Miss Rosalind Laura Norman




b. 1908

Nigel's sister Rosalind was a regular on the Court Circular, attending endless weddings, dances, balls, luncheons, etc, etc.

In December 1931, Rosalind accompanied Commander Sir Walter and Lady Windham on their trip to Ceylon; she met them at Marseilles, and "after visiting Ceylon spent some time visiting friends in India."

In August 1933 she made another flying tour, to Poland and Germany.

She 'quietly' married Aubrey Burke in February 1936, becoming Lady Burke, and they had two daughters and a son.

From her obituary: "Lady Rosalind Burke, a glamourous aviatrix in the halcyon inter-war years of private aviation who became an extraordinary aircraft factory manager during the second world war, has died aged 86.

Her zest for aviation came from her brothers, who had all taken up flying, and she gained her private pilot's licence at Heston, the aerodrome founded by her brother Nigel (later Air Commodore Sir Nigel Norman). During the early thirties, she took part in many of the fashionable private aero events throughout Europe. She also possessed a remarkable practical flair, making model aircraft in her home workshop, and going on to create the largest model aircraft factory in the country.

Aubrey Burke

She met and married another aviator, Aubrey Burke, at Heston in 1936 (he had flown the Atlantic by R100 airship in 1930 and joined Imperial Airways in 1935). They also joined forces in business as Burman Engineering (the name being an amalgam of their surnames), and began to provide full-scale aircraft components. At the outbreak of war, he joined the civil repair organisation of the Ministry of Aircraft Production set up to restore battle-damaged aircraft. She kept up her reputation for the rapid supply of accurate aircraft parts, matching female labour and the production capacity of her several factories.

She perceptively recruited volunteers for what became known as the IPP (Immobile Part-time Production) through radio broadcasts and lecture tours, with the allure of making a real contribution to the war effort. She also instituted an imaginative scheme for reducing aircraft assembly-line waste with numerous village-based groups retrieving and sorting many thousands of small items - nuts, bolts and rivets - from the sweepings of factory floors or the debris of blitzed factories. She was an energetic, inspiring leader, taking her three young children round this network with her, the youngest in a carry-cot. By the end of the war, the Burman factories had the commendable record of two million man/woman hours worked, and over 150 million components delivered.

Post-war, she devoted her attention to her family and travelled extensively with her husband as he rose to become chairman of the de Havilland Aircraft Company and vice-chairman of the Hawker Siddeley Group. She also helped him to build up a pedigree herd of Guernsey cattle.

Rosalind Laura Burke, born February 20, 1908; died April 1, 1994."


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