The Oil Patch Warriors of WW2

#1
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THE OIL PATCH WARRIORS OF WORLD WAR II
Seventy-five years ago this month, a Band of Roughnecks went abroad on a top secret mission into Robin Hood's stomping grounds to punch oil wells to help fuel England's war machines. It's a story that should make any oilman or woman proud. The year was 1943 and England was mired in World War II. U-boats attacked supply vessels, choking off badly needed supplies to the island nation. But oil was the commodity they needed the most as they warred with Germany.

A book "The Secret of Sherwood Forest: Oil Production in England During World War II" written by Guy Woodward and Grace Steele Woodward was published in 1973, and tells the obscure story of the American oil men who went to England to bore wells in a top secret mission in March 1943.

England had but one oil field, in Sherwood Forest of all places. Its meagre output of 300 barrels a day was literally a drop in the bucket of their requirement of 150,000 barrels a day to fuel their war machines. Then a top secret plan was devised: to send some Americans and their expertise to assist in developing the field. Oklahoma based Noble Drilling Company, along with Fain-Porter signed a one year contract to drill 100 wells for England, merely for costs and expenses.
42 drillers and roughnecks from Texas and Oklahoma, most in their teens and early twenties volunteered for the mission to go abroad. The hands embarked for England in March 1943 aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Four National 50 drilling rigs were loaded onto ships but only three of them made landfall; the Nazi U-boats sank one of the rigs en route to the UK. The Brits' jaws dropped as the Yanks began punching the wells in a week, compared to five to eight weeks for their British counterparts. They worked 12 hour tours, 7 days a week and within a year, the Americans had drilled 106 wells and England oil production shot up from 300 barrels a day to over 300,000
The contract fulfilled, the American oil men departed England in late March 1944. But only 41 hands were on board the return voyage. Herman Douthit, a Texan derrick-hand was killed during the operation. He was laid to rest with full military honours, and remains the only civilian to be buried at The American Military Cemetery in Cambridge.
"The Oil Patch Warrior," a seven foot bronze statue of a roughneck holding a four foot pipe wrench stands near Nottingham England to honour the American oil men's assistance and sacrifice in the war. A replica was placed in Ardmore Oklahoma in 2001.

My question is this. What happened to all that oil production post WW2? Or am I missing something here?
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#2
There is a lot of myths surrounding fuel in the UK in WW2. Some sources claim we were awash with fuel and that rationing of fuel was to assist food rationing by creating a rationed mindset. No doubt consumption increased by huge amounts as the war went on and much oil was shipped overseas.
 

MrBane

LE
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#3
47,000,000 barrels were produced, says Wiki. I suspect they ran dry to be honest. Those wells would've been shagged for every drop.

******* good statue though.
 
#5
Recommend the book (Secret of Sherwood Forest available from Amazon), with a bit of licence it would make a fantastic movie.
Buying all the bikes(two wheeled) in Newark.
Run ins with the American Military.
Poaching.
Billeted on the monks at Kelham Hall monastery.
Drinking in the FOX Kelham.

One of the great little known stories from WW2

Kelham Hall is now a hotel.
Kelham Hall & Country Park - Wedding and Event Venue
The Fox still serves beer!!!

There is a second book also available from Amazon
"Oil Under Sherwood Forest"
Janet Roberts 2009
 
Last edited:
#6
View attachment 352751

THE OIL PATCH WARRIORS OF WORLD WAR II
Seventy-five years ago this month, a Band of Roughnecks went abroad on a top secret mission into Robin Hood's stomping grounds to punch oil wells to help fuel England's war machines. It's a story that should make any oilman or woman proud. The year was 1943 and England was mired in World War II. U-boats attacked supply vessels, choking off badly needed supplies to the island nation. But oil was the commodity they needed the most as they warred with Germany.

A book "The Secret of Sherwood Forest: Oil Production in England During World War II" written by Guy Woodward and Grace Steele Woodward was published in 1973, and tells the obscure story of the American oil men who went to England to bore wells in a top secret mission in March 1943.

England had but one oil field, in Sherwood Forest of all places. Its meagre output of 300 barrels a day was literally a drop in the bucket of their requirement of 150,000 barrels a day to fuel their war machines. Then a top secret plan was devised: to send some Americans and their expertise to assist in developing the field. Oklahoma based Noble Drilling Company, along with Fain-Porter signed a one year contract to drill 100 wells for England, merely for costs and expenses.
42 drillers and roughnecks from Texas and Oklahoma, most in their teens and early twenties volunteered for the mission to go abroad. The hands embarked for England in March 1943 aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Four National 50 drilling rigs were loaded onto ships but only three of them made landfall; the Nazi U-boats sank one of the rigs en route to the UK. The Brits' jaws dropped as the Yanks began punching the wells in a week, compared to five to eight weeks for their British counterparts. They worked 12 hour tours, 7 days a week and within a year, the Americans had drilled 106 wells and England oil production shot up from 300 barrels a day to over 300,000
The contract fulfilled, the American oil men departed England in late March 1944. But only 41 hands were on board the return voyage. Herman Douthit, a Texan derrick-hand was killed during the operation. He was laid to rest with full military honours, and remains the only civilian to be buried at The American Military Cemetery in Cambridge.
"The Oil Patch Warrior," a seven foot bronze statue of a roughneck holding a four foot pipe wrench stands near Nottingham England to honour the American oil men's assistance and sacrifice in the war. A replica was placed in Ardmore Oklahoma in 2001.

