There are two seven foot Oil Cast Warriors in existence, sculptured by Oklahoma born artist, Jay O’Meilia. They commemorate the American oil workers who contributed so much to the war effort in the 1940s when the United Kingdom was desperately short of oil due to the remorseless attacks on Allied shipping by the German submarines. One bronze statue is in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the second in Rufford Park, Nottinghamshire.

By the end of the war more than 3.5 million barrels of crude oil had been pumped from the soil of Nottinghamshire by 42 “roughnecks” from the USA together with British crews. One derrickman, Herman Douthit, fell to his death from a rig and was buried with full military honours. These men contributed as much to the war effort as did the soldiers who fought and died. Oil was the life blood of war.

The story is almost a forgotten one and I admit it was new to me. But look at the detail in the sculpture, the cigarette packet in the breast pocket, the spanner wielded as it were a rifle, the rugged face, and authentic overalls used by the men. And were one not to know the story behind the sculpture, the striking impression it leaves compels attention.


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