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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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85 crest
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

Serial: P3895

Code: YY-B

Base: RAF Debden

Location: 1/4 mile south west airfield

Pilot: P/O. John Laurance Bickerdike 36266 RAF Age 21. Killed


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)

Burial details:

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:

KTY 19-07-2021

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 19 July 2021, 10:55

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