|Ranks Held||Captain, Captain Adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel, Major|
|Birth Date||17 March 1885|
|Birth Place||Australia: South Australia, Glenelg|
|Death Date||18 August 1963|
|Death Place||Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Concord|
|Final Rank||Major General|
|Service||Australian Imperial Force|
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-11-07
Published in London Gazette in 1917-01-01
Published in London Gazette in 1917-06-01
Published in London Gazette in 1918-06-03
Published in London Gazette in 1917-02-15
Published in London Gazette in 1918-05-28
Published in London Gazette in 1917-12-28
Published in London Gazette in 1918-12-31
Published in London Gazette in 1917-01-04
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-10-24
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-06-29
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-06-29
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-04-18
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1919-05-23
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-07-25
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-10-04
Major General James Murdoch Archer Durrant
James Murdoch Archer Durrant was born on 17 March 1885 at St. Leonards in South Australia to Jonathan William and Margaret Elizabeth (née Murdoch). He attended Goodwood Public School and the University of Adelaide, and completed a period of private schooling before graduating in 1903. In the same year he joined the Education Department as a pupil teacher, but after several years left teaching for a career in the military. This pivot in professions was well-grounded as he displayed an aptitude for soldiering in parallel to his schooling. He first enlisted with the voluntary forces at the age of 14, joining the Adelaide Rifles as a bugler in July 1899. After four years with the regiment he served a similar term with the No. 1 South Australian Battery during a period that included promotions to corporal in February 1904 and sergeant in January 1905.
On 1 July 1907, Durrant was appointed staff squadron sergeant major with the 1st Light Horse Regiment headquartered at Lancer Barracks in Parramatta. This posting proved to be one that shaped both his professional and personal life. After becoming the first member of the 1st Light Horse to pass more stringent officer examinations, he secured a commission to lieutenant and a position with Administrative and Instructional Staff in Brisbane on 1 July 1910. In December of the same year, he announced his engagement to local Parramatta girl Clara Ellen Birk in The Sydney Morning Herald, the couple marrying on 7 January 1911 at St. John’s Anglican Church in Parramatta. Following another round of officer examinations in Brisbane, he was promoted to temporary captain in February 1912 and transferred to Melbourne shortly after.
Durrant had his commission to the rank of captain confirmed shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 20 November 1914, and was appointed captain and adjutant to the 13th Infantry Battalion. After a month in camp he embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Ulysses on 22 December, and landed at Alexandria on 31 January 1915. He entrained to Aerodrome Camp near Heliopolis, where the unit completed the majority of their overseas training. During this period it was Durrant who proposed the 13th Battalion colours consist of light blue over navy in recognition of a unit raised in New South Wales.
Durrant landed at Anzac Cove on the evening of 25 April. After the 13th Battalion suffered heavy casualties including senior officers during the first week of the campaign, he was promoted to the rank of major and second in command. He assumed command of the 13th Battalion in early June until influenza forced his evacuation to Egypt. He resumed command in late August when he was once again evacuated due to illness, on this occasion to Mudros in October. He briefly re-joined the 13th Battalion, but a case of jaundice forced his final evacuation from the Gallipoli Peninsula on 19 November. Whilst convalescing in hospital at Heliopolis in December he was promoted to brevet major for his contribution to the campaign.
Durrant proceeded to France in early June 1916. Over the following eighteen months he rendered distinguished service as commanding officer of both the 13th Battalion and the 4th Infantry Brigade in France and Belgium. He led the 13th Infantry Battalion at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in August 1916, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the same month. Throughout the majority of 1917 he commanded the 13th Battalion and the 4th Brigade in major operations including the Attack on Stormy Trench in February, the First Battle of Bullecourt in April and the Battle of Messines in June. Whilst still in Belgium, he sustained a shell wound and was evacuated to England in August. He re-joined the 13th Battalion in October, and was subsequently appointed assistant adjutant and quartermaster general to the 2nd Australian Division in December 1917.
Durrant was appointed deputy director with the Repatriation and Demobilisation Department two weeks after the Armistice, and spent the remainder of his service in senior roles assisting with the enormous task of repatriating around 180,000 Australian troops home. Durrant departed England aboard SS Friedrichsruhe on 22 January 1920, and disembarked in Sydney on 12 March. He was discharged on 11 May 1920, ending his First World War service with a host of honours and awards including the Distinguished Service Order (gazetted 1 January 1917), Serbian Order of the White Eagle, Fourth Class, With Swords (gazetted 15 February 1917) and the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (gazetted 3 June 1918). In addition, he was mentioned in despatches on five occasions.
Following his discharge, Durrant was appointed assistant quartermaster general of the 1st Military District in Queensland. He subsequently held senior staff roles in Queensland until 1926, followed by senior appointments in South Australia (1926-35), Victoria (1935-37) and Tasmania (1937-39). He was also appointed aide-de-camp to the Governor General in June 1935, a role he retained for a number of years. In August 1939 he was announced as general officer commanding of Western Command and arrived in Perth on 4 September 1939, the day after Australia announced its entry in the Second World War. He was appointed general officer commanding of Northern Command in July 1941, and spent the remainder of the war based in Queensland. He was placed on the retired list on 5 April 1944 due to health issues, closing a long and distinguished career in the military with the rank of major general.
James Murdoch Archer Durrant died on 18 August 1963 at Concord in Sydney.