"JIM" Short Snorter Signed by French Volunteers of Noumea, New Caledonia
The Short Snorter Project
This short snorter was sent in by Jean-Claude Estival of Nouméa, New Caledonia, who is currently writing a history of
currency in New Caledonia. Jean-Claude writes, "This is a 1/2 shilling "Japanese Invasion Money" (JIM) for Oceania and
it is signed by French volunteers from Nouméa, New Caledonia. It is dated 1943. Enroute to Libya (before going to fight in
Bir Hacheim and further north, up to France), they were trained in Sydney, Australia, by Aussie instructors, who might
have given them this note, otherwise unavailable to French people at this time. The other possibility is that it could have
been obtained before leaving Noumea from Americans coming back from Guadalcanal. The use of short snorters is
normally not customary among French soldiers!"
The note is entitled: "Souvenir des Calédoniens du Pacifiques" (Souvenir of New-Caledonians from the Pacific Battalion)
Some of the names deciphered :
CLARQUE Émile, Michel
CAGNON Georges
- Wounded. Croix de Guerre with bronze star. Médaille Militaire.
GENET Eugène - Croix de Guerre with bronze star
CHEVAL Lewis - Killed. Croix de Guerre with bronze star. Médaille de la Resistance Française.
All of them followed the same track during more than 3 years : Noumea (March 1943) - Australia - South Africa - Egypt -
Tripolitania - Tunisia - Algeria - Italy - France - Noumea (in July 1946, due to shortage of returning boats). Those of the
first contingent had left Noumea in 1941! They won their medals during the battle of Girofano in Italy, where they suffered
heavy losses.
Jean-Claude also wrote, "They were two different contingents of French volunteers. The first one left Nouméa on May
3rd 1941, much too early to have one of those JIMs available. There were 284 people from New Caledonia and 303 from
both New Hebrides and Tahiti. They were nicknamed: " The Guitarists Battalion ". After 1 1/2 months of training in
Sydney, they were sent to Palestine aboard the requisitioned Queen Elizabeth (in first class cabins!). They participated
gallantly in the battle of
Bir Hakeim against Rommel's troops, followed by El Alamein. They suffered great losses and
their two successive Commanding Officers were killed in action! In January 1943 they made connection with
Leclerc coming from Tchad" (Chad). A second contingent left Nouméa in June 1943 for Tunisia. In 1944 they reached
Naples and Rome, where half of them were killed or wounded. They finally went north up to Belfort in the east of France.
This JIM note comes from this second contingent and was probably acquired in Nouméa from American or New Zealand
soldiers returning from the Salomon Islands in the first half of 1943."