This is the hint.
Further to the strange crossword that appeared in The Times on 2nd February 1940, to my utter disbelief this crossword appeared one year later from 4th February 1941, again with a rather unusual grid and riddled with innuendo, and some of the humour too doesn’t strike me as British either! They say lightning does not readily strike twice in the same place, but after reading this one I’m really not convinced. Could it be that our Doorman is again at work, or is this Fido, instead? The song of the dishonest fodder merchant? (3,6,6) HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE and as it goes: ‘the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon; the little dog (that’s FIDO 29 across (If I do I go (4)) laughed to see such fun and the dish ran away with the spoon!’ Whoever the setter was, I can’t think that person was too bothered with the constant reminder, “Careless talk costs lives”. Why else do I discover clues and solutions like these, I humbly ask?
What do I find, Fido is up to here? Plenty it seems, and remember this is 4th February 1941, and open season declared it seems for U-boats! 1 down: Boats awash (4) TUBS – simple double def. at first glance, then BUTs and U-bts anagrams too! Churchill’s earlier optimism was clearly ill-founded when at the end of 1941 the U-boat threat was at its zenith.
OK maybe I’m reading too much into this possibly innocent clue, until I stumble upon this, and my suspended disbelief is shattered, and I begin to think we ARE dealing with 12 across: A rodent in the pastry (6) PIRATE When I encounter 4 down: Island with striking possibilities for us (5) CRETE And I humbly ask myself who ‘us’ is, who’s doing the striking and who gave this setter licence to print such a clue at such a critical stage in the war? Churchill would have had a fit! Permit me to elaborate: 2 waves of German crack 7th Parachute Division descend on Crete on 20th and 21st May same year. They capture Maleme airfield after 2 days fierce fighting, securing a base for airborne supply and reinforcement, prompting hasty withdrawal at considerable cost of some 6,600 Allied troops to Alexandria, 2,600 from Sphakia and a further 4,000 from Herakleion. Fido did a good job, it seems. Others enjoy the Times crossword too!
As if that were not enough, I encounter this clue too, and this settles it for me. Doubtless when I get round to 1942, I’ll find further confirmation in the same month! 15 across: Happily this film title implies no idle flight of fancy (3,4,3,5) THE LION HAS WINGS – ok nothing wrong there, nice patriotic statement, and doubtless there was a film of that name doing the rounds BUT couple that with 25 down: Not, from our point of view, a man of good works (5) KRUPP and I sense a sword of Damocles! For me there is a very clear message here to the German High Command to do something about the Essen defences particularly after the daring RAF raid on the Krupp works on 7th November prior. Sure enough, they wasted no time in attending to this problem, such that a whole year was to pass before another attempt was made on the night of the 10th March 1942, and at some cost to the allied bombers as well, and even then the damage amounted to the temporary crippling of the railway line servicing the establishment.
All said and done, another very questionable crossword, in my humble view! – DA