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Battledress of Maj. John T. D. Durbin, MBE - Korea, Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya

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This is my second Commonwealth uniform I have found as I try to expand my Korean War collection outside of the United States.  This uniform belonged to Major John T. D. Durbin of the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders.  I think that he may be the most travelled veteran I have researched so far.  He began his service in 1946, at the age of 18.  He was born in 1928 and just too young for service in WWII.  In 1949, the 1st Gordons were sent to Berlin in support of the blockade, though they arrived just after the blockade was lifted.  He spent the next year there in continued support of operations.
He was then assigned to the 1st Battalion, Black Watch and went with the unit to Korea in July 1952 as a platoon commander.  The most significant combat for Durbin and for the Black Watch was the Second Battle of the Hook in November 1952.  As one of the three battles for the ridge, the Black Watch managed to repeal continued Chinese attacks and hold their position despite fierce artillery barrages and hand-to-hand combat with waves of Chinese forces.
After he returned home in August 1953 and reassigned to the 1st Gordons, the unit moved to Singapore to support the Malayan 'Emergency' and push the communists out of the area.  Malaya was significant to British in terms of geography and trade.  They had also committed a lot of effort to keeping the Japanese out during WWII.  Ironically, the same troops they trained in guerrilla tactics during the war were now fighting against them as communists.
Durbin was in Malaya for around two years, I think, and after returning home, moved to Cyprus from 1955 to 1956 to fight the terrorists on the island.  Though it was a small engagement, the conflict still proved to be deadly.  In 1963, Durbin went to Kenya with the 1st Gordons, witnessing the end of the British Empire in Africa due to the Mau Mau revolution.  He was here until 1965 when the Gordons were needed again in Malaya.
After his second Malayan tour, during which he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, Maj. Durbin finally returned home for good in 1968 and retired from regular service in 1969.
Please read about his service in greater detail here:
And find a great deal of information and photos of the engagements of the 1st Gordons during the Cold War here:
Thanks for reading, and thanks to those members on here that helped me research him.  (Thanks for the scans, Gunner 1!)
Edited by captainofthe7th
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I just downloaded a document for Maj. Durbin's recommendation for the MBE and learned that he did not arrive in Korea until December 1952, so he actually missed the 2nd Battle of the Hook.  He was, however, present for the third battle on the ridge, and interestingly enough the details of the fight are much the same as what happened in late November.  I updated my website to reflect this change, unfortunately I cannot edit my original post!



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Rob  -  until you have completed a certain number of posts, there are a few limitations.  Not to worry, the additional

information goes with the original post.    An interesting officer , with a great history.     Mervyn



With regard to Commendations  -  these can be given at different levels.   Were you thinking of the British

Mentioned in Despatches ?   These are often included in the Govt. Gazette for the period.


Perhaps some of our Research members may be able to help you  ?   Best wishes   Mervyn

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Hi Mervyn, thanks for the reply!  I'm really fascinated with the history behind Maj. Durbin.


Are you referring to my mention of his recommendation for the MBE?  Here are two pages from the documents I received from the archives.  Well worth the £4 I paid!


I would love it if anyone else has info, photos, etc relating to Maj. Durbin.




Edited by captainofthe7th
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