Diary written in secret on World War Two journey is published

Reporter:

Elgan Hearn

THE PERSONAL thoughts and observations of a teenager involved in one of the major battles of the Second World War, written in secret on various scraps of paper, have been put together to form a booklet.

John Burke, from Caerhowel near Montgomery, was just 18 years old when he took part in the D-Day Normandy landings in June 1944, serving in the Royal Navy as a Radar Plotter on board HMS Enterprise.

He died earlier this year aged 91 and his family hope the booklet will raise funds for the Severn Hospice, which helped care for Mr Burke towards the end of his life.

A plotters job was to observe the radar – keeping an eye on aerial and sea contacts and passing on the information to the captain and ship’s officersAt the time radar operations were top secret. 

This meant that plotters were not supposed to tell anyone what they were actually doing.Mr Burke’s daughter, Katie, asked Welshpool history enthusiast, Alan Crowe, for help with the project.

Mr Crowe said: “The diary / log kept by John Burke as a young 18-year-old Royal Naval Radar Plotter going into and eventually out of the D Day landings in June 1944 have been put together in a booklet to raise money for the Severn Hospice.

“Katie thought it would be a great way to thank the Severn Hospice for the care they gave John in his final days by having the diary made into a booklet.”

“In later years John was a notable figure in local ex military organisations, becoming chairman of the Normandy Veterans’ Association and president of the Welshpool branch of the Royal Naval Association.”

In 2014, Mr Burke spoke to the County Times about his diary and his memories of D-Day.

 “I would write each night after I came off from watch.

 “I would scribble on a piece of paper, but I knew I wasn’t really allowed to do it. I would have got in trouble had I been found out,” said Mr Burke

 He explained: “My job was to detect surface craft and report back to the Bridge (captain) through a speaker but radaring in those days was a secret, we were a secret weapon.

 “There would be two of us on watch for four hours.

 “We even wore a telegraphy badge, it would have been dangerous had we been found out.”

 Copies of the book can be obtained from Severn Hospice shops or from Katie Burke herself.

Email:

elgan.hearn@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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