Charles Burke (British Army officer)
|Charles James Burke|
Burke in the uniform of the Royal Flying Corps
|Born||1881 or 82|
|Died||9 April 1917
Near Arras, France
|Unit||Royal Irish Regiment
Royal Flying Corps
World War I
|Awards||Distinguished Service Order|
Military service before World War I
Burke's military service began as a soldier in the British Army and he served in the Boer War during which time he received the Queen's medal with two clasps. In 1902, at the end of the War, he was commissioned into the Royal Irish Regiment and after several years of regimental service, including three years with the West African Frontier Force, he was promoted to captain in September 1909. The following year Burke travelled to France where he learned to fly in a Farman biplane, gaining his Aéro-Club de France certificate in the process.
After his return to England, Burke was employed at the Army's Balloon School. In early 1911, Burke was involved in conducting heavier-than-air aircraft tests at the Balloon Factory. On 7 January 1911 Burke flew a Farman aircraft for two miles over Laffan's Plain at 50 to 80 feet and landed near the Balloon Factory. A few minutes later, Burke attempted a second flight. However, after only 50 yards he stalled and the aircraft came to earth on its right wing, cart-wheeled and disintegrated. Burke received injuries in the crash. Despite this experience, Burke was not deterred from flying. In July of the same year, he flew from Salisbury Plain to Aldershot and back and later on he made a return flight to Oxford.
Burke was also one of the earliest British Army officers to consider air power in depth. In 1911, whilst serving as a captain in the Air Battalion, Burke wrote the first air power article to be published in the Royal United Services Institute Journal. In his article Burke compared the reconnaissance activities of cavalry to those of aircraft and observed that just as opposing cavalry might be drawn into battle, so could aircraft.
In 1912 Burke wrote his 29 maxims for flying, including:
|“||When training pilots, no machine should go without knowing what it is to do, do it and it alone, then land.||”|
On 13 May 1912, Burke became the commanding officer of the Flying Corps' No. 2 Squadron and was promoted to major. During the next two years, Burke trained his squadron in aerial reconnaissance. In September 1912, Burke took part in the Army Manoeuvres. Burke was responsible for the control of nine aircraft under the direction of Major Frederick Sykes.
On 13 February 1913, Burke lead five aircraft of No. 2 Squadron from their base at RAE Farnborough, 450 miles (720 km) north in a series of stages over the following 13 days. The aircraft landing at Upper Dysart Farm on 26 February, 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Montrose, Forfarshire, Scotland thus making it the first military airbase to be established in the United Kingdom.
World War I
Burke (as a brevet major) was mentioned in Sir John French’s despatch on 8 October 1914. The following month, on 29 November 1914, Burke was appointed the first commanding officer of No. 2 Wing of the Royal Flying Corps and he set up his headquarters at Saint-Omer. His wing comprised Nos 5 and 6 Squadrons. In 1915 Burke was involved in recruiting for the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. As well as directly recruiting personnel, Burke suggested that training aerodromes might be established in Canada under British control. For some months during 1916, Burke served as the Commandant of the Central Flying School.
In the summer of 1916 Burke rejoined his old regiment, the Royal Irish Regiment, which was suffering a severe shortage of officers. He was killed in action on 9 April 1917, the first day of the Battle of Arras. He had been commanding a battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment.
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- "Montrose air station, the UK's first airbase, marks centenary". BBC News. 23 February 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Dye, Peter (15 September 2003). "British Air Services Memorial St Omer". RAF Personnel and Training Command website. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- Heide, Rachel Lea (2 November 2002). "The Struggle to Define and Integrate Alliance Commitments and National Sovereignty in Canada: Lessons from Air Training Plan Negotiations in the First and Second World Wars". Retrieved 2007-11-11.[dead link]
- Barrass, Malcolm (2007-09-25). "Other Establishments - Flying Schools and Colleges". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
- CWGC entry
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Burke (British Army officer).|
|Officer Commanding No. 2 Squadron
13 May 1912 – 10 November 1914
G W P Dawes
|Officer Commanding 2nd Wing
29 November 1914 – August 1915
J M Salmond
D le G Pitcher
|Commandant of the Central Flying School
A C H MacLean