When U.S. oil tanker Pennsylvania Sun was torpedoed by U-571 on July, 15, 1942, about 125 miles west of Key West, Florida. Britain’s oil reserves were 2 million barrels below safety reserves. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
As the United Kingdom fought for its survival during World War II, a team of American oil drillers, derrickhands, roustabouts, and motormen secretly boarded the converted troopship HMS Queen Elizabeth in March 1943. Once their story was revealed years later, they would become known as the Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest.
By the summer of 1942, the situation was desperate. The future of Great Britain – and the outcome of World War II – depended on petroleum supplies.
By the end of that year, demand for 100-octane fuel would grow to more than 150,000 barrels of oil every day – and German U-boats ruled the Atlantic.
In August 1942, British Secretary of Petroleum, Geoffrey Lloyd called an emergency meeting of the Oil Control Board to assess the “impending crisis in oil.” Read the rest of this entry »