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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Durham, James L. (P2, C2, L15)

2lt_james_l_durham307b_cropped 200Second Lieutenant James Lee Durham, 23, of Bowling Green, Warren County, was killed on D-Day, 6 June 1944 in Normandy, France by friendly fire while serving on federal active duty with Company B of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division.

He joined Service Company of the 149th Infantry of the Kentucky National Guard in April 1939. Private First Class Durham was inducted into federal active duty with his unit in January 1941. He listed his civilian occupation as student likely owing to his having just completed high school. Durham graduated the sixteenth class of engineer officer candidates at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and was promoted to Second Lieutenant when he graduated in November 1942. This is most likely when he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.

According to research by http://www.airborneinnormandy.com/allamerican.htm 2nd Lt Durham as he was killed 7 June 23 miles away (from Ste. Mere Eglise) as a POW. 2nd Lt Durham broke one of his legs on the jump … . 

IMG_20190410_141243649_HDRHe and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery #1, Bowling Green, in section P, plot 1, lot 12, site 1-6.

 

 

 

 

 

    AG 704 (26 Jul 49) Memorandum For Record

    Subject: Review of Circumstance Surrounding Disappearance of Personnel Presumed Dead

        1. The following-named personnel of the organizations indicated, were reported missing in action in France. 6 June 1941 and all of them except Private Sokol were reported in Jump pay status by the shipments shown opposite their names. They were presumed dead as of 7 June 1945, under the provisions of the missing Person Act

        a. 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion:

    2d Lt Durham, James L., ASN 01106109 ETO Ship No. CE 104

    2. All of the above named persons were paratroopers and members of organizations to be landed on the Cherbourg Peninsula on the early morning of 6 June 1944, to secure and hold specified enemy objectives pending the landing of Allied ground troops later the same morning. These operations were carried out amid heavy gun fire from every type of artillery and against superior numbers of enemy troops.

    3. The persons listed in paragraph 1a, above,  Lieutenant Durham and Private Ellis were both members of Company “B” 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion. A “Missing Report” states that Lieutenant Durham became missing in action in the vicinity of Ste. Sauveur Le Vicomte, about 17 miles south and. east of the city of Cherbourg, although his intended destination was near Ste. Mere Eglise. The report states he was not seen after he left his plane and that no search was conducted for him. The Service Record of Private Ellis states that he became missing when he made a “combat prcht jump in vicinity of Cherbourg, France”. A copy of Evader and Escapee Report number 1135, dated 25 August 1944, is filed with the permanent copy of SR&D Case No. 3120, AGPC-S 704 Dead (7 Jun 1945). This report is based on statements of Private Frances J. Maloney, 31362688, a parachutist who was captured by the enemy on 13 June 1944 and returned to duty with the Allied forces on 25 August 1944. The report states that Maloney had reported that Lieutenant Durham had been killed in action. No remains have been reported recovered that have definitively been associated with either of those persons. However, efforts are now being made by the Office of The Quartermaster General to associate Lieutenant Durham with unknown remains X-70, St. Andre.

        a. Under date of 19 April 1945 an inquiry was directed by this office to the Commanding General ETOUSA, requesting all available facts and circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Private Ellis, Lieutenant Durham and one other member of Company b. 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion. The fourth endorsement to this communication, sets for the circumstances under which the members of this unit parachuted into France. However, no definite information is revealed concerning the disappearance of Lieutenant Lambert and Private Ellis, who are known to have parachuted from the plane. An unreliable report that Lieutenant Durham’s body was seen, is mentioned in the report, which states that no word, hearsay or otherwise had been received regarding Private Ellis. Those men were not seen after leaving the plane and no contact has been made with the since.

     

    James L. DurhamLieut. Durham Is Missing
    First Warren Casualty In Invasion Is Reported

    Unknown newspaper, 28 June 1944.

    First casualty of the invasion among Warren County soldiers was reported today when Mr.  & Mrs. A. H. Durham, Cemetery road, received a message from the War Department that their son, Lieut. James L. Durham, 22, was missing in action since June 6 in France.

    Lieut. Durham was a member of the Airborne Engineers Corps. He was a member of the National Guard and left with the outfit when it was called for active duty in January, 1941, at Camp Shelby, Miss. Prior to his entering the service he was employed by the Central Tire Company, Tenth and College streets.

     

    2lt_james_l_durham307bLocal Man Is Declared Dead By War Department
    Unknown newspaper, 12 June 1945.

    Lieut. James L. Durham, son of Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Durham, Cemetery road, missing in action since June 6, 1944, when he parachuted from an airplane over Northern France in the D-Day invasion, has been declared officially dead by the War Department, his parents were notified yesterday. Lieut. Durham entered active duty with the National Guard in January, 1941, and went overseas in March, 1944, with an engineering corps.

 

 

 

Officers of Company B the 307th AEB in Burbage, England prior to D-Day. They are (left to right) Seated: 2/Lt James L. Durham, 1/Lt Edward F. Murray Jr., 1/Lt Robert E. Klein, 1/Lt Edward P. Whelan and 2/Lt Adrian J. Finlayson ; 2nd Row (Standing): 1/Lt James A. Rightley, 1/Lt Alfred J. Cappa, Captain William H. Johnson, 1/Lt David G. Connally Jr. and 1/Lt Edward W.Helwig .) Courtesy: https://www.ww2-airborne.us/units/307/307.html

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2/Lt James L. Durham

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The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273
 

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