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British India, one rupee note, inscribed and acquired by a US soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2013.442.13

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    British India, one rupee note, inscribed and acquired by a US soldier

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    Brief Narrative
    One rupee note issued under the British Raj as an emergency wartime measure in 1940 acquired by James (Jim) Kirkebo. The 1 rupee note had been discontinued in 1934, but paper currency in small denominations was needed as people hoarded metal coins. Kirkebo served in the US Army from 1940-1945, including combat duty in Europe from December 1944-May 1945. Kirkebo, 19, enlisted in 1940 and, in August 1942, 2nd Lt. Kirkebo became commanding officer, C Company, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, 11th Armored Division. In December 1944, Kirkebo's unit landed in Normandy, defended Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and spearheaded the Allied advance into Germany. Kirkebo received a battlefield promotion to captain on February 1, 1945. On May 5 and 6, soldiers from the 11th Armored liberated Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps. At Mauthausen, the unit was tasked with caring for 19,000 starving inmates. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. Kirkebo was awarded a Silver Star and 3 Bronze Stars for his leadership and heroism in action.
    issue:  1940 July 24
    issue:  1940
    issue: India
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of James Edward Kirkebo
    face, top corners, black ink : 1
    face, center, white on black ink : GOVERNMENT / OF INDIA / ONE / RUPEE / 1
    face, right, cursive, black ink : C. E. Jones
    face, bottom, black ink : V / 41 050003
    face, right, bottom, watermark, blue ink : 1 ONE RUPEE
    reverse, top, left and right corners, white letter on black background : 1
    reverse, top, left, black ink : ONE / RUPEE / INDIA / 1940
    reverse, bottom, left, white on black background : 1 / ONE / RUPEE
    reverse, top, center, white on black background : GOVERNMENT / OF INDIA
    reverse, center, column, black ink : 7 regional languages [One Rupee]
    Subject: James E. Kirkebo
    Issuer: Government of India
    James (Jim) Edward Kirkebo was born on April 22, 1921, in Tacoma, Washington. He was the second of three children born to Gerhard and Irene Kirkebo. His parents were both born in Norway and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Gerhard was a building contractor. In spring 1939, James graduated from high school and took a job as a shipping clerk.

    On September 14, 1940, he enlisted in the US Army. Following the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. James was deployed for four and a half months with the Asia Pacific Technical Operations (APTO) unit, through December 1941. James rose to the rank of Sergeant, with a specialty in reconnaissance. On December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor,a, and a few days later the US entered World War II. On May 11, 1942, James was selected to attend the Army’s newly formed Officer Candidate Course at Fort Benning in Georgia. In early August, Staff Sergeant Kirkebo, 2nd Training Regiment, 16th Co., graduated from the Officer’s Candidate Course and was reenlisted as a Second Lieutenant with a specialty in automotive maintenance and repair. In mid-August, the 11th Armored Division, the Thunderbolt Division, was activated, as part of the Third Army. James was made commanding officer of C Company, 21st Armored Infantry Battalion. The unit was deployed in September to Great Britain. In early December, his unit landed in Normandy, France, and moved north into Belgium. They entered combat on December 30, defending the road to Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. In January 1945, the Division spearheaded the Allied advance into Germany. On February 1, James received a field promotion to Captain. In February and March, the 11th Armored overran several cities, then crossed the Rhine River. In April, the unit turned south towards the Danube River and Austria. James was wounded by shrapnel on April 25, but continued fighting. On May 5 and 6, the Division liberated Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps, two of the largest camps in Austria. The Medical Inspector’s report on Mauthausen stated that "the situation in the camp on the arrival of the US Forces was one of indescribable filth and human degradation." There were over 19,000 prisoners, most little more than skeletons, and over half in need of immediate medical care. They had to keep the inmates from leaving the camp, until they were able to eat again. After starving for so long, they became sick from eating the soldier's rations or regular food. The 11th Armored Division turned to the task of providing medical services, caring for the inmates, and improving conditions in the camp.

    On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. The Division was placed on occupational duty until August 31, when it was deactivated. On September 1, James was reassigned to the 9th Armored Division, 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion, C Company. The 9th armored continued occupational duties in Germany until early fall. James returned to the US on October 13, 1945, the same day the 9th Armored Division was deactivated. He was relieved from active duty and honorably discharged. James had participated in the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe Campaigns and received many medals for his service, including a Silver Star, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in leadership while in action against the enemy, Bronze Stars for heroic conduct, Purple Heart, American Defense Service, and campaign medals. James returned to Tacoma and went into business with his father as a building contractor. In the late 1940s, James married Lorna (1920-1998), and the couple had two children. James joined the 6th Army Reserves Company, Instructor Group, transitioning to retired in 1962. James, age 70, died on June 4, 1991, in Tacoma, Washington.

    Physical Details

    Exchange Media
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, 1 rupee paper currency in blue, green, and light orange ink. The face has a wavy geometric background with the denomination 1 in the top corners. On the left is an archway with a watermarked portrait of the Emperor. In the center is the denomination One Rupee 1 and the serial number, over an underprint flourish and denomination 1 ONE RUPEE. On the right is a vignette of the rupee coin, with the profile of George VI King Emperor crowned. The reverse has a rectangle with a scalloped border. On the left is the reverse of the rupee coin, on a pedestal frame with the denomination 1 ONE RUPEE. In the center is a column with the denomination in 7 native languages of British India. On the left is a rectangular frame with a watermarked, embossed image of the Emperor's portrait, with the initials GRI at the top. There is a handwritten inscription on the front. The note is discolored, creased, and soiled.
    overall: Height: 2.500 inches (6.35 cm) | Width: 4.000 inches (10.16 cm)
    overall : paper, ink
    face, left within arch, handwritten, brown ink: To Mom / from Jimmy / and Mickey / Souveneer / of India

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The currency was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013 by Jamie Kirkebo, on behalf of the Estate of his father, James Edward Kirkebo.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-10-16 13:47:13
    This page:

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