Jump to content
bigjarofwasps

Military use of the Gold Sovereign

Recommended Posts

Captain Caltrop said " 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... 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.

I think the point of such currencies was not their neutrality but the notion, arrived at by the locals for whatever reason, that they were "good' (ie. pure) metal. I don't suppose your average Toureg nomad or Chinese peasant knew or cared where Mexico or Austria was but they'd know silver or gold when they met it. Didn't Wellington have British silver coins re-cast as Spanish in the Peninsula because the locals wouldn't take foreign issues?

I like the "CIA" idea though: "Just a lump of gold , boss. No idea where it came from. :blush: "

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest CAPT Caltrop

The premise is people are basically honest. They would prefer you to pay them for a service rather than kill you for valuable coins on your person.

This runs contrary to experience. I've been in many neighborhoods where flashing money was not recommended procedure. Moreover in a war zone, who is going to investigate one more dead foreigner? There is a heightened risk to carrying e & e funds. I suppose when the chips are down you must gamble or die.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be interesting to see on average the times that the sovereign had been used, in such circumstances by the military.

They seemed to work for Lawrence of Arabia, but not so well for the Bravo Two Zero or RAF guys, but having said that there all still alive. So maybe the use of the sovereigns in the first few minutes, bought them time. I`m sure that was the case for the RAF guys, from Tornado Down- they got them out as soon as the Iraqi` turned up. Were as McNab`s didn`t come to light till much later after capture?

I`m still trying to confirm whether sovereigns have been used since?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JAMES BOND: How much are they paying you?

GRANT: What’s it to you?

JAMES BOND: We’ll double it.

GRANT: Your word of honour...as an English, gentleman? The first one won’t kill you, not the second, not even the third. Not till you crawl over here and you kiss my foot!

JAMES BOND: How about a cigarette?

GRANT: Not a chance.

JAMES BOND: I’ll pay for it.

GRANT: What with?

JAMES BOND: 50 gold sovereigns.

GRANT: Where are they?

JAMES BOND: Up there in my case?

GRANT: You show me.

JAMES BOND: Here you are. What about that cigarette?

GRANT: Throw ‘em down there. Any more in the other case?

JAMES BOND: I should imagine so, it’s a standard kit I’ll have a look.

GRANT: Put your hands back in your pockets.

(Grant opens the case and the Q Branch teargas cartridge explodes in his face. All hell breaks loose in one of the all-time great screen fight scenes.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soldier Five by Mike Coburn p216-17 :violent:

On lifting the belt, he froze- it was far too heavy an accessory for securing pants. Turning the belt over he saw the encircling masking tape that both hid and attached the gold. The belt was pulled from me the masking tape partially unwound. The look of consternation, followed by recognition as a gold sovereign dropped into his palm, was priceless. Whipping the belt under an armpit., he thrust the sovereign into his near toothless mouth, and bit on the newly discovered coin. The joy spread across his face in an instant. He turned to his partner and began jabbering to him triumphantly. I had no idea how the two of them would take the discovery.

It could be difficult to explain why a dumb Pte was carrying a small fortune in gold around his waist. Though a mercenary might. As it happened I had no need to worry, these two lads had no intention of telling their superiors that they had stumbled across ?2,000 worth of gold.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the book `The Real Bravo Two Zero` Michael Asher claims to have spoken to the Iraqi who found the body of Vince Phillips. Claiming that he had no sovereigns on him when he found him, (page 205).

It seems that the Iraqi’s did very well for gold sovereigns in 1991-

They got 20 sovereigns each out of John Nicols & John Peters, the two tornado crew shot down in Southern Iraq.

140 sovereigns out of Bravo Two Zero.

20 sovereigns that Radcliffe lost at Victor Two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the book The Real Bravo Two Zero by Michael Asher, he makes several references to gold sovereigns issued to the patrol, and what became of them when they were captured and or killed. None of the Iraqi`s interviewed knew anything about them or could account for where they had ended up??!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It now appears that the MOD have sold off all their Sovereigns, and replaced them with ounce Krugerrands. The thinking behind it I believe is that Sovereigns would suggest to the enemy that the soldier/airman was British were as the use of Krugerrand would suggest otherwise. Also they appear only to be issued with about 5 Krugerrands as apposed to 20 Sovereigns, which I suppose is easier to hide round the body, however, a Krugerrand being valued at about ?350 & a Sovereign at about ?80, means that I suppose you`d get less for your money, and you`d have to want something pretty bad, in order to part with a Krugerrand, we`d have to be talking passage over the border or buying a vehicle, as apposed to say some food or the like which a Sovereign would buy? But having said that if your in the sh#t, then gold talks whatever its face value.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have come across new evidence that suggests that sovereigns, were also issued during Telic as they were on Granby. In the latest war, 2003 sovereigns were issued straight from the Royal Mint. Further updates to follow........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quotes from some recent correspondence…

“Yes I do have some Gulf issue sovereigns they were all mint condition NEW ones straight from the Royal mint still in paper wrappers wish I had not unwrapped them now, but they are all dated 2003”

“I did have some sovereigns issued to me, they also issued Krugerrands, but because of their size they were harder to hide on your person the reason they tried the Krugerrands is that they are 1oz of 22ct fine gold and a sovereign is 1/4 oz of 22ct so less is more.”

“I was issued x2 packs that had 10 in each and they were all 2003 as they came straight from the Mint, you were supposed to hand them back in but as you didn't actually get a receipt if you used them there was no way of anyone knowing how many if any you had used”.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thread... well... parts of it anyway. :blush:

I have only one. My birth year. Also, my mother's name is Elizabeth. So it "fits."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gordon of Khartoum

General Wolseley`s relief army…..

