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bigjarofwasps

Military use of the Gold Sovereign

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Behind Enemy Lines

A number of gold sovereigns were issued to British Military Personnel taking part in Operation Granby as part of the Coalition Forces during the First Gulf War.

Sovereigns provided by the Ministry of Defence and carried by serviceman who, it was thought, might find themselves isolated and in need of bargaining power if confronted by unfriendly forces.

Several sovereigns were used during the war, mainly by RAF crews shot down over enemy territory, SAS soldiers also carried sovereigns, as part of their kit, for use whilst on patrol. But all the un captured coins were returned to the M.O.D at the conclusion of the conflict, having served their purpose.

16,289 pieces were returned during the war, by personal on completion of their missions behind enemy territory.

Military personal carried twenty sovereigns each as part of their survival kit.

The revived twenty-shilling gold sovereign became universally respected during the 19th centaury, thought out and beyond the British Empire. Accepted as readily in the Arab Souk as in the City of London, it was hailed as `the chief coin of the world`.

During WW2 gold sovereigns were included in the survival kit of SOE agents. Mention of the coin in James Bond novels of Ian Flemming suggest that the sovereign also has its place in the world of espionage. In the Gulf War, British service personnel at risk of being stranded behind enemy lines were issued with twenty sovereigns a man to buy food, shelter and safe conduct.

The Sovereign is struck in 22 carat gold and weighs 7.98 grams. It measures 22.05 mm in diameter.

Edited by bigjarofwasps

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Has anyone any ideas, whether Military Personnel in the second Gulf war were issued with sovereigns, or indeed during Air Operations Iraq or the NATO bombing of the Former Yugoslavia?

Can anyone tell me how many sovereigns WW2 personnel were issued with?

Does anyone know of any other operations during which service personnel were issued with sovereigns?

Was Lawrence of Arabia given any I wonder?

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Andy McNab Bravo Two Zero P198/199

Around my waist, however,, on a one inch webbing belt, was today’s star prize, about ?1,700 in sterling, in the form of twenty gold sovereigns we had each been given as escape money. I had fixed my coins to the belt with masking tape and this created a drama. They jumped back, shouting what I assumed was the Iraqi for let him go, he’s going to explode!

A captain arrived he couldn’t have been more than 5`2” tall but must have weighed over 13 stone. He looked like a boil egg. He was aggressive, speaking good English quickly and brusquely. What’s is the equipment you have there? He asked pointing at the masking tape.

Gold I said.

The word must be international as jeans or Pepsi.

Why do you have gold?

I pulled out the first gold sovereign and the ruperts were summoned, they then began to divide the sovereigns between themselves. They tried to look so official and solemn, as they did but it was blatantly obvious what they were up to.

John Peters & John Nicols Tornado Down P107

Then the one who had punched me in the face found my money, ?1000 in gold sovereigns. He looked at it. The gold glittered back at him.

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Peter `Yorkie` Crossland Victor Two P61

Blood money was standard SAS issue and consisted of gold sovereigns and what was called a blood chit- a document in English, Arabic and Farsi which promised the sum of ?5000 to anyone aiding a British soldier. Each blood chit carried a unique serial that could be checked against a person’s name. I don’t recall anyone ever using his blood chit, but the gold was different. On some occasions the sovereigns were regulated and each soldier had to sign for them: but other times they were just given a fistful of gold and told to get on with it. In fairness, some of the guys did genuinely use the money to buy vehicles to aid escape, and in battle equipment does get lost. But a lot of the gold did not turn up again at the end of the war, since the accountability was poor many of the guys still have their sovereigns. Good luck to them, I say.………….The fifteen gold sovereigns with which I was issued, I stuck to black masking tape. Next I cut the lining of my trousers and threaded the tape into my waistband.

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Storm Command by General Sir Peter De La Billiere P204

Tornados skimming across the border at 800KPH and heading north over the sands at ultra low level, with their clumsy coffin-shaped JP233 slung beneath their bellies. Every crewman carried ?800 in gold, to facilitate escape in case of trouble, and also a chit written in Arabic which promised that Her Majesty’s Government would pay the sum of ?5000 to anyone who returned an airman intact to the allies.

