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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. C R Durrant

 

Carroll Ronald Durrant was born in Wellington, New Zealand on 5th April 1919 and educated at Rongotai College, afterwards working as a monotype operator at the Govemment Printing Office. He was in the Territorial Army for two years prior to his volunteering for aircrew duties in November 1939. Durrant reported to the Ground Training School, Weraroa on 13th February 1940, going a month later to the Air Observers' School, Ohakea for a gunnery course. He sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitiki on 26th April. After a period at Uxbridge, Durrant was posted to 5 OTU, Aston Down, where he was awarded his air gunner's badge after further training.

He joined 23 Squadron at Ford on 21st September 1940. Durrant was with the squadron until early March 1942, when he was posted to 116 Squadron at Hooton Park, flying in Lysanders on radar calibration duties. In May 1942 he went to 1653 Conversion Unit, Polebrook for crewing-up and conversion to Liberators. Commissioned in June, Durrant joined 1445 Flight, Ferry Command at Lyneham and flew in a Liberator on a delivery flight to Egypt, returning as a passenger in various civil aircraft, including a Boeing Clipper. On arrival back Durrant was sent to hospital, suffering from malaria.

He returned to duty in early October and was posted to 160 Squadron at Aqir, Palestine. Durrant arrived there in a Liberator on 19th October 1942. Eight days later he took off on a night operational flight to Crete. Radio contact was lost in the early hours of the 28th and the crew is officially presumed to have been lost on this date. Another member of the crew was New Zealander P/O CC Reilly. He and Durrant had been together from the day they joined up. After the war Durrant's remains were re-interred in the Suda Bay Military Cemetery, Crete.

He was killed flying in Liberator II AL548 'R' of No 160 Sqn, which was shot down near the target on a night raid against Maleme airfield.

The other crew members, all of whom were killed, were:

F/Lt. RS Lawrence
F/Lt. EC Cox DFC RNZAF
P/O CC Reilly RNZAF
F/Sgt. J Gibbons
F/Sgt. HV Ellerker
F/Sgt. PE Harwood
F/Sgt. DA Donaldson RAAF

 

 


Above photos courtesy of Eni from Heraklion via J Keith Baker

 

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