about knowing about the plans to his friends. 'Be like dad, keep mum.'

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Well, to be fair the article doesn't say that he boasted to his friends; that was me:

quote:
MI5's files reveal that not only were the details given to Sir Basil, but that he also began boasting about them around London.
He might have been boasting to acquaintances, or random people in pubs, or perhaps carefully accosting only people with the correct security clearance and boasting to them, or something.
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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
An article I read recently decribed how the ability to keep 'D-Day' secret was a great mystery of World War II. With thousands upon thousands of men involved, plus all their equipment being assembled on the south coast, it would have been almost impossible to keep it secret from the Germans. Yet, it remained a secret.
It was no big secret that the invasion was coming, the Germans knew that. They could guess it without even glancing towards England, just from the fact that they were losing to an extent where it was unavoidable.

What they failed to find out was the where and the when, and possibly some parts of where the staging areas were. I'm certain that this wasn't for lack of trying, as it is quite possible that they could have stopped the invasion (for this time at least, there would have been another invasion, if uncle Joe didn't finish it first) if they had been prepared at the beachhead.

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/Troberg

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Nick Theodorakis
We Three Blings


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The main "secret" the allies kept was that they didn't plan on invading Pas-de-Calais. Calais was a logical point for invasion; it had better beaches, narrower Channel route, and closer to Germany. A huge operation of deception was employed (Operation Fortitude) that consisted of dummy army divisions, fake radio traffic, and misinformation given to German spies and double agents.

In the end, the operation was successful and a number of German troops were deployed there that couldn't participate in Normandy (until it was too late).

As Trobreg said, there was no secret that some kind of cross-channel invasion was coming. Earlier Germany had constructed heavy fortifications around major ports, which is why the allies landed at beaches rather than port cities. Rommel recognized this possibility, and tried to assemble enough troops to oppose a landings at the beachheads, but in the end, it was a case of too little, too late. Moreover, disagreements among the German high command led to dispersal of German troops behind the lines that could not arrive to oppose the landings in time. Finally, allied air superiority prevented the Germans from easily reinforcing the battlefront.

Wikipedia has good summary of Operation Overlord.

Nick

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hardhead
I Saw Three Shipments


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The BBC broadcast code messages to resistance groups including the French Resistance throughout the war. The first two lines of Paul Verlaine's Autumn's Song (Les Sanglots Longs)were codes that said the D-Day invasion is imminent "The long sobs of the violins of autumn (Des violons De l'automne)" and that it will come within 24 hours "Wound my heart with a monotonous langur (Blessent mon coeur D'une langueur Monotone.)" and that it will come within 24 hours. The Germans apparently were aware of this but discounted it, even after intecepting the messages. (Per Cornelias Ryan's The Longest Day)

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President Bush said what? And you believed him?? Heeeere's your sign

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:

quote:
Formerly secret MI5 files have revealed that the plans for the D-Day landings in 1944 were leaked to one of Britain's brightest military strategists.

Sir Basil Liddell Hart had all the details three months before the invasion took place.

Apparently he even wrote and circulated a critique of the plans and boasted about it to his friends! Blimey...
Fortunately, no one could stay awake while reading it and the secret was safe.

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Fortunately, no one could stay awake while reading it and the secret was safe.
[lol]


Fuller was a better writer, in addition to having led a so much more... interesting life.

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High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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DevilBunny
Deck the Malls


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Nick, having spent the last four hours voyaging deeper and deeper into the Wikipedia labyrinth without so much as a ball of string to my name, I think I hate you.

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"For God has seven thousand names, and one of them is bastard"

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