Sergeant Lawrence E. Durfey

Sgt Durfey

World War II

US Army Air Forces
32nd Photographic Squadron, 5th Reconnaissance Group, 15th Air Force
Service Number: 38007228
Born: October 10, 1910
Inducted: March 11, 1941
Killed in action April 20, 1944 transport sunk Mediterranean Sea
Memorial Marker North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia

Purple Heart

Son of Cye (Cyrenus S.) and Fannie Underwood Durfey of Laird. He was the husband of Mittie Thompson Durfey of Laird.

North Africa American Cemetery
Memorial Tablet Photo by ABMC staff.
Memorial Tablet

North Africa American Cemetery

Wray Rattler May 4, 1944

Sgt Lawrence Durfey is Missing

Sgt. Lawrence Durfey of Laird was reported missing in a government communication received by his wife and parents last Saturday. The communication read "missing over North Africa since April 5th." Sgt. Durfey has been a member of the armed forces for over three years and recently left this country for overseas duty.

Wray Gazette May 18, 1944

Memorial Service to Honor SGT Durfey Sunday in Laird

A memorial service for Sgt. Lawrence E. Durfey, Laird man who was officially reported as dead by the War Department last week, following word that he was a passenger on a transport which had been sunk by enemy action in the Mediterranean on April 20, will be conducted by the V.F.W. and the Methodist Church Sunday afternoon.

Sgt. Lawrence E. Durfey was born at Essex, Iowa October 4, 1910. In 1918 his parents came to Colorado and located at Hale. The remaining time previous to his induction into the Army were spent in the Laird community where Lawrence was engaged in farming.

Sgt. Durfey was inducted into the United States Army March 11, 1941. he was stationed in the Army Air Corps as a ground mechanic at Biggs Field, Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, where he served for two years in the 120th Observation Squadron. He was sent to Wright Airplane Motors School at Patterson, New Jersey for further instruction where he received his diploma with high honors. he was again sent to Biggs Field for a short time as a crew chief where he made test flights with his pilot. At Abilene, Texas and Gainsville, Texas he supervised a crew who were working on Wright motors.

Lawrence was then sent to Allison General Motors School at Indianapolis, Indiana, for further training on Allison engine work and it was here that he again received a diploma for his outstanding work.

He was returned to Gainsville, Texas and was transferred into the 32nd Recon Squadron. He was last stationed at Will Rogers Air Field, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he received his A.P.O.

Sgt. Durfey was united in marriage to Mrs. Mittie Thompson on November 9, 1942 at St. Francis, Kansas.

Sgt. Lawrence E. Durfey made the supreme sacrifice of his life serving his country on April 20, 1944, when the transport on which he was a passenger was sunk by an enemy action in Mediterranean waters. He leaves to mourn his passing his wife Mittie Durfey and stepson, Robert, his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Durfey, one sister and family, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Odell, all of Laird.

These last beautiful words of Lawrence to his mother tell us all the kind of soldier he was, when he said "He knew he had to go across but he wasn't afraid to die. That your God and my God knows best."


Sgt. Durfey was a passenger on the Liberty ship S.S. Paul Hamilton, a part of convoy UGS38, which was sunk with all hands when attacked by German bombers near sunset on April 20, 1944. A total of 580 men - 47 crew, 504 Army Air Force personal and 29 Armed Guards, lost their lives. The loss of the Paul Hamilton produced the largest casualty list of any Liberty ship sinking in WWII.

As was customary, the Paul Hamilton carried, in addition to her normal cargo of bombs and other high explosives, enough troops to bring the complement to 500 men. A single torpedo struck the ship resulting in a violent explosion. When the smoke cleared no trace of the ship remained.

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