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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Friday February 2, 2007
Duke's Wood statue
Oil in them there woods - Sherwood Forest oil

Sherwood Forest's secret oil

Forget bouncing bombs, the Enigma machine and radar - Sherwood Forest oil was the best kept wartime secret.

In 1942, Britain was on its knees - starved of oil supplies by the constant U boat menace at sea while trying to fight for survival.

The solution was as unexpected as could possibly be - a small oilfield of high quality oil in the middle of Sherwood Forest.

The only problem was getting the oil out, and getting it out fast.

Visit the Sherwood Forest oil drilling photo gallery

Unknown story

The story of how oil production was achieved against all odds must be one of the most fascinating of World War Two.

Duke's Wood
Duke's Wood - well hidden oil field during World War Two

Inside Out looks at how one man from the Anglo Iranian oil company made a lone journey to Ardmore, Oklahoma on Churchill's orders.

We also reveal how a south Oklahoma oil man supplied the men and equipment to save Britain from surrender - at no profit to himself.

For a whole year 46 Americans toiled in Nottinghamshire, fighting food shortages and risking their lives under the nose of the Luftwaffe.

Yet this is a story that remains almost unknown even to locals.

It was a highly secretive operation that was kept under wraps to avoid the threat of enemy attack.

Roughnecks in the forest

Inside Out's Marie Ashby travelled across the Atlantic to reveal the story of the roughnecks of Sherwood Forest on both sides of the Atlantic.

Oil photo gallery
Lewis Dugger
"We drilled a lot of wells, and drilled them real quick."
Lewis Dugger - last surviving driller from Duke's Wood

Marie interviewed the last surviving oil driller to come to Nottinghamshire, Lewis Dugger, now 90-years-old.

Dugger remembers his trip to Nottinghamshire and the workers' monastery base at Kelham Hall as if it was yesterday.

"Well we heard we was going to be staying in this English monastery, and we thought, uh-huh, what's this gonna be?," recalls Lewis in his broad Louisiana accent.

"Are we gonna be converted?"

He also acknowledges the importance of the oil drilling operation:

"There's no way Britain could have won that war on the amount of oil they could get out.

"We drilled a lot of wells, and drilled them real quick."

We explain why such an amazing exploit is, even now, Churchill's biggest secret.

Read the Sherwood Forest oil story in pictures

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Fat camp

By 2010 one in five children under 15 will be obese according to the Department of Health.

Health experts say it's a crisis and if we don't act now despite recent advances the next generation will die earlier than their parents.

The Government has pledged to halt the rise in childhood obesity - but how?

Our reporter Sally Bowman has discovered that despite all the talk of strategies and targets, East Midlands families desperate for their children to lose weight aren't getting the help they need.

BBC Inside Out East Midlands - Friday, February 2, 2007



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