Friday, May 8, 2020

V-E Day for Harold Burk in Paris

Harold Burk in Paris - April, 1945
My father, Harold Burk (1909-1978) and his younger brother, Sidney Burk (1914-1995) both registered with their local draft New York City board in October of 1940. Harold enlisted in the military early in March, 1942, at the age of 32. Sidney enlisted in July of 1942, at age 28.

For the 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, I'm retelling the story of my Dad, who was in or near Paris on May 8, 1945.

Harold Burk, Personnel Clerk

As a civilian, Harold was a travel agent at a big New York City hotel, a job that required good typing. This skill landed him the assignment of personnel clerk in the 3163d Signal Service Company of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, a unit responsible for communications. His official designation was Administrative NCO 502.

Harold and his unit spent nearly eight months in Europe, participating in two major campaigns: Central Europe and Rhineland. Their role was to develop communication lines in support of Allied military efforts. He and his unit spent late 1944 and early 1945 near Paris.

Harold Burk, Photographed in Paris

Harold and his Signal Corps unit remained near Paris in the spring of 1945. I know that not just from his military records but from photos he mailed home to family.

As shown at top, Harold posed in front of the Arc de Triomphe in April of 1945 (according to the date on the back of that photo).

He posed with eight buddies from his unit in the photo shown here. The back of the photo has a caption, written by Harold, showing the date as April 22, 1945, and listing the names of others in his unit. Dad is in the front row, second from right.

I can only imagine the cheers and celebrations he joined as the war in Europe ended on this day, 75 years ago. Was he in the heart of Paris or just a few miles outside when the news broke? No letters survive to tell the tale.

Still, these photos helped me follow his movements at this momentous time in World War II. Well done, Dad. Thank you and all the men and women of the military for the vital roles they played in winning the war.


  1. How wonderful to have these photos. The only close member of my family served in the Pacific.

  2. Our parents definitely deserved to be called the Greatest Generation. Paris must have been quite the place on V-E Day.

    1. They really were the Greatest Generation. And too modest about their wartime activities! Thanks, Linda, for reading and commenting.