James Hullett (Bill) Durrance

July 9, 1942


Three Flagler county men left last Monday, July 6, to be inducted into the armed forces of the nation, O. F. Alford, clerk of the local board announced today.

The men were John Alfred Clegg, Owen Ozem Thomas, Jr., and Ernest Walton Johnston, Jr.

Mr. Alford also announced that Thaddeus Theodore Cyzycki, who has been registered with this board, has transferred to the Local Board No.4, Duval County, for delivery.

JAMES HULETT DURRANCE, who was scheduled to go in this call, enlisted in the U. S. Navy, Mr. Alford said.

October 8, 1942

BILL DURRANCE. in the Navy Seabees, left here this week after having a short furlough home. He has completed his initial training at Norfolk, Va.

October 29, 1942

BILL DURRANCE, Navy Seabee, has been transferred to the West Coast of the U. S. to receive several weeks of special training before being assigned further duty.

November 12, 1942

BILL DURRANCE enlisted in the Seabees some time ago may transfer to the Marines soon, according to a letter received by his mother, Mrs. Omega Durrance, this week. Bill is now at a Marine Corps base in California. In the letter he also told his mother of attending a USO dance recently in Los Angeles and ran into Junior Hosford. Bill said he and Junior deserted the girls immediately and went into a huddle about "home."

December 3, 1942

BILL DURRANCE is confined to the "sick bay" where he underwent a tonsillectomy on Tuesday of this week. He expects to be in the hospital for several days.

January 21, 1943

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE who recently made his rating as petty officer, 3rd class, crashed the Sunday magazine section of the Los Angeles Examiner of January 10 at the Beverly Hills Hotel where the USO extends various privileges to servicemen on leave. Bill was caught by the news cameraman in two separate shots with the "Smart Set Cuties." (Boy, oh boy, how we do wish we could be a sailor again)

February 4, 1943

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE has just made the rating of Machinist Mate Second Class. Bill is yet at San Diego.

March 11, 1943

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE, who was stationed at San Diego, Cal. for several months, sent a cable to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Omega Durrance, saying he had safely arrived at his destination “somewhere in the pacific.” Bill is with the Seabees.

April 8, 1943

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE, machinist Mate 2c in the Seabees, has informed his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Omega Durrance, that he has "arrived safely" somewhere in the Pacific, and that he is getting quite a kick from his new experiences and is being "treated swell" by the people of the country where he is. He also said he met, upon his arrival there, a fellow named Stuckey from Ormond. (My, my, what a small world, after all)

May 27, 1943

BILL DURRANCE, in the Seabees “in the Pacific” writes home that he often visits with a ranch owner there where he has helped ride cattle and also helps to butcher. As a consequence he has been made responsible for purchasing beef for his unit. He confessed, however, that the “incentive for visiting at the ranch is a good-looking girl.” (We were wondering if Bill was working because he liked it)

July 1, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. Omega Durrance just received another letter from their son JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE, a member of a Seabees unit out in the Southwest Pacific, Bill said that he is receiving The Tribune OK. (We saw the pictures of those girls you sent home recently, Bill. Be careful Bill. They are harder to manage than a Brahma yearling)

September 9, 1943

A letter from JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE this week tells us that he is now allowed to say where he was stationed for several months before being transferred to his present location. He was in Auckland, New Zealand. Bill says he is getting The Tribune regularly.

He said in his letter, also, that "I'm getting along fine and am at a place almost like the-" and here the censor neatly cut out a sentence. But he allowed Bill to say "This place is more like home, as far as environment and weather is concerned." Bill continued that he has been swimming in the ocean a lot lately and "sure is nice to get in, the ocean again, as it was the first time since I was at Flagler Beach last.”

He added that there are plenty of sharks "and they're not like sand sharks at home." Bill goes on to tell us he dreamed the other night of being home and giving a talk on where I've been to the kids in the high school auditorium. Well, Bill, some day that dream can be true and we'll be ready for it.

(Confidentially, Bill, are you doing any dreaming about that girl you left behind in New Zealand?)

September 23, 1943

Some more news came in this week concerning guys getting together in out of the way places of the world. This time it is Martin Harding, Navy Seabee meeting up with BILL DURRANCE, another Seabee in the Southwest Pacific area. Martin's brother, Danny who was discharged from the army for physical injury several months ago, told us about the "meet up."

