CAPTAIN HAROLD BURKE MC
23RD AUGUST 1918 AGE 23
On his inscription, Captain Burke's family associate his name with two of France's most respected soldiers.
The "soldat sans peur et sans reproche" - soldier without fear and beyond reproach, or the fearless and faultless knight - was the description given by contemporary chroniclers to Pierre du Terrail (1476-1524), the Chevalier Bayard. As he lay dying, mortally wounded in battle, his one time friend and now enemy, Charles duc de Bourbon, expressed his sorrow but was told by Terrail:
"Sir, there is no need to pity me. I die as a man of honour ought, doing my duty; but I pity you, because you are fighting against your king, your country, and your oath."
The second soldier is Theophile Malo (1743-1800) who served with the 46th Regiment and for his renowned bravery and modesty - he refused the promotion to high rank that he deserved - was named by Napoleon the "first grenadier of France". Killed in action at Neuburg, when the roll was called after the battle another grenadier stepped forward and said, "Tombe sur le champs d'honneur", fallen on the field of battle. On Napoleon's orders, his name continued to be called with the same response, a custom that was observed for at least 100 years after his death - and is still observed whenever the 46th's colour is paraded.
During the First World War the phrase was used for French soldiers killed in battle.
Harold Burke enlisted as a private in August 1914. He served throughout the Gallipoli campaign rising rapidly through the ranks until he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in September 1915. Promoted captain in August 1916, he won the Military Cross for his "sound judgment and good leadership" at Ypres on 20 September 1917. On 23 August 1918, just before the Australians were withdrawn from the front, he was killed outright when a shell fired by his own side landed short and exploded beside him.