Christopher Martin Durrant
Captain Christopher Martin Durrant, R.M.A. (5 April, 1884 – 25 July, 1918) was an officer in the Royal Marine Artillery. Possessed of a powerful physique, Durrant seemed to lack the discipline required of a successful Marine officer.
Life & Career
Durrant was the son of Charles Aubrey Durrant, a clerk in holy orders.
Durrant was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1 July, 1902. He was appointed to his first ship, the battleship Magnificent from 14 April 1905 to 5 November, 1906 during which time he was apparently a close friend of the ship's navigator, Lt. (later Vice-Admiral) George N. Tomlin, appearing in several photos in Tomlin's album of the period.
After serving in Diadem in the Annual Manoeuvres of 1909, Durrant began an extended series of appointments to battleships. From June 1911 to March 1912 he was in Commonwealth, from March 1912 to September 1912 in Vanguard, and from December 1912 to December 1913 he was in Collingwood. After being promoted to Captain on 1 July, 1913, trouble found him. Durrant was tried by Court Martial in Bellerophon on 10 December 1913 for being absent without leave and being drunk on board. He was sentenced to lose six months' seniority and was dismissed the ship. An evaluation from this time endorsed his physical qualities, but lamented his lack of tact.
In the aftermath, Durrant was appointed to the battleship Audacious from 16 January 1914. He was aboard her when she was lost to a mine on 27 October 1914. In the wake of this, Durrant was appointed to Cyclops, a land-based battery protecting the anchorage in Scapa Flow. While in this appointment, which may have placed him in Royal Arthur at the end, on 22 February 1915 he was Court Martialed in Blake, depot ship for the Second Destroyer Flotilla, on four charges, including soliciting and inciting to act of gross indecency, acts to prejudice of good order and naval discipline and being drunk on duty. He was acquitted on two charges and sentenced to be severely reprimanded and dismissed Royal Arthur.
On 24 February 1915 he was appointed to the Royal Marine Artillery Division. He was there only briefly before he was placed on the Retired List on account of misconduct, dated 6 April, 1915 in accordance with the provisions of Order in Council of 12 December, 1885.
Durrant chose to relocate to South Africa, and travelled from London on the 22nd May 1915 with first-class accommodation in the steamer S.S. Dunvegan Castle. He arrived at Cape Town perhaps in early June.
Durrant was killed along with five other men, with eight being wounded in mid-1918 by the premature explosion of a shell in a Stokes Gun while serving with the South African Police as a Temporary Second Lieutenant of the Rhodesia Native Regiment. He was aged 34.