Hello patsy67 and thank you for your question.
Well you were nearly correct when you mention the USA as being the
holding country for Britains gold reserves during the war, it was
See below for the details:
"As a precaution, Britain's gold reserves were taken out of the
country. The first shipment was taken by the cruiser H.M.S. Emerald to
Canada to be housed in the vaults at Montreal. Many other ships, both
fast merchantmen and British warships followed with their consignment
of 'fish'' as the precious cargo was called. In all, some seven
billion dollars of 'fish' had been carried across to Canada, and not
one ship was attacked or even shadowed in this biggest financial
transaction in world history."
(This is a very comprehensive document detailing the movements of gold
reserves of various countries during world war II)
"Amid these inquiries, the British reinitiated their own transhipment
of gold to Ottawa. In late April the British battleship Repulse
slipped quietly into the port of Quebec and unloaded gold bullion onto
a train for Ottawa. Back in Ottawa, plans were drawn up for special
shelving to be added to the new vault. When one young Bank employee
first glimpsed the Bank's new vault in 1938, he had thought it was "as
cavernous as Fort Knox." By mid-1939, he remembered that gold was by
necessity being stacked on the floor to save space. Crawl spaces were
left between the stacks to enable the Bank's auditors to verify that
the stacks were all gold.(41) Throughout the rest of 1939, the British
earmark account in Ottawa became the centre of intense activity. Gold
bars and coin continued to arrive from abroad as well as gold from
England itself, delivered by warship to Halifax, Vancouver and Quebec.
From this growing hoard, some gold was despatched to New York where
England was already using it to support its wartime spending in the
United States. British gold reserves in Ottawa peaked at $346 million
in early September and then slipped back to end the year at $251
For the 'home' document of the above see:
"Revenge was one of the ships carrying Britain's gold reserves to
Halifax from Greenock. Security was tight. The boxes contained either
four gold bars or bags of coins. Guess how Jack found that out. The
gold arrived in Greenock harbour in railway box wagons. Marines were
the guards. One officer checked the boxes, which were numbered out of
the wagon. An officer checked them going into a boat. An officer
checked them going on board Revenge, another checked them being
lowered to the bomb room and another checked them arriving in the bomb
room. The procedure was reversed in Halifax. We also carried the
Polish General Sikorski to Halifax. I have a photograph of him leaving
from the quarterdeck in Halifax."
"The other twin, M/S SOBIESKI survived the war. She participated in
many convoys as a troop-cargo ship. One of the famous voyage was the
trip, along with M/S BATORY from England to Canada carrying the huge
load of British Gold Reserves."
Her first roll in WWII was transporting British gold reserves to
Canada and Canadian troops to Britain between the 10th and 29th
As to when the gold was returned, well this is where it gets a bit
complicated. Some of the gold that was held in Canada was turned into
Swiss francs during the war, also within the account were more than
one hundred 'private' gold deposits held in the Bank of England
account. So we can say that the account under which the gold reserves
were held was finally closed on June 7th, 1955. Actual details of
shipments of the gold reserves back to Britain are not available.
"Perhaps strangely, the end of the European war did not signal a
scramble to Ottawa to unravel the awkward implications of wartime
earmark banking. There were no sudden closings of accounts, no hurried
exodus of blocked gold out of Canada and no recriminations."
"On December 12, 1945, the British Parliament voted for the repeal of
the Emergency Powers Act on February 24, 1946. The Bank of England
soon began to receive requests for the release of gold under the
sundry persons account in Ottawa."
"On June 7, 1955, the last sundry persons deposit was claimed and
settled. When the Bank of Canada informed the Bank of England of this
transaction, London replied that "the repayments under the Foreign
Owned Gold Scheme are now complete."
Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer do not hesitate to ask before rating my answer.
Very best regards
Search strategy included:
"Gold Reserves" war canada