Focus on the ‘Oil Patch Warriors’

MEMBERS of the Hucknall and District University of the Third Age (U3A) group have discovered a unique piece of Nottinghamshire history that had a profound effect on the Second World War.

For at their latest meeting, speaker Phil Holmes focused on oil production by D’Arcy Exploration Company, which later became the British Petroleum Company (BP) based at Duke’s Wood, near Newark.

During the early years of the war, oil was in short supply because of heavy shipping losses on the Atlantic. A group of 44 Americans were invited into the country to help improve our own oil supplies and this led to drilling for more oil in Sherwood Forest.

The group arrived on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which had been converted to a troop carrier. They were based at the Anglican Monastery at Kelham Hall, near Newark.

They and the British crews worked around the clock, seven days week, under trying and dangerous conditions. The biggest problem was trying to cope with meagre food-rationing while retaining energy levels for such heavy work.

Extra food was made available and oil production improved from 300 barrels a day to more than 3,000 barrels a day. It is understood that the high-quality oil produced fuelled the planes during the Battle Of Britain and beyond.

In May 1991, it was decided to recognise the efforts of the American oil-drillers and a seven-foot bronze statue was erected in Duke’s Wood to commemorate the ‘Oil Patch Warriors’.

On Saturday October 1, the U3A group is staging a coffee morning at the Central Methodist Church, Baker Street, Hucknall. The group’s next meeting is on Wednesday September 14.