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The Medals of Captain F.W. Durand

On November 9th, Duke's will be hosting the next Medals & Militaria sale. Filled with medals of past heroes, decorated for bravery, initiative and sacrifice, alongside an armory of weapons ranging from painted Indian hunting rifles, to shimmering 18th century French cavalry sabres. Quickly generating a keen interest amid the auction world, this medals & Military auction promises to be one of vast variety and distinction, with every item possessing a rich history.

A highlight within the sale is this collection of military medals belonging to Captain F.W. Durand of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. 

Lot 154 | Estimated between £2,000 - £4,000

South Africa Company Medal 1890-97, reverse Rhodesia 1896, clasp Mashonaland 1897, correctly engraved Corpl. F.W. Durand. Gwelo V; 

1914 Star (original bar) correctly impressed Capt: F. W. Durand. R. MUNS: FUS.; 

Pair correctly impressed Capt: F. W. Durand.; the Sultan of Zanzibar's Brilliant Star 3rd Class; and The Order of El Aliyeh 4th Class

Sold with a miniature set of British South Africa Company Medal, The Sultan of Zanzibar's Brilliant Star 3rd Class and The Order of El Aliyeh 4th Class. 


Captain F.W. Durand


Francis William Durand was born in 1875, the son of Reverend Havilland Durand, the Vicar of Earley. His mother, Mary Durand, was born in Guernsey. 

Durand was educated at Charterhouse School; aged 16, he travelled to South Africa and went to work for Cecil Rhodes, likely in the Diamond mining industry. He moved to Rhodesia and volunteered for service with the Gwelo Volunteers, rising to the rank of Corporal. He fought in the Rhodesian Campaign of 1896 against the Matabeles between the 24th of March and the 31st of December 1896 and in the Mashonaland of 1897. For his service, he was awarded the British South Africa Company Medal with clasp Mashonaland 1897. 

From 1899 to 1901, he served with the African Transcontinental Telegraph Survey through German East Africa under O.Berringher, Chief Surveyor, Northern Rhodesia. From 1901 to 02 with the Tanganyika Concessions Expedition to Katanga, Congo Free State. 

He returned to England in 1901 to attend the wedding of his sister Helen to Edmund Hawtrey. At the wedding, he met Geraldine Hawtrey, Edmund's younger sister and a bridesmaid. Francis and Geraldine married on the 4th of June 1903. That same year, he was employed as Secretary and A.D.C. to the First Minister of the Zanzibar Government. 

On the 10th of February 1906, Durand was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers as Lieutenant. His promotion to Captain was gazetted on the 4th of May 1906, mentioning he had transferred to the 4th Bn. He was seconded under the Foreign Office to the Zanzibar Government and served the Sultan from 1906 to 1913. He held numerous positions: Secretary of the First Minister, Assistant Commandant of Police, Assistant Collector and Assistant Commandant of the  Zanzibar Armed Constabulary. He was decorated by the Sultan for his service, being awarded The Sultan of Zanzibar's Brilliant Star 3rd Class (gazetted 1.5.1914) and The Order of El Aliyeh 4th Class (gazetted 13.7.1906)

He holidayed in Switzerland and Europe in 1913 with his wife and his friend Captain Hugh O'Brien. 

On the 5th of August 1914, he was mobilised and joined his Bn; on the 8th of September 1914, he was attached to the 2nd Bn in France. He fought at the Battles of Aisne and the Marne and was present at Ypres.

Captain Durand was sadly killed in action on the 22nd of December 1914 at the Battle of Festubert. After a horrendous night of snow, rain and hail in the trenches, the battalion attacked at 7 am, led by  Colonel A. M. Bent. Durand was a Captain in C Company, which was commanded by his friend Captain O'Brien.

The Munster's went forward under heavy enfilading machine gun fire from the German positions. Colonel Bent was dangerously wounded and his Second in Command Major Day and Captain O'Brien were both killed. 

Captain Durand was killed ' most nobly, leading at the extreme point of the advance made by C Company under fierce enfilading fire. The sorrow and heroism of such death is touched by the great enduring light of glory.'

His body was never recovered, but his death was confirmed after part of his tunic with his ribbon bar was found. 

Francis was 39 years old and is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial.