22nd July 1940 85 Squadron Hurricane I P3895 P/O. Bickerdike
Operation: Transit flight
Date: 22nd July 1940 (Monday)
Unit: No. 85 Squadron (motto: octo Diuque Venamur - 'We hunt by day and night')11 Group
Type: Hurricane I
Base: RAF Debden
Location: 1/4 mile south west airfield
Pilot: P/O. John Laurance Bickerdike 36266 RAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Following operational flying at Martlesham Heath he was in the process of returning to Debden.
Spun off a half role at 2000 ft while approaching Debden, crashed at 21:05 killing the young New Zealand Battle of Britain pilot.
(note: some websites describe the accident occurring incorrectly at RAF Castle Camps)
P/O. John Laurance Bickerdike. Wimbish Churchyard (All Saints) Born 11th February 1919 at Christchurch. Prior to service worked as a radio announcer for Station 328 at Christchurch. Member of Canterbury Aero Club with his first solo flight in December 1938. Selected for short-term commission in the RAF April 1939. Awarded pilots badge on the 23rd November 1939. Embarked for England on the 25th February 1940. Joined 85 squadron on the 25th May 1940. Son of James (a senior sergeant, later sub inspector, then inspector in the New Zealand police force) and Monica Laura Bickerdike (née Grant), of Nelson, New Zealand. A total of 160 flying hours logged. Completed 32 operational sorties. Credited with 1 enemy aircraft destroyed.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: