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Durrant, Thomas Frank

Date of birth:
October 17th, 1918 (Green Street Green/Kent, Great Britain)
Date of death:
March 29th, 1942 (St.Nazaire, France)
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Cemetery Escoublac-la-Baule
Plot: I. Row: D. Grave: 11.
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Sergeant Thomas Durrant was a British commando who fell in the failed raid on St. Nazaire.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Sergeant
Unit:
HM Motor Launch 306, No. 1 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, Combined Operations Headquarters, War Office, British Government
Awarded on:
October 29th, 1946
Awarded for:
Operation Chariot
Citation:
"For great gallantry, skill and devotion to duty when in charge of a Lewis gun in HM Motor Launch 306 in the St Nazaire raid on 28 March 1942.
Motor Launch 306 came under heavy fire while proceeding up the River Loire towards the port. Sergeant Durrant, in his position abaft the bridge, where he had no cover or protection, engaged enemy gun positions and searchlights ashore. During this engagement he was severely wounded in the arm but refused to leave his gun. The Motor Launch subsequently went down the river and was attacked by a German destroyer at 50 to 60 yards range, and often closer. In this action Sergeant Durrant continued to fire at the destroyer's bridge with the greatest of coolness and with complete disregard of the enemy's fire. The Motor Launch was illuminated by the enemy searchlight, and Sergeant Durrant drew on himself the individual attention of the enemy guns, and was again wounded in many places. Despite these further wounds he stayed in his exposed position, still firing his gun, although after a time only able to support himself by holding on to the gun mounting.
After a running fight, the Commander of the German destroyer called on the Motor Launch to surrender. Sergeant Durrant's answer was a further burst of fire at the destroyer's bridge. Although now very weak, he went on firing, using drums of ammunition as fast as they could be replaced. A renewed attack by the enemy vessel eventually silenced the fire of the Motor Launch, but Sergeant Durrant refused to give up until the destroyer came alongside, grappled the Motor Launch and took prisoner those who remained alive.
Sergeant Durrant's gallant fight was commended by the German officers on boarding the Motor Launch. This very gallant non-commissioned officer later died of the many wounds received in action."
Sergeant Durrant’s Victoria Cross is publicly displayed at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, Great Britain.
Thomas Frank Durrant is buried at the Escoublac-la-Baule War Cemetery, France.
Victoria Cross (VC)

Sources

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