Durrant, Thomas Frank, born 17-10-1918 in Farnborough, Kent, was a soldier in the British Army during World War II and a posthumous English recipient of the Victoria Cross , the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. His award of the Victoria Cross was unique in that it is the only award given to a soldier in a naval action and it was on the recommendation of the enemy commander. Durrant enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers prior to World War II on 01-02-1937, his service number was 1874047. In 1940 the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the formation of units of specially trained troops that would “develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast”. Durrant volunteered for service with the Special Service Independent Companies and was posted to No. 2 Special Independent Company, later Durrant became a member of No. 1 Commando under Admiral Louis “Dickie” Mountbatten. The St. Nazaire Raid, Operation Chariot, was a seaborne attack on the heavily defended docks of St. Nazaire in occupied France on the night of 28-03-1942. This was a combined operation undertaken by Royal Navy and Commando units. The main commando force was provided by No. 2 Commando with supporting demolition parties from other commando units, including Durrants No. 1 Commando. The intention of the raid was to destroy the dry dock which would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as the Tirpitz.
During the raid Sergeant Durrant was in charge of a Lewis gun on H.M. Motor Launch 306. As it came up the River Loire to the port of St. Nazaire it came under heavy fire from the shore and from a pursuing German destroyer Jaguar. In the battle with the German destroyer Durrant was wounded numerous times, in the head, both arms, legs, chest and stomach.
Death and burial ground of Durrant, Thomas Frank.
After the battle Durrant died of his wounds in a German military hospital in St Nazaire, following his death, age 23, he was buried in La Baule-Escoublac War Cemetery, France in Plot I, Row D, Grave 11. Next to his pal Petty Officer Reginald Joseph Charles Hodder 28-03-1942 aged 39,
On 29-10-1946 Durrant’s Victoria Cross was presented to his mother at an investiture at Buckingham Palace by King George VI.