Living Memorial | Frank O’Rourke
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Frank O’Rourke

About This Project

Frank O’Rourke was born in Hampshire, England, on February 24 1924. His father served in the Royal Air Force and the family lived in military married quarters before moving to south London once the war had started. The move from Hampshire was a significant childhood change for O’Rourke as there were no fields, just paved streets, around his new home. He said the people and the houses were also unfamiliar. O’Rourke added: “It was rather strange for a young boy.”


At 17, he found not many businesses wanted to employ someone his age as it was likely that they would leave when they were called up to join the war effort. This led to teenagers taking any type of job they could get. 0’Rourke started working in a garage and joined the RAF in 1942, when he got posted to Kinloss in the north of Scotland. From there he was posted to St Athans, South Wales, and then to the RAF station at Harwell, in Oxfordhsire. He worked on Manchester, Sterling and Lancaster bomber aircraft. O’Rourke attended technical school and was posted to Skegness where he completed three weeks of “square bashing”, the military term for marching. O’Rourke did not see much of London until he came back to his family home when on leave. He recalls the bomb damage caused by the war and that several of his family members, including uncles, aunts and cousins, had lost their lives during the Blitz. At the end of the war, O’Rourke was kept in his job and switched around to work on different aircraft.


Eventually, he decided to leave the RAF a couple of years after the end of the war. But he found it difficult to get another job, though eventually ending up becoming a bus driver. In 1946, Frank married his wife, Bubbles, and they had a son, Peter. Bubbles died at the age of 90 in 2015.


United Kingdom

Royal Air Force