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When rambunctious Oklahoman oilmen were billeted alongside English monks, the two groups were quickly nicknamed the “rogues and robes.”
Sherwood Forest, home of England’s legendary outlaw Robin Hood, was a long way from the front lines of World War II. But that’s where, amid the sun-dappled woods, I encountered one of the war’s most extraordinary secrets.
On a bright September day, a veteran of that historic conflict led me into a grassy clearing, and it took me a moment to spot strange, long-abandoned machinery still camouflaged against the forest greenery. Then, near a dirt path winding through the trees, 릴게임 I saw a stout figure ready for action: a 7-foot statue of an oil worker equipped with a helmet and Stillson wrench and standing astride a base etched with 42 names.
Titled the Oil Patch Warrior, the statue is a monument to one of the groups that traveled many miles from home to aid the besieged and starving people of Britain in what, for the UK, was World War II’s darkest hour. Behind the Warrior is a compelling, little-known, and occasionally even funny story that’s a powerful and timely reminder of the lessons history can teach about friendship, survival and steadfast cooperation when things are at their worst.
Millions of men and women worked and fought and died in the war, in their own countries or many miles from home. Black and white, they came from America and Africa and across the world. They should never be forgotten.
Yet today, many locals have never heard the story behind the Oil Patch Warrior. And back then, neither Hitler nor the British public knew there was precious oil beneath English soil — or that a posse of cowboy-booted roughnecks was drilling for black gold in the heart of England’s green and pleasant land.
“Without oil no plane could fly, no tank could move, no ship could sail, no gun could fire,” historians Guy and Grace Woodward wrote in their book The Secret of Sherwood Forest. The planned Allied invasion of mainland Europe would require huge supplies of black gold — a single armored division gobbled up 60,000 gallons of gasoline per day — and oil was vital for generating heat, light and clean water. Civil and military essentials like tires, road surfaces and explosives also required oil. It was even used in special runway flares to reduce the number of deaths from planes crashing while trying to land amid the English fog.
Before the discovery of North Sea oil, Britain had to import fuel — and emergency reserves were down to just two months as Nazi submarines and bombers took a deadly toll on incoming convoys. Fortunately, the British government searched for home-grown supplies before the war even started. They found them beneath the forests and fields of rural Nottinghamshire.