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John J Bourke, Kerry/New Zealand
John J Bourke, Kerry/New Zealand
Photo of Mike Burke and 3 grandchildren (includes John J Burke...c 1885) Photo of Private John J Burke Copy commerative scroll Entrance to Caterpillar Valley Cemetery View of Cemetery View of Cemetery showing memorial wall in distance JJ Bourke's name on memorial Photo of Chrissie Horan (nee Burke) in 1991 at memorial to New Zealand soldiers with no known grave at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France. Inscription on NZ monument Chrissie Horan (nee Burke) at monument 1991
My mother's uncle (born 1881) was Private John Joseph Bourke (22759) from Ballymacpierce, Gortatlea, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland. He had emigrated to New Zealand and worked for an uncle of his there. The family lore was that he joined the NZ army (Maori battalion) to fight in WW1 thinking that he would get to make a trip home to Ireland once the war was over. His military record shows the following: -he joined the army in New Zealand on 7/2/16 -sailed for England on 29/5/16, arriving 27/7/16 (Oh how he must have thought of his home just across the Irish sea...) -he was posted to France on 20/8/16. He was killed in the battle of Flers-Courcelette (part of the Battle of the Somme) on 16th September 1916. His body was never recovered. A field enquiry heard evidence from fellow soldiers who stated that he had been seriously wounded; "he seemed to be hit in the abdomen and was bleeding from other wounds as well". The enquiry concluded that "Pte. Bourke was hit again after being lifted from the trench- he being unable to move- and that he was either buried or blown to pieces" He is remembered on the memorial to New Zealand soldiers at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval near Albert, France. When my mother was a child she remembers her grandmother crying when his army pension was paid every month.....in 1991 we cried when we visited the area where he had died, thinking of them both and of every other heart broken mother who lost a son in WW1. A photo found its way to us from New Zealand, showing John as a small boy with his sister Kate, brother Michael and their grandfather Mike Bourke (spelled Burke in Kerry). It is a wonderful photo taken around 1885 or so....it appears the photo was taken specially to be sent to old Mike Bourke's relations already in New Zealand. On that special day as his photo was taken, little did John know what the future held for him. Both Michael & Kate also emigrated to New Zealand...poignantly, his sister, then Mrs Kate Flanagan, was listed as next of kin on his army record sheet. John J Bourke was the son of Redmond & Mary Burke (nee Mitchell). He had 2 sisters-Kate Flanagan (mentioned above) and Minnie Fitzgerald (Stayed in Kerry). He had 5 brothers- Michael, Redmond & Tom (New Zealand), Flor (my mother's father who stayed in the home place in Ballymacpierce) and Paddy (USA). As was the case in many Irish families, while John fought on the British side in WW1, his brother Paddy was actively involved in the Republican struggle against British rule in Ireland, some years later. John never married and had no children. However, he is remembered by present family generations in Kerry, New Zealand and USA.