Invasion Currency

When the allies invaded Europe they faced a problem, paying their troops. If soldiers were paid in Sterling or US Dollars, this hard currency would destabilise the local economy and lead to high inflation; however with the dislocation of the local and regional administration following liberation prevented them from just using the local currency which was temporarily without the support of a central bank. The solution then was to issue their own ‘invasion currency’ in the local currency. These notes were paid to soldiers who could use them to purchase things from local businesses; with the businesses safe in the knowledge that their value was underwritten by the allied forces and backed by the respective governments in exile. These notes were issued for most countries in Europe, this example in my collection is for France:SKMBT_C36415042013240_0001The note shows it is issued by the Allies in France, is worth 10 Francs and was issued in 1944. The reverse side of the note has a large French flag:SKMBT_C36415042013250_0001Also note the highly appropriate French motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The notes had been printed under tight security by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company in Boston Massachusetts and transported to the UK. Nineteen lorries were needed to carry the 3 billion Francs worth of notes. Soldiers were paid in Francs in the few days immediately before D-Day, one Canadian soldier who withdrew £1 10/- on 29th June was given 200 Francs. The notes came in a variety of denominations, however despite being backed by the allies, many local shopkeepers were very reluctant to accept them and often soldiers had to resort to barter to get what they wanted, swapping items such as cigarettes or chocolate (The Americans clearly had an advantage here). Perhaps General De Gaulle describing them as ‘false money’ hadn’t helped. The notes were available in 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Franc denominations. This example is one of 80,000,000 ten Franc notes produced!

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