Wolseley wrote - Our gold sovereigns command no respect here, whereas great course Austrian silver dollars, are looked upon as real money. A man could bring here one hundred thousand in silver would make a good thing of it now in buying up all our sovereigns at a reduced price.

The sovereign is at a great discount & few Arabs here will take it.

Years after our expedition to Abyssinia, men of that country sold handfuls of sovereigns for a few silver dollars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder do the Taliban like sovereigns?

I believe the Mujahids liked Krugerrands, they use to be supplied them by the CIA in the 80`s & used as trade currency with China....but of course this would never stand up in court. :rolleyes:

Edited by Schwartzvogel2008

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder do the Taliban like sovereigns?

I believe the Mujahids liked Krugerrands, they use to be supplied them by the CIA in the 80`s & used as trade currency with China....but of course this would never stand up in court. :rolleyes:

There`s never been much love lost, between the US & China..........

"China is intent on dethroning the United States as the ?King of the World? by arresting control of the world economy from them. This battle of the global giants has ignited the prices of all world commodities, particularly oil. It has inadvertently ?triggered? a powerful bull market for gold. The Chinese have also officially announced that they are going to lift their gold holding from 600 tonnes at present, to 2 500 tonnes. This will make them the world?s 5th largest holder of gold behind the United States, Germany, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and France. The United States is the largest individual gold holder in the world with 8 133.5 tonnes, almost 70% of their country?s total assets. The big question is, that knowing the thousands of years old love affair that the Chinese have had with gold, are they set to emulate the United States and have most of their assets in gold?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old Soldier Sahib by Pte Frank Richards DCM MM 2nd Battalion RWF

Recruit Life 1900 p52

Musketry qualification shoot had to be fired once a year. 21 rounds various targets, with money prizes being awarded to the best shots, ranging from a sovereign to a half shilling.

North China Veterans p140

At Tientsin, massing looting took place by the soldiers, filling their pockets with Mexican Dollars and unwieldy silver ingots called Scyee. However, before the first days march to Pekin was over, these had been dropped and the soldiers cursed the Chinese authorities for not adopting a more sensible currency with sovereigns and half sovereigns.

Home Again p302

A few days before I left the Battalion I changed my Rupees into sovereigns with a native shopkeeper in the Regimental Bazaar. This old shark charged me 15 Rupees & 4 Annas, each for each sovereign, but if I had wanted to change 1 or 100 of them into rupees he would have given me a bare 15 rupees for each of them. About the latter end of February 1909 a draft of about 60 time expired men returned our rifles to the store paraded for the last time and left the battalion to proceed on our journey home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old Soldiers never die by Pte Frank Richards DCM MM 2nd Battalion RWF

Trenches at Houplines p42

During the winter of 1914/15 whilst the battalion was stationed here, Richards tells the tale of a Cpl Pardoe, who is killed by a sniper. When is body is removed for burial, the men check it for items they maybe able to use themselves, Richards states he was after new puttees, however, they find a belt close to the skin, in the belt is contained about 60 English sovereigns and some French money, none of which was sent back to his next of kin. Richards himself doesn?t take any, happy with the puttees.

60 sovereigns that?s about 15 ounces I believe, that?s a lot of gold to be humping round the place, especially when you consider the mass route marches the battalion had conducted during the opening phases of the war, I?m sure you?ll agree!!!

Cpl Pardoe`s details on the CWGC website?.

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...casualty=597129

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Came across this, it would appear with they MOD continued to issue gold sovereigns during the second Gulf war..

 

The sovereign in the picture is a 2003 example.

2003.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice to see some more examples of Gulf War sovereigns on the market. Albeit there price is slowly creeping up!!

A1CE0CC4-364B-411D-8F5B-02D54EC7B3E1.jpeg

DACF80C3-88BA-4577-81A7-2E6784CEBD5A.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Blog Comments

    • Brian, Thanks for initiating this discussion. For me, it’s a combination of the thrill of the chase, the history behind the item, and the aesthetics, although this latter factor may seem a bit strange to some. To illustrate this, the very first thing I collected as a kid in the 1950’s was a Belgian WW1 medal, for service in 1914-18, which is bell shaped, with a very striking profile of a very dignified soldier, wearing an Adrian helmet which bears a laurel wreath. It was the image that
    • Thank you for sharing your story, it was most interesting and greatly appreciated, it makes this blog well worth the time to post. Regards Brian  
    • Hello I started collecting when I found my first Mauser cartridges in a field next to my parents' house next to Armentières. I was eight years old.  Then shrapnel, schrapnell balls, darts... That's how I became a historian. When I was 18, we used to walk through the fields with a metal detector to find our happiness. It was my time in the army as a research-writer in a research centre that made me love the orders of chivalry. I've been collecting them for 24 years now. Christophe
    • Thank you for your most interesting comment. The thrill of the chase didn't interest me in the beginning but over time it started to overshadow the act of simply adding yet another medal or group to the collection. Regards Brian  
    • I know the way I got into collecting is like so many other people; through a sibling. I also know that my love of history is barely unique in a place like this. So I know I have a shared background with many people. A less shared area - perhaps - is that I've always loved the thrill of the chase. When I decide I want, say, a 1914 trio with an original bar, to a cavalry unit, the utter thrill of getting out there and, (a) finding groups that fit the criteria and, (b) comparing them re: ranks, uni
×
×
  • Create New...