Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by björn, Jun 4, 2009.

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  1. I've always tought the British use of codenames in World War II particularly well inspired : Dynamo, Overlord, Chariot, Torch, Varsity/Plunder, Market/Garden, Pedestal, Crossbow, Lightfoot spring to mind.

    They contrast sharply with contemporary US codenames, which leave little to imagination, e.g. operation Iraqi Freedom etc.

    However, whilst looking for an explanation regarding the source of such outstanding post-war cinema titles, the wiki could only come up with this

    "In the Second World War, code names common to the Allies referring to nations, cities, geographical features, military units, military operations, diplomatic meetings, places, and individual persons were agreed upon adapting pre-war naming procedures in use by the governments concerned. In the British case code names were administered and controlled by ISSB (The Inter-Services Security Board) staffed by the War Office with the word list generated and randomised by GC&CS (later GCHQ). This procedure was coordinated with the USA when America entered the war. Random lists of code names were issued to users in alphabetical blocks of ten words and were selected as required. Code words became available for re-use after six months and unused allocations could be re-assigned at discretion and according to need. Capricious selection from the available allocation could result in clever meanings and result in an aptronym or backronym although policy was to select words that had no obviously deducible connection with what they were supposed to be concealing. Those for the major conference meetings had a partial naming sequence referring to devices or instruments which had an ordinal number as part of their meaning, eg the third meeting was "TRIDENT." The ruler of the Soviet Union, who had given himself the name "Stalin", meaning "man of steel," was given the code name "GLYPTIC," meaning "an image carved out of stone."

    Can any of the more learned members of ARRSE shed further light on the subject? It seems unlikely that a list of ten names generated at complete random would consistently come up with so evocative ones?
    I have used the site search engine, but it dosen't seem the topic has been covered, so, apologies in case it already has...
  2. Thanks - a churchillian intervention seems a good explanation, but is it all down to staff officers for the rest?
  3. Good God, terribly sorry if you were offended.
  4. Mongo

    Mongo LE Reviewer

    That's not a 'generator' giving completely random, unique codenames. There are a bank of about a hundred, at a guess, which they rotate. Just press F5 repeatedly (its 00.36, fvck all else to do) and you'll see the names crop up relatively often.
  5. i cant say much for ww2 codenames, but later naming nomenclature (50's) used a two part system, the first word being a colour, the colour refering usually to a device/use class, followed by a second random word, creating such names as 'red mist' and 'blue danube', obviously some codenames were chosen for more memorable aspects than being totally random

    my favourite from ww2 is 'window', the foil strips dropped to cause massive radar echos thus blinding the receivers. I love the irony of calling it 'window' as it effectively shut the germans radar window so they couldnt see out
  6. I recall RV Jones writing in his book 'Secret War' that the Germans, on the otherhand, loved to link their codewords to myths, legends and so forth and that these soemtimes gave the allies some clues as to what was up.
  7. indeed (thanks for the reminder of RV Jones book, ive been trying to remember the name of it!)

    in fact, that often gave the ganme away, one of their navigation beams used the codename WOTAN, which is a german one-eyed god, and the connection was quickly made that this system used only a single beam! similarly knickebein (sp.) meaning 'crooked leg' used a pair of crosse beams, the crossover point marking the target

    another good book is Prices 'instruments of darkness'
  8. Ground attack on the UK - OPERATION COLD HABOUR.

    Couldn't resist having a go.