Images and information courtesy of Julie.
Born: 1922, Leeds, Yorkshire.
Died on or since: 20th December 1943; age 21; Shot down by a night fighter.
Residence: 58, Sherrington Road, Ipswich.
Rank: Squadron Leader; Service Number: 64287.
Regiment: Royal Air Force, 77 Squadron.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards: — Distinguished Flying Cross.
Flying Officer Herbert Frank BICKERDIKE (64287), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 462 Squadron. The above awards are for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations.
Gazetted – 19th January 1943.
Joint Grave V.E.4-5.
Original wooden cross.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Clifford & Hilda Bickerdike, of Ipswich.
Father: Clifford Bickerdike, born January 1891, Rothwell, Yorkshire.
Mother: Hilda Bickerdike (nee Scotcher), born September 1887, Combs, Suffolk.
Herbert attended Ipswich School.
Herbert was 4 years old, when he travelled 2nd Class on board ‘Avon’ of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company – South American Service. He travelled with his 37 year old mother, Hilda, and his 5 year old brother, Denys Clifford Bickerdike (born São Paulo, Brazil). They had departed from the Port of Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil and arrived at the Port of Southampton, on the 8th September 1925. The family were to visit Hilda’s family at Denny Farm, Combs, Suffolk. Their permanent residence was Brazil.
Herbert was 5 years old, when he travelled 2nd Class on board the ‘Andes’ of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. He travelled with his 40 year old mother, Hilda, and his 7 year old brother, Denys. They had embarked at the Port of Southampton, on the 18th November 1927, and were bound for Bahia, Brazil. The family had stayed in the Uk at 52, Newburgh Crescent, Cape Road, Warwick.
Herbert was 7 years old, when he travelled 2nd Class on board the ‘Andes’ of the New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd. He travelled with his 41 year old mother, Hilda, and his 9 year old brother, Denys. They had departed from the Port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The family arrived on the 1st October 1929, at the Port of Southampton.
Herbert’s father, Clifford Bickerdike, an Auditor in Commerce, travelled many times from Brazil to the UK.
Probate to Hilda Bickerdike – wife of Clifford Bickerdike.
20th December 1943
Aircraft: Halifax V; serial number: LL125; code: KN-K; based at R.A.F. Elvington; operation: Frankfurt. The aircraft took off at 16:30hrs and successfully dropped their bombs on Frankfurt. The aircraft was returning to England and did not notice a Me-110 approach. The first hit to claim his 4th victory came at 20:43hrs, from Oberleutnant Wilhelm Henseler of 4/NJG1 hit the starboard engine, which immediately caught fire. Bickie told the crew that he would have to dive to try to extinguish the fire. The manoeuvre failed and the fire began spreading to the fuel tanks. Bickie gave the order to abandon the aircraft. LL125 crashed in flames near the old Vivier between Fronville and Melreux, Namur. 5 of the crew were killed, 2 survived.
Frank Galsworthy Shaw; Flying Officer; age: 34; R.A.F.V.R. Survived – PoW
Robert William Pendergrest; Pilot Officer/ Navigator; age: 20; R.A.F.V.R.
Ronald Frederick Walter; Sergeant/ Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; age 21; R.A.F.V.R.
William Atkinson Cockburn; Sergeant/Air Gunner; age 23; R.A.F.V.R.
Gordon Leonard Hills; Flying Officer/ Air Gunner; age 20; R.A.F.V.R.
Terence Frank Bolter; Flying Officer: age 21.
‘Terry’ Terence Frank Bolter, successfully parachuted from the aircraft and could see the aircraft in flames, disintegrating before crashing. With his ability to speak French he was able to find help with Belgium patriots and joined the escape chain of the ‘Comet Line’ through Belgium, France, Spain and Gibraltar. From where he flew back to England, arriving on the 24th June 1944, Terry landed at Whitchurch, Bristol. The ‘message’ was sent to his helpers that ‘The red & blue tie has arrived.’ Terry has given interviews, which can be found on-line, about his escape and the kindness and help shown to him. In 1990, he returned to Belgium to meet some of his Belgium helpers.
Frank Shaw survived the crash. He was arrested on the 6th July 1977, near Dinant. On the 24th July 1944, he was sent to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth. Prisoner Number: 4709. Released in May 1945, and repatriated to England, he remained in the R.A.F.V.R. until relinquishing his commission in February 1954.
A family note:
This was my husband’s father’s brother (i.e Uncle who he never met). We had never heard any of this or the story of how he died – his brother was unable to talk about it and we are not sure if he ever knew all of these details. We knew he had a grave at the Hotton War Cemetery and had been thinking recently of visiting it. I cried when I read this. I had no idea there were survivors of the crash or that he had been the squadron leader. We are so proud of him. And sad that we never met. I also know now that he was known as ‘Bickie’. Rest in peace Bickie x
Uncovered in the loft, a trunk with his initials, medals and paperwork sent back to his parents.
Herbert is also remembered on the Ipswich School Chapel war memorial.