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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J H Pickering


John Harcourt Pickering of Reading, Berkshire was born on 28th October 1920, the son of Albert Edward and Gladys Elsie Pickering.

He joined the RAFVR about November 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training, was commissioned and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 10th June 1940. After converting to Spitfires Pickering was posted to 66 Squadron at Coltishall on 23rd June.

On the 29th he shared a He111 and on 30th August shared another. On this day Pickering was shot down into the sea during an attack on a Do17 twenty miles east of Aldeburgh. He was rescued by the crew of a lightship, unhurt.



On 24th September Pickering claimed a Me109 destroyed. He was shot down by Major Molders of JG51 in combat over Canterbury on 11th October. His Spitfire, X4562, crashed and burned out in Covert Wood, Elham. Pickering was injured and admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

Once recovered, he was posted away from 66 in April 1941 to be an instructor. In early 1942 Pickering was at 53 OTU Llandow.

He was killed on 15th March over Cowbridge, Glamorgan. Pickering, in Spitfire AR249 and another instructor, F/O HRG Poulton in P9500, were engaged on an Army Co-Operation exercise. While diving on troops Poulton's propeller severed the tail of Pickering's aircraft which crashed.

Poulton managed a wheels-up landing and escaped with bruises. An enquiry did not allocate blame.

Pickering is buried in Llantwit Major Cemetery, Glamorgan.






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