Plan to smuggle gold out of Scotland after Nazi invasion

The gold was to be collected from Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow. Picture: WikiMedia
The gold was to be collected from Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow. Picture: WikiMedia
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A secret plan to smuggle millions of pounds of gold bullion out of Scotland in the event of a Nazi invasion has been revealed.

Newly declassified files show that the government planned to use the Scottish Home Guard to move over 80 tons of gold bullion to a secret location in England if Hitler invaded the country.

Picture: Getty

Picture: Getty

The files have also revealed that the Scots Home Guard - made up of men too old, young or otherwise ineligible for regular service - were to be given the responsibility of keeping the gold out of Nazi hands.

The gold was to be smuggled by bank staff also enrolled in the local defence force.

The plans were revealed in newly declassified top secret letters between military bosses - kept secret for 75 years.

The whole contingency plan and letters have been opened up to the public and placed on display to the public at the National Archives at Kew, south west London.

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One letter, from August 1940, reads: “There are, in Glasgow, about 80 tons of bullion which in emergency will be evacuated to a secret destination under instructions from the Bank of England.

“The Regional Commissioner is providing 23 lorries for the transport of this. Please earmark a guard of one officer and 25 other ranks to act as escort.

The documents outline that the local volunteers were to pick up the gold at the RBS branch in Glasgow’s Royal Exchange Square.

The outline of the plan goes on: “The commander of the escort will be responsible for the protection of the bullion, but as four bank officials will be accompanying the convoy, he will not take over the bullion, nor will he give the bank a receipt.”

A shortage of available regular soldiers meant the responsibility of smuggling the gold fell on the shoulders of the men of the Home Guard.

A message sent from the commanding officer of Dalmonach Barracks in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, to the bank manager states: “I regret I shall not have any trained men available in an emergency.

“When such an emergency arises, practically every trained man, together with the officers will be sent away as first reinforcements.

“It is, therefore, put forward for your consideration that this duty be given to the Home Guard.

“It is proposed to detail the I2 Glasgow Battalion who have six officers and 150 other ranks who are bank officials in Glasgow.

The communication also states that the men in charge of the mission will be selected for their youth and physical fitness.

“This arrangement would have additional merit in as much as, in all probability, the officer detailed would be known to ou.”

The bullion smugglers were also to be sent 15 rifles, 10 Sten machine guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

The plan was finally stood down once the Nazis were on the backfoot in October 1944.

A memo around this time reads: “In view of the general relaxation of anti-invasion precautions, there is no further necessity for provision of the bullion escort for the Royal Bank of Scotland.”

Similar plans were also in place for banks in Edinburgh throughout the war.