Michael and Thomas were the sons of Michael and Marcella Bourke. Michael’s birth was registered at Glen Innes in 1887; Thomas at Inverell in 1895. They were two of ten children in the family.
Michael was a twenty seven year old Labourer at Inverell when he enlisted in August 1915. He was one of thirty two men who came forward at a large recruiting rally and marched from the Tattersall’s Hotel in Byron Street to the Town Hall carrying a banner proclaiming ‘For the Dardanelles’. He joined the 12th Light Horse Regiment, 7th Reinforcement which sailed from Australia on HMAT A66 Uganda in November 1915. They served in Egypt where in March 1918 Michael was attached to the Provost Corps for duty at Moascar and Suez. He returned home in 1919. Michael died in 1944 and was buried at Boggabilla Cemetery NSW.
Thomas, a Dairyman employed by O’Brien and Swan, enlisted when he was twenty one years old. He was one of a group of nineteen men who left Inverell together on 28 March 1916. He joined the 36th Battalion, 1st Reinforcement and left Australia on HMAT A72 Beltana in May, arriving in England in July. After several months training as part of the 3rd Division, he was sent to France at the end of November 1916. Thomas was killed in action on 27 July 1917 at Messines, Belgium and has no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium.