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Durie Family Haberfield (Sydney) Australia - by David B. Durie

The family home for my father, James Brian Durie (“Brian”) and his brothers was in the Sydney suburb of Haberfield. Dad lived there with his brothers Keith, Tom and Ken and their father James Durie and mother Christina Durie (nee Armour).

Growing up I heard the stories of these people but heard little of the Durie family name or where it originated from. In fact no one seemed to know when the family came to Australia, where they first landed, and where exactly they came from, although it was generally believed the family probably came from Scotland at some stage.

My mother Ann, a Mackenzie, came to Australia from the Scottish Highlands when she was a young girl. Over the years I got to meet Mackenzie relatives visiting Australia and learnt much about that side of the family but Dad’s family always remained a bit of a mystery.

The lack of knowledge was largely attributed to World War 2 and the devastation it wreaked on our side of the Durie family. It seemed that a lot of our family history was lost at sea when my grandfather’s ship, the Wollongbar, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off the Australian coast, killing many including my grandfather James Durie and his 16 year old son Kenneth.

My father was only five when his father and brother Ken were killed. Dad’s older brothers, at this time, were both soldiers serving overseas, one in the British Army and the other the Australian Army.

Tom, the oldest brother, was in the militia before the war broke and was keen to see service as soon as he could. Having been rejected by the Australian Army for being too young sailed to England to join the British Forces. Surviving a torpedo attack by a German submarine en route, Tom joined a tank regiment before transferring to the Eighth Army and the Paratroopers.

Dad told me that Tom had miraculously survived a number of tank wrecks and how Tom used to joke about how he and a Scottish mate decided to join for the paratroopers after considering that the tank business was too dangerous.

On compassionate grounds following the death of his father and brother Tom was allowed to transfer to the Australian Army and was the first Australian to be allowed to do this. Having served four years with the British Army Tom was also keen to join his brother and countrymen to fight the Japanese in New Guinea. Unfortunately, on his way home Tom’s ship was hit by a dive bomber resulting in Tom spending 10 days in a life raft before being rescued.

Dad’s second oldest brother George Keith Durie, “Keith” joined the 36th Battalion in Sydney before serving as a machine gunner in New Guinea. Keith fought the Japanese on the bloody battlefield of the Kokoda Trail and survived being shot in the leg, bayoneted, and getting malaria before coming back home to Australia and having a family.

My interest in the Durie family came before a trip to Britain and Europe. I was to meet Mackenzies in Scotland but again couldn’t help but wonder where the Duries had come from. It was then I came across Bruce Durie in Fife Scotland on the internet and sent him an email. I was fortunate enough to meet Bruce, enjoy his hospitality, and have the Durie family history explained, which was nothing short of incredible.

In recent years I came across another Ken Durie in Lithgow who, while not an immediate relative, happened to be researching Duries in Australia. We shared information and Ken has been able to fill in a few gaps. We were also privileged to meet the Head of the Durie family, Andrew Dewar Durie, when he visited Australia with the Military Tattoo in early 2010.

As to where our side of the Durie family came from it looks like my great grandfather was born in Dundee, Scotland but when we came to Australia still needs to be confirmed.

There is an historical information section on Overseas Duries included in '750 Years of Duries' by Dr Bruce Durie. Click Here

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