No. 6982708, 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Died as a result of enemy action on Wednesday 16 April 1941 (aged 18)
Londonderry City Cemetery, Co. Londonderry (Section S Class B Grave 1218)
Fusilier Samuel Burke (No. 6982708) was a son of George and Annie Burke (nee Moore) of Braehead, Londonderry who were married on 26 November 1917 in Monreagh Presbyterian Church, Glebe, Co Donegal. George Burke, a soldier from Dooish, was a son of Andrew Burke, a labourer. Annie Moore from Kildrum was a daughter of James Moore, a labourer.
When their daughter Ellen was born on 11 October 1918 in Molenan, Private George Burke (No. 37716) was serving with the 4th Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Fusilier Samuel Burke (No. 6982708) was one of 13 soldiers serving with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who died as a result of an air raid on Newtownards aerodrome during the night of 15/16 April 1941.
Between 10.45 pm on Easter Tuesday 15 April and 4.30 am on Wednesday 16 April 1941 there was a large-scale German Luftwaffe air raid on the City of Belfast. Other nearby towns and villages, including Bangor and Newtownards, were also attacked. Areas of Bangor where bombs fell included Ashley Gardens, Bangor Golf Clubhouse, Baylands, Farnham Road, Hazeldene Gardens and Ranfurly Avenue. Fires blazed on Scrabo Hill, Newtownards and bombs fell on Green Road, Conlig and Comber Road, Newtownards. At least 28 people with North Down and Ards connections were killed, including the following 14 civilians.
- Matilda Grattan together with her daughters Angeline Grattan and Shelagh Grattan who died at 40 Ashley Gardens in Bangor.
- Margaret Byers Watt who died at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor.
- Robert Wright of 32 Baylands, Bangor who died of his injuries in Bangor Hospital.
- Edith, Henry, Isabella and William Dunwoody; Nancy Simms Gribbin; Thomas Morton; Bessie, Ellen Ogle and Evelyn Tate who all died in Belfast.
That night the aerodrome at Newtownards, which was the Headquarters of 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force was attacked. The aerodrome was guarded by soldiers of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, some of whom were too young for front line service and were deployed instead on the home front. Newtownards aerodrome was attacked with a considerable number of incendiary bombs and some high explosive bombs. One high explosive bomb that fell on the hutments of ‘A’ Company Headquarters killed 13 men, all of whom served with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Most were killed instantly, and the remainder died the following day as a result of their injuries:
- Fusilier William Bellamy (aged 28)
- Fusilier Samuel Burke (aged 18)
- Lance Corporal Alexander Carlisle
- Fusilier Andrew Copling (aged 16)
- Fusilier Hugh Fulton (aged 17)
- Fusilier George Graham
- Fusilier Daniel Higgins
- Fusilier Leslie Love (aged 34)
- Fusilier Samuel McFarland (aged 19)
- Company Quartermaster Sergeant William McMurray (aged 27)
- Fusilier Ernest McNeill (aged 17)
- Warrant Officer Class II Alfred Penfold (aged 36)
- Fusilier Matthew Wright (aged 18)
The casualties were all taken to Ards District Hospital in Newtownards.
There was another casualty with an Ards connection who died during the night of 15/16 April 1941. Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes (aged 23) of 231 Squadron who was in Belfast at the time was killed during the air raid.
Fusilier Samuel Burke (No. 6982708) was 18 when he died as a result of enemy action and he was buried in Londonderry City Cemetery. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
THY PURPOSE, LORD
WE CANNOT SEE
BUT ALL IS WELL
THAT’S DONE BY THEE