World War II Gold

During WWII England sent all its gold to Canada for safekeeping. It was mostly shipped to Halifax and then sent by train to Ottawa where it was stored in the Bank of Canada's vaults.

Operation Fish was the largest movement of physical wealth in human history - $160 billion worth in 2017 dollars.

Sending the gold to Canada meant it would be safe if England were invaded and it could be used to buy military equipment and supplies from the US. This was key - without "cash" to buy material, Britain couldn't have fought the early part of the war.

The first shipment came in spring 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited. £30 million in gold was secretly carried on two warships that accompanied the royals.

The first wartime shipment involved the light cruisers HMS Emerald and Enterprise, the cruiser Caradoc, and two battleships, the Revenge and the Resolution. Each carried £2 million in gold bars. They arrived in Halifax on October 16, 1939.

Despite the huge losses in the Battle of the Atlantic - 3,500 Allied merchant ships and 175 Allied warships - every gold shipment sent as part of Operation Fish made it safely to Canada.

Some other European countries, such as France, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands also sent gold to Canada.

Canada stored 186,332 gold bars and over 8 million ounces of gold in other forms (mostly coins) for Allies.

Since we're Canadian, eh, the Bank of Canada didn't charge our Allies for safeguarding this huge quantity of gold and none went missing.

The emptied Bank of England vault was turned into a staff canteen during WWII.