Gold used to buy information during WW-II

A brief excerpt from the next research book.

“During WW-II intelligence operatives used gold coins to buy information. Although one might assume the U.S. Army would use U.S. gold coins, quantities of which remained in mint vaults, this was not the case. The most widely accepted gold coins were British sovereigns and half sovereigns, and French Louis d’or with Canadian $5 and $10 also used on occasion, such as in the Sicilian invasion.

“During the weeks prior to the Allied invasion of North Africa on November 8, 1942 (Operation Torch), G-2 expert General Mark Clark carried one hundred Louis d’or coins when he and his small party secretly went to Algeria in North Africa. They met with Vichy officials including General Charles Mast, the French commander-in-chief in Algiers. The gold was used to bribe local Vichy officials and helped Clark determine if the Americans would be welcomed as liberators or opposed as invaders.

“Another use for gold coins was in escape kits carried by Allied aircraft during missions in North Africa and the Middle East. During the initial phase of Operation Torch, $700,000 in gold was authorized for use by the Twelfth Air Force in the kits and by General George Patton to reward native informers speed performance of essential services where natives would not accept paper currency.”

[US gold coin designs were not familiar to most foreign residents, whereas the British sovereign was well known and universally accepted except in French- speaking areas.]

Comments

  • WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 2,998 ✭✭✭
    In the 1963 James Bond film "From Russia with Love",
    James Bond (Sean Connery) carries an attache case with 50 gold Sovereigns.

    image
    http://www.brianrxm.com
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    The San Francisco 1949 Peso

  • SanctionIISanctionII Posts: 7,657 ✭✭✭
    Interesting information as always RWB.

    It makes sense that gold coinage was used by the armed services in WWII [and probably prior wars] to assist in moving the war effort forward, by using it to make friends with the local population and to obtain information helpful to the cause.

    When I think of gold and WWII, I think of the Nazis stealing and hiding the assets of the general population that they plundered; and I think of the movie "Kelly's Heros" where a highly motivated group of US soldiers leaped forward ahead of the main allied forces to capture a town behind German lines [not because they were valient and seeking the glorification of being at the spearhead of the battle, but because they knew a bank in the newly abandoned town was filled with unprotected gold bars and they wanted the gold all to themselves].
  • A friend of mine had an interest in WW-2 anything and everything he told me about the kits that were carried by piolts and crew of fighter planes and bombers alike. He was always searching for them, sort of like 1955 DDO BU Cent (raw of course) Taped to the bottom of a pack of Lucky Strikes.
    D.A. Priest
  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,153
    Some of the kits included 3 gold rings, 3 1/2 sovereigns and 2 sovereigns. Others substituted French gold coins. A few complete kits survive and are prized by militaria collectors.
  • DaveGDaveG Posts: 3,568
    "French Louis d'or"?

    Really?

    Are they serious or do they not know that 20 Franc pieces are generally called Napoleons?

    Surely, 20 Franc pieces, which were made in large numbers throughout the 19th century and last originally minted* just before WWI (i.e., less than 30 years before most of WWII happened) would have been much more familiar to most Europeans and Africans than coins last minted in the 1780's!

    Also, where would they have gotten the Louis d'or? If they were hidden in large numbers during the early 19th century, that is not reflected by their relative rarity in the modern numismatic market. Surely, Napoleon I would have grabbed and recoined (into 20 Franc pieces with his image on them) all the Louis d'or he could get his hands on.

    Also, as a comparison, the English (and others) used sovereigns - they didn't use guineas!



    (*Yes, I know, the Roosters were subsequently restruck, although I don't know during what years the restrikes were minted. Does anyone happen to know?)

    Check out the Southern Gold Society

  • lcoopielcoopie Posts: 8,131 ✭✭✭
    gold certainly was and is more appealing than any nations currency
  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,153
    Yep....that's the advantage of "drafts." It's one of dozens of items in official documents that don't make sense. This is one of those highlighted terms. image
  • DaveGDaveG Posts: 3,568
    Roger,

    Perhaps it was fashionable for some people to refer to 20 Franc pieces as "Louis d'or"; sort of like the way the English kept using the word "guinea" in describing the cost of luxury goods during the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries.

    I can point to a number of references in popular British fiction of the use of "guinea" in such a manner: for example, "That's a fifty guinea suit"; but I haven't read enough French fiction to know whether anyone used Louis d'or in the same way.

    Check out the Southern Gold Society

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 22,594 ✭✭✭
    Probably the common gold 20 Francs of Emperor Napoleon III, whose name was Louis Napoleon. Their common nickname is of course "Napoleons." and I beieve that they were mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League."

    TD
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.--Ben Franklin
  • DaveGDaveG Posts: 3,568
    Give the Sherlock Holmes fan a cookie!

