John Walter Durnford, RN

Born  25 Oct 1891London, England


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Ranks

15 Jan 1909 Mid.
21 Jan 1912 A/S.Lt.
29 Feb 1912 S.Lt.
28 Feb 1914 Lt.
28 Feb 1922 Lt.Cdr.
31 Dec 1927 Cdr.
30 Jun 1935 Capt.
7 Jul 1944 Rear-Admiral
13 Jul 1948 Vice-Admiral (retired)

Retired: 12 Feb 1948


Decorations

1 Jan 1947 CB

Warship Commands listed for John Walter Durnford, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Suffolk (55)Capt.Heavy cruiser24 Jul 19391 Jun 1940
HMS Resolution (09)Capt.Battleship1 Aug 194210 Oct 1943

Career information

On loan to RAN 1928-32, when executive officer Adelaide, Albatross, Brisbane, and commanded Australian destroyer flotilla; CSP Malta 1937-39: comd HMS Suffolk 1939-40; Second Member, Australian Commonwealth Naval Board (Melbourne) 1940-42; comd HMS Resolution 1942-43; Director of Naval Training, Admiralty, 1944-47 (Gill, G.H. Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942).

Events related to this officer

Heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (55)


28 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) conducted D/F calibration trials off Portsmouth upon completion of her refit which had commenced at the Portsmouth Dockyard in May 1939. (1)

29 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed Spithead for Scapa Flow. (1)

1 Oct 1939
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (2)

4 Oct 1939
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

7 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. (2)

8 Oct 1939
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. At sea she joined HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) which was coming from Rosyth and was also to proceed to Gibraltar. Both cruisers were to join the Mediterranean Fleet. (3)

12 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. En-route, on October 11th, they had encountered heavy weather and HMS Norfolk had sustained damage to her aircraft facilities as well as her Walrus aircraft being washed off the catapult and lost. (3)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed Gibraltar for Alexandria. (3)

18 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (3)

25 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
During 25/26 October 1939, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), conducted exercises off Alexandria. (2)

31 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. (4)

2 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. (5)

3 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed Alexandria for Gibraltar.

On the 5th they were joined off Malta by HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN).

HMS Devonshire, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk arrived at Gibraltar on November 7th. (6)

8 Nov 1939
HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed Gibraltar for the U.K. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Douglas ( Cdr. R.F.B. Swinley, RN) and HMS Keppel (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN) until 0800Z/9.

Around 1015A/11, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN).

At 1720A/11, the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. J.W. Josselyn, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN) also joined.

Around 1810A/11, HMS Devonshire, HMS Norfolk, HMS Ilex, HMS Isis, HMS Escapade and HMS Encounter parted company with HMS Suffolk, HMS Ivanhoe and HMS Intrepid. These last three ships proceeded towards Portsmouth where HMS Suffolk arrived around 1400A/12. HMS Ivanhoe and HMS Intrepid continued on to Sheerness where they arrived around 2215A/12.

Meanwhile the other ships had arrived at Plymouth around 2015A/11. (7)

18 Nov 1939
After some defects being made good at the Portsmouth Dockyard, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Portsmouth for the Clyde. (5)

19 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) departed arrived in the Clyde. After fuelling she departed for the Northern Patrol. She was to patrol in the Denmark Strait. (5)

29 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 0800Z/29, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), arrived at Scapa Flow from patrol.

Having fuelled, she departed again around 1600Z/29, for convoy cover operations.

[For more information on the convoy she provided cover for see the event ' Convoy HN 3 ' for 30 November 1939.] (8)

2 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1430Z/2, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), returned to Scapa Flow from operations. (9)

3 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1430Z/3, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Scapa Flow for the Northern Patrol. She is ordered to patrol in the Denmark Strait. (9)

9 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
The heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), both on patrol in the Denmark Strait were ordered to proceed to patrol to the south-east of Iceland. (10)

14 Dec 1939
Around 1900Z/14, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), arrived at Greenock from the Northern Patrol. (9)

20 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1200Z/20, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Greenock for the Northern Patrol. She is ordered to patrol south-west of Iceland. (9)

3 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1630Z/3, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), arrived at Greenock from the Northern Patrol. (11)

11 Jan 1940
Around 1300Z/11, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Greenock for the Northern Patrol. She is ordered to patrol south-west of Iceland but later went on to the Denmark Strait. (11)

25 Jan 1940
Around 1000Z/25, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), arrived at Greenock from the Northern Patrol having been relieved by HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN). (11)

29 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1500Z/29, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Greenock for the Northern Patrol to relieve HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN). HMS Suffolk is to patrol in the Iceland - Faeroer gap. (11)

10 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
At 2018Z/10, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), is in a collision off Little Cumbrae Island, Clyde, with the merchant vessel Masirah (British, 6578 GRT, built 1919). HMS Suffulk is damaged abreast 'B' turret and eight of her crew are killed and eight injured, three of which seriously.

HMS Suffolk anchored off Greenock around 2330Z/10. (12)

12 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
After de-ammunitioning, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) is taken to the Fairfields Shipyard at Govan to be taken in hand for repairs. She is immediately docked in No.3 Dock. (13)

15 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) is undocked. (13)

24 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) is docked again at Govan. (13)

27 Mar 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) is undocked. She is then towed to Shieldhall. (14)

7 Apr 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) proceeded from Shieldhall to Yorkhill Wharf. (15)

11 Apr 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
With her repairs (an short refit) completed, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), proceeded from Yorkhill Wharf to Greenock. (15)

12 Apr 1940
Around 1840A/12, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), departed Greenock with about 250 Marines on board which were to be taken to the Faeroer Islands.

The destroyers HMS Havant (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) had arrived at Thorshavn on this day to inform the Governor of the Faroes Islands that a garrison of Royal Marines would be garrisoned there to repel a possible German invasion. The destroyers then went out to sea to await the arrival of HMS Suffolk. They made rendezvous at 1450A/13 and arrived at Thorshavn around 1630A/13.

The armed boarding vessels HMS Northern Foam (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Houchen, RNR) and HMS Northern Sky (Lt. J.E. Bromley, RNR) which were already waiting there then went alongside HMS Suffolk to take over the Marines.

The operation was completed late in the evening of the 13th when HMS Suffolk departed for the Vestfjord area near Narvik, Norway. HMS Havant and HMS Hesperus departed for Scapa Flow arriving there around 1030A/14. HMS Northern Sky resumed duties with the Northern Patrol. HMS Northern Foam remained at Thorshavn for the moment. (16)

14 Apr 1940 (position 64.05, 8.00)
At 0858A/14, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), which was en-route to the Lofoten area, sighted a merchant vessel on the starboard bow which was identified at 0915A/14 as the German tanker Skagerak (6044 GRT, built 1928).

The tanker was engaged and the crew abandoned ship and scuttled her. The tanker finally sank at 1133A/14 in position 64°36'N, 02°38'E.

HMS Suffolk picked up the crew and continued to proceed to the North-East until 2115A/14 when course was chanched to return to Scapa Flow.

15 Apr 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1800A/15, HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from operations. (15)

24 May 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) proceeded from Greenock to Govan where she is taken in hand for repairs at the Fairfield Shipyard. She is docked in No.3 Dock. (17)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/110717
  2. ADM 53/110718
  3. ADM 53/109958 + ADM 53/110718
  4. ADM 53/108302 + ADM 53/110718
  5. ADM 53/110719
  6. ADM 53/108303 + ADM 53/109958 + ADM 53/110718
  7. ADM 53/108303 + ADM 53/108361 + ADM 53/109469 + ADM 53/109958 + ADM 53/110718
  8. ADM 53/110719 + ADM 53/110720
  9. ADM 53/110720
  10. ADM 53/107744 + ADM 53/110720
  11. ADM 53/113273
  12. ADM 53/113274
  13. ADM 53/113275
  14. ADM 53/113276
  15. ADM 53/113277
  16. ADM 53/113277 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
  17. ADM 53/113278

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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