43.09.23 Frank McCarthy; Code Names for Operations

Author:  Leslie Rowan
Date: September 23, 1943

Subject: World War II

23rd September, 1943

Dear Frank,

Herewith are the Prime Minister’s minute about code names and the list of code names which he promised to send to General Marshall. As I told you, I could not let you have this at Washington because we had not the list available.

Thank you very much for your kindness at Washington, and especially for the dinner party. I hope that some day I shall be able to return your hospitality.

Leslie Rowan


General Ismay

1. I have crossed out on the attached paper (marked A) a large number of unsuitable names. Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their live ought not to be described by code-words which imply a boastful and over-confident sentiment such as “TRIUMPHANT”, or conversely which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondence, such as “WOEBETIDE”, “MASSACRE”, “JUMBLE”, “TROUBLE”, “FIDGET”, “FLIMSY”, “PATHETIC” and “JAUNDICE”. They ought not to be names of a frivolous character, such as “BUNNYHUG”, “BILLINGSGATE”, “APERITIF”, and “BALLYHOO”. They should not be ordinary words used in other connection such as “FLOOD”, “SMOOTH”, “SUDDEN”, “SUPREME”, “FULLFORCE”, and “FULLSPEED”. Names of living people or Ministers or Commanders should be avoided, e.g. “BRACKEN”.

2. After all, the world is wide, and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation “BUNNYHUG” or “BALLYHOO”.

3. Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British and American war heroes could be used, provided they fall within the rules above. There are no doubt many other themes that could be suggested.

4. Care should be taken in all this process. An efficient and a successful administration manifests itself equally in small as in great matters.


List received from Sir Edward Bridges on 13th July, 1943