Gerald Tyler Burke was the son of Lt-Col. William Henry Burke, of the Army pay department, and Florence Mary (Westcott) Burke. After qualifying from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, where he had won a science exhibition five years earlier, he joined the Indian Medical Service in 1920. In World War I he served in East Africa, and after it was in charge of the wards of large military hospitals in Constantinople. When he returned to India in 1922 he had intended to specialise in medicine and medical education, but instead secured his transfer to the civil side of the Service and was posted for duty in the United Provinces. There he gained a wide experience in general surgery, operative ophthalmology and gynaecology, but he stuck to his determination to specialise in medicine and in 1928 was appointed professor at Lucknow University. Very soon he was loved by students and patients alike, European and Indian, for his painstaking devotion to their interests and his kindly firmness.
In 1935 he was persuaded to accept the post of secretary to the recently created All-India Medical Council, although evidently unwilling to give up clinical work. His transparent honesty and fairmindedness helped him to get through the following period of medico-political tension. On his retirement in 1938 he served as a member on medical boards of the India Office, and later of the Commonwealth Relations Office. There his fatherly wisdom and gentle dealing were appreciated by the steady stream of sick and disabled officers invalided from the East.
Burke was twice married. Both wives were members of the nursing profession; by the first marriage to Edith Beryl Peacock,whom he married in 1920, he had a daughter, and after the second in 1939 to Kathleen Smith he adopted two infants who proved something of a strain as he grew older and suffered from the effects of cerebral vascular accidents.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1952, 2, 1220; Lancet, 1952, 2, 1185.]