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John M Burk


John McKale Burk was born 30 November 1924 in Ventnor, Atlantic County, NJ to Frederick Grater Burk (20 April 1891 Philadelphia, PA -19 June 1948 Philadelphia, PA) and Mary Cunningham McKale Burk (21 February 1895 Philadelphia, PA - 20 October 1990 Wyndmoor, Montgomery, PA). His father, Fred, was the son of industrialist Charles David Burk and his wife Louise Grater. His mother, Mary, was the daughter of businessman John Thorpe McKale and his wife Anna Wetherstine. He had two older siblings: Anna Mary (14 April 1919 Ventnor, NJ - 14 June 1923 Philadelphia, PA) who died of a brain tumor and Frederic Grater Burk Jr. (3 November 1920 Ventnor, NJ - 24 February 1988 Philadelphia, PA), who also served in the Army during WWII. John attended elementary schools in Ventnor, then, as the family moved back to Philadelphia, attended the William Penn Charter School, class of 1942. He enrolled at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ where he enlisted in the Army in December 1942. John was called up for training April 1943 in Alabama and assigned as a navigator to a B-17 crew with crew training in October and November 1944 in Avon Park and Drew Field, FL. The crew consisted of: Richard Coleman, pilot, Peter Ebersol co-pilot, John Burk navigator, Morris Nieman togglier, Grady Hise engineer, William Tanton tail gunner, John Curry radio operator/gunner, John David Hardie waist/tail gunner, and George Avena ball turret gunner. They picked up their B-17 November 20 in Savannah, GA, then on to Bangor, ME where they left for England making their way first to Gander, Newfoundland on December 11. After 4 days in Gander due to weather, they took off and landed in Wales December 16, then made their way to Burtonwood, England on the 17th. The crew arrived at Rattlesden Air Base in Suffolk, England December 22nd. John flew 34 missions, January-April 1945, returning to the US May 1945, and separating from the service October 1945 as a first lieutenant. He returned to Princeton University, where he finished his studies in 1948, graduating with a BA in Economics, cum laude. He returned to live with his recently widowed mother in Philadelphia. John worked a variety of jobs into the mid 1950’s and in 1953 joined the National Drug Company, where he met his future wife, Nancy Jane McKee (24 July 1928 Philadelphia – 13 November 2005 Somerville, NJ). They married 15 January 1955 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Whitemarsh, PA, settling first in Skippack then in King of Prussia. Their daughter, Laura Mary, “Laurie” was born 1956 in Philadelphia and their son, Frederic Grater III, “Greg”, was born 1967 in Somerville, NJ. John joined Burroughs Corp as a human resources manager in the late 1950’s; the family moved to Bridgewater, NJ in 1964 when Burroughs expanded their operations at the nearby Mt. Bethel plant. John accepted a position as Vice President, Administration at the Jersey City National Bank in 1978. John was an avid sports enthusiast, following Princeton sports throughout his life, football for the Philadelphia and NY teams, and was an avid golfer and tennis player. He died of a massive heart attack at home on 1 October 1983.



  • Richard Coleman

    Military | First Lieutenant | pilot | 447th Bomb Group

  • Pete Ebersole

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 447th Bomb Group
    November 20, 1944 Assigned new B-17 at Hunter Field. Flew to Bangor ME. Then Gander, Newfoundland, Then Valley, Wales. Arrived ETO 11 December 1944. Assigned 8th AF 447 BG . Completed 27 combat missions before D-day. 1. 29 Jan 45 Kassel2. 1 Feb 45...

  • Grady Hise

    Military | flight engineer/ top turret gunner | 447th Bomb Group

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Units served with

  • 447th Bomb Group

    447th Bomb Group

    The 447th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses on strategic bombardment missions out of Rattlesden, Suffolk. With their first mission coming on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1943, their main focus was hitting sites that would weaken enemy forces...


  • 43-37677 Barbara Jane

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 12/5/44; Kearney 24/5/44; Dow Fd 6/6/44; Assigned 351BG Polebrook 6/6/44; transferred 524BS/379BG [WA-A] Kimbolton 7/6/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 9/7/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 12/7/45; Reconstruction Finance...


  • 789

    10 January 1945

  • 794

    15 January 1945

  • 803

    21 January 1945

  • 811

    29 January 1945

  • 814

    1 February 1945

  • 821

    6 February 1945

  • 8AF 830

    14 February 1945

  • 833

    16 February 1945

  • 835

    19 February 1945
    1,100 Heavies Hit Nazi Rails ...

  • 843

    23 February 1945

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Associated Place

  • Rattlesden

    Military site : airfield
    Built for the Eighth Air Force in 1942, Rattlesden had three concrete runways, 50 hardstandings and two dispersed T2 hangars. Intended to be a twin-engine B-26 bomber base, it was originally a satellite for nearby Rougham, and first occupied from...


Event Location Date


Date Contributor Update
31 May 2015 21:03:50 lmburk Changes to mission associations

Info from records of daughter Laurie Burk; from 447th website; from Rattlesden website.

Date Contributor Update
31 May 2015 20:50:16 lmburk Changes to person associations, place associations and aircraft associations

Records from 447th website

Date Contributor Update
31 May 2015 20:45:31 lmburk Changes to person associations

Records on America's Air Museum

Date Contributor Update
31 May 2015 20:43:08 lmburk Changes to biography

From records of daughter, Laurie Burk.

Date Contributor Update
31 May 2015 20:42:08 lmburk Changes to service number and role

Records from daughter, Laurie Burk

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:25 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Unit History Roster as of 01 August 1945