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Researching a British/Scottish Officer - Korea - 1960s - assistance please!

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Hello all - Merry Christmas!

Yesterday, as a gift, I received the battle dress uniform to Maj. John T. Durbin. I am very pleased with this as it is the second identified Korean War uniform I have found from a non-U.S. service. Of course, I wish to learn all I can about Maj. Durbin - where he was, which units he was assigned to, any photographs....everything! I am most interested in his service with the 1st Bn., Black Watch in Korea. He was very well traveled though as you'll see in the obituary.

However, I am shy about this research and I figured I could find some great suggestions here. Please excuse my questions as a beginner...I think I am on the right track, but I want to be sure before I send things off and wait for months for a reply!

First off, here is his obituary. I am extremely lucky to have this amount of info, especially with a photograph! This answers in brief detail most of the things I wish to know. However, I always enjoy having original documents to keep on file.


This has a lot of info - name, rank, brith date, service number. Everything I need to write a request. Before I do that, are there any online resources I can search?

If I write a request, I would send it to this address under the (b) field.


I understand that there are published British Army lists that give some details about active officers. I suspect he would appear in these, but according to this link, in part ©, the biographical information is "restricted." Does this mean I would not receive that information? It seems like that is what I am after.


Aside from death notices, all I have been able to find online is a recommendation for the MBE.


Now - would I be better off writing to the archives, or should I make friends with someone who lives around London who would be willing to access the information for me?

Thank you so much - I can't wait to get moving on this project and I hope to become comfortable with this research. I think I am also going to post the uniform in the appropriate section, as I see some 'ghosts' on the sleeves where a patch was sewn beneath the Gordon's 'arc.' I am also still learning about the appropriate insignia and accouterments for these uniforms.


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to get a service record of a british officer/enlisted man you need to get prove to the ministry of defence

(MOD)hes been dead for more then 25 years, this is done by getting his death cert,you then have to fill out an application form and send a cheque for £30 made payable to the MOD ,its a pain to be honest but can yield great results! heres the form you need to fill out for the MOD


i dont have the link for where you can get the death cert(thought i had it!) but i do know it costs about £9 to get it!

hope it helps a bit!

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  • 2 weeks later...

From The Army Gradation List February 1966; The Army List, Part III, Biographical, 1974I: and The Army List, Part II, Officers in Receipt of Retired Pay, 1982:

Major John Terence Della Durbin, MBE

Born 2 Apr 28

Served in the ranks for 1 year and 30 days

Regular Army Emergency Commission as 2nd Lieut. from 30 Nov 46 to 31 Jul 49

Lieut. 5 Dec 47

Temp. Captain from 12 Nov 48 to 12 Sept 49

Short Service Commission as a Lieut. from 1 Aug 49 (with date of rank of 30 Nov 47)

Temp. Captain from 2 Jun 54 to 2 Apr 55

Reserve of Officers 26 Aug 55

Regular Commission in The Gordons as Lieutenant, 18 Jun 56 (with date of rank of 2 Apr 49)

Captain, Gordons, 18 Jun 56 (with date of rank of 2 Apr 55)

Temp. Major from 27 Oct 59 to 6 Aug 60

Major, Gordons, 2 Apr 62

Deputy Asst. QM General, Q1 from 30 Oct 69 to 1 Sep 71

Retired as Major, Gordons, on 10 Oct 76

Regards, Gunner 1

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Thank you both for the help! paddywhack, unfortunately he passed away last year so I will not be able to provide the MOD with proof of death over 25 years. Seems like I will not have any luck from them?

Gunner 1, tremendous information. Sheds a lot of light on a few things I was curious about. I'll be sending you a private message shortly!



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