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Years of War
When war came, most of the 'teen years of the new century were filled with its horror. At sea, over 3,000 British ships were sunk and many shipping companies, buoyant in 1914, found themselves with greatly depleted fleets when war ended. Not so Anglo-American. In the early years their fleet actually continued to expand, five ships being acquired in 1915 of which one, Mimosa, was lost in the very same year. In the next year Tamarac was delivered and two more tankers acquired.
It. was in 1916 that imports of motor spirit into Britain exceeded illuminating oil for the first time. This was due to the needs of the war machine - for motor transport and for the growing war in the air. Demand for more fuel came with the introduction of machines for mechanised warfare. The British secret weapon, the tank, was fuelled from cans when it made its debut at Cambrai in 1916.
The worst year for the Anglo-American company was in 1917, when unrestricted warfare began. Three ships were lost, one of which was the Narragansett while on a voyage from New York to Britain. Another of unrestricted warfare at sea was petrol rationing in the United Kingdom, supplies dwindling rapidly as one ship in every four bound for Britain fell victim to the U-boats. All told, five Anglo-American tankers were lost during hostilities and when war ceased the company's fleet was eight units larger than in 1914 with the then major ships Cadillac, Tuscarora and Saranac delivered in 1917-18, providing some 50,000 tons in extra carrying capacity.
In 1919, the Government Pool Board, formed in 1917 to co-ordinate the work of the oil distributing companies, was dissol-ved. Its formation had, in fact, disclosed that at the time the Anglo-American company was responsible for 54% of all the oil product sales in the country. In 1919 the first kerbside petrol pump in Britain appeared. The introduction of the handoperated, one-gallon, bowser obviated the carrying of cans to and fro, spillage of petrol and having to use a funnel for filling. However, the pump was not in general use until the 1920s.