    He is, of course, correct.

    Also, Mr. Jabez Wilson reported: "... on Saturday the manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my week's work."

    No guineas there!

    Check out the Southern Gold Society

  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,153
    Wasn't the gold pound (sovereign) worth 20 shillings and the gold guinea worth 21 shillings?
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 22,594 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Wasn't the gold pound (sovereign) worth 20 shillings and the gold guinea worth 21 shillings? >>



    Yes.
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.--Ben Franklin
  • Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this?
  • Bayard1908Bayard1908 Posts: 3,341 ✭✭✭
    I have seen a Vietnam era pilot kit that included British sovereigns.
    Buy proof type coins, proof Seated, proof Barber, older proof sets, proof Franklins, and more at http://www.vintageproofs.com
  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 14,592 ✭✭✭
    British sovereigns were the "real" money of much of post-war Europe. They brought premiums over the gold value.
    All glory is fleeting.
  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 34,270 ✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this? >>



    I thought the gold certificates were recalled and destroyed in 1933 and were no longer redeemable for gold.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 22,594 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this? >>



    Total booshwa.
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.--Ben Franklin
  • CCC2010CCC2010 Posts: 1,819 ✭✭
    Thanks guys for sharing this info. This is really cool....I learn about coins and history! image
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  • ColonelJessupColonelJessup Posts: 3,896 ✭✭✭
    RWB is OTM about escape kits.

    I stll have one I bought from Fred Weinberg at a CSNS show when gold was about $600.

    Transaction went:

    Fred "I have one of those aviator escape kits from WWII."
    CJ "Cool, I'll buy it. How much do I pay you"
    Fred "Melt is fine. I'll throw in the shipping."

    As the rubberized cover is fused together and I don't want to damage the box, I have never opened it. Guess I should try.

    The box is 4" by 5" (approx) and reads at top in raised lettering (centered)

    If Found Return To
    ComNavAirLant (CNAL 34)
    Norfolk, Virginia

    2/3 down on one side is a recessed rectangle with raised numbers (centered)

    27 78


    The rings and coins are what I was told was in there.

    What European in enemy-occupied territory would take a gold certificate based on the full faith and credit of the US (if he could translate that, if gold certificates said that, if they were actually not obsolete and their value not accurate, and the American dollar not circulating enough in Europe for anyone to recognize it, and their value incorrect because of the $20-$35 revaluation) when he could have actual negotiable gold?
    I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vics's, and his hair was perfect! - Warren Zevon
  • WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 2,998 ✭✭✭
    US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are now supplied with ATM and Debit cards.

    image
    http://www.brianrxm.com
    The Mysterious Egyptian Magic Coin
    Coins in Movies and Television
    The San Francisco 1949 Peso

  • TwoKopeikiTwoKopeiki Posts: 6,596 ✭✭✭
    image



    << <i>Each Naval Pilot was issued one of these heavy rubber waterproof packs prior to flying assigned missions over enemy territory in the Atlantic theatre.

    The Pacific Rim rubber pack did not contain near as much gold as the Atlantic pack did.

    In this particular one were two watches with the following writing on the faces of each:

    MILUS
    Instant Date

    21 Jewels
    Milushock
    M. 40 A1

    Swiss Made

    The gold coins from left to right:
    British Gold Sovereign
    British Gold ½ Sovereign
    unknown european fractional gold
    gold Swiss franc,
    gold French rooster.

    The round pendant inscribed with a “P” and has a bail for wearing on a chain is 24K pure

    The four heavy gold links are also 24K pure and weigh within 1/100 of a gram of gold each.
    Soft enough to twist apart and separate the links they could be used as individual bribes if needed.

    The 3 large rings at the bottom are 9ct gold and very large for fitting over a man’s knuckles.

    Extremely hard to cut open, the contents were not tampered with in these.

    Each pilot was instructed to turn these in upon safe return back to base after a mission. This and some others were found in a small horde in a garage sale in Michigan. Also accompanying these
    eKits were the government destruction procedure papers for melting and recovering the gold.

    These were never intended to ever see the light of day nor fall into the hands of civilians. >>


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  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,153
    The Colonel's description is exactly as it should be.

    ATM and debit cards? That just squeezes all the mystery and romance out of it... image
  • I'm glad to see this post and the response it is getting, and it does take the doubt completely out of my mind that these kits are out there somewhere. Now this is another great article to be aware of when cleaning out Grand-Pa's basement or workshop, next to the sticky 55 DDO's in the croumpled Lucky Strike packs LS/MFT Looking (4) Small / misplaced forgotten treasures. See earlier post ot understand.
    D.A. Priest
  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,153
    Neat Atlantic theater set.
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