My question is this. What happened to all that oil production post WW2? Or am I missing something here?

Great story, and worthy of further investigation. But one point needs clarification; was it really HMS Queen Elizabeth, or the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The latter was certainly used on transatlantic tasks at that time.
 
#8
A shame they didn't/couldn't exploit the Wytch Farm field. 479 million barrels of reserves and peak production north of 110K barrels a day.

Wytch Farm - Wikipedia

When the Swanage Railway was closed, the line was retained as far as the oil field, and was re-linked to the heritage railway a few years back, hence Swanage rolling stock can access the mainline now, and also receive visiting stock.

If only they'd known of the potential in WW2.
 
#9
Of a similar vein, the Canadians brought over a couple of companies of hard rock diamond drillers to assist with mining in the North of England during the war.
Quite succesfult hey were too
 
#10
Every day's a school day.

Sadly I suspect that today they would have been embroiled in endless planning rows, judicial reviews and nimby protests.
 
#11
A shame they didn't/couldn't exploit the Wytch Farm field. 479 million barrels of reserves and peak production north of 110K barrels a day.

Wytch Farm - Wikipedia

When the Swanage Railway was closed, the line was retained as far as the oil field, and was re-linked to the heritage railway a few years back, hence Swanage rolling stock can access the mainline now, and also receive visiting stock.

If only they'd known of the potential in WW2.
You mean the still producing field that BP sold to the Frogs aka Perenco in 2011, that still kicks out 20,000 bopd*?


*gross income of £360m per annum on an average £50 per barrel
 
#12
Producing this much oil means we should be at war with ourselves.
 
#13
There is a lot of myths surrounding fuel in the UK in WW2. Some sources claim we were awash with fuel and that rationing of fuel was to assist food rationing by creating a rationed mindset. No doubt consumption increased by huge amounts as the war went on and much oil was shipped overseas.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Britain ran a fleet of about 1,000 warships, plus a very large home-fuelled merchant and fishing fleet. On top of that we had 20-50,000 aircraft operating, and on top of that we were supplying our garrisons, war theatres and global naval bases.

Despite that colossal fuel consumption, Britain never seemed to have a supply crisis.
 
#14
How did the UK increase the capacity of the refinery(s) at the same time time, is that mentioned in the book ?
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#15
It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Britain ran a fleet of about 1,000 warships, plus a very large home-fuelled merchant and fishing fleet. On top of that we had 20-50,000 aircraft operating, and on top of that we were supplying our garrisons, war theatres and global naval bases.

Despite that colossal fuel consumption, Britain never seemed to have a supply crisis.
I seem to recall, and perhaps incorrectly, that that was because we were getting it shipped to us from the US by the metric fuckton on a regular basis?

Hidden History: Oil Won World War II

https://www.quora.com/Where-did-Britain-get-fuel-from-during-WWII
 
#16
View attachment 352751


My question is this. What happened to all that oil production post WW2? Or am I missing something here?
If it is anything like the stuff that was around Savernake Forest at the time it was dismantled. As soon as the ink was dry on the victory documents they started to dismanlte everything to do with the war and return places to more or less as they had been and business as normal was resumed.
 
#17
Of a similar vein, the Canadians brought over a couple of companies of hard rock diamond drillers to assist with mining in the North of England during the war.
Quite succesfult hey were too
They also diamond-drilled holes for pipe mines in 1940, to blow stuff up if the Germans had invaded.

Some of the mines were over-looked at the end of the war and were found about 10 years back, full of weeping commercial gelignite. ISTR someone on Arrse had been involved.

My question is this. What happened to all that oil production post WW2? Or am I missing something here?
We're all keeping very, very quiet about it or the Yanks will invade us.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#19
I read a book years ago about the fuel oil defences for beaches we had installed. I cant recall the title but it was quite clear that we had more fuel than we could use and even shipping it overseas to the middle east didn't really help.
 
#20
If it is anything like the stuff that was around Savernake Forest at the time it was dismantled. As soon as the ink was dry on the victory documents they started to dismanlte everything to do with the war and return places to more or less as they had been and business as normal was resumed.
Have a fly around Britain on Google Earth in 1945 , and then compare the sites with 2018 . Surprising how much remains . Start with Gloucestershire and Wiltshire .
 

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