The French Resistance received financial assistance from the British (especially through the SOE and F section) and (later) the Americans' OSS, as well as individuals and banks in France and from the Free French based in London. Resistance groups also 'self-financed' themselves through robbery.
Money was sent to resistance groups via air drops, or smuggled in by boat, or was carried by operatives who were either parachuted in or came by boat. Whether the resistance moved by day or night depended on circumstances. Some resistance groups could also get money by selling bonds of no value to a 'friendly' bank.
Money was sometimes hidden in the seams of clothes or in possessions such as toilet paper. Money was often carried by women as they were less likely to be stopped and searched. Public transport was avoided when possible due to check points; bicycles were a preferred method of transport when practical. However, cars and trucks were sometimes used to transport large sums, especially in rural areas. Money was also moved through bank branches.
Spending money in ways likely to draw attention was against resistance security orders but, despite this, some resistance leaders indulged in conspicuous consumption such as eating at expensive restaurants. When resistance groups used money for purchasing such basics as everyday food and clothing (which they often lacked - food was rarely included in air drops), they would have been unlikely to draw attention to themselves as these were routine activities.
Large sums were spent on arranging the smuggling of Allied personnel and other 'at risk' people across into Spain and Switzerland. The resistance sometimes paid families to hide and feed people being smuggled.
They also had to bribe officials for documents (for example, to obtain petrol or permits), or to get resistance members released from custody. Such 'purchases' could not be made without taking risks; informers were a constant threat.
DETAILS (with some specific examples)
Assistance from the British and the Americans wasn't just financial; they also provided weapons, ammunition, explosives, radios and medical supplies. Thus, much of what the resistance received did not involve the possibly risky business of spending. However, money was badly needed at times to buy food from local producers or items on the black market.
One method of getting money and supplies to resistance groups was by using drop zones:
guiding aircraft to a drop zone could range from the primitive to a
more intricately scripted operation depending upon the skill and
experience of the resistance group working the drop zone. In the most
basic of receptions, four men used electric torches, formed a large
“L” and signaled when they heard the sound of the aircraft. The
reception party signaled a previously agreed upon Morse letter, and
the aircraft dropped the load over the “L” and flew on to another
location to drop leaflets elsewhere in an effort to make the Germans
believe propaganda was the plane’s only mission.
Supplies could also be smuggled in by boat at night and temporarily stored until it was (reasonably) safe to distribute once the nighttime curfew had been lifted.
Another way of getting money to the resistance was to have individuals carry it with them. SOE and OSS operatives, for example, were sent to France with money (though not necessarily very much). Jean Moulin, a key figure in French resistance, on one occasion personally handed over to a local resistance leader
20,000 francs, a significant proportion of the money he had brought
One Allied operative working with the resistance was told
that there was a message from London to say that money, clothes, and
instructions would arrive ‘next month’ for both Alex and me. They
would come through a contact I was to meet outside the Church of Saint
Sauvin in Toulouse, and I was to be there, according to Raoul, twice
daily, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., from 8 March 1943 for twelve days, until
we met up. I was not told who the contact was, but he knew me.
Source: Richard Heslop, 'Xavier: A British Secret Agent with the French Resistance'
Support also came from within France from wealthy individuals. For example, the resistance group Combat:
Initially Combat was mainly financed through gifts coming from all
over France, solicited by Frenay from high-ranking members of society.
Financing could come in the form of, for example, funding underground publications. Henri Frenay, a military officer and resistance member, was one such case: he financed the printing of an underground paper with a print run of around 5,000 in 1941. Likewise, Jean Laurent of the Banque de l'Indochine
opened a fictitious account at his bank to finance clandestine
Source: Jonathan Marshall, 'Jean Laurent and the Bank of Indochina Circle: Business Networks, Intelligence Operations and Political Intrigues in Wartime France' (Journal of Intelligence History, 2008)
Like the Dutch banker Walraven van Hall (but probably not on the same scale), Paul Baudouin, also of the Banque de l'Indochine,
financed the resistance by buying its worthless bonds.
With branches in both occupied and unoccupied France, as well as in Allied countries, the Banque de l'Indochine was able to avoid Nazi surveillance on many of its activities, and it became a key source of intelligence gathering.
With money and arms in short supply immediately after the occupation and at various times in less well-supported areas, the rural resistance fighters the Maquis
had first to survive, and to do this they had, like any outlaws, to
steal – to liberate supplies or the money to buy supplies for
themselves in the short term. Lack of equipment was an obstacle all
résistants faced when they started out, but Maquis bands often had a
basic, urgent need for food and clothing; cooking utensils, fuel,
medical supplies were luxuries. Proper uniforms, beyond the ubiquitous
beret, lay outside the means of most groups.
These robberies continued even after the SOE started funding resistance groups, and the sums netted at times were substantial:
...they robbed railway stations, post offices, factories on pay day
and banks. The Banque de France suffered major losses at branches in
Saint- Claude (in the Jura) and Clermont-Ferrand; a whole shipment of
money being moved by train from Périgueux to Bordeaux was stolen.
Source: Ian Ousby, 'Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944'
The Périgueux to Bordeaux money shipment in July 1944 netted the resistance a record 2.28 billion francs. The money was carted off in trucks and hidden at the local resistance group's HQ in some woods.For the distribution of this enormous amount:
The next day Maxime Roux, the treasurer of the Résistance in the Dordogne, along with members of the Comité Départemental de Libération took delivery of the money. For safe keeping it was decided to distribute the money to people in the area who could be trusted. Over the next few months the money was allocated to various heads of maquis groups in the R5 region
(Limousin, Périgord and Quercy). It was used to arm and feed the
Résistance and their families, pay for hospitals working for the
Résistance in regions R5 and R6, pay ransoms to liberate résistants
including André Malraux "Colonel Berger" who had been arrested on the
21st July 1944 at Gromat. Some of the money was even paid back to the
Banque du France once the region had been liberated.
It wasn't just money that resistance groups stole:
In January 1944, for example, a raid on the Paulhan factories
supplying the Jeunes in the Cévennes yielded 1,980 pairs of khaki
shorts, 1,455 khaki jackets and 1,640 canvases for tents, together
with overalls and forestry jackets.
Resistance fighters (along with Allied operatives) were, of course, sometimes caught with cash and supplies.
In their four-door Citroen they carried around 1,800,000 Francs, their
radios, and the BBC code phrases for their upcoming parachute drops.
As they arrived in the village on this warm day, they heard a woman
yell, “Malheureux, les Boches!”....
Robert Gildea, 'Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance'
Olivier Wieviorka (trans by J. M. Todd), 'The French Resistance'
André Rougeyron, 'Agents for Escape : Inside the French Resistance, 1939-1945'