Making money during the war |

Making money during the war

Shirley Welch
Vail, CO Colorado

Besides the $1,000 he had won on the ship from poker in Fort Bragg and from the infamous bridge tournament, Frank had a considerable amount of cash.

He hid it as best he could and when they finally docked in the port of Belfast, all of the troops were required to surrender American dollars for British pounds. At that time a pound equaled $4.03.

In those days, the pound note was the size of a dinner napkin and now Frank found he had this giant roll of notes, that had to go 8 inches in girth, and such a bundle was difficult to conceal. All Frank could do was stuff the wad in his duffel bag with his dirty socks and long underwear, which caused constant worry.

Several days later in the town of Newton-Stuart, the men were housed in Nissan huts. These seemed like bigger versions of tin cans and each man had limited space to store their personal belongings, so Frank grew even more concerned about safely storing his pound notes in his duffle bag which was out in plain sight. Eventually, he was able to find a one-room bank, with a little gray-haired cashier behind a desk.

Frank held up his roll of money. “Can you change this to higher denominations?”

The woman blinked and the color around her lips turned pale. Pushing her chair back, the cashier said, “I have to get the director.”

“Dandy,” Frank replied.

The bank director took one look at Frank’s roll of notes and shook his head. “I can exchange those notes for five-pound notes but not today. I have to go to the vault and I can’t do it today. Can you come back tomorrow?”

So Frank left the bank with his giant roll of notes under his jacket. The following day he was able to trade the pound notes for sixty five-pound notes, which the director handed to Frank in a large brown envelope. Frank opened the envelope and pulled out a 6-inch BY 9-inch five-pound note. It was printed on almost white paper, was very thin, and colored black and gold.

“This is money?” Frank asked.

The director shrugged. “We call them ‘Flimseys’ for a reason.”

“I guess,” Frank said and put the note back in the envelope.

So now Frank was able to bury the envelope in his duffle bag but he still didn’t feel secure, and some days later he went to an APO and spent his ‘Flimseys’ on an $1,080 money order to send home to his father, who would deposit it in a bank account for Frank.

This procedure continued for another year when Frank’s pocket money exceeded $500. Between March of 1943 and May 1945, Frank sent home more than $10,000. Not bad for a man who was educated in animal sciences.

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