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Visiting the secret oil wells of World War II

Step into the forest to discover long-abandoned machinery that tells a fascinating story of wartime courage and cooperation.

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Richard Trenholm, Andrew Hoyle
The Oil Patch Warrior statue is a tribute to the 42 Americans who came to Britain in the darkest hours of 1943 to drill top secret oil wells in and around the legendary Sherwood Forest.
1 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

Walking through the forests of leafy Nottinghamshire in the heart of England, you might be surprised to discover this statue. It stands over a clearing filled with strange, abandoned machinery: remnants of a fascinating and little-known tale of international cooperation during World War II.

The Oil Patch Warrior statue is a tribute to the 42 Americans who came to Britain in the darkest hours of 1943 to drill top secret oil wells in and around the legendary Sherwood Forest.

Walk through the lush, leafy Duke's Wood and you spot something camouflaged against the greenery.
2 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

Walk through the lush, leafy Duke's Wood and you spot something camouflaged against the greenery.

A pump jack, fondly known as a "nodding donkey." It's a relic of the area's oil-drilling history that began as a top secret WWII operation.
3 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

This is a pump jack, fondly known as a "nodding donkey." It's a relic of the area's oil-drilling history that began as a top secret WWII operation. 

Kevin Topham knows more about the Eakring and Duke's Wood oil operations than anyone else. He worked here as an oilman after the war, and today is full of stories as the curator of a museum dedicated to the oil field's colorful history.
4 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

Kevin Topham knows more about the Eakring and Duke's Wood oil operations than anyone else. He worked here as an oilman after the war, and today is full of stories as the curator of a museum dedicated to the oil field's colorful history.

Kelham Hall, where the American oil workers lived during WWII. This was their base between 12-hour shifts, seven days a week (with time in between for carousing in the local pubs).
5 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

The Duke's Wood Museum is located at Kelham Hall, where the American oil workers lived during WWII. This was their base between 12-hour shifts, seven days a week (with time in between for carousing in the local pubs).

The picturesque 19th century gothic manor that was home to the rowdy roughnecks, as well as several monks.
6 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

The picturesque 19th century gothic manor was home to the rowdy roughnecks, as well as several monks. The two groups got along great, although the oil workers couldn't stop getting into fights with the former seamen who served them their meals.

The museum contains many fascinating artifacts from the history of the Eakring and Duke's Wood oil fields.
7 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

The museum contains many fascinating artifacts from the history of the Eakring and Duke's Wood oil fields.

As if drilling for oil wasn't dangerous enough, Kevin Topham also worked in bomb disposal.
8 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

As if drilling for oil wasn't dangerous enough, Kevin Topham also worked in bomb disposal.

who came from America to drill for oil. Sadly, one of their number, Herman Douthit, never made it home.
9 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

On the base of the Oil Patch Warrior statue is this list of names: the men who came from America to drill for oil. Sadly, one of their number, Herman Douthit, never made it home.

The Oil Patch Warrior statue is a testament to the cooperation and comradeship shown between men and women of many nations who came together in the dark times of World War II.
10 of 10 Richard Trenholm/CNET

The merry oilmen of Sherwood Forest

The Oil Patch Warrior statue is a testament to the cooperation and comradeship shown between men and women of many nations who came together in the dark times of World War II.

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