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Name: Joseph Gerald Burke Rank: Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Service No: R/53147 Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 427 Squadron Date of Birth: October 21, 1923 Place of Birth: Sluice Point, Yarmouth Co., NS Date of Enlistment: November 20, 1941 Place of Enlistment: Yarmouth, NS Age at Enlistment: 18 Height: 5 feet, 8 inches Complexion: Dark Eyes: Brown Hair Black Weight: 160 lbs Trade: Student Marital Status: Single Religion: Roman Catholic Next of KIn: John Frederick Burke (Father) Wakefield, Mass. US Date of Death: February 20, 1944 Age: 20 Cemetery: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany Grave Reference: 8. E. 28. The 20th name on the WWII list of the Yarmouth War Memorial Commemorated on page 263 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on June 2 Joseph was the son of John Frederick and Emily (Pothier) Burke, of Sluce Point, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia and brother of Jean Louis, James S, Gustane Emile, Helen Isabelle, Rose Jacqueline, and Marie Sylvia. His mother had died in 1928 and his father lived in Wakefield Mass. US and at Sluice Point during the winter months. He attended Sluice Point Public School between 1931 and 1941 completing Grade 10. He applied to join the RCAF on August 27, 1941 was was too young for enlistment and thus went to work as a farm hand until November of 1941. Having completed training in Canada, Joseph embarked Halifax on May 27, 1943 and disembarked in England on June 4, 1943 and was eventually assigned, following further training, to 427 Squadron on February 10, 1944. On the night of November 19/20, 1944, Flight Sergeant was co-pilot on a night bombing flight over Leipzig, Germany. The Halifax aircraft LV.829 with a crew of eight failed to return to base. Information via the International Red Cross Committee stated that Flight Sergeant Burke was killed on February 20, and buried on February 25, 1944 in the Gohre Cemetery near Stendal, Germany. Gohre is located three miles south, south-west of Stendal. On that night, seven aircraft were shot down and of the 56 crew only 15 were taken prisoner. In 1947, the body of Joseph was exhumed and reburied in the Berlin War Cemetery. The official war records list Joseph Burke as “Joseph Gerard Burke”; however, the Amirault's Hill parish records list his birth name as Joseph Gérald Burke. 427 Squadron 427 Squadron was first formed on 7 November 1942, as the eighth of fifteen RCAF bomber squadrons and was originally equipped with Wellington MK III twin-engine bombers. Experienced crews borrowed from 419 Squadron enabled 427 to be operationally ready by 1 December 1942, and to commence operations against the Frisian Islands on the 14th of the same month. Initially part of 4 Group, Bomber Command, the squadron was transferred to 6 (RCAF) Group, Bomber Command upon formation 1 January 1943, and remained with this group until the war's end. The squadron was transferred to Leeming on 4 May 1943, and was re-equipped with Halifax four-engined aircraft. This bomber was used for the greater part of the squadron's operations, being replaced by the Lancaster in March 1945. The squadron was assigned to bombing targets located all over Europe; however mine laying and the occasional dinghy search were also part of the job. The squadron's last sortie of the war was, perhaps fittingly enough, once again to mine the Frisian Islands. The war ended with 427 Squadron having amassed an enormous amount of flying hours and having won an impressive list of Battle Honours and individual distinctions. A total of 3200 sorties comprising 26,000 flying hours dropped an incalculable amount of high explosives on Fortress Europe and its ports. During the war, a total of 415 personnel were lost, another 121 were shot down and taken prisoner and 14 escaped to Allied lines.
Joseph Gerald Burke
Photo: Uwe Jenrich