Durrant S.F. - The OldWinburnians

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S. F. Durant

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Stanley  Frederick  Durrant

Flying Officer
No. 215,  Squadron
Royal  Air  Force



Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death

West Moors

Saturday  23rd September 1944
Moers Germany


Stanley Durrant was the son of Sydney John and Gertrude Mary Durrant of West Moors, Wimborne.  He entered W.G.S in September 1934 and was in Derby House.
Though a slim and slightly built youth, throughout his school career he was heavily involved in all athletic pursuits and first made his mark by coming in second, in the 100 yards race for the Under 12 pupils, in the Spring of 1935. He ran the Under 13 race over the same distance in the Summer term of the following year, when he made better time but still did not win.
At the Speech day on 3rd December 1936, Stanley was awarded a prize for Woodwork.  At the School Sports on May 1st 1937, he again ran in the 100 yards race. This time at the under 14 level. However, at the Sports Day on 30th March, he won the Under 15 Hurdle race  at 21.9 secs and again, came in second at 100 yards.
Stan played Cricket for the School in the Summer term of 1938, when it was reported that, "In his first season did very well and was both a useful bat  and a change  bowler. A good catch and was a slip fielder".
Having occasionally played Soccer for the School in the previous year, Stan was a regular in the 1938 team, as Outside Left. The assessment of him reads. "In his second season played some very good games.  His speed and accurate centres proved a great help to the forward line ".
During the Summer term of 1939, Stan played in the Cricket First Xl when, "After gaining confidence he developed into a useful batsman.  He was a good fielder and a bowler of no mean ability."  In the first match of the season he took 4 wickets for 12 runs.
At the Speech Day on 3rd of November he was awarded a Cricket Cup for Fielding. He was also a successful candidate in the School Certificate Examination.
Still playing at Outside Left, Stanley gained his Soccer Colours in the Autumn of 1939 and was appointed Vice-Captain. It was stated that, " His speed and ability to centre the ball accurately made him a fine winger.  His shooting was very accurate and his football always good to watch." - He scored 5 goals during the season. He was also appointed a Prefect.
Stan did well in the 1940 Cricket Xl. At the end of the season it was reported that, "In his third season he was given his colours, chiefly for his brilliant fielding. As a bowler he did quite well, taking valuable wickets.  He did not get the best of luck in batting, but, after a poor beginning, he recovered to make several good scores when runs were badly needed.  He is undoubtedly one of the best fielders the School has had in recent years."  His figures were :- 74 runs - top score 40 - average 7 and  19 wickets  for 184 runs ;  average 9.7
During the Autumn of 1940 Stanley was made Captain of the Soccer Xl.  Still playing in the Outside Left position, he scored goals in half the matches which were played. It was said that , "Durrant was a sound captain and played good football throughout the season.  He has a strong shot and scored several brilliant goals."  At the Speech Day on November 1st, he again collected the Fielding Cup. Stan, "...the coolest player on the field, played a good game for the School." - against the Old Boys.
In the Spring term he was one of three new Rugby Colours and he also fought in the Boxing Competition.
Stanley played in the Senior Fives Championship in the Summer of 1941. He got through to the Quarter Finals but in the Semi-Finals, "Durrant fell a victim to one of the epidemics,  so Dyer had a walk-over into the Final".  In addition, he ran in both the Open Hurdles and the Open Half Mile races during the School Sports on June 7th.
Stan was made Cricket Captain for the 1941 season, during which he set high standards in that he scored 137 runs and took 31 wickets for 183 runs.  On one occasion he took 7 for 20.
In the Autumn he captained an inexperienced Soccer team but "led from the front" by scoring 8 goals in 12 matches. He also played in a Six-a-side Tournament. At the Speech Day on the 11th December 1941, for the third time Stanley took the Fielding Cup for Cricket.
Undoubtedly Stanley must have left School at the end of the year and volunteered for service in the RAF shortly afterwards.  Whilst his full time service was deferred, he was a member of 1069 (Wimborne) Squadron of the Air Training Corps , which was Commanded by T.W.Tapping, Senior History master and i/c Cricket at WGS.  Stan was a Corporal in the Squadron when he left.  At the School Sports on May 30th 1942, he told several people how much he was enjoying his Air Force Training.
This continued in America, where, in the Autumn, he was reported to be training as a pilot. On getting his wings, he was commissioned and was instructing in Canada by the early summer of 1943. It is not known when Stanley returned to the UK and or when he became a bomber pilot. In the Spring of 1944, the School Magazine reported that, ".. after a spell of operational duties on Wellingtons, he  is now undergoing a course in flying Halifaxes. " [The writer of this news item must have been mistaken  concerning the type of aircraft ].
It is not certain when Flg. Off. Stanley Durrant joined 576 Sqdn, which was formed at Ludford Magna, from 'A' Flight of 101 Sqdn. On the night of the 23rd of September 1944 he was the captain of Lancaster Mk.1, NN711. At 1851 hrs, he took off in it from Elsham Wolds, a wartime airfield, some six miles south of Barton-upon-Humber, Lincs, to attack Neuss. This town is just to the west of Dusseldorf, in the Ruhr, which was a very heavily defended industrial area.
His aircraft crashed at 2020 hrs. about 1 Km S.E. of Kapellen on the southern outskirts of Moers, some 15/20 miles (5 or 6 minutes) north of the target. It
is known that a Halifax Mk lll, from another Squadron, bombed the same target from 17,500 feet at 2230 hrs and crashed, in Suffolk at midnight ,on its return to the UK i.e.  flying time - U.K.to the target was approx 1.5 hours. Thus it would seem likely that Flg. Off. Durrant's aircraft was hit when in the target area and it is possible that Stan might have been the victim of a night-fighter.  A Lancaster on the same raid, was badly damaged by a Ju 88 but crashed on landing back in the UK.  Furthermore, yet another Lancaster crashed at 2305 hrs on Dusseldorf.  
Nine aircraft were lost on the Neuss operation.
Stan is interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, 5 Km South West of Kleve, Germany.
The following appreciation of Stan Durrant appeared in the Summer Edition of the School Magazine in 1945.  It shows how wartime information was not always accurate.
" F/O. S.F.Durrant (1936-41), reported missing in the Autumn 1944 issue of the Winburnian, was not heard of  again after a raid on Arnhem in September of that year.  When the Allies advanced into Germany, the body of one member of his crew was recovered. His parents have now been informed by the A.M. that the Red Cross has been informed by a German source of his death.  No word is given of the body being found or of the burial place, but he is officially presumed killed. He will mostly be remembered as an athlete, two seasons Soccer Captain, three seasons in  the Cricket Team and also a member of the Rugby XV. Had he not been an athlete, we should remember him as a most capable scholar and a grand, lovable character. "

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