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A top-secret Second World War operation to move thousands of tons of gold out of Europe to the safety of Canada is commemorated by a new coin set issued by The London Mint Office. Codenamed Operation Fish, the covert project marks its 75th anniversary this year.

In the summer of 1940, Operation Fish saw naval convoys transport millions of pounds worth of gold, treasure and securities to Canada. They battled appalling weather and the U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic to move the treasure out of danger and secure funding for the war in the case of invasion by Germany. Countries including the UK, France and Norway were involved in these secret operations, which only became public knowledge after the war.

The London Mint’s commemorative coins have taken the same epic 5,000-mile journey made by the Operation Fish warships whilst moving gold from Europe to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The London Mint Office's journey started in Oslo when Jan-Eirik Hansen, CEO of the Mint of Norway, signed an official letter to confirm the coins' arrival in Norway. From here, the coins travelled onto Paris where Mme S Martin of the Société Française Des Monnaies officially confirmed their arrival.

They were then transported onto Canada where John Moore, Vice President at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, officially greeted and signed for the coins. The coins were kept securely in a vault at the Mint before returning to the UK.


Speaking of the journey of the coins, James Deeny, Managing Director of The London Mint Office, said, ‘Operation Fish was the biggest transportation of wealth in history and yet it is still a little-known part of World War Two history. The Navy took considerable risks in order to ensure that the countries involved could safeguard their gold reserves and avoid the Germans landing a substantial windfall.

‘In following in the wake of the Operation Fish missions by transporting gold on the same journey we clearly didn't suffer the conditions of the brave sailors who completed these epic missions. However, for anyone passionate about the history of the War, these coin sets enable them to get closer to an amazing part of European history and remember those who took part 75 years ago.’

Coin details

The Operation Fish coin sets retail for £1,295 and are available from The London Mint website or via tel: 0808 1782370. Each set includes an original signed letter from the Royal Canadian Mint proving that the coins were part of the London Mint Office's Operation Fish missionand arrived safely in Canada.

They are also accompanied by a coin passport booklet documenting every step of the journey the coins took and an extract from ‘Gold Run' - a book written by Robert Pearson which documents Operation Fish from the Norwegian perspective including the escape of the Norwegian royal family following the Nazi invasion.

Written By Rachel Bellerby