French Underground Codes - Printable Version

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French Underground Codes - Walt's Daughter - 05-29-2007

Today, Rennog sent me a very cool site. I'm sure many of your remember how the French underground were transmitting coded messages to the Allies in England. Many of you probably remember this from such movies as the Longest Day and Market Garden. One that always stuck in my head was:


Jean a une moustache très longues


translated means


John has a long mustache


The codes of course had certain meanings, and when the allies were looking listening for specific ones that would let them know what was going on with the Germans in France.


Here is the page. Warning it is in French, but scroll down and you can actually here some of the coded messages.



Here is the rough translation of the website:


Who does not remember some of these messages? But behind the funny sentences hides very serious decisions; The preparation of attack, the reception of equipment or of parachuted men, or even the organization of guerrilla operations. But, these personal messages, broadcasted on the BBC, also were used to confirm the good faith of the agents, to validate financial transactions, or to thank an agent for his actions.


The invention of the personal messages is attributed to Georges Bégué, French officer of the SOE, that was unmasked in 1942. 1800 agents of the SOE were sent in France during the occupation of 1941 to 1945.


On 1st June 1944, jamming didn't manage to hide the sound code taken from the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and that meant in Morse code"V", as victory. And the BBC listeners present those days noticed that the messages kept multiplying. Some counted 200!


So discover these messages. Any information will be gladly accepted.


French Underground Codes - Walt's Daughter - 05-29-2007

Radio London


As early as 1940, the BBC (Radio London) transmitted a daily series of coded messages to allow the Allies based in England to communicate with the Resistance in France, to ask them to plot various sabotages and, most importantly, to prepare for the upcoming landing in Normandy. A few days before D-Day, the commanding officers of the Resistance heard hundreds of messages, but only a few of them were really significant. When said twice, the first line of the poem by Verlaine, Chanson d'Automne, "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne" meant that the "day" was imminent, and when the second line "blesse mon coeur d'une langueur monotone" was also repeated, the Resistance knew that the invasion would take place within the next 48 hours. Messages such as: "Il fait chaud à Suez" (It's hot in Suez), "Les dés sont sur le tapis" (The dice are on the mat), "Le chapeau de Napoléon est dans l'arène" (Napoleon's hat is in the arena), "John aime Marie" (John loves Marie), "La Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu" (The Trojan War will not take place) or "La Flèche ne passera pas" (the Arrow will not get through), all told the members of the Resistance it was time to go about their respective missions, which included destroying water towers or entire communication networks, or dynamiting selected roadways.




During the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Maquis (French resistance fighters) and other groups played some role in delaying the German mobilization. The French Resistance (FFI "Force Francaises de l'Interieur" or "French Interior Forces") blew up railroad tracks and repeatedly attacked German Army equipment and garrison trains on their way to the Atlantic coast. Thanks to coded messages transmitted over the BBC radio, each Maquis group was alerted of the impending D-Day by listening for seemingly meaningless messages such as "the crow will sing three times in the morning" or any other pre-arranged messages read in a continuous flow over the British airwaves.




...For months preceding the Allied attack on Normandy, the high command of the French Underground had been receiving scores of coded messages over the BBC radio network, knowing that only two of these would be the signal that would launch the greatest military assault in history.


The majority of them, of course, meant nothing, planned that way to keep the German army guessing as to the precise date and time the invasion might come.


"Napoleon’s hat is in the ring," "John loves Mary," "The arrow will not pass," "The Trojan War will not be held," "John has a long mustache," were just a few of the hundreds of cryptic sayings the British had broadcast at random and that had been listened to by thousands on short-wave radio sets.


Then at 6:30 p.m. on the eve of attack, the two messages the French had been waiting for were transmitted : "It is hot in Suez," followed by "The dice are on the table." The D-Day everyone remembers today was about to begin...



Lest We Forget, They Were War's Victims; On the Eve of D-Day


Published: May 29, 1994

To the Editor:


One of the more mysterious and romantic aspects of World War II were the nighttime transmissions by the BBC in London to French Resistance forces on the Continent, cryptic messages informing the partisans of German troop movements or where downed Allied aviators were.


Perhaps the most dramatic message came on June 5, 1944. Repeated over and over by Pierre Holmes (as your Dec. 18, 1993, obituary reports) was a line from a Paul Verlaine poem: "Long violin sobs rock my heart in monotonous languish"


It was the signal that the D-Day invasion was about to occur. The great English-speaking armies -- American, British and Canadian -- were going to rise up to cross the Channel and put to an end the unspeakable evil that was the Third Reich. CHRISTOPHER D. BODKIN Councilman Islip, L.I., May 19, 1994




Pierre Holmes, 81; Broadcast Messages For the Resistance


December 18, 1993, Saturday

(AP); Obituary


Pierre Holmes, whose voice on the BBC in World War II passed coded messages to the Resistance and served as a beacon of hope for the French under Nazi occupation, died on Dec. 7 in the village of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. He was 81.

French Underground Codes - Walt's Daughter - 05-29-2007

Within an hour of Ike's decision to go, the BBC began to broadcast its nightly "messages personnel" to the French Resistance. But, on this night, several of the messages were codes for the Maquis to begin sabotage operations. Two of them were: "Blessent mon Coeur d'une langeur monotone" (Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor) "Jean a une longe moustache." (John has a long mustache.) Those in the French Resistance knew that the hour of liberation was at hand.




...Even more astonishing, the German Wehrmacht high command had plenty of warning. A German spy at the British Embassy in Turkey had told his superiors in Berlin that the BBC in London would alert the French Resistance to the invasion by broadcasting a two-part coded message taken from a poem by Paul Verlaine called "Song of Autumn."


The first part would be: "The long sobs of the violins of autumn." The second, signaling an attack within 48 hours, was: "Wound my heart with a monotonous languor." The poem was duly broadcast and set off a wide range of railroad demolition and other destructive activities by the French underground...




In reference to my early mention of The Longest Day,105,00.html




French Underground Codes - Walt's Daughter - 10-10-2007

Sorry for the inconvenience, but I pulled (hid) this topic from view for 24 hours due to strange activity on our site.


I noticed that at least a dozen people (IP addresses) were viewing this topic steadily for over two days. There was no posting activity as you can see, but felt that our server could possibly be under attack, so I shut it down and within hours the strange activity ceased. :armata_PDT_23: This one topic now has over 1500 hits! This is not normal!


I am keeping an eye on the situation. We may need to go to a complete LOGIN format. What does that mean? Well you would not be able to view the topics unless you sign in first. This would keep security tighter. Stay tuned...

French Underground Codes - Walt's Daughter - 10-10-2007

Sorry this is getting pulled again. As soon as I made the topic visible, I already had three IP's viewing it.