September 30, 1943

Seabee JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE tells in a letter to his mother here that he missed by a hair's breadth a chance of being returned to the USA for special training at some college. Bill said the fellow who was selected was a good friend of his and was sent back because he already had one year of college work.

(Tough luck. Bill, but don't let it get you down)

November 11, 1943

A letter from JAMES (BILL) DURANCE in the Southwest Pacific last week and, we quote: "I'm getting along fine. Working nearly every day but it keeps me from thinking about al1 of you back home. I received two papers tonight and was surely glad to get them. The column about the boys in service is something all of us appreciate because we know where all the other fellows are. I read where Shelton and V. W. (McKenzie) are in California. I know exactly where they are. I'd surely like to be there with them before long - - that is, I hope to.

Since I left the States, I have seen a few fellows from home. They are Buster and Charles Akins and Martin Harding. Was I glad to see them! At a time and place like this it is 1ike running into brother. Buster found me while I was working on a road job. I don’t know how he recognized me because I was so dirty you could see nothing but my white teeth and my eyes. I suppose he just 'smelled' a Bunnell buddy when he landed. It so happened that he didn't stay long.

I hope to run into Holis, Buck, Howard and James before long - - no one can tell. Tell Joe, Walden, Biddie, George, Ben and the others that I said hello and that I am looking forward to a big celebration when we get home."

November 25, 1943

BILL DURRANCE, with the Seabees in the Southwest Pacific, has sent to his parents here a Jap Helmet and some shell cases he picked up in his theater of operations.

(Which, we understand, is pretty "hot" at present)

December 16, 1943

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE, with the Seabees down in the Pacific, appears to be experiencing action. He told his mother that "there are few fellows down here who do not say a prayer upon going to bed and another when they get up." Bill tells of having a swell Thanksgiving dinner, saying: "We can thank the Lord and our President. I never dreamed of having turkey and such at such a place (as this).

When President Roosevelt says we'll get something he surely keeps his word." (We understand, Bill, that the fellows on the line in Italy also got turkey, and the trimmings too)

January 13, 1944

Recently Mrs. Omega Durrance mailed several newspaper clippings to her Seabee son, “BILL" who it seems is stationed on Bougainville Island, This week she received one of the clippings (which was a picture of supplies being unloaded on the beach at Bougainville) with an arrow pointing to the driver of a tractor parked on the beach and a notation saying "you didn't know you were sending me one of my own pictures, did you? The picture was made right back of me. I thought the cameraman was just walking around waiting for something exciting to happen. I was waiting there to, pull out some of the heavy trucks that got stuck coming off the barge, We landed with all the Marines at Empress Augusta Bay in November and, believe me, it was hot.

The first time we were bombed I was sleeping in a jungle hammock on top of the ground but I tore it all to pieces when I heard them falling, I dragged my blanket into a fox hole with me. I didn't get back in the hammock that night. I lay down in a truck seat beside that hole and when the planes came within hearing I was there waiting on him. Mama, this was one time I was hoping for daylight to come.

You remember how hard I was to awake. Well, at this time, and later, I awaken at the crack of a limb, But now I'm all right. You can't imagine what the Seabees have done. The swamps now look like Broadway with all the highways. I have on Bougainville for some time when this picture was taken. Tell all the family hello and that I hope to be back before long."

January 20, 1944

Received a V-Mail this week from JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE giving us about the same information about his being at Bougainville as we had already gotten from his mother. Bill said it was "pretty hot" when he landed there and "There were times when I thought my time had come but the Lord was with me, and I know it." He said also "I haven't received the paper for some time but I'll get a lot of them later. I still have to get my Christmas package, but it's better late than never."

February 3, 1944

Another letter from BILL DURRANCE saying “I was in the division hospital a week ago but only for five days. I had a touch: of fever but they knocked it out quick. I'm OK now and am ready to go back, to work. I told you in the last letter about being in the Bougainville landing but I couldn't say much. We were bombed quite a lot and shelled also, but the shelling didn't last but a little while after they set it up.

On Christmas Eve we had a series of earthquakes and, believe me, it shook. I didn't know what was going on at first but I surely found out in a hurry. There was a live volcano not far from us and I was afraid it would erupt, although the flames shot high up in the air. I was ready to leave, that place right then."

