The Airmen's Stories - P/O J L Bickerdike
John Laurance Bickerdike was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 11th February 1919, the son of James and Monica Laura Bickerdike. His father was a policeman.
He was educated in Auckland at King's Preparatory School and then King's College where he was an outstanding athlete.
Bickerdike got a job in Christchurch as a radio announcer. He was accepted for an RNZAF short service commission in June 1939 and did his flying training at Wigram. He sailed for England in early March 1940 and at the end of April was posted to No. 1 Fighter Pilot Unit at Meir, after which he converted to Hurricanes at 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge and joined 85 Squadron at Debden on 25th May.
On 12th July a section of the squadron was ordered off to help protect convoy 'Booty' against an approaching raid by a large force of Do17s and He111s. The section intercepted the bombers before they could disperse. In his first encounter with the Luftwaffe Bickerdike attacked one and sent it down in flames into the sea.
On 22nd July 1940 he was killed when he crashed at Castle Camps during an aerobatic exercise in Hurricane P3895. He is buried in Wimbish Parish Church
Cemetery, near Saffron Walden, Essex.