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I`m still trying to confirm evidence of the use of gold sovereigns, during the current operations in Iraq, and during the war (2003), as yet I have drawn a blank. I can only hope that in the near future as more books start to be published on the subject, that maybe they`ll hold the answer. In the meantime I`d very much like to hear from anyone who can confirm or deny, the use of said coins during Telic. violent.gif

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Eye of the Storm, by Peter Radcliffe DCM.

P244 & p245

The pay sergeant major also issued each man with twenty gold sovereigns. The sovereigns were intended to be used to bribe Iraqi citizens or military personel if the need should arise. Since gold sovereigns are an internationally accepted currency, and since each one is worth, not its nominal ?1 face value, but around ?80, they are extremely useful and a compact way of carrying a large sum of money.

The sovereigns had to be handed back after the war unless you could prove to have had a legitimate use for them. No one did use them. We tended to steal or hijack what we needed, rather than barter for it.

I might add that, contrary to what has been said in several accounts of the SAS in the Gulf War, most of the sovereigns were accounted for after the war.

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A question about these--

presumably these are no longer minbted for use in BRITAIN? Solely for "mint sets" and that sort of "collector coins?" (That is the only ay silver coins etc are struck any more in America--not for crculation and likewise certainly not face value.)

Would it not be sneakier to strike "old" version coins with Auld Queen Vickie's face on them as bribes for CURRENT operations... which would have the benefit of "plausible deniability" for any recipient... rather than handing people bribes which tell their superiors and their secret police who might be turning out their pockets for them that "I have been trafficking with the enemy, just really recently?"

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Guest WAR LORD

A question about these--

presumably these are no longer minbted for use in BRITAIN? Solely for "mint sets" and that sort of "collector coins?" (That is the only ay silver coins etc are struck any more in America--not for crculation and likewise certainly not face value.)

Would it not be sneakier to strike "old" version coins with Auld Queen Vickie's face on them as bribes for CURRENT operations... which would have the benefit of "plausible deniability" for any recipient... rather than handing people bribes which tell their superiors and their secret police who might be turning out their pockets for them that "I have been trafficking with the enemy, just really recently?"

You raise a number of points, first it would be a treasonable offence to use another head on the coinage. As to the striking of soveriegns this happens every year in great numbers. The cions are still current but are covered by the gold value at the time. Thus a Soveriegn is worth approx ?80.00 to-day.

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NOT as treasonable as an intended behind enemy lines bribe recipient getting CAUGHT with that proof on him, not being able to shrug it off as great-grandpa Waleed's lucky charm from the Olde Days. That's kind of hard to do with a current date! Kind of like issuing fluorescent escape and evasion sweaters with "SPY" on them in giant luminous letters.

Shouldn't illicit and illegal items intended to save life behind enemy lines BE... appropriate to SUCCESS? speechless.gif

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I don`t suppose it makes a great difference which effigy you have on your sovereigns, if your bartering with an Iraqi, money especially gold talks, as they say. Given the fact that there are thousands of sovereigns kicking round the place, I won`t see the need to mint ones with an old effigy on, however, why they used 1980 E11R examples is anyones guess?

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Eye of the Storm by Peter Radcliffe DCM.

P380 & p 381

Following the attack on Victor Two.............

As one of the last to vehicles to leave fishtailed away, in a skidding start, its wing struck me a violant blow on my thigh and belt kit and sent me flying through the air. As I went in one direction my rifle, which had been knocked from my hand, went in the another.

Half winded, I staggered to my feet, and found the last of the four Land Rovers we`d left here revving up next to me. Jump on or we`re f##king going without you a voice yelled. It wasn`t much of an option, for the bullets were ricocheting off the vehicles sides and bonnet. Someone grabbed my arm, and I scrambled aboard as the wagon lit out, with enemy bullets still pining off the sideworks. My M16 with the twenty gold sovereigns still hidden in the butt was left behind. I often wonder whether whoever found the weapon also discovered the secret hoard of gold. It would go a long way nowadays, given the present state of the Iraqi economy.

I wonder if these sovereigns, are the ones he referes to early in his book, when he states...........I might add that, contrary to what has been said in several accounts of the SAS in the Gulf War, most of the sovereigns were accounted for after the war.

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Guest WAR LORD

The use of a 1980 coin would in my opion be that this is the minting that was in the Paymasters office. The date on coins would be an irrelavance to the issuing. It is possible that they would use George V soveriegns as these were produced in very large quanties. These were minted in India, South Africa, Australia and Canada. George VI were much less minted and normaly found in presentation sets.

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Interesting thread..... I only have one Sovereign. No exciting stories go with it though...... it was a gift from my wife on the occasion of our wedding!

:beer:

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Guest WAR LORD

The Grand Slam, ?5.00, ?2.00, ?1.00 and Half sov. This is interesting because it had the shield back, but the six pence was the same, so the Likly Lads guilded the sixpence and passed it of as Half a sov. Whats new about faking. Called guilding the Lilly.

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Old Radcliffe`s account is my favourite, I think!!! Funny how him and Crossland didn`t get on, isn`t it. These SAS blokes all seem to slag each other off don`t they!!???

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http://www.collectsource.com/james.htm

From Russia With Love

Bond’s Gadget

Briefcase: which holds an AR-7 folding sniper’s rifle, 40 rounds of ammunition, an exploding tear gas cartridge disguised as a tin of talcum powder, 50 Gold Sovereigns, and a throwing knife.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Russia_with_Love

Edited by mariner

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Two tidbits on this topic

I read somewhere, years ago, that in North Africa the coin of choice was the Austrian Maria Theresa "thaler" ('dollar' to we Anglos) and that the Austrian mint kept making them well into the 20th century for use in such conditions as meeting possibly nasty Beduoin, Tuareg, etc. Can't vouch for the truth - I believe it was in a novel - but it struck me as the kind of thing that a novelist would think neat to include but be unlikely to make up. For what it's worth.

Years ago I knew a Portugese chap would been in Angola as a national service soldier and stayed on. he claimed to have served with Mike Hoare and the South African mercenaries. Can't vouch for that either but he did recognize Brazzaville, Congo from an arial shot in a movie we were watching one night so... ? Anyway, we met in West Africa where he was working for a construction company and he showed me his "insurance policy": a ring with a half sovreign in it and a compartment in his wallet with 2 Krugerrand. Claimed it would get him across any border in Africa (ie: out of the country) in a pinch. I suspect he was right. That or shot!

Peter

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Two tidbits on this topic

I read somewhere, years ago, that in North Africa the coin of choice was the Austrian Maria Theresa "thaler" ('dollar' to we Anglos) and that the Austrian mint kept making them well into the 20th century for use in such conditions as meeting possibly nasty Beduoin, Tuareg, etc. Can't vouch for the truth - I believe it was in a novel - but it struck me as the kind of thing that a novelist would think neat to include but be unlikely to make up. For what it's worth.

Could very well be true. I saw many of them in morocco in the silver markets and I have a lighter made by a POW (I am not sure if Boer war or WW1) with inlaid Thalers.

It seems to have been the USD of Africa in the 19th, early 20th centiry.

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Guest CAPT Caltrop

Could very well be true. I saw many of them in morocco in the silver markets and I have a lighter made by a POW (I am not sure if Boer war or WW1) with inlaid Thalers.

It seems to have been the USD of Africa in the 19th, early 20th centiry.

It is funny, how certain specie were taken up as the prime currency of very different countries.

The US Navy paid its bills in China with "Mex" or Mexican silver dollars during the early 20th Century. The Chinese were used to silver currency. Historically they used silver ingots in the shape of a boat or sandal known as "sycee." Since Mexico had no interests in China, it was a good neutral currency with no political overtones.

During my days on the Asian Riviera we used to talk of "CIA bracelets" with detachable links of gold. It is likely that holding any foreign currency in a Communist country resulted in a summary death sentence so unornamented "raw gold" was the best tender.

Edited by CAPT Caltrop

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Guest WAR LORD

the Austrian Maria Theresa "thaler" , is indeed still minted in Austria. It is used as an international unit off account.

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