Military History

American Oil Workers at Kelham Hall in WWII

In February 1943 a team of 43 American oil workers from Texas and Louisiana had arrived in north Nottinghamshire to develop the Eakring oilfield to help with the War effort as supplies were running extremely low due to constant raids by the enemy on ships bringing oil from America and Iran.

Following top secret meetings with Winston Churchill, who was unaware of the Eakring oilfield, an envoy Mr Southwell (from Southwell) was sent to Oklahoma in America to ascertain whether help could be available.

Eventually help was given, and drillers brought over from the USA as well as their expertise in drilling, all variety of equipment and collapsible drilling rigs that could be erected and ready for drilling in a few short hours.

This rapidity of action contrasted with the English drillers who took 2 or 3 weeks to build their rigs. Vitally in view of the urgency required the American oil riggers could drill much faster than the English crews.

The equipment was given free but wages were to be paid by the company. However there were quite a few holes drilled producing oil prior to their arrival. The oil had first been discovered in 1939 in Duke’s Wood which had been planted in 1700 and had become part of the estate owned by Lord Savile of Rufford Abbey in 1860.

The D’Arcy Exploration Company purchased Duke’s Wood in 1938 but by 1941 the British Government had set D’Arcy a target of 100,000 tons of oil per year. This was not being achieved by the English drilling crews.

The Americans and their equipment were shipped over from the States in 3 different ships to avoid all being sunk by German U boats en-route across the Atlantic.

It has also been recorded that during WWI, a team of Royal Engineers were based at Kelham. Little is known about them, however a diary mentions a cricket match between the Monks of the Sacred Mission and the Royal Engineers… The Monks won.

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