(Incidentally, Bill's sister, Mrs. Roger Turner here, said today Bill had written his mother than he is waiting on a ship for home: He is to enter officer candidate school in the States. (Good for you, Bill)

February 17, 1944

A few weeks ago we said BILL DURRANCE, with the Seabees in the Southwest Pacific, was slated to be returned to the States for officer training. Well, he has arrived. He phoned his mother here from the West Coast last Saturday. Don’t know if or when he can get home.

March 23, 1944

JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE arrived here Tuesday to spend two weeks with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Omega Durrance. Bill has spent the past 15 months with the Seabees in 'he Southwest Pacific in places where there were "very few dull moments." His brothers Waldon (Custer), with the Marines at Parris Island and Nathan, who is in the Navy and stationed at Daytona Beach, are planning to come home for the weekend to enjoy a family reunion.

March 30, 1944

Marine Pfc. WALDON DURRANCE was home a few hours the other day to see his Seabee brother, BILL, who recently arrived home after 15 months in the SW Pacific.

April 13, 1944

JAMES DURRANCE left Sunday for California after spending a furlough here with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Omega Durrance. JAMES (Bill) spent about 15 months in the South Pacific.

May 25, 1944

Word was received here this week from JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE saying he is in the hospital in California trying to get rid a case of malaria he contracted while in the Southwest Pacific. (Here's hoping you will soon be hitting on all four, Bill)

June 15, 1944

Incidentally, BILL DURRANCE who was shipped back to the States from down there (South Pacific) several months ago, came home on leave then sent to California, and into a hospital there, may be transferred to another hospital up in the northwest.

June 29, 1944

BILL DURRANCE, also a Seabee who came home recently from the Pacific, has been in a California hospital after returning there, and has now been sent to a rest camp at Yosemite, Cal.

July 20, 1944

Word came this week about a "reunion" which was held recently in California by MM/2C JAMES (BILL) DURRANCE and A/C George Allen. This is the first time these high school buddies had met in over two years. We are sure it was a red-letter for both of them.

August 3, 1944

JAMES H. (BILL) DURRANCE, who has been in a California hospital since returning to the Pacific coast after a leave at home and subsequent to his return from the Southwest Pacific, was here on leave again for a week, returning to the west coast.

December 28, 1944

Seabee BILL DURRANCE, hospitalized for several months in upper California, has been transferred to Camp Parks, California.

July 19, 1945

BILL DURRANCE writes his folks here that he is returning to duty in the Pacific. He is in a Seabee company. His mother sent Bill a birthday card recently with autographs of his friends here.

September 13, 1945

Here is a letter from JAMES H. (BILL) DURRANCE headed "Buckner Bay, Okinawa":

"It's about time I should write you and give the news from this side of the world and what's going on at the present time. Since I've been here I haven't had much leisure time but I intend to have some and look up some of the boys from home. I asked Mamma to send Shelton’s (Barber) address so I could find him. He's up north a way but it won't be hard to get there. Going through a division to find a person would be quite a job so I'll wait until I hear from Mamma. "I saw Buster and Charles Akins a few days ago but now I'm practically on the other end of the island from them.

I know it was a joyful feeling to the folks in Bunnell when Japan surrendered - It was THE day out here. There was enough firing that night by the fellows that sounded like it started again. It scared me, not of the Japs but of our own men. There were quite a number shot by carelessness. The following night I saw and heard when the battleship Pennsylvania was hit.

Well Fuller, this is about all I know for now except I might be coming home about the first of the year - that IS I hope to. Tell all boys and folks in Bunnell we hope to be back soon and try to forget this war except for a few of our old Buddy's.

I'd surely like for you to send me the paper again for I'm getting low on the Bunnell news, the biggest little paper in the world. Is there a chance of getting the copies I missed? I hope so. I'd better close for now, hoping to be home soon."

November 22, 1945

Mrs. Irene Durrance, mother of Marine Pfc. CUSTER DURRANCE, tells us Custer is on his way home to be discharged after long service in the Pacific. He has sufficient points for discharge.

His brother BILL, a Seabee who has been in longer, is still on Okinawa and will probably come home in March.