Ronald Maxwell (Max) BURKE

BURKE, Ronald Maxwell

Service Number: 401762
Enlisted: 29 March 1941
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: Operational Training Units (RAF)
Born: Warracknabeal, Victoria, 17 November 1919
Home Town: Ararat, Ararat, Victoria
Schooling: Ararat High School
Occupation: Bank Manager
Died: Natural Causes, Mosman Park, Western Australia, 7 June 2014, aged 94 years
Cemetery: Moyston Cemetery, Victoria
Ashes interred in Moyston Cemetery on 30 May 2015.
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World War 2 Service

29 Mar 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, SN 401762, Melbourne, Victoria
29 Mar 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 401762
30 Mar 1941: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 401762, No. 1 Squadron (RAAF)
26 Aug 1943: Transferred Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, No. 66 Squadron (RAF)
4 Oct 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 401762, Operational Training Units (RAF), No. 8 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (8 OTU) RAF Fraserburgh Coastal Command
4 Oct 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 401762

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Max started his training at the Empire Air Training in Somers, Victoria, where they learnt drill, marching, navigation, morse code and all about aircraft engines. At the end of the course all students were to have an exam and were broken into categories. There was Pilot, Observer, Wireless and Airgunner. Max was lucky enough to receive Pilot. From there he volunteered to sail to Rhodesia and left in May 1941 aboard the Queen Elizabeth. It took six weeks to reach Rhodesia via the Middle East. From there they boarded another ship to Durban and from there took a train to Harare.

Max and the others in the air force travelled around Rhodesia for a while and then sailed from Capetown to Liverpool and were greeted by bombs but fortunately there was no damage. They arrived in the early months of 1942 and flew Spitfires all around England. Max also taught beginner pilots to fly. In Christmas 1944, Max was told he was no longer needed and was to return to Australia. The airmen then boarded the Queen Elizabeth again and sailed to America where they stayed in New York City. They were there for around six weeks and in that time got to know 42nd Street and all the nightclubs fairly well. They invariably wound up on stage singing Waltzing Matilda to the audience. They then travelled across America before boarding a ship home to Australia via Papua New Guinea.