The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 1 No 7 - December 1970


The Museum is pleased to announce the recent appointment to the Board of Trustees of Brigadier James T. Durrant, CB, DFC as one of the Johannesburg City Council representatives.

First photo

Brigadier J.T. Durrant.

Brigadier Durrant was born in Johannesburg and educated at St. John’s College. On completion of a Permanent Force Cadet Course in 1933/34 he served in the South African Air Force and qualified as a pilot and was commissioned as 2/Lieut. in November 1934. He held several posts between this period and the outbreak of war and proved himself to be a most capable Flying Instructor. In 1936 he was promoted Lieutenant and in 1937 Flight Commander. In 1938 he was promoted Captain and posted to Waterkloof Air Station.

With the outbreak of World War II he was appointed OC, Photo Flight with the rank of Major and later OC of the famous 40 (Army Co-operation) Squadron which he commanded in East Africa from May 1940 to September 1941 when he was promoted Lt.-Col. and appointed OC 24 Squadron. He commanded this squadron throughout the bitter fighting in the Western Desert in 1941 42. He was then promoted Colonel and given the Command of 3 SAAF Wing in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. In 1944 he was seconded to RAF Bomber Command and placed in command of 205 Group with the rank of Brigadier. In 1945 he was posted to the Far East as OC 231 Heavy Bomber Group, RAF, with the rank of Major General.

For his distinguished service and leadership he was mentioned in despatches, created CB and awarded the DFC and also the American Legion of Merit. On his return to South Africa in October 1945 he reverted to the rank of Brigadier, then the highest rank in the South African Air Force.

In 1946 he became Director-General of the Air Force and qualified on a special course at the Imperial Defence College in 1951. He resigned from the Air Force on 29 February 1952.

Brigadier Durrant served as a Trustee of this Museum from October 1946 to 12th December, 1950.

Since leaving the Air Force Brigadier Durrant has continued to make his mark in the commercial and business world. Recently he was elected as a Councillor in the Johannesburg City Council.

Brigadier Durrant has a deep-rooted regard for all matters military. In this connection he has been extremely active as a member of the War Histories Advisory Committee responsible for the writing of the series of histories recording the part played by the South African forces during World War 11. Two volumes in this series have appeared and several are in the process of publication.

His return as a Trustee of this Museum is warmly welcomed.


Readers will recall the article on Squadron Leader M. T. St. John Pattle, DFC in the series “South African Air Aces, 1939-1945” by Squadron Leader D. P. Tidy which appeared in this journal Vol. 1, No. 3, December 1968.

The Museum is delighted to be able to announce that in April of this year Squadron Leader Pattle’s medal group was presented to the Museum by his brother, Colonel C. W. St. J. Pattle.

The group consists of the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, General Service Medal (Army and RAF) with bar Palestine, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal and 1939-45 War Medal. In the citation for the award of the DFC it is recorded that, “In all his engagements he has been absolutely fearless, and undeterred by superior numbers of the enemy.”

The Museum is proud that Pat Pattle’s record of service and sacrifice can now be remembered in our gallery